Are you planning a Puerto Rico vacation? You need to see this list of things to do in Puerto Rico so you can have a fantastic trip. Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island that is a territory of the United States, and its capital is San Juan.
It is the most populous city in Puerto Rico, and it sits on the Atlantic coast on the northern side of the island.
Is Puerto Rico a Good Place to Vacation?
Puerto Rico is known for its beaches and rich colonial history. Travelers flock to Puerto Rico for a host of reasons, but the top-ranked destination remains its rich cultural identity.
Puerto Rico’s vast array of cuisines reflects influences from Europe, Africa, and the United States, passed down over centuries through trade routes and immigration waves.
Puerto Rico cuisine allures with its diversity and uniqueness. Puerto Rico is also known for its vibrant nightlife, casinos and exciting array of festivals–no other place in the world celebrates Puerto Rican culture quite like Puerto Rico does.
The tropical climate, which enjoys year-round sunshine, also makes Puerto Rico a popular travel destination throughout much of the year. Puerto Rico has many exciting things to do and see on your Puerto Rico vacation!
Is it Safe to Vacation in Puerto Rico?
While Puerto Rico is certainly not immune to crime – Puerto Rico remains a popular tourist destination because it is safe and offers something for everyone, from beaches to historical sites to nightlife.
Puerto Rico has one of the lowest crime rates in the Caribbean, with fewer incidents than other similar destinations such as Jamaica or Mexico.
This doesn’t mean you should let your guard down when visiting Puerto Rico; it simply means that people can generally vacation there without undue worry. There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Puerto Rico if you make your way to this Caribbean island.
Best Things to in Puerto Rico on Your Next Romantic Vacation
San Juan is one of Puerto Rico’s most popular tourist destinations due to the city’s history and many attractions. If you choose to visit this destination, you will find plenty of ways to occupy your time and make your vacation enjoyable and memorable.
Here are the 20 best things to do in Puerto Rico, to help you plan your visit.
Visit San Juan National Historic Site
San Juan played a crucial role in the island’s defense when the Spanish took control of the route to and from the Caribbean and is one of our top must things to do in Puerto Rico. To create a strong defense, the Spanish spent 250 years building three large forts.
These are Castillo San Cristobel, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, and Fort San Juan de la Cruz. The San Juan Historic Site consists of the three forts, the San Juan Gate, and most of the city’s fortifications. San Juan National Historic Site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and should top your list of things to do in San Juan.
Walk Old San Juan’s Cobbled Streets
Although most of San Juan is old, the city’s historic area is called Old San Juan, and it is reminiscent of past times. There is an ancient gate into this area of the city, an imposing fortress, historic buildings, and cobblestone streets, truly Old San Juan.
Old San Juan also has many traditional Puerto Rican restaurants and independent shops, and this part of the island’s capital offers plenty of opportunities to explore.
There is the option to take a walking tour through Old San Juan to familiarize yourself with the area and see some of the highlights or discover the area alone.
Stroll Along Ocean Park Beach
San Juan has a stunning coastline and beautiful beaches. One beach that you should try to visit during your time in San Juan is Ocean Park Beach. It is one of the locals’ favorite places to relax or have fun.
It boasts a mile of sugary sand and gorgeous coastal views, so it is perfect for a morning stroll. Ocean Park Beach is also an excellent place for families to spend some time during their vacation, as the sea is safe for paddling, the sand is perfect for building sandcastles, and shops and restaurants line the beach.
See the Art at Walter Otero Contemporary Art
If you enjoy art, then head to Walter Otero Contemporary Art, a modern art gallery that promotes and supports young contemporary artists from Puerto Rico. You will find the art gallery in Puerta de Tierra in San Juan’s Historic District. The galleries are over three floors, and there is a rooftop garden.
Explore the Rainforest
One of San Juan’s most popular things to do in Puerto Rico for people who enjoy the outdoors is to explore the rainforest. If you want to get away from the urban feel of this unique area for a while, multiple tours take you into the surrounding rainforests.
Various experiences are available, including hiking through the el yunque national forest rainforest, kayaking on the rivers, and even overnight stays in rustic accommodation.
Visit the University of Puerto Rico Botanical Garden
Although San Juan is predominantly an urban setting, there are plenty of beautiful outdoor spaces to visit. One of the best is the University of Puerto Rico Botanical Garden, which covers 189 acres.
It is a live laboratory containing diverse ecosystems, tropical plants, lakes, waterfalls, and sculptures. There are more than 30,000 plant species in the gardens, including some that are endemic or endangered. The gardens have themed areas, including a replica of Monet’s water garden in Giverny.
Go to the Felisa Rincon de Gautier Museum in Puerto Rico
Felisa Rincon de Gautier was an influential and prominent Puerto Rican woman in the 20th century. She is famous for becoming the first female mayor in an American capital city, and she served as the city’s mayor for 22 years.
Her former home is a 300-year-old house just across from San Juan Gate, and it is now a museum about her life. The exhibits include Felisa Rincon de Gautier’s personal effects, awards, and various other pieces of memorabilia.
View the Art at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Puerto Rico
One of the island’s most popular attractions for art lovers is the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Puerto Rico. It is in the historic Rafael M. Building, which was once a school and is part of the San Juan Sacred Heart University.
The highlight of the museum is the art of modern Puerto Rican and Caribbean artists. However, there are all forms of contemporary art to see by artists from international locations. At this art museum, the galleries are over two stories and arranged around an open courtyard.
Go Scuba Diving in Puerto Rico
While there are many stunning sights to see on land and things to do in Puerto Rico, in San Juan, there is also a magical world underwater to explore off the coast. Beautiful reefs surround the island, which you can see alone if you are a certified diver.
If you are a novice or not yet certified, it is possible to go scuba diving in the reefs with qualified and experienced instructors.
Also to explore are uninhabited islands and cays that are ideal for a beach day. These include Cayo Icacos, Caja de Muertos, Culebrita, Gilligans Island, Cayo Caracoles, Mata la Gata, and Isla Palomino.
Take a Food Tour
For many people, especially foodies, sampling the local cuisine is a crucial part of visiting any new location. Puerto Rican cuisine is unique as it is influenced by the cuisines of so many other cultures.
One of the best ways to find the best restaurants and to sample a wide range of dishes is to go on one of the food tours in San Juan in Puerto Rico.
The tour guides take tourists to cantinas and restaurants that serve authentic Puerto Rican cuisine and are away from the city’s main tourist areas, so tourists do not regularly visit them. Enjoying the food is a definite taste and try of things to do in Puerto Rico
See the Governor’s House
If you take a walk along the waterfront, you will come across a walled compound that is home to the Governor. Although visitors cannot enter the compound as it is the Governor’s home and office, you can see the buildings from the gate. The street leading to the compound is also an interesting sight, as colorful umbrellas adorn the street.
Take a Stroll Around Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis
Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis is a cemetery that faces the sea and sits just outside the wall of El Morro. It is a peaceful place to take a stroll, and it is the final resting place of many notable Puerto Ricans. Some of these include Jose de Diego, Jose Celso Barbosa, and Pedro Albizu Campos.
Cool Off with Piraguas – YUM
There are various food and drink items that you should try during your visit to San Juan, and one of the best options on a hot afternoon is piraguas. These are cones of crushed ice that are flavored with fruit syrups.
Typical flavors include tamarind, lemon, passion fruit, coconut, strawberry, and cherry. Another option for cooling off is paletas, which are homemade fruit-flavored popsicles.
Visit Puerto Rico’s Oldest Cathedral
There are various religious buildings to visit in Puerto Rico. One of the most significant in San Juan is San Juan Bautista, the oldest cathedral on the island and the second oldest in the Americas. A notable feature of the cathedral is explorer Ponce de Leon’s tomb.
There is also a shrine to Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Santiago, the first person from the island in American history to be beatified. Before visiting the cathedral, you should go to Casa Blanca.
It is a house built for Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer, and it is only a few blocks from the cathedral. Inside the house, there is a museum devoted to the explorer.
See Puerto Rico’s Capitol Building’s Rotunda
One of San Juan’s most prominent buildings is the capitol building, which sits overlooking the Atlantic Ocean close to Fort San Cristobel. This structure is free to enter when it is open to the public on weekdays.
The most striking feature internally is the building’s rotunda, which has an elaborate mosaic ceiling. Along the walls of the rotunda are copies of the United States and Puerto Rican constitutions.
Feed the Birds at Pigeon Park in Puerto Rico
Amongst the cobbled streets of San Juan is a beautiful green space called Parque de las Palomas, which is next to Capilla del Cristo. It is a pretty place to take a stroll if you want to take a break from the busy streets of Puerto Rico’s capital.
Many people visit the park to feed the pigeons, and there are sellers selling bags of bird food. The pigeons are extremely friendly and will happily sit on people’s heads, arms, and shoulders.
Have a Drink in a Speakeasy Cocktail Bar
La Factoria is a speakeasy bar in San Juan where you can enjoy cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere. It is so famous in Puerto Rico that it does not have a sign outside.
However, it is easy enough to find, and the locals are happy to point people in the right direction. It is where the Hikos de Borinquen bar once stood, and the name of the former bar is on the walls inside La Factoria.
Enjoy Some Retail Therapy at Plaza Las Americas
If you plan to enjoy some retail therapy during your vacation, then head to Plaza Las Americas. It is the Caribbean’s largest shopping mall.
There are more than 300 stores within the mall where you can pick up some bargains and mementos for your trip. These include clothes shops and stores selling arts and crafts. There are also many eateries within the mall where you can stop for a bite to eat.
Drink Pina Coladas and Debate Their Origin
Puerto Rico’s most famous cocktail is the Pina Colada, and no trip to the island is complete without enjoying a couple of these drinks. The cocktail is also surrounded by controversy, as there is a debate about its true origins.
According to folklore, the Pina Colada dates back to the 19th century. Some say that Ramon Monchito Marrero made the first official Pina Colada in 1954 at the Caribe Hilton hotel.
Others believe that the first official Pina Colada was not made until 1963 by a bartender called Don Ramon Portas Mingot. Join in the debate by visiting some of the establishments that serve the drink.
Listen to Music at the Little Market
The Little Market, known locally as La Placita, offers a varied experience. During the day, the market sells local produce, so it is a fantastic place to try locally grown fruits and vegetables or sample local produce such as cheese and preserves.
However, the market closes in the afternoon, and it becomes an alfresco drinking and eating area for the surrounding bars and restaurants.
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A highlight of drinking or eating at the Little Market is listening to the music, and there is even the chance to get up and dance. Therefore, Little Market is a great place to hang out, regardless of whether you visit at night or during the day.
These are just a selection of the amazing tourist attractions and sights and experiences you can enjoy during your visit to Puerto Rico.
If you include a selection of these things to do in Puerto Rico and add these attractions in your vacation itinerary, it will help you to make the most out of your romantic vacation in this location and enjoy a memorable trip.
So you can see that Puerto Rico is a beautiful island with so much to offer tourists. From the white sand beaches of the south to the lush rainforests of the north, Puerto Rico has something for everyone.
There are also many historical and cultural sites to explore, such as Old San Juan, where you can find centuries-old buildings and shops. Puerto Rico is also home to many festivals and events throughout the year, such as the San Sebastian Street Festival and the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest.
Of course, no visit to Puerto Rico would be complete without trying some of the local cuisine, which combines Spanish, African, and Taíno influences. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an exciting adventure, Puerto Rico is sure to please.
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