Puerto Rico is a beautiful Eastern Caribbean island that is a United States territory. Is Puerto Rico Worth Visiting? There’s so much to see and do in Puerto Rico that makes it worth visiting. The island has a rich culture, breathtaking natural sights, gorgeous beaches, turquoise clear water, and fantastic snorkeling opportunities.
San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, sits on the island’s northeastern coast. This is where the biggest airport on the island is.
Most visitors will travel and stay in San Juan, particularly in Old San Juan and Condado Beach. Travelers should experience lots of highlights found throughout the island, most notably El Yunque Rainforest and Flamenco Beach in Culebra.
Since Puerto Rico is a US territory, no passport is required for US citizens. The currency is the US dollar, and credit cards are widely accepted. Spanish is most spoken by locals, yet almost everyone who works in hospitality and tourism areas speaks English.
While I visited as a teen, I recently returned with one of my fave travel buddies, Renee!
Plaza de Armas in Old San Juan
Things to Do in Puerto Rico
Experience Old San Juan
The top thing to do in Puerto Rico is to experience Old San Juan. It’s one of my favorite places and makes Puerto Rico worth visiting. I love all the colorful buildings, the fun vibes, the history, and the food! As you walk around, it feels like you’ve been transported back in time.
The best way to see Old San Juan is with a walking tour. The guide will take you to key points and explain the rich history of this mesmerizing port city.
You can also wander around yourself! Don’t worry about sticking to a set path. See Plaza de Armas, the main square, is another don’t-miss spot.
Stop by Calle Fortaleza, one of the oldest and most Instagrammable streets in Old San Juan. It’s known for the colorful suspended umbrellas lining the street.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Castillo San Felipe del Morro, typically called “El Morro” is a sight to see! Construction on the six-story fort began by the Spanish in 1539 and it still stands tall to this day.
History buffs can take a guided tour, but most visitors will enjoy exploring the perimeter independently. I walked it with friends. Tickets are $10.
Relax on Condado Beach
Condado Beach is the main beach of San Juan. Many visitors stay in this area, as hotels and home rentals line the main strip. The area also offers lots of restaurants.
If you’re staying at a beachfront resort, you can take advantage of the chairs and umbrellas on the beach. Those staying elsewhere can typically rent them for the day. This is what we did!
Chill Out in Condado Cove
The waves on Condado Beach were a bit much for me, but the tranquil Condado Cove / Playita del Condado is the perfect chill spot! This beautiful little oasis makes Puerto Rico worth visiting. This small beachy area can be found all the way to the easternmost part of Condado. It’s often frequented by locals, too.
Venture out to Luquillo Beach
Day trip to Luquillo Beach for an amazing day trip. Luquillo Beach makes Puerto Rico worth visiting! So worthwhile, that we went twice!
We rented a car and drove out for a full day. Go to the beach behind the gate. It is much nicer and quieter, especially on weekends. It has ample parking, too. The beach area also has a “private beach club” / bathroom that only costs $1 for the entire day. You can rent lounge chairs from the onsite vendor.
Find the small food stands on this more “exclusive” side of the beach. We enjoyed delicious empanadillas there.
Luquillo is known for its bustling food stands. One of our tour guides suggested Terruno and La Parilla. We could not find parking over there, though we circled twice. Ugh!
Explore El Yunque National Forest
El Yunque is a beautiful green forest about 40 minutes from San Juan. It’s the only tropical rainforest in the US forest system!
It’s best to go with a guide. There’s an easy way to walk in, though some of the day trips will bring visitors on a legitimate hike. Read the description before purchasing your trip because if you hike, you’ll be climbing at points, too.
The experiences take you to stunning waterfalls where you can slide down and jump off rocks into pools. Take water shoes, a waterproof camera, and a complete change of clothes with you!
You can also zipline in El Yunque!
Sail to Flamenco Beach, Culebra
Flamenco Beach has been rated one of the best beaches in the world. It offers pure white sand, palm trees, and clear turquoise water, great for snorkeling right off the beach.
Travers can also DIY their trip by driving to Fajardo and catching the ferry.
This trip via boat may not be the best option for those who experience seasickness, as the ride out can be rough. Bring Dramamine!
Air Flamenco also travels to Culebra in puddle jumper planes.
If not looking to venture out too far, you can also snorkel off of to San Juan.
Sunset Sail Around the Bay
Sunset is best experienced from the water! Try this sail excursion to end a great day in San Juan.
Enjoy Live Music at Canon Club
Going out in Old San Juan is super fun. You can find whatever vibe you’re looking for.
One of my favorite nights was spent at Canon Club, an old-school piano bar with incredible live music. Call ahead and get a seat in the piano room. The room has two pianos with several small tables around it. Live music starts at 7:30 on some nights and 8 p.m. on others. Check the website.
Canon Club offers high-quality cocktails – I loved the Old Fashioneds. The spinach and cod croquettes were tasty, too.
Before you leave, walk around this enormous space and see the stunning courtyard and all the decorated rooms. Just don’t get lost upstairs and end up in the building next door like we did!
PS: You’ll be greeted at the door by parrots!
Experience Nightlife on Calle San Sebastian
Calle San Sebastian is known for the bar scene.
La Factoria is a world-renowned cocktail bar. It features several levels with many rooms, each providing a different scene. We worked our way through several rooms, ending in a more club-like vibe toward the end of the night.
We ventured into other bars along the street, too. It’s easy to just bounce around. Vibe are casual!
See The Capitol of Puerto Rico
The Capital building of Puerto Rico is quite impressive. It’s just a short walk from Old San Juan. Often, peaceful protestors gather outside the building, so it does block the view. Still, it’s something to see to recognize the causes that the locals are passionate about.
Taste World-Class Rum at the Bacardi Factory
Sample Bacardi Rum (18+) at Casa Bacardi! This tour includes a 75-minute tasting session, including some vintage reserve bottles not sold anywhere else in the world! You’ll also tour the distillery and learn the unique aging and production processes.
How to get to Casa Bacardi:
- Drive, if you rent a car
- Take an Uber or taxi (~30-minute ride, $18-20 expected from Old San Juan) – recommended
- Take a ferry from Pier 2 in Old San Juan (50 cents, runs every half hour), then take a taxi from Cataño Pier to Casa Bacardi two miles away.
Explore Bioluminescent Bays in Fajardo
Puerto Rico is known for its bioluminescent bays. Experience the most traveled one in Fajardo, Vieques (an island). La Parguera is also an option. Farjado is a bit easier to get to – you can take this tour to see this magnificent sight!
Experience the Sunset on Condado Lagoon
If you stay in Condado, you’ll see many kayakers in Condado Lagoon at night. Why not join in the fun on a kayak activity?
Day trip to Ponce
Ponce is the historical capital of Puerto Rico. Travel to the southern part of Puerto Rico to learn about its significance.
Take a Food Tour
Either join an organized food tour to sample some of the best plates on the island or DIY with my food recommendations below!
Off the Beaten Path Adventure: Food Stalls in Piñones
Take a ~30-minute (depends on traffic, and I did hit quite a bit of traffic on a Sunday!) drive west to the local food stalls of Piñones. You can also hit a local beach along the drive while you’re out there. A typical favorite is Carolina – this one is huge. However, there are much smaller beaches throughout the journey too!
While exploring, I continued west all the way to Luquillo beach, since I loved it so much the day before!
What to Eat in Puerto Rico
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I love to eat. I always seek out the best foodie experiences when I travel. The food alone makes Puerto Rico worth visiting!
In Puerto Rico, rice and beans are a staple. So are plantains. Mofongo is a traditional dish with mashed platains, crispy pork skin, garlic, and oil. It’s a delicious must-try when visiting Puerto Rico.
Marmalade Makes Puerto Rico Worth Visiting
Marmalade (Old San Juan) might just be my favorite restaurant experience that I’ve ever had. (I’ve dined at some of the best restaurants in the world.) This high-end restaurant offers a multi-course tasting menu that allows you to choose what you’d like to eat for each course. You can also pair each course with wine. I did – and that is a lot of wine!
Everything that I ate at Marmalade was incredible. The standout was the creamy White Bean Soup that everyone is served as an intermediate course. WOW. The delightful server also gave us a postcard with the recipe to take home. As I’m not a chef, I haven’t attempted it. I’d rather fly back to San Juan to have some more at Marmalade.
Marmalade is currently ranked as the #3 top restaurant in Puerto Rico on TripAdvisor. Marmalade makes Puerto Rico worth visiting. Trust me. Have dinner here! Be sure to make a reservation well in advance of your trip.
Famous Mallorca Pastry
Locals and visitors line up for these pastries at Mallorca, located right in the Heart of Old San Juan.
More Restaurants in Puerto Rico:
Casita Miramar (Miramar)
Come for the ambiance, stay for the food. This lovely restaurant in Miramar is a short walk from Condado, depending on where you’re staying. You can also easily Uber there.
The restaurant has multiple well-decorated rooms with great vibes all around.
We both started with the soup special and then I moved on to the Boneless Shortrib. Make a resy!
Barrachina (Old San Juan)
This adorable spot has some of the best pina coladas that Puerto Rico has to offer. Call ahead to see if they’re offering flamenco shows while you’re in town! Make a reservation.
Barrachina Courtyard, by Renee
O:LV’s Arya Rooftop (Condado)
This sleek rooftop is THE sunset spot in Condado. The gorgeous rooftop with intinity pool overlooks the Condado lagoon. Small plates are delicious – get the pork dumplings and tuna tartare. The cocktails are worth visiting for, too! Make a reservation around sunset time. That was 6:30 p.m. for us around the end of March.
Jose Enrique (Condado)
This acclaimed restaurant is a foodie spot. We went for lunch. I had the Pollo Chupa Plato, a basic, yet juicy dish. We also had mofongo on the side – order one to share. Two mofongos are way too much food/carbs, but also serve as a tasty late-night leftover snack… Make a resy.
La Marqueta (Condado)
La Marqueta is a happening food hall in Condado. It houses 10+ food vendors with varied types of cuisine. We tried the Jose Enrique wings since the line was the longest. They did not disappoint!
We had walked by this unassuming place several times and decided to check it out after reading reviews. Our initial dinner plans didn’t work out. I’m so glad we had dinner there. The mushroom truffle gnocchi is phenomenal! Renee enjoyed her Mahi Mahi, too.
Special Mention – Ropa Vieja (Condado) – serving up modern Puerto Rican with flair. We weren’t able to get in! It was a one hour wait on a Tuesday night and we were too hungry for that.
Cuarto Sombras for coffee. Check out their cute courtyard, too.
Where to Stay in Puerto Rico
Condado Beach is my top pick for a few reasons.
✅ Location: You’re right on the beach! It’s a 10-minute inexpensive Uber ride east into Old San Juan, including the cruise port. The airport is also only about 15 minutes west. The area is very walkable.
✅ Choice: You have many hotel options along the main strip. You can choose according to your preferences and budget. Some are super sleek!
✅ Things to see & eat: Condado is a happening area. Restaurants, bars, a park, ice cream shops, and more line the main strip.
Old San Juan also offers traditional boutique-style hotels if that’s what you’re seeking. If you stay in Old San Juan, you’ll experience some of the best food, drinks, and coffee shops right outside your door. The area is wholly walkable.
Ocean Park and Isla Verde are nice areas to stay as well, and good options if you don’t want to experience the nightlife of Old San Juan or Condado Beach. Traffic is horrendous along the northern strip, so I wouldn’t recommend these areas if you do want to experience dining and nightlife in other areas.
If you’re flexible on travel dates, check different date scenarios with prices and hotels before you book. Rates can vary tremendously between weeks because of events.
How to Get Around Puerto Rico
Your transportation options will depend on where you’d like to go in Puerto Rico.
If you’re only in for a short trip, stay in Condado and Uber around. If you have time, take a day trip to El Yunque.
If you have more time, rent a car for part of your trip so that you can explore on your own! I rented from Enterprise in Condado Beach. It was super easy! Just don’t drive to Old San Juan. And, expect a bit of traffic on the weekends.
Additional Tips for Puerto Rico
- If you need a coworking space, I highly recommend Co Co Haus, which is close to the airport. For lunch, check out Lote 23, a vibrant food truck park.
Is Puerto Rico safe?
Puerto Rico is generally a safe island. US citizens may feel more safe than they would on other islands because Puerto Rico is a US territory.
The highly touristic areas of Old San Juan, Condado Beach, Ocean Park, Isla Verde, and Miramar are generally safe. I felt safe throughout all of the places that we went. I also ventured off solo numerous times.
The area of La Perla in Old San Juan is not recommended at night. We were told by locals that we shouldn’t go, though some travel blogs will mention this as somewhere to see.
Any traveler, no matter where they are, should be aware of their surroundings and exercise basic precautions.
Is Puerto Rico expensive?
Puerto Rico can be one of the most inexpensive Caribbean island vacations.
All major US airlines run many non-stop flights to Puerto Rico, which allows for different flight itinerary options and competition among carriers. International
Puerto Rico also has more affordable accommodation, compared to many other Caribbean destinations, as there are many hotels and accommodations. Visitors can also eat local food, which is available at a low price.
Do US Citizens need a passport?
No! Puerto Rico is a US territory. US citizens can travel to Puerto Rico with their driver’s license. No customs lines to worry about on the way home, either!
For international travelers, the same rules apply as if entering the mainland US.
What is the best time to travel to San Juan?
The best time for northerners to visit Puerto Rico is between January and March so that we can escape the cold! Puerto Rico is warm and pleasant then, though it is high season, especially in March. Mid-April and May can be the best time for rates and weather.
What is the weather like in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico has a year-round tropical climate. It’s always warm! Try to avoid travel from June to November, as that is the height of hurricane season.
How many days should I spend in Puerto Rico?
At least 4 days to make your trip worth it. Puerto Rico offers so much to do, see, and eat that you can easily spend more time.
Do cruises go to Puerto Rico?
Yes! Many cruises, including Virgin Voyages, stop at or originate in San Juan.
If San Juan is your embarkation point, leave enough time to enjoy the activities and food listed above!
I only have one day – what should I do?
This depends on your interests! If you’re a “culture traveler” like me, start in the morning with Old San Juan and finish your day in Condado.
Why is it called “Puerto Rico”?
The island was first inhabited by the Taino people, which called it “Borinquen”. When the Spanish came, they named it Puerto Rico, which translates to “rich port.” The island then became a US territory in 1898 after the Spanish-American war. Puerto Ricans have been US citizens since 1917.
Conclusion: Is Puerto Rico Worth Visiting?
Puerto Rico is worth visiting! Visitors have so much to choose from – the culture and history of Old San Juan, the gorgeous and happening Condado Beach, the green El Yunque Forest, the native food, and so much more.
Interested in visiting Puerto Rico?
Contact me about my itinerary planning services!