DESTINATION GUIDE: Puerto Rico (2024)

Puerto Rico combines beautiful Caribbean beaches and jungle-strewn mountains with gorgeous historical landmarks, amazing food, and a pulse-pounding nightlife scene. Americans looking for a close-to-home vacation find Puerto Rico offers all the perks of international travel without the need for passports and travel visas. This Puerto Rico travel guide provides a comprehensive overview of the best places to go in Puerto Rico, including how to get there, what to see, and what to eat when you visit the Isla del Encanto—the Island of Enchantment.

The Basics

Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Puerto Rico is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States, with a population of approximately 3.3 million people. Spanish is the main language, with about half the population speaking English to some degree. English-speaking Puerto Ricans are most common in the island's cities and popular tourist destinations. The capital, located on the island's northwest coast, is San Juan.

Puerto Rico offers a rich combination of native and colonial Spanish history, pristine beaches, jungle-strewn mountains, and unique cultural experiences. You can spend your morning exploring a Spanish fort, the afternoon snorkeling, and the evening enjoying fine dining and vibrant nightlife, making the island a popular destination for domestic and international travelers.

When to go

Peak tourism season runs during Puerto Rico’s dry season from December to April, with a second tourist spike in July and August. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider traveling in May, at the start of the wet season. The chance of rain is higher at this time, but tourism levels are lower, and you can often find discounted accommodations.

Fall is another period where you can dodge the crowds in Puerto Rico. Hurricane season runs from June to November. While the risk of a hurricane coinciding with your trip is low, it’s something to keep in mind. If you choose to visit Puerto Rico during hurricane season, consider taking out travel insurance in case your flights are canceled. You should also pack some warm, rainproof clothing and extra medication if needed.

Airport Options

Muñoz Marin International Airport, just outside Ponce, Puerto Rico, is the largest Puerto Rico airport. Commonly called the San Juan Airport, Muñoz Marin is only a few minutes' drive from San Juan. Over twenty commercial airlines use the airport, making it the busiest, but also most accessible, way to travel to Puerto Rico. The San Juan, Puerto Rico airport code is SJU.

Your other Puerto Rico airport options include Rafael Hernández Airport (BQN) in Aguadilla, located in the northwest of the island. Smaller than the San Juan, Ponce, Puerto Rico airport, the Aguadilla airport primarily serves JetBlue, Frontier, and United Airlines flights from Orlando and Tampa, Florida. The Mercedita International Airport (PSE) in Ponce, Puerto Rico, is a less-used airport that receives a small number of commercial flights. If you want to avoid the crowds of the San Juan Airport, Mercedita International may be the right Puerto Rico airport for you.

Do You Need a Passport to Go to Puerto Rico?

US citizens do not need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico, as the island is a US territory. A driver’s license, state ID, or similar valid photo identification is all that’s needed. International travelers, of course, require passports.

Things to do in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico abounds in things to do. First-time travelers should definitely experience Puerto Rico’s Crash Boat Beach, a popular beach for snorkeling, diving, and surfing. The famous 16th-century Castillo San Felipe Del Morro is another must-see, as is the neighborhood of Old San Juan.

However, some of the best places to go in Puerto Rico are off the beaten tourist path. If you’re looking for more than the usual Puerto Rico travel guide recommendations, consider these hidden gems:

    • Caja de Muertos: Despite its foreboding name, Caja de Muertos (Coffin Island) is a beautiful uninhabited island off Puerto Rico’s southwestern coast. Once the abode of mutineers and pirates, the island is now home to the Caja de Muertos Nature Reserve, which protects the island’s turtles, reefs, and dry forest environment. Accessible by ferry for day trips, Caja de Muertos is often quieter than nearby attractions, even during peak tourist season.
    • Lago Dos Bocas: Just north of the town of Utuado, the man-made Lago Dos Bocas (Lake of Two Mouths) is surrounded by the mountains of central Puerto Rico. Boat trips to the lake often drop passengers off at lakeside restaurants.


  • Rio Camuy Cave Park: Two hours west of San Juan lies the Rio Camuy Cave Park, home to soaring ten-story high limestone caverns filled with stalactites. The cave complex was carved by the Rio Camuy, the third-largest underground river in the world. Reservations can be made at 787-898-3100, 787-999-2200 ext 3474 for guided tours. Be sure to wear closed-toed footwear and bring a flashlight and water, as the caves are hot and humid.
  • Flamenco Beach: Located in Culebra, Flamenco Beach is known for its turquoise waters, white sand . . . and the graffiti-covered remains of a WWII-era military tank, a reminder of when the US military used the beach for artillery practice. Perfect for a beach vacation!
  • El Cemí Museum: Much of the culture and history tourists encounter in Puerto Rico stems from the island’s Spanish colonial era. For a glimpse into the lives of the island’s original inhabitants, check out the El Cemí Museum in Jayuya. Housing a collection of ancient Taíno religious artifacts, the museum was built in the shape of a stone Cemí, or Taino deity.
  • Tanamá River: A day trip to the Tanamá River in Utuado gives you the opportunity to hike, rock-climb, swim in natural pools, and tube through a 1,000-foot river cave.
  • La Piedra Escrita: Located in the middle of the Saliente River in Coabey, Jayuya, La Piedra Escrita (The Written Stone) is a granite boulder covered with prehistoric petroglyphs.
  • Museo del Niño de Carolina: Want to keep the kids happy for a day? The Museo del Niño de Carolina (Carolina Children’s Museum) includes interactive exhibits, a small zoo, a playground, go-karts, and more.

How to get around Puerto Rico

Renting a car in Puerto Rico is the best way to explore the island's countryside and remote locations. The island has toll roads, most of which accept cash or AutoExpreso, a prepaid toll system. Car rentals often come with AutoExpreso tags included, so you don’t have to pay toll fees until you return the vehicle. Road signs are in Spanish but use the same symbols and shapes as the mainland US. If you’re a younger traveler, be aware you need to be 25 to rent a car in Puerto Rico.

You may not need a car if you’re staying in a metro area, such as San Juan. Puerto Rico public transportation includes taxis, rideshares, buses, and trains at reasonable rates. Some of the most popular Puerto Rico public transportation options are públicos—large vans that transport people to popular destinations such as airports and tourist attractions. If you choose to travel by público or taxi, be sure to carry cash, as they rarely accept credit cards.

If you’re traveling between islands in Puerto Rico, your best options are ferries and small commuter planes. Most rental agencies don't allow you to take their vehicles off the main island, so board ferries on foot and use públicos at your destination or rent a car or even a golf cart where the ferry docks.

Where and what to eat in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico cuisine blends the foods and spices of the indigenous Taíno Arawak with Spanish and African influences. Here are just a few suggestions of what to eat in Puerto Rico:


  • Mofongo: Deep-fried green plantain mashed with garlic, olive oil, and pork.
  • Lechón asado: A whole pig marinated in Adobo sauce and roasted over coals for juicy meat and crispy skin.
  • Frituras: Deep-fried fritters stuffed with seafood, pork, beef, or chicken. Excellent with an ice-cold beer (Please note the drinking age in Puerto Rico is 18).

Local food is easily procured from food carts. For restaurants, we recommend the following:

  • 1919combines contemporary dining with local produce and spectacular ocean views from its location in the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel.
  • Lechonera El Rancho Original is a 45-minute drive outside of San Juan and is famous for its lechonera, or roasted pork served right off the spit.
  • La Casita Blanca is popular with celebrities for its traditional cuisine.
  • Marmalade focuses on multi-course, farm-to-table meals.
  • Los Yeyo' la Casa Del Mofongo is a local favorite and offers exceptional mofongo and empanadas at decent prices. It’s busy, so you may want to bring a tote or cooler in case you need to order take-out.

Puerto Rico is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Why not make the Island of Enchantment part of your next adventure?

DESTINATION GUIDE: Puerto Rico (2024)


What is the nicest part of Puerto Rico to visit? ›

Spanning 500 years of history, Old San Juan is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic and treasured places in Puerto Rico. Wander the cobblestone streets to soak up the unique architecture and colorful streets. You'll find fun local shops and lively restaurants and bars scattered throughout the old city.

What is the #1 attraction in Puerto Rico? ›

Now, El Castillo San Felipe del Morro (known simply as El Morro) is Puerto Rico's go-to tourist attraction, both for its extensive history and its outstanding vistas of the Atlantic Ocean.

What is the best month to go to Puerto Rico? ›

The best time to visit Puerto Rico is from mid-April to June, right after the busy winter season and just before the rainy summer (August is the month with the most rainfall).

How many days is enough in Puerto Rico? ›

All in all, vacation-goers should prepare to schedule no less than a week for their Puerto Rico vacation. Planning to stay between seven and 14 days should give you enough time to visit all the sites and attractions you crave, without having to rush to hit all the stops along your itinerary.

What is the prettiest place in Puerto Rico? ›

Here are the most beautiful destinations on the island.
  • Old San Juan. Cathedral. ...
  • Playa Flamenco. Natural Feature. ...
  • El Yunque National Park. Forest, Park. ...
  • Rincón. Architectural Landmark. ...
  • Ponce. Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark. ...
  • Río Camuy Cave Park. Park. ...
  • La Parguera Natural Reserve. Natural Feature, Park. ...
  • Lago dos Bocas.
Apr 2, 2024

What is the safest city to stay in Puerto Rico? ›

Quick Tidbits to Help You Choose a Place in Puerto Rico

Bucana Barrio is the safest on the island. (It's also the smallest barrio.) Rio Mar is the 2nd-most walkable city in PR. San Juan, the biggest city in Puerto Rico, is also the most walkable.

What not to do when visiting Puerto Rico? ›

  1. Be careful of your belongings. ...
  2. Try to blend in. ...
  3. Learn some Spanish. ...
  4. Understand local laws. ...
  5. Be careful at night, especially in San Juan, and stay away from housing projects. ...
  6. Watch for changes in weather and weather warnings.
  7. Be careful in the rainforest.
Feb 6, 2024

Do you need a car in Puerto Rico? ›

If you're staying in San Juan, then you won't need a car. And those seeking a quiet vacation along the beaches of Rincón, Vieques or Culebra might find one more of a nuisance than a necessity. You will need a car, however, if you want to branch out and explore. Before you book the rental, consider these three points.

Is it safe to travel to Puerto Rico right now? ›

International travel advisories: Level One, practice normal precautions. Crime rating: Moderate, 61.72. Most common crime: Vandalism. Public transportation safety: Buses and trains are well-maintained and safe, but may be less frequent during nighttime.

What is the rainy month in Puerto Rico? ›

When is Rainy Season? Puerto Rico's rainy season bridges spring through fall, lasting from April through November. August is typically the wettest month, averaging seven inches (178 mm) of rain. The island's north experiences more rainfall than the south.

What city to stay in Puerto Rico? ›

  • San Juan: the best area to stay in Puerto Rico for your first visit. ...
  • Rio Grande: one of the best areas to stay in Puerto Rico for exploring the outdoors. ...
  • Santurce: a San Juan neighborhood with the best nightlife in Puerto Rico. ...
  • Condado: casinos and shopping galore.
Feb 13, 2024

What months can you swim in Puerto Rico? ›

If you are planning to explore Puerto Rico with your family, the dry months between December and March will let you explore everything the island offers. The temperatures are warm enough to swim on one of the beaches. You can also soak up the sun or go snorkeling during this period.

Should I go to Costa Rica or Puerto Rico? ›

They both offer natural beauty, tropical beaches, and rainforest adventure. Much will depend on your interests or preferences. Costa Rica seems the obvious destination for those who prefer nature, with Puerto Rico the place for beaches, colonial-era architecture, and restaurants.

How much money do I need for 1 week in Puerto Rico? ›

There is a lot to consider when budgeting for your trip to Puerto Rico. The average cost for a solo traveler taking a one-week vacation is under $1,500 USD. As someone who grew up visiting the island every summer, I have a good idea of what it will cost to visit.

How much money do you need per day in Puerto Rico? ›

What is the average daily budget for a trip to Puerto Rico? The average daily budget for a trip to Puerto Rico can vary widely depending on your travel style and preferences. However, a reasonable estimate is around $100 to $150 per day, which includes accommodations, food, transportation, and activities.

What is the most luxurious area in Puerto Rico? ›

Condado (apartment living) Condado is San Juan's most luxurious district, sitting oceanfront to hotels, a busy nightlife, beachside restaurants, and world-renowned, upscale brand boutiques. You can find everything within walking distance and much to do.

Is Puerto Rico an expensive vacation spot? ›

The average daily budget for a trip to Puerto Rico can vary widely depending on your travel style and preferences. However, a reasonable estimate is around $100 to $150 per day, which includes accommodations, food, transportation, and activities. Of course, this can be higher or lower depending on your choices.

Which is more beautiful Costa Rica or Puerto Rico? ›

Costa Rica is a much better known landmark for natural beauty compared to Puerto Rico. Its “Pura Vida” way of life is all about enjoying the simple things, such as good food with family and friends, and being in nature.


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