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Top Tips for Finding the Best Deals on Puerto Rico Rental Cars
Puerto Rico is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, rich history, and vibrant culture. If you’re planning a trip to this Caribbean island, you’ll need a reliable mode of transportation to explore all that it has to offer. Renting a car is the best way to get around Puerto Rico at your own pace and convenience. However, finding the best deals on Puerto Rico rental cars can be challenging. In this article, we’ll provide you with some top tips for finding affordable rental cars in Puerto Rico.
The key to finding the best deals on rental cars in Puerto Rico is to plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your rental car because prices tend to increase as demand goes up. It’s recommended that you start looking for rental cars at least two weeks before your trip. This will give you enough time to compare prices and find the best deal.
Another advantage of planning ahead is that you can take advantage of promotions and discounts offered by rental car companies. Many companies offer early bird discounts or special deals if you book online or through their app.
Before booking a rental car in Puerto Rico, it’s essential to compare prices from different companies. You may find significant price variations between different providers, even for similar types of vehicles.
Online travel agencies like Expedia or Kayak can help you compare prices from multiple car rental companies at once. You can also check each company’s website directly or call them for quotes.
Don’t forget to read the fine print before booking your rental car in Puerto Rico. Some companies may have hidden fees like insurance charges or additional driver fees that can increase your overall cost significantly.
Choose Your Rental Car Wisely
Choosing the right type of vehicle can also affect how much you pay for your rental car in Puerto Rico. If you’re traveling alone or with a partner, renting a compact car may be more cost-effective than a large SUV or luxury car.
However, if you’re planning to explore the island’s rugged terrain or drive on unpaved roads, you may need a 4-wheel drive vehicle. In this case, it’s worth investing in a more expensive rental car that can handle the terrain.
Finally, consider your pick-up and drop-off locations when renting a car in Puerto Rico. Renting a car from the airport may be more convenient, but it can also be more expensive. You may find better deals if you rent your car from off-airport locations.
Additionally, returning your rental car to the same location where you picked it up can save you money on drop-off fees. However, some companies offer one-way rentals that allow you to drop off your rental car at a different location for an additional fee.
Finding affordable rental cars in Puerto Rico requires planning ahead, comparing prices, choosing the right type of vehicle, and considering pick-up and drop-off locations. By following these top tips, you’ll be able to find the best deals on rental cars in Puerto Rico and enjoy all that this beautiful island has to offer at your own pace and convenience.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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4 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary: How to Spend A Long Weekend in Puerto Rico
Have you been looking for the best 4 day puerto rico itinerary i’ve got you covered.
Hello there, fellow adventurers! If you’re reading this, chances are you’re looking for how to explore the best of Puerto Rico in four days. Well, you’re in luck because I’ve just spent an incredible week exploring this vibrant island in the Caribbean. And let me tell you, it’s a tropical paradise with a lively culture that has stolen my heart!
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For over a decade, I’ve been traversing Latin America and the Americas. I’ve been immersing myself in diverse cultures, sampling unique cuisines, and collecting unforgettable memories. So, when I say I’ve got the inside scoop on what to do in Puerto Rico, especially in the Northeast part of the island, you can be confident I know what I’m talking about.
We’re about to embark on a 4-day journey through Puerto Rico that will leave you ready to hit the road. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
This post may contain affiliate links, which help keep the blog running at no cost to you. Thank you for helping support me so I can keep creating free content for your adventure planning!
💃🏽 Do you want to visit the highlights of Puerto Rico? Book this Lifestyle and Culture Tour to discover the beauty of the island’s culture!
Day 1 of Puerto Rico 4 Day Itinerary: Explore San Juan
Morning: Exploring Old San Juan
Exploring San Juan, Puerto Rico is an adventure in itself! From the colorful buildings of Old San Juan to the regional dishes, this vibrant city has something for everyone.
Whether you’re looking to explore the ancient remains of Castillo San Felipe del Morro or will appreciate Puerto Rico’s rich history and diverse cultural experiences, you will find what you are looking for.
Get lost in the winding streets of Old San Juan exploring the bright, colorful buildings. The city is the perfect backdrop for taking photos and just wandering. Bring your camera, and a bottle of water, and hit the neighborhood.
Fun Fact: the blue cobblestones along many of the streets represent a piece of the island’s rich past. Literally! Spanish ships brought them over to balance out the weight of the gold they swapped them for on the boat home.
While exploring San Juan, I especially enjoyed the national park site Castillo San Cristobal . It was beginning to get hotter with the humidity but that didn’t stop me from venturing and enjoying the visit. Get there early in the morning to beat the cruise ship stopovers, and the island heat.
Don’t forget your National Parks Passport! Castillo San Cristobal was incredibly interesting to explore and easily accessible from Old San Juan. In addition to the crumbling fort’s strange beauty, I also found myself captivated by its fascinating history. The 17th century fortifications give testament to its strategic importance to colonizers during different periods of wars in Puerto Rico’s memory. It certainly made me think about the island’s storied past.
🏰 Learn about the 500 year history of Old San Juan on this Guided Walking Tour
Taste the History of San Juan
San Juan, Puerto Rico is known for its dynamic food scene. From the classic piña colada’s storied past, to the award-winning bar Factoria , to the Bacardi distillery , even the cocktail scene in Puerto Rico is something to be experienced. Travelers of all ages can find something to tantalize their taste buds here.
If you’re looking for a way to explore it all, The Spoon Experience offers unique guided tours of the culinary landscape in San Juan. They will lead you through favorite local spots and family-run restaurants so you can sample authentic Puerto Rican dishes. With Spoon’s knowledgeable guides, friendly atmosphere and delicious food, you’ll be sure to have a memorable experience!
🥑 Check availability and prices for The Spoon Experience
Did you know the piña colada originated in San Juan, Puerto Rico?
I had the pleasure of visiting a few places around San Juan and tasting their delicious piña coladas.
I started off by visiting the Caribe Hilton , a stunning resort that claims to be the location it was originally invented. Bartender Ramon “Monchito” Marrero created the legendary mix here in 1954.
Their version of the blended drink is smooth and creamy, and more coconut-forward. The result is a delightfully refreshing cocktail, worthy of the honor.
I was not able to make it to Barrachina , but recommend it if you are able to. Rivaling Caribe Hilton with its claim to be the original, Barrachina is also rumored to have started the cocktail. Bartender Ramon Portas Mingot reportedly invented the piña colada here in 1963. This version is more pineapple-forward, so it’s a great choice for those not as big of fans of coconut.
So why the contrary claims to the classic cocktail’s history? For that, we headed to Antiguo 26 to learn from Mr. Fun Facts waiter Andre. According to him, the original piña colada was not blended. The first iteration was created by Monchito in 1954 , and was later blended in it’s more well-known form at Barrachina.
Piña Colada with a Twist
For something even more special though, I recommend checking out the cocktail menu from Antiguo 26 .
They have two drinks on the menu with a unique playful take on the original piña colada .
A particular favorite for me was their ‘Monchito 2020’, named after the bartender who invented the beverage. With a clarified pineapple punch and added spices, its a flavor you will remember.
Also on the menu is the ‘Paragua’ named for the popular Puerto Rican snow-cone-like treat.
🍹 Check availability and prices at Caribe Hilton
Afternoon: Take in the Art of Santurce
Don’t miss Santurce in San Juan, Puerto Rico with its vibrant art scene. The murals around the neighborhood, many of which are created by local artists, create an enchanting atmosphere.
We walked around Calle Cerra in Santurce taking in all the art around the neighborhood. We even ran into a few artists painting! They told us there was an art festival they were preparing for in late May. We we were going to just barely miss Santurce es Ley .
This popular event draws people from all over Puerto Rico as well as tourists from around the world. Come to enjoy a unique evening with music, dancing, and delicious food. Visitors can enjoy all this in addition to the brand new murals. So make sure to check out this exciting event when it comes back around next Spring!
There’s also a lovely sculpture garden and plenty of galleries where you can find unique works of art.
🎨 Learn about the art of Santurce on this Lifestyle and Culture Tour
Evening: Enjoy an Incredible Meal at Cocina Al Fondo
Cocina al Fondo , located in the Santurce neighborhood of San Juan, should definitely be on your Puerto Rico Itinerary. Owned and operated by native Puerto Ricans, Cocina al Fondo is known for its fresh, locally sourced ingredients and modern culinary techniques.
The chef, Natalia Vallejo, was honored in June 2023 with the coveted James Beard award for her masterful concoctions that are sure to please even the most discerning palates.
Travelers can be sure that they’ll get the best of Puerto Rican cuisine when they visit Cocina al Fondo. They can expect a meal that is both delicious and locally sourced!
It was my first time visiting the restaurant and I was immediately taken aback by its beauty. The outdoor seating was especially inviting with lush vegetation, atmospheric bistro lights, and a warm breeze gently blowing.
We were so excited to taste everything on the menu that we couldn’t decide what to order! So, we decided to just keep ordering different plates of food to share. It got to the point that we couldn’t even remember what we ordered as more plates were brought out! We were not complaining! The food was incredible; it was so flavorful and colorful that I almost didn’t want to eat it! Each plate had a unique combination of flavors that blended perfectly together. The ingredients were obviously fresh and cooked with care. My favorite was the beet and goat cheese dish (so we ordered another haha!)
I was truly impressed with the quality of our meal as well as the overall atmosphere of Cocina al Fondo.
Reservations are required and can only be made by texting the restaurant through WhatsApp.
Day 2 of Four Days in Puerto Rico Itinerary: Beach and Pool by day, Dancing till Dawn by Night
Morning: Hang out at the Beach
Visiting the beaches in Puerto Rico is a great way to experience the beauty and culture of this Caribbean island. One thing that travelers should keep in mind when visiting any beach is to remember to wear sunscreen ! The tropical sun can be quite strong, so it’s important to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays. When it comes to beaches, one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Rico for travelers is Condado Beach . This beach boasts crystal-clear turquoise waters and white sand making it an ideal spot for sunbathing and swimming. The waters are also home to some amazing wildlife, so it’s worth taking a snorkeling trip as well! For those looking for a quieter beach experience, Playa Escambron is also an excellent option. Situated on the east side of Old San Juan, this beach offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and has plenty of shaded spots where you can relax in peace and quiet.
I had the pleasure of visiting Luquillo Beach recently which is very close to San Juan. I stayed at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar , which has a sprawling beachfront.
The sand was soft and smooth under my toes, making it perfect for walking along the shore. The pool was perfect for taking a dip or lounging around with friends. My experience was so pleasant and I would recommend this as a relaxing beach to visit.
While the property is private, all beaches in Puerto Rico are public and can be visited by anyone. And if traversing the island’s beaches isn’t your thing, most hotels will have a refreshing pool you can relax in as well.
😎 Shop our favorite reef-safe sunscreens
Afternoon: Lunch at Princesa – Cocina Cultura
If you’re making your way around San Juan make sure to carve out some time for a culinary journey at Princesa . This isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an experience that transports you straight into the heart of Puerto Rican culture. From tantalizing traditional dishes that are a gastronomic celebration of the island’s rich heritage, to the most complete collection of Puerto Rican rum, Princesa leaves no stone unturned in delivering an authentic dining adventure.
But it’s not just the food that tells a story here. Even their cocktails have a tale to tell, each one named after influential women in history. As you sip on these creative concoctions, you’re not just enjoying a delicious drink, but also paying tribute to these trailblazing women. It’s a unique touch that adds a layer of depth and connection to your dining experience.
And let’s not forget the setting. Princesa offers an enchanting indoor-outdoor dining space, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by lush greenery, making you feel the magic of the story behind the place. Whether you’re sitting under the open sky or inside amidst the charming decor in the enclosed patio, the ambiance is nothing short of magical.
So, if you’re looking for a dining experience that engages all your senses and leaves you with a deeper understanding and appreciation of Puerto Rican culture, Princesa is the place to be!
Evening: Head Out for a Night of Dancing
Start out the evening at Distrito T-Mobile in San Juan. From the numerous bars and restaurants located in the area to the loud and exciting atmosphere, spending time in Distrito T-Mobile is sure to be a blast.
Whether you just want to grab some food with friends or take part in one of their many events throughout the year, Distrito T-Mobile never fails to provide a great time! The music is loud and full of energy, people are dancing, and there is a ton to do. I felt the incredible energy of Puerto Rican nightlife when I visited this place for the first time and anyone who goes is sure to have a thrilling time.
For those who don’t want to end the night early don’t worry – next you’re heading to La Placita .
La Placita in the Santurce neighborhood is known as the ultimate adventure for young travelers looking for nightlife. With its vibrant atmosphere and numerous bars, La Placita is the perfect place to party until the sun comes up. Whether you’re looking to grab a few drinks with friends or explore some of San Juan’s hidden gems, La Placita always has something to offer.
The streets buzz with energy, and upon arrival you can expect multiple vendors selling street food from all around the world. There are often live music performances taking place offering a diverse range of genres such as salsa and reggaeton. La Placita is definitely an experience that belongs on your Puerto Rico itiner
🍹 Start off the night with this Old San Juan Bar Crawl
Day 3 of 4 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary: El Yunque Rainforest + Exploring Loíza
Morning: Hike and Ziplining through El Yunque National Forest
Welcome to El Yunque National Forest , a lush and vibrant oasis filled with adventure at every turn. Begin your journey at the El Portal visitor’s center, where you’ll find a wealth of information about the park’s flora, fauna, and history.
From here, embark on a range of short and long hike options, each offering its own unique rewards – from breathtaking mountain vistas to hidden waterfalls and serene pools perfect for swimming.
And for those seeking an extra dose of adrenaline, ziplining is a must-try activity, allowing you to soar high above the forest canopy and take in the unparalleled beauty of this stunning natural wonderland. There are a few private companies offering ziplining tours outside of the national forest boundaries.
So pack your hiking boots, grab your gear, and get ready to experience the magic of El Yunque National Forest like never before!
My visit to the El Portal Visitor’s Center in El Yunque National Forest was a short but incredibly enriching experience. I can confidently say it’s the nicest visitor’s center I’ve encountered in the national parks system. The moment I walked across the elevated platform along the treetops and entered the center, I was blown away by the epic scale of the covered area. It almost felt like an all-white church.
I was also delighted to find out that I could get my national parks passport stamped there – a small but meaningful part of my visit. But what truly took my breath away were the stunning views of the forest from the visitor’s center. Even though my time there was brief, it made my adventure in the rainforest of Puerto Rico in all the more memorable.
🌿 Soar through El Yunque on this Rainforest Ziplining Tour
Afternoon: Experience Rich Afro-Caribbean Culture in Loíza
Your next stop in the 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary is Loíza, a vibrant and culturally rich municipality on the coast.
If you’re a foodie, prepare your taste buds for the local delicacy – frituras. These mouth-watering fried snacks are a must-try, offering a burst of flavors that are sure to leave you craving more.
But Loíza is not just about tantalizing food; it’s also a hub of traditional Puerto Rican dance. Don’t miss the chance to witness bomba dancing, an energetic and passionate performance that reflects the town’s African heritage. The rhythm, the moves, the colorful outfits – it’s a feast for the senses that will make you want to join in!
Learn to dance Bomba
We were invited to take a bomba class with Sheila Osorio of Taller Nzmabi and learned so much about its history. Bomba originated in Puerto Rico as a way for enslaved Africans to express themselves. The dancing is rhythmic and done with feeling. The dancers can move to the drum expressing their anger and frustration as much as their celebration and joy.
Standing on the beach in a batey – the semi-circle that marks the dance area – Sheila explained to us why it was so important for her to continue this tradition. Not only does it continue on the cultural practice, but dancing bomba to her honors the ancestors.
Even the location by the ocean is significant, remembering those who died to the water rather than face the tragedy that slavery brought. They say that for her to continue to teach Bomba in this place brings peace to their ancestral souls. This gave me chills.
Loíza is located on the coast of Puerto Rico where many sugar plantations were located, which is why it has become a hub of Afro-Caribbean culture. In addition to bomba dance and food, you can experience the cultural beauty of Puerto Rico’s Afro-Caribbean coast through art. There are beautiful murals all over the municipality, and this is also where vejigante masks originated.
Visit the art studio of Samuel Lind
Speaking of art, do not miss Samuel Lind’s Art Studio . Here, you can marvel at the incredible works of this renowned local artist. Lind’s art beautifully captures the spirit of Loíza and its people, making his studio a must-visit spot on your itinerary.
He draws from motifs of Mother Earth, festivals in Loíza, and even the traditional vejigante masks in his painting and sculpture art.
We were honored to be welcomed into his home where his studio is located. He brought us in to many different rooms showcasing his art over the years. He even has a mural in my current town of Philadelphia!
In Loíza, every corner holds a new discovery. So come, explore, and immerse yourself in the unique charm of this Puerto Rican gem!
💃🏽 Visit Loiza on this guided Lifestyle and Culture Tour to experience the African influences
Evening: Award-winning Dinner in Luquillo
Looking for the perfect dinner spot in Luquillo, Puerto Rico? Look no further than Smoky Joe Caribbean Grill . This beachfront restaurant is renowned for its fresh seafood dishes and smoked meats that will delight your palate.
But the dining experience at Smoky Joe’s is not just about the food.
Situated right on the beach, the restaurant offers breathtaking views of the crystal-clear waters and golden sands, making your meal even more memorable. As you savor your delicious dinner, listen to the soothing sounds of the waves and watch as the sun sets, painting the sky with hues of orange and pink.
Our experience dining with Joe was incredibly special on our last night in Puerto Rico. Joe, the owner, set a table with roses and wine and treated us to his own creation. He served us himself with pineapples filled with fried rice and topped with coconut shrimp. We could instantly tell the dedication and care that he has put into his award-winning dishes.
Day 4 in your Four Day Puerto Rico Itinerary: Snorkeling and Biobay Tour In Fajardo
Morning: Snorkeling at Icacos Cay
If you’re yearning for an adventure on the water, look no further than Kayaking Puerto Rico in Fajardo. They offer mini boat and kayak rentals that let you explore the stunning Icacos Cay in La Cordillera Nature Reserve at your own pace.
Picture this: You’re at the helm of your own mini boat, navigating the sparkling Caribbean waters, with the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair. Or perhaps you prefer a peaceful paddle in a kayak, moving rhythmically with the gentle waves.
Either way, you’re in for an unforgettable experience as you discover the hidden gems of the island, from secluded beaches to vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. So, whether you’re an experienced sailor or a novice paddler, don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to explore Puerto Rico’s natural beauty from a whole new perspective!
Our Experience with the Mini Boats
I had an absolute blast renting a mini boat and snorkeling in Icacos Cay with Kayaking Puerto Rico! Driving the mini boat was so easy and intuitive, even for someone like me who doesn’t have experience driving a boat.
Our guide Kevin was incredibly friendly and helpful, providing us with all the necessary instructions and gear to make our boating and snorkeling experience unforgettable. And let me tell you, the water was absolutely stunning!
Crystal-clear and teeming with colorful marine life, it felt like we were swimming in a giant aquarium.
The guide did use granola to attract the fish to us while we were snorkeling. That does go against our advice not to feed wildlife in the guide to making responsible travel decisions , but as we say in the guide it’s not all black and white.
Overall, boating out to Icacos Cay and snorkeling was truly an incredible experience that made our time in Puerto Rico even more special. If you’re in Puerto Rico and looking for an adventure on the water, I highly recommend renting a mini boat or kayak and snorkeling with Kayaking Puerto Rico. You won’t be disappointed!
🤿 Relax on this Guided Boat Tour to Icacos Cay
Afternoon: Grab lunch at El Cayo Restaurant & Beach Club
After you’ve worked up an appetite on the water, head to El Cayo Restaurant & Beach Club for lunch. Perfectly located just down the road from Kayaking Puerto Rico, the restaurant is an ideal spot to refuel after a thrilling day on the water.
But it’s not just its convenient location that sets El Cayo apart – this beachfront gem offers stunning views that are nothing short of beautiful. Imagine dining al fresco, with a gentle sea breeze and the breathtaking panorama of the Caribbean Sea unfolding before your eyes. You can’t get much better than that!
Seafood lovers, prepare to be spoiled. Each dish at El Cayo is a celebration of the sea, prepared with fresh ingredients and a Puerto Rican flair.
We enjoyed a plate of alcapurrias and pastelitos (both types of the famous Puerto Rican frituras) and fried cheese with guava sauce, along with lobster, fish tacos, and coconut shrimp. Basically, we were rolled out of there. Everything was delicious!
Evening: Dinner at La Estacion, then Kayaking in a Bioluminescent Bay
Calling all adventurous souls! If you’re in Puerto Rico, you simply cannot miss the chance to visit the mesmerizing bioluminescent bay in Fajardo with Kayaking Puerto Rico . There are only five permanent bioluminescent bays in the whole world and three of them are right here in Puerto Rico – talk about a unique experience!
With two launch times each night, you have the opportunity to paddle under the starlit sky and watch as the water around you glows with the movement of your kayak. It’s like a natural light show that will leave you absolutely spellbound. So, if you’re in for a magical adventure, gear up and embark on this dreamy nighttime kayak ride. Trust me, it’s an experience you’ll be telling stories about for years to come!
I once got to see bioluminescence on a beach in Costa Rica , and it was truly magical, so I highly recommend taking this excursion on your last night in Puerto Rico.
Experience Nuyorican Barbeque
For dinner either before or after your boat ride, head to La Estacion only a quick 5 minute drive from the Kayaking Puerto Rico port. This was my favorite meal of the trip. As a Southern girl, I do not take barbecue lightly but La Estacion delivered!
Owners Kevin and Idalia opened La Estacion in 2006 in an old gas station, and it has grown into an incredible eatery from their labor of love. With a unique Nuyorican style that brings in a mix of Puerto Rican and American flavors, this is a MUST on your Puerto Rico itinerary.
Everything is farm to table at La Estacion, from the produce, and meat that is sourced locally, to the craft beer made just next door in Carolina. Even the seafood is caught fresh by local fishermen. Once at the restaurant the meats are smoked bbq style over almond and fruit woods from right there on the island.
The result is a mouth-watering meal that you won’t soon forget. From slow smoked pork to the award-winning brisket, the hardest decision about this place is what to order from the menu. We suggest you go with the mac-and-cheese and the award-winning brisket, plus a passionfruit cocktail. You’re in paradise, after all!
🌌 Book a tour with round trip transportation to Kayak in a Bioluminescent Bay
Where to Stay in San Juan
- Tropicalia by DW – This charming boutique hotel is a great option for budget-conscious travelers who don’t want to compromise on style or comfort. The rooms are tastefully decorated with local art and the balcony just off of the living room is perfect for relaxing after a day of exploring the city. With its well equipped kitchen and even access to laundry, Tropicalia by DW offers excellent value for money. This was where we stayed, and with 4 travelers splitting 3 rooms, we had plenty of space and were able to split the cost, saving us tons compared to some of the higher range hotels in the area.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Juan – For those with a mid-range budget, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in San Juan is an excellent choice. This hotel offers a blend of comfort and convenience, with modern rooms, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool. Its location in the vibrant Condado district means you’re just steps away from some of San Juan’s best restaurants, shops, and beaches.
- Fairmont El San Juan Hotel – If you’re looking to splurge on luxury, look no further than the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel. Located on the award-winning Isla Verde Beach, this hotel offers top-notch amenities including four tropical pools, a world-class spa, and several fine dining options. The rooms and suites are elegantly furnished, offering breathtaking views of the ocean or lush gardens. This hotel is a perfect choice for travelers seeking a luxurious retreat.
🍹 Stay at the home of the Piña Colada – see current availability for the Caribe Hilton
1. Do I need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico?
If you’re a U.S. citizen, you do not need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico as it is a U.S. territory.
2. Is Puerto Rico safe for tourists?
Yes, Puerto Rico is generally a safe destination for tourists. As with any place, it’s important to take basic safety precautions, such as not leaving valuables unattended and being aware of your surroundings.
3. What is the best time to visit Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is a year-round destination, but the dry season from December to April is often considered the best time to visit.
4. What language is spoken in Puerto Rico?
Spanish and English are both official languages in Puerto Rico. While Spanish is more commonly spoken, most people in tourist areas will also speak English.
5. What currency is used in Puerto Rico?
As a U.S. territory, the currency used in Puerto Rico is the U.S. dollar.
6. What are some must-see attractions in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is known for its beautiful beaches, historic sites like El Morro, natural wonders such as El Yunque National Forest, and cultural experiences like bomba dancing in Loíza.
7. What local food should I try in Puerto Rico?
Be sure to try local delicacies such as mofongo (mashed fried plantains with toppings such as garlic and pork cracklings), alcapurrias (fried stuffed fritters), and lechon asado (roast pork).
8. Can I rent a car in Puerto Rico?
Yes, renting a car is a popular way to explore Puerto Rico, especially if you plan to visit areas outside of San Juan. In fact, we recommend renting a car for this 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary. Just remember to drive on the right side!
9. What kind of activities can I do in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico offers a wide range of activities, from hiking and zip-lining in the rainforest, to snorkeling and sailing in the clear Caribbean waters, to exploring the vibrant streets of Old San Juan.
10. What should I pack for a trip to Puerto Rico?
Pack light, breathable clothing, a swimsuit, sunscreen, a hat for sun protection, comfortable walking shoes, and a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings.
11. Is 4 days enough in Puerto Rico?
Is it worth it to go to Puerto Rico for 4 days? We think so! It is definitely possible to get out of the city and see a little bit of the authentic Puerto Rico with only 4 days. However, if you want to see more of the island, or have a more relaxing itinerary, you might want to add a few more days to your visit.
12. Is traveling in Puerto Rico cheap?
While many Latin American destinations are economical for travelers on a budget , we found that traveling in Puerto Rico was not very cheap. Prices in San Juan were comparable to other bigger cities in the US.
Final Thoughts: Itinerary for Puerto Rico
And there you have it, fellow adventurers – a taste of the magic that awaits you in Puerto Rico. From the thrill of kayaking in bioluminescent bays to the delight of savoring fresh seafood by the waterfront, from uncovering hidden gems in Old San Juan to unwinding in charming accommodations – this itinerary promises an unforgettable journey through the Island of Enchantment.
But remember, this is just a glimpse into the myriad experiences Puerto Rico has to offer. There are countless more adventures to be had, delicacies to be savored, and breathtaking views to be discovered. So, pack your bags, lace up your adventure boots and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Now, it’s your turn! Have you been to Puerto Rico? Or perhaps you’re planning your first trip? Either way, I’d love to hear from you.
Drop a comment below and share your own Puerto Rican adventures or ask any questions you might have. Let’s keep this conversation going and continue to inspire each other to explore and experience the world. Happy travels!
Michele is the adventure enthusiast behind Adventures Abound. She is a South Carolinian currently living in Philadelphia and spends her free time searching for adventures near and far. She has traveled all over the country and the Americas with her Costa Rican husband Diego and their sweet and menacing adventure kitty Willow. You can catch them hiking the landscape, scoping out used bookshops, and snapping pics wherever they go.
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Great ideas! I took a girls trip to PR a few years ago and we had a blast. So much to explore, plus delicious food and awesome culture.
Looks incredible! The architecture of Old San Juan alone is enough for me to start planning a trip. The snorkelling and dancing are the icing on the Puerto Rican cake. I’m in!
What a fun fact. I had no idea the pina colada was invented in PR. One more reason to love this island! Great post.
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The Perfect 4 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary
Posted on Last updated: September 24, 2023
Categories Family Travel , Puerto Rico
Here’s an incredible 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary to help you plan your trip!
There’s so much to see and do on the island of Puerto Rico that it’s hard to know where to start.
Even if you only have 4 days in Puerto Rico you can see a lot if you have a solid plan.
I strongly suggest sticking with attractions in the northeast corner of the island if you only have four days.
Here’s what you shouldn’t miss on your trip!
Day One: Old San Juan
You will likely fly into and out of Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) which is located on the outskirts of the capital city, San Juan.
Your arrival or departure day is perfect for exploring the part of the city known as “Old San Juan” which is about 15 minutes from the airport.
In Old San Juan you’ll find historical forts, gorgeous architecture, museums, delicious food, and shopping.
It’s definitely not-to-be-missed in any four day itinerary for Puerto Rico!
Here are my favorite things to do in Old San Juan.
Things to Do In Old San Juan
Castillo San Felipe del Morro ( known locally as “El Morro”) is a 500-year-old Spanish fort located in the northwest corner of Old San Juan.
It essentially served as the gateway to the Caribbean for centuries and was critical to Spain’s rule of the area.
Now it’s an incredible historic site run by the US National Park Service.
You can explore all six levels of the fort, including the original section which is almost 500 years old.
While the fort makes for fun photo ops, it also has exhibits that will walk you through the extremely sad history of Spanish colonization of the area, including the enslavement and attempted genocide of the native Taino people.
It is tough to learn about but also critical to understanding life in Puerto Rico today, so I highly recommend spending some time in the exhibits on the fifth floor.
It is $10 for adults to enter the fort and free for kids under 15.
You can get in free with a National Parks Pass which is what we did.
You can usually see iguanas on the lawn surrounding the fort as well as sometimes inside the fort!
El Morro is always one of the highlights of a day in Old San Juan.
I love wandering Old San Juan’s streets to see all the beautiful buildings.
While I am wandering I definitely work up an appetite!
We’ve snacked our way through the city on several occasions, and here are our favorite stops.
Chocobar Cortes is both a place to grab some fancy treats from the ruling family of chocolate in Puerto Rico and a spot for a nice meal.
We ate at the restaurant inside Chocobar Cortes on our latest visit and it was excellent! They serve brunch all day and almost everything on the menu has some element of chocolate in it (don’t worry, it’s usually subtle).
San Juan Frappes is another frequent stop for us.
A frozen fruit drink is perfect for enjoying as you stroll around the city.
Paletas are another delicious frozen treat to keep you cool while you cruise around.
We like Senor Paleta and have enjoyed paletas from there on a few occasions.
There are numerous sit-down restaurants in Old San Juan as well, of course. You really can’t go wrong with any Puerto Rican cuisine.
I definitely suggest trying Mofongo, a dish made with mashed fried plantains – it’s delicious!
If you visit the west side of Old San Juan near the forts, you’ll likely see some of the cats who roam there.
We love to visit them and donate to Save a Gato , an organization that feeds them and helps get them fixed.
Where to Park in Old San Juan
It’s easy to get to Old San Juan by Uber or rental car – there are several parking garages found right in Old San Juan.
Here are the two I have used before with success:
Ballaja Parking Garage – FV9J+485, Calle Morovis, San Juan
- Cochera Parking Gargage – 205 C. de San Francisco, San Juan
There are also some incredible museums to visit in Old San Juan, including Museo de las Americas (Museum of the Americas) and Museo de San Juan (San Juan Museum) .
We plan to check them out on our next trip!
4 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary Day Two: El Yunque
One day of your 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary should absolutely be devoted to El Yunque, the rainforest located about 30 minutes from the San Juan airport.
El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the US Forest Service.
It has hiking trails, waterfalls, swimming, exotic plants & animals, outdoor adventure, and more.
Here are some highlights but click here for my detailed post on the best things to do in El Yunque to plan your visit !
There are hiking trails for all levels in El Yunque.
My favorite is the 1.6-mile hike to the top of Mt Britton. You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the whole northeast corner of the island from the top of Mt Britton Tower.
I also love the short Angelito trail to Rio Mameyes. You can swim in this scenic river so bring your swimsuit.
You’ll also find a bunch of gorgeous waterfalls in El Yunque, including some you can wade into for a cool shower.
El Yunque has a new visitor’s center called El Portal that has a nice restaurant and educational exhibits.
There is an entrance fee but I think it’s worth it.
And last, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure in El Yunque, including horseback riding and ziplining through the jungle.
You will need a reservation to visit parts of the rainforest, so be sure to get the details on planning a day in El Yunque in my full post here .
Day Three: Culebra & Flamenco Beach
The most famous beach in Puerto Rico is located on a smaller island called Culebra off the main island’s east coast.
It’s called Flamenco Beach and it’s often honored as one of the top 10 beaches in the world.
Here’s an overview but be sure to click here for my detailed post on how to get to Flamenco Beach .
Though Culebra is challenging to get to, you’ll be rewarded with a pristine beach, crystal-clear water, snorkeling, and excellent amenities.
Flamenco Beach is hands-down the nicest beach I’ve been to in my life! I feel like I’m spoiled forever for beaches.
There are kiosks next to the parking lot where you can get food, drinks, and equipment.
There are also outdoor showers and bathrooms.
We brought our own snorkeling gear and were able to see lots of fish by swimming out only a short way.
Visiting Culebra involves securing ferry tickets which are in high demand, so be sure to get the details on how to get to Flamenco Beach here.
You won’t be disappointed by dedicating a day to Culebra on your 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary.
Day Four: Beaches, Snorkeling or Bio Bay Kayaking
The perfect activity for your last day in Puerto Rico actually takes place in the evening – kayaking to one of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays, Laguna Grande.
The “bio bay” is home to rare phytoplankton that give off their own light when stimulated by movement.
There are only five bio bays in the world, and three are found in Puerto Rico!
2-hour kayaking trips leave every night from Fajardo, located about 45 minutes from San Juan.
You’ll kayak through a mangrove forest on your way to the bio bay.
I booked our kayak tour with Pure Adventures through Viator and was really happy with it. The guides were funny and professional.
We were able to see the “bling bling” on both trips we have taken. It’s such a cool unique experience and not to be missed on your visit to Puerto Rico.
Since the kayaking trip takes place at night, you’ll have the day to relax and enjoy more beach or resort time.
My picks for the best public beaches in northeast Puerto Rico are Luquillo Beach and Seven Seas Beach in Fajardo.
Both have ample parking and food and drink available close to the beach.
Or if you are looking for more snorkeling, I recommend visiting Escambron Marine Park located right outside of San Juan.
You just have to pay $5 for parking at Escambron Beach then you can access the marine park on the far right side of the beach.
You can swim from this small beach across the protected lagoon and see lots of fish – we even saw two sea turtles!
It’s the best place I’ve found for snorkeling close to San Juan.
If you don’t have your own equipment you can rent some (or book a guided tour) from Scuba Dogs which is located right next to the marine park.
Click here for their detailed map of Escambron Marine Park which we used to explore the lagoon on our own.
You’ll definitely want some time to just chill out and enjoy the perfect weather in Puerto Rico at the end of your trip.
I hope this 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary will help you get the most out of your vacation!
You can definitely have lots of amazing experiences in 4 days in Puerto Rico.
If you have any questions just leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help.
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Tuesday 5th of September 2023
A quick question - are non PR residents allowed to take the rental vehicle to the Culebra Island from San Juan, PR? Please advise.
Thursday 7th of September 2023
Rental cars are not allowed on the ferry.
Perfect Day Somewhere
Quick Escape to Paradise: A Thrilling 4 day Puerto Rico Itinerary
The first time I watched the Despacito music video I fell in love with the vibe of Puerto Rico. I knew I had to visit this exciting island and experience it for myself. However, San Juan gave me the vibe I was looking for and now I am here to bring you back some ideas for an awesome 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary!
Puerto Rico is a stunning island with baby blue water beaches, amazing mountain views, tropical forests, and even more stunning smaller islands nearby. While 4 days in Puerto Rico is certainly not enough to see the whole island, it is a good introduction, especially for first-time visitors.
On this blog , I focus on making the most of your time-off with short stay itineraries so that’s what I plan to give you today. My guide will give you all the necessary logistics to travel to Puerto Rico and ideas for planning your days. This 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary is perfect for a first-time visitor or someone looking for a quick weekend getaway.
¡Vamos a Puerto Rico!
Note that you may encounter some affiliate links in this post. They will not make anything more expensive for you but rather provide a small commission for me should you choose to book it via the link I provide. Since I do not charge for any of my awesome travel advice and don’t make you sign up for anything to download my stuff, I appreciate any link clicks and bookings through there 🙂
Let’s Get to the Logistics of Visiting Puerto Rico
Before jumping straight into the itinerary, I want to prepare you with the necessary logistics of visiting Puerto Rico . While they might not be as involved as visiting Bolivia or Peru for example, knowing the basics will go a long way and save you the stress on arrival.
Useful things to know before your travels
- Puerto Rico is a US territory so you can just travel as you would in the states. Your license is enough but keep in mind that in the near future (May 2023) you will need the new Real ID to do so.
- The currency there is the American dollar and in the main touristy areas expect to pay US prices.
- A lot of people are bilingual but knowing basic Spanish will make your life much easier.
- The drinking age in Puerto Rico is 18 but a lot of clubs will be over 21.
- Tipping is standard just as it is in the US, especially in areas like San Juan.
Best time to go to Puerto Rico
Good news for you, the best time to visit Puerto Rico is any time! You can visit Puerto Rico all year round pretty much as the temperatures are in the tropical climate. Winter months between late November to early March will be just a tad cooler and the high season is June to August. September is also the peak of hurricane season. Note that the mountains are more chilly than more coastal locations so consider where you’d like to travel and pack accordingly.
I personally visited in May which is considered the shoulder season and loved it. The water in the ocean was decent to swim in and I was able to get a good tan. I stayed in three different parts of PR, San Juan, Aibonito, and Guanica, and loved the weather in all those locations during that time.
How to get there and transport on the island
A short 3.5 hour flight time to Puerto Rico from NYC is the perfect excuse to get away! If you’re not in my area, there are connections to the main airport in San Juan from pretty much all major airports in the US. When you land, you can now get an Uber pickup at the airport which wasn’t the case a couple of years ago. Alternatively, you can grab a cab for a little over $20. I did find a shuttle bus but since you can’t have big luggage on board, it might not be a good option.
I will just say that renting a car is the best way to see Puerto Rico in 4 days. There is an island Metro Bus but with changing schedules and a reputation for being late, I would save myself the headache if you want to see more than one area of the island. I picked up my rental at the airport, had no issues at the counter, and was super happy to have the independence of traveling around. If you decide on a little road trip in Puerto Rico, prepare for some twists and turns in the mountains.
If you’re from New Jersey like me, when I rent cars, I always google how local gas stations work 🙂 In Puerto Rico, you will have to pump your own gas (just like anywhere else outside of New Jersey really). Simply pull up to the pump and go inside the station to pay for the pump that you parked at. A full tank is Spanish is el tanque lleno .
Where to stay during 4 days in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has it all, fun historical cities, stunning beaches, small neighboring islands, and mountains so if you only have 4 short days, plan out your stay based on the route you will take. I recommend reading my guide before deciding on where to stay. For this particular itinerary, I suggest San Juan -> Culebra -> Ponce area but if that’s too dense for you in 4 days, consider San Juan and Ponce only.
San Juan Area
In the northern part of the island, San Juan offers history, a lively atmosphere, and beaches. But San Juan isn’t just one area to stay in, it has a couple of neighborhoods to choose from:
- Old San Juan : This area is the historical portion and also the most touristy. Stay there for a city vibe, restaurants, shops, and nightlife.
- Condado: Right next to Old San Juan, you will find boujee Condado with luxury hotels, high-end stores, and of course awesome beaches. I personally stayed here but in an affordable Airbnb instead of a $600 a night hotel.
- Ocean Park: Going away from Old San Juan, the next beach area where people love to stay for its more quiet vibes is Ocean Park. You’ll find really nice hotels and more of a tranquil kinda vibe.
- Here is an awesome blog that goes into a ton of detail about San Juan areas with specific recommendations for hotels and restaurants!
People & safety in Puerto Rico
Overall, Puerto Rico is considered a safe destination for tourists. Especially if you’re staying in Old San Juan, you should be ok. In other areas exercise caution as you would anywhere else. Driving there is pretty safe, roads are good and drivers are fine for the most part. Oh and also, apparently car theft is still an issue so make sure not to leave any belongings in it and lock up!
Sightseeing options in Puerto Rico
There is so much to do on the island! Especially if you only have 4 days in Puerto Rico, there is absolutely no reason for you to be bored on the island. We will dive in below on the specifics of what to see! The route I personally recommend for a first-timer that wants to see the most from the island is the following: San Juan -> East Side: Yunque and Fajardo -> Culebra -> Drive through mountains towards Ponce.
Don’t forget to save my map at the bottom of the page with all the recommendations below.
Perfect 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary
Day 0: arrival in puerto rico.
If you’re like me and you channel an old lady traveler, sometimes it works out to fly in the night before your trip. It lets me settle in, nest in my Airbnb, and get a good night sleep before starting my itinerary 🙂 So, if that’s something you relate to and your first night is in the San Juan area, settle in and head out for a quick bite or a drink.
I flew into San Juan airport in the early evening. For my first night there, I stayed in the Condado area. It’s close enough to Old San Juan but after settling in, I decided to walk down the street and eat at Tayzan Sushi which 1) was delicious and 2) was open pretty late which worked with my arrival, and 3) it has interesting fusion dishes. There are many spots on Ashford Ave (main street of Condado) that serve late-night food so finding a place to grab a bite shouldn’t be a problem on late arrival.
Day 1: Exploring San Juan
Ok guys, this one is kind of obvious but you should start with San Juan for your day 1 of the 4-day itinerary. I get that walking around cities might not fascinate you much but I promise that this town, especially Old San Juan shouldn’t be skipped. It’s nice and colorful, full of history and tasty stops for food and drinks. It can be done in half a day if you really wanted to but that would require an early start. Here is a simple route to see the highlights of San Juan on your first day in Puerto Rico!
La Ventana del Mar
If you’re coming from the Condado direction, a nice stop before entering the historic zone of Old San Juan is this cute little park called La Ventana del Mar. It has a public space with a beautiful view of the ocean, a small beach, sculptures, and a couple of restaurants and bars. It’s a nice first impression spot of visiting San Juan and I enjoyed this beautiful spot before heading into Old San Juan.
Castillo de San Cristobal
There are two fortifications in the city of San Juan, one of them being Castillo de San Cristobal. The entrance fee for this site is only $5 so even if you’re not planning to dive deep into the history of San Juan’s defense, it is a nice area to take a stroll through. The views from there are awesome and it’s worth stopping at. I listed this one first but if you’re planning to visit both, buy the double ticket.
After visiting the fort, head over to Plaza Colon. It’s a lively town square surrounded by shops and bars. I recommend grabbing a street snack or a drink in this area to have an excuse for spending some time in this part of town. This is also a good place for some artisan shopping. Don’t forget to grab a chichaito shot at Los Tres Cuernos 🙂
If you’ve read any of my other guides, you will notice that I almost always catch a walking tour of the city. I did attempt to go on one in Old San Juan with a meeting point at Plaza Colon but it never showed up … So I’m happy that I had my own plan which places to see because otherwise, I would have been scrambling on google.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
After soaking in some Old San Juan vibes, head to Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Personally, after visiting the first fort, I simply enjoyed spending time on the front lawn of this down and didn’t go inside. There are multiple street vendors as well as many people flying kites. It’s a huge outdoor space and it was nice to relax there for a little. However, many people recommend going inside and experiencing the beautiful views that you will get from above as this is one of the items you will find on every Old San Juan things to do list. If you’re fascinated by these types of structures, I would suggest going in.
Another noteworthy location in that area is Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery. It’s a beautiful burial ground facing the ocean. You can walk past it and say a little prayer to all those buried there.
Heading back to the main part of Viejo San Juan, take a stroll among the most known streets in town. First Calle del Cristo, a nice colorful street that’s a perfect backdrop for some awesome photos as well as a spot for some shopping. Then, Calle de San Justo , which had a beautiful view leading into the ocean. Calle de la Fortaleza is the street with all the colorful umbrellas or kites (whichever display is there at the moment) above your head worthy of an Insta pic. And lastly, Paseo de la Princesa will lead you to the port and the famous fountain. That’s a good spot for sunset if you will be returning at night too.
I will briefly mention this place for awareness but since I did visit I am in no condition to provide you any advice on it. This ocean-front neighborhood connected to Old San Juan got more attention as it became the filming location for Despacito. I was told by two people who grew up in San Juan that I should not visit this place under any circumstance. Since I have visited though, I noticed a ton more articles popping up about travel bloggers and bloggers venturing there. Do your own research to decide whether or not to visit this part of town but know that it has a very dangerous history due to poverty and drugs. No matter what you decide, do not go there at night.
Food & Drinks
For some good food and drink grabs, try the following places:
- El Jibarito: A popular spot in town but who wouldn’t wait for a little for authentic Puerto Rican food that gets consistently good reviews?
- Hecho en Casa : Awesome spot for mofongo.
- Marmalade: For an upscale experience that is worth every cent, visit the amazing Marmalade.
- La Factoría: Arguably the most famous bar in town and of course, the filming location of Despacito.
- Barrachina: Another very know place in town that claims to be the birthplace of the Piña Colada. It was pretty but I found it extremely touristy for my own taste.
Here is a very descriptive guide on more restaurants in town to try.
And for your nightlife in San Juan, which you certainly shouldn’t miss out on, I have a couple of places for you too.
- La Placita de Santurce: A part of the Santurce neighborhood that comes to life as it gets darker outside. It’s a connection of a couple of blocks filled with music and dancing.
- Club Kronos: If you want to feel a club atmosphere, head to Condado to visit this gem.
- El Bar Bero: A cocktail bar speakeasy if classier nights are your thing.
- El Batey Bar : A little divey but nonetheless very fun.
Day 2: El Yunque & the Beach
During your 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary, you won’t be able to see everything so I suggest picking something that aligns with your interests. However, if you’re a first-time visitor, I strongly recommend going to El Yunque, the national forest.
El Yunque National Forest
A short drive from San Juan (a little over an hour), you will find a stunning tropical rainforest, the only one in the US. There are two entry time windows, one morning and one afternoon and you pay per car. It is recommended to make a reservation prior to your visit. There are waterfalls, viewpoints, and hike routes. If you’re hiking make sure to plan your routes ahead of time but you can just simply take a drive through it too. Make sure to stop at Yokahú Observation Towe r.
If you’re planning to see this stunning forest, I recommend Angie’s guide which is a very detailed plan for the day.
Now, option one for the night: If you’re planning to head back to San Juan, after the earlier part of the day spent in the forest, I recommend driving to Carolina (Isla Verde), the nice and chill beach area of San Juan. You can take a nice dip in the ocean and relax for a bit. That area also has many restaurants and bars to enjoy during the second part of your day. Recommendations for your food and drinks in that area:
- El Alambique: A beach club restaurant with really good food.
- Lupi’s Mexican Grill: Mexican food in PR? Why not?!
- Panaderia España : Although not beachfront, I made a quick stop there for some croquetas and I was not disappointed.
- Bebo’s : A local spot that might not look the most inviting but has a selection of some tasty BBQ. It is also a short drive from the beach.
For your second option, you can spend the night on the eastern side of the island to be closer to the Ceiba port from which you can take the ferry to the stunning islands of Puerto Rico on the next day. Another bonus of staying in that area for the night is the option of seeing the Bioluminescent Bay (Laguna Grande) located in the city of Fajardo. The drive from Fajardo to Ceiba Port (the departure port for the islands) takes only 20-25 minutes compared to over an hour from San Juan.
Day 3: Visit one of the amazing islands of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has a couple of stunning islands on its east side that is reachable by flight or ferry. The flights from San Juan can be pricey but will certainly save you some travel time. The islands are also accessible from the Ceiba Port which is located an hour from San Juan airport. That’s why if you’re planning to take the ferry, I recommend spending the previous night closer to the port.
Note that you cannot take your rental car to the islands which might be ok for a day trip or an organized tour. The islands are also connected to each other by ferry so who says you can visit both (although that might be a little hectic). You have the option of doing a day trip or spending the night there. Make sure to know your ferry times well if you’re just spending the day there.
The first island is Culebra. It is home to the famous Flamenco Beach, named one of the best in the world, and a spot to dive or snorkel or just simply relax! Culebra also has stunning white sand beaches. I did not visit the island (which I deeply regret) so I cannot give you a detailed guide but I found this blog that has an amazing plan for a trip there.
The second island, Vieques, is a nature lover paradise with some stunning beaches too! In Vieques, you will find the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world at Mosquito Bay . Also, there are only 5 of them total and 3 are in Puerto Rico! Here is another super informative full guide to the island. Side note about the bays, if you google them, most of the pictures you’ll find are heavily photoshopped. Don’t expect them to be that bright.
I’d say that staying a night on the island will give you a little more flexibility with exploring and not stress you out by making sure you take the ferry. Even with staying one night, when you get back the next day you can still have enough time to explore more of the island.
Day 4: Exploring a more local side of Puerto Rico
If you’ve either returned to San Juan or if you spent the night on one of the islands, today you will take a scenic drive from either direction toward Ponce. Most of the roads in the middle of the island offer amazing views of the mountains and are perfect for a super short Puerto Rican road trip. What will distinguish an awesome trip to Puerto Rico from simply a typical one that everyone else takes is days like today.
Although a one-day road trip may not seem too short to see much, I promise you that on this leg of the itinerary you will see a more local way of life, practice more of your Spanish, and see places that a lot of tourists do not venture off to. This is why I recommend getting a car for the island. It will give you the freedom and allow you to dive deeper into the local culture.
Mountain drive toward a lechonera
No matter where you’re driving from, I recommend putting Lechonera Los Pinos in your GPS. That area in the mountains is known for the restaurants that serve amazing roasted pork or Lechon. Honestly, most of the restaurants in the area will have similar dishes but debate with the locals which ones are their favorite 🙂 It is certainly one of those Puerto Rican bucket list items you will remember! I vividly remember sitting at an outside table, sipping on a cold Medalla with a nice plate of rice and pork. I’m pretty sure I was the only tourist there too at that time.
Quick stop in Aibonito
After your lechon stop, put in La Curva del Árbol in your GPS for the first scenic spot, it is a really nice viewpoint. It should take you a little over 30 minutes to get there. After that, head toward Aibonito (20 minutes), a small mountain town that is the highest elevation on the island. There isn’t much to do in the town per se but the drive through the mountains will be worth it. If you choose to stop there, the town has a main plaza with nice surrounding streets so you can grab a drink or ice cream in town. If you’re short on time, you can skip Aibonito and head to Ponce from the last viewpoint.
For your last spot of the day, you’ll head toward Ponce which is another amazing town in Puerto Rico. From Aibonito, it will take another hour. There you can wander around La Guancha Boardwalk or visit Parque de Bombas, or do a wine tasting at Museo Castillo Serralles.
As your 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary is coming to an end, you can head back to San Juan (1.5 hours) to prep for your flight home. If your flight isn’t until the next day, I recommend staying in the area of Ponce. I personally spent a night at Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa arriving late afternoon. Although it was only one day, I really enjoyed the resort. It was waterfront, had a nice bar and jacuzzis, and pretty nice rooms.
More ideas for your 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary
If for some reason you’d like a different option for one of the day options above, feel free to swap it for some other amazing things to do in Puerto Rico:
The western side of the island:
If you rented a car, another road trip you can take is toward the western side of San Juan. Rincon is one of the bigger towns there, is known for surfing and other outdoor activities. More specific ideas on what to do there can be found in this super awesome guide by Vanessa from Travel Lemming.
Here are some stops for your road trip from east to west:
- Parque Las Cavernas del Rio Camuy : These a local caves which look pretty impressive. The tour times run on a schedule and people spend a couple of hours there. If this is something you would like to see, make sure to research current operating times as well as requirements.
- Cascada Gozalandia : A waterfall hike from which you can take a jump into the pool below. Here is some more useful info on making this stop on your western drive.
- Faro Punta Higüeras : Closer to Rincon, you will find this picturesque lighthouse.
And some restaurant spots worth visiting:
- Restaurant El Platanal : Low-key mofongo spot.
- Guayabo’s Tropical Sunset : A beachfront restaurant offering some tasty bites.
- Villa Cofresí Hotel: In Rincon, a place known for its pirata drinks.
Other spots on the island:
- Cabo Rojo Salt Flats: These pink salt flats located in the southwestern part of the island near Cabo Rojo are sure to grab your attention! Since they’re located a little far from San Juan, they might not be reachable on your 4-day itinerary but nonetheless, they should be added to your future itineraries.
- Playa Sucia: Despite its name, this beach is actually a hidden gem for tourists on the island. Located near Cabo Rojo, it’s definitely worth a visit. Here is a super informative blog on this location to help you plan the visit there.
- Cueva Ventana: While you will have to put a little bit of effort to reach this place, it will be worth the unique view it provides. Cueva Ventana means cave window and that is exactly what this place is. Read more on this place and get the details for the hike here.
- Toro Verde Adventure Park: If you like zip lining (the biggest zipline in America) and other adventure activities, head over to this park for the day to get an adrenaline rush in your veins!
Puerto Rico is a gem of a destination and being so close to the US, you have no excuse not visit. Even if it’s just a short 4 days, the island will fill your soul with amazing things to do. I hope my plan shows you the best that Puerto Rico has to offer. If you have any additional feedback or thoughts, please comment below!
Before downloading the itinerary, which is a pocket summary of the content above, remember to read the full guide so you are best prepared for your travels!
Map for your Puerto Rico Itinerary
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Havana Itinerary: The Reality of Traveling to Cuba
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La Paz Itinerary: The Highest City In The World
La Paz intimidated me at first due to its not-so-hot reputation. I didn’t know what to expect, whether I’d feel safe and how the altitude would affect me after what I experienced in Peru. Having found many warnings for this destination, my nerves were pretty heightened for this trip despite being a not-so-nervous traveler, to…
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Things To Do In Sucre Bolivia & An Awesome Downloadable Itinerary
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4 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary | The Best Guide for 2023
One of the best ways to escape to a tropical paradise if you live in the United States is to take a flight down to Puerto Rico, a Latin American gem . As a U.S. Territory, entry requirements are nearly the same as visiting one of the contiguous states, making it a location that should certainly be on your vacation bucket list.
Now, when you think of this Caribbean island, the first thing that comes to mind is likely the beautiful beaches. We’ll certainly cover those, but there are many other natural and historical sites that you should explore while you visit this lovely island as well.
Keep reading for the ultimate 4 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary, and get all the information you need to have the best long weekend getaway to this Caribbean gem.
Table of Contents
Brief Island History | Puerto Rico
The island now known as Puerto Rico was originally inhabited by the Ortoiroid peoples as far back as several thousand years. Subsequently, the Saladoids came and displaced the original inhabitants around 400 – 250 BC. The Arawak are then thought to have settled in the island, bringing their Taíno culture with them. They called the island Borikén, which means “the great land of the valiant and noble Lord”. The Spanish (with Columbus) arrived in 1493, at a time when the Taíno were in conflict with the Carib peoples as well.
The Spanish came and began to subjicate the native islanders, using them for slave labor. Despite rules known as repartimento, enacted to stop exploitation of the natives, within 50 years of the arrival of the Spanish, most of them had died from disease, violence, or suicide. Some of their numbers do survive today in their descendants, the current Puerto Rican inhabitants.
Over the centuries that followed, many European powers of the time fought for control of Puerto Rico because of its strategic position in the Caribbean. The English, French, and Dutch all tried to take the island from Spain but were not successful. Change came towards the end of the 1800s, when the Puerto Rican people began to revolt against Spain and seek independence, primarily due to the poor care that Spain gave the island. The fight took several years, but finally in July 1898, Puerto Rico began to operate autonomously, but this did not last.
In that same month, the US launched the Spanish-American War, taking the fight to Spain in Puerto Rico and Cuba. By the end of the war that September, Puerto Rico became a US territory. The fight for both independence and/or full statehood have been under discussion since this time, but there have been no major changes to-date.
Our Top Puerto Rico Recommendations
- BEST HOTEL: Hotel El Convento
- BEST CITY TOUR: San Juan Walking Tour
- BEST EXCURSION: Puerto Rico Instagram Tour
- BEST RESTAURANT: Mario Pagán
- BEST CAR RENTAL: Discover Cars
START BOOKING NOW!
The 4 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary | All the Details
Day 1 | old san juan.
As you will most likely start your trip by landing in San Juan, you should plan to start your trip here. There are a lot of interesting historical sites, great restaurants, and beautiful architecture, so it’s a great way to start a short trip to the island.
I recommend you start your first day with breakfast at Caficultura . They have nice outdoor seating and delicious affogatos. On my first trip to Puerto Rico, we stopped for breakfast here twice to enjoy their delicious food. Another break spot I’d recommend is Chocobar Cortés , where chocolate is used in every dish in some way. While there, try the classic puerto rican hot chocolate – they add in cheddar cheese for a savory touch.
There are a few sites you must absolutely see while you are in Old San Juan :
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
This fortress citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also known simply as El Morro. Strategically perched on a rocky promontory, El Morro overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, a vantage point that once protected the island from maritime invaders.
El Morro’s history began in 1539 when King Charles V of Spain authorized its construction to safeguard the harbor of San Juan. The fortification was initially a simple tower known as ‘El Torreón’ but later expanded into an imposing fortress under the guidance of various architects over centuries.
This fortress citadel is also known simply as El Morro. As mentioned above, Puerto Rico had the eye of many European states during the colonial period, so El Morro was built as a way to protect the island from would-be conquerors. It witnessed numerous attacks, notably from the English in 1595 and 1598 and from the Dutch in 1625.
Each assault led to further fortification, transforming El Morro into a formidable citadel. It remained under Spanish control until the Spanish-American War in 1898, when Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States. During World War II, El Morro even served as a military base for the U.S. Army, showcasing the fort’s enduring strategic relevance.
As you explore El Morro you can get beautiful views of the ocean, and inside many details are provided on what it was like to live there for the soldiers who guarded the island.
- Casa Blanca
A stone’s throw away from El Morro lies another historical gem of Old San Juan: Casa Blanca. Constructed between 1521 and 1523, Casa Blanca, or “White House,” was initially intended to serve as a residence for Juan Ponce de León, the first governor of Puerto Rico. However, de León never occupied the house as he passed away during an expedition to Florida while it was still under construction. Instead, Casa Blanca became home to his descendants for over 250 years, making it the oldest continuously inhabited residence in the Western Hemisphere.
Throughout the centuries, the house underwent several modifications, its architectural style evolving from medieval to Renaissance, reflecting the changing aesthetic trends of the time. The house was later appropriated as a military barracks during the Spanish-American War in 1898, and it again served the military during World War II, much like its neighbor, El Morro.
Today, Casa Blanca is a museum open to the public, housing artifacts that provide a glimpse into 16th-century domestic life. The house, set in lush gardens overlooking San Juan Bay, is styled with colonial furniture and is another site that offers impressive ocean views.
Catedral de San Juan
In the heart of Old San Juan, the Catedral de San Juan Bautista, or the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist stands as another historical landmark. Built in 1521, it is the second oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere. The cathedral, despite suffering damage from numerous earthquakes and storms over the centuries, is still used as an active place of worship today.
The Cathedral’s architecture is a splendid blend of Gothic and neoclassical styles. Inside, you will find a calm, inspiring space adorned with ornate stained glass windows and beautiful religious artwork. The cathedral also houses the tomb of Ponce de León, adding to its historical significance.
- La Fortaleza
Stepping away from the cathedral, one comes across La Fortaleza, or The Fortress, another significant landmark gracing Old San Juan’s skyline. Serving as the official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico, it is the oldest executive mansion still in use in the Western Hemisphere. Built between 1533 and 1540, La Fortaleza was initially constructed as a defensive fortress against the Carib Indian raids. However, its military inadequacy led to its transformation into the governor’s residence in the early 16th century.
La Fortaleza boasts an interesting blend of architectural styles, reflecting the various periods of Puerto Rico’s history. Its initial medieval-style structure, made evident by its towering walls and guard towers, later evolved into a more palatial design during the 18th century.
The building’s exterior, adorned with a distinctive blue hue, offers a delightful contrast to the vibrant cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. Inside, the mansion showcases a vast collection of historic artifacts and exquisite furnishings, reflecting the island’s rich cultural heritage.
In front of the building you’ll find the Calle de la Fortaleza (Fortaleza Street) , which displays umbrellas in different colors / themes depending on current events, holidays, etc. At Calle de la Fortaleza, there is a delicious gelato place called Anita . If you love ice cream, you have to make a stop here.
For the best experience in getting to know the history of the island while you explore, I recommend that you take a guided tour with a local guide. This San Juan Walking Tour is a great way to learn more about the sites listed above and others like La Casa Estrescha, one of the narrowest houses in the Northern Hemisphere.
If you’re looking for a magical experience, I recommend that you take a San Juan Sunset Cruise . On this two hour experience you’ll sail around the historical city center and watch the sunset on the water. The experience also comes with provided beverages and the music selection of your choice. My friends and I did this on our last trip to Puerto Rico, and had a great time.
For your first night, head to Barrachina for delicious standard Puerto Rican fare. This restaurant is very close to La Fortaleza, and is most famously known for originating the Piña Colada. You may also want to look for a place to watch live music, such as Mono Stereo Bar .
For more tips on things to do in the city, see my post on the Best Things to Do in Old San Juan .
Day 2 | El Yunque National Forest
On your second day in Puerto Rico, I recommend keeping your Old San Juan stay as your home base, as you venture out to explore El Yunque National Forest and more of the island. Established in 1903, El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest within the U.S. Nationals Park system. Named after the benevolent Taino god, Yuquiyu, which stands for “Forest of Clouds”, the lush expanse of El Yunque is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
Covering approximately 29,000 acres, El Yunque National Forest is home to a unique ecosystem of endemic species of flora and fauna. It features over 240 species of trees, a rich variety of ferns, as well as an array of unique wildlife, such as the Puerto Rican parrot and the Coquí frog. The forest’s vibrant biodiversity is accentuated by its stunning geography, which encompasses cascading waterfalls, crystal clear rivers, and the majestic peaks of El Toro and El Yunque.
The park offers an abundance of recreational activities, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in its pristine natural beauty. Popular activities include hiking along the numerous marked trails that criss-cross the forest, swimming in the natural pools beneath the waterfalls, and bird-watching. For the more adventurous, El Yunque National Forest also provides opportunities for zip-lining and rappelling.
There are two ways to get to El Yunque: (1) drive yourself or (2) take a tour. I recommend taking the tour, unless you truly enjoy driving.
The tour that I’d recommend is the San Juan Scenic Puerto Rico Instagram Tour. This tour will take you to the following locations:
- Old San Juan Historical Sites (Highlights)
- El Yunque National Forest
- Secret Locals-Only Beach
- Dinner at the Beach
Once you get back from exploring El Yunque, I recommend heading to bed early to get ready for an early day.
Click here to book the San Juan Scenic Puerto Rico Instagram Tour !
Day 3 | Day Trip to Vieques
Vieques is a lovely little island off the coast of Puerto Rico that is well known for having some of the best beaches in the whole of the Caribbean. There are white and black sand beaches there and plenty of opportunities for excellent snorkeling. Some of the beaches worth exploring include Playa Negrita (the black sand beach) and La Chiva Beach, which is most known for great snorkeling opportunities. There are also historical sites to check out here as well.
Once in Vieques, you can get around by car rental or get around by taxi (carros publicos) (which is what we did). This is probably the best option if you are short on time.
Getting to Vieques from San Juan
Option 1 : Drive to Vieques
On the morning of your 3rd day in Puerto Rico, rent a car and head for a drive to Vieques. The trip to Vieques has a few layers. First, you’ll need to drive to Ceiba (~a 2 hour drive) where you’ll then buy your ticket for the ferry for the trip over to the tiny island of Vieques.
Departures from Ceiba to Vieques can be as early as 4:30AM, so you’ll need to think through how long you’d like to stay at the island before you head there. Note that the last ferry back to Ceiba from Vieques leaves before sunset. For the most current travel schedule, visit the Puerto Rico Ferry website .
Costs: It is roughly $8/day to park at the Ferry station, and the tickets are $4 round trip.
When to Book: Know that there are online tickets available, but they run out quickly. You’ll need to book at least several weeks out. The good news is that there are tickets they hold for in-person booking. But note, you’ll need to stand in line to obtain these tickets. This is something you’ll have to factor in when driving over to Ceiba.
Option 2: Take a Tour to Vieques
This From San Juan: Vieques Snorkeling Tour includes pickup from your hotel in San Juan and all the coordination needed to get to the island. It is certainly a pricier island, but can be helpful for those who like “easy travel”.
After spending the Day at Vieques, head back to San Juan for your last night staying in your hotel by the beach.
Day 4 | Beach Day in San Juan
On your last day in Puerto Rico, stay in a hotel by one of the local beaches. I recommend staying in either Condado or Isla Verde as there are many amenities in both areas. Relax by the beach, shop, or eat during your last hours of vacation.
Condado Beach offers a perfect blend of city sophistication and beachfront bliss. This trendy neighborhood is renowned for its sparkling turquoise waters, golden sandy shores, and its lively strip of high-end shops, eclectic restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. While here you can relax under the swaying palm trees, engage in water sports, or simply soak in the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. My friends and I spent a day here on my last trip to San Juan and we loved it. While here, you may want to check out the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, as it offers fine dining options and several options for nightlife.
This area also offers unspoiled sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters that are ideal for sunbathing and swimming. Water sports enthusiasts will find opportunities for jet-skiing and paddleboarding as well. The area is also home to a diverse range of dining options, from luxurious fine dining restaurants to casual food trucks serving traditional Puerto Rican fare. Boasting glamorous resorts and casinos, Isla Verde comes alive at night, offering a taste of Puerto Rico’s lively nightlife.
For your last evening in Old San Juan, I recommend eating dinner or lunch at Mario Pagán . It’s a more high-end restaurant, but has delicious food options, and is a great way to top off the trip. Note: This is a pretty popular restaurant, so you should plan on making reservations at least a week early.
What to Do if You Have More Time
If your 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary gets (happily) extended, I recommend exploring in Vieques for more time, and doing a Bioluminescent Bay Tour while there.
In addition, you should also consider traveling to the west coast of the island, and stopping at wonderful sites like Gozalandia (local waterfall hangout) and Rincon , which is known for some of the best surfing beaches. If you prefer to travel areas where there are fewer tourists, this is the best part of the island for you.
Old San Juan City Map
For your reference, here is a map of key locations in Old San Juan. The city is quite walkable, but do plan to have water on hand for a few hours of strolling around.
- San Juan National Historic Site
- San Felipe del Morro Castle
- Catedral Bascilica Menor de San Juan Bautista
- Calle de la Fortaleza
- Castillo de San Cristobal
Getting to Puerto Rico
When traveling to Puerto Rico you are most likely to fly into San Juan, which is serviced by the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. This airport is relatively easy to navigate, but when flying home, I recommend that you get to the airport at least 2 hours early – especially if you are checking luggage. There are always deals to fly to Puerto Rico cheaply, at least from the US, so I’d just keep my eyes on tickets for at least 2-3 months before you plan to make the trip .
Where to Stay in Puerto Rico
Where to stay will depend on what you prefer to do during your vacation. Here are a few options for a variety of interests:
Where to Stay in Old San Juan
I recommend staying in Old San Juan if you like being in very walkable places, and are a history buff. There are many old historical sites in Old San Juan, and the architecture in this central area is quite lovely.
Casa Blanca Hotel – This hotel is right in the heart of Old San Juan, but La Fortaleza, one of the most known locations in the city.
Hotel El Convento – Highly-rated hotel in Old San Juan with 2 restaurants, and walking distance to the cruise pier.
Where to Stay in Condado Beach or Isla Verde
If you are traveling primarily to get some beach time, but don’t want to be too far away from the city, I recommend considering Condado Beach or Isla Verde.
AC Hotel Marriott Condado – This hotel is a three minute walk to the beach, and is perfect for a few nice beach bum days.
TRYP by Wyndham Isla Verde – This is another hotel right on the beach, except this one is at Isla Verde.
Getting Around Puerto Rico
Walking: If you stay in Old San Juan, it’s very easy to get around the whole area by foot. It’s honestly the best way to travel in this area as the streets are narrow and the roads are quite bumpy.
Uber: For shorter trips, Uber is a very straightforward option. You’ll find the ubers are affordable and can take you around San Juan easily.
Car Rental: If you plan to travel to Vieques or Rincon, or anywhere else in the island, you should certainly rent a car. Some islands have a more “challenging” driving culture, but it is not that way in Puerto Rico. Book your car rental here !
RELATED: The Best Montego Bay Excursions
When to Go to Puerto Rico
The best time to visit Puerto Rico depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re keen on basking under the tropical sun, December to April is the dry season (and high season) and boasts warm, sunny days perfect for beach-side relaxation or exploring the natural wonders. However, for those interested in experiencing cultural events, the San Sebastián Street Festival in January and the Ponce Carnival in February offer vibrant displays of local traditions and festivities. Be aware that these peak tourist seasons also come with higher prices. If you’re looking for a balance between pleasant weather and fewer crowds, the shoulder seasons of late April to June, and September to November, offer a good compromise, though it’s wise to keep an eye on potential hurricane forecasts during the latter period.
Language in Puerto Rico
The official language of Puerto Rico is Spanish. You won’t have any trouble with English in the touristy areas (except in Ubers, perhaps), but you should learn some Spanish if you plan to venture out. Check out my post on Spanish for Travel to get all the phrases you need to survive!
Money in Puerto Rico
The currency used in Puerto Rico is the US Dollar, so if you live in the US, there is no need to change money.
Frequently Asked Questions About Puerto Rico
You can see some of Puerto Rico’s highlights in 4 days, but a longer stay would allow a more in-depth exploration of the island’s diverse attractions and culture.
A trip of 7 to 10 days is often recommended to experience Puerto Rico’s main sights, including its beaches, historical sites, and natural wonders, though the ideal length may vary depending on individual interests.
The best months to visit Puerto Rico are typically from mid-December to April, when the weather is warm and dry, avoiding the hurricane season.
Traveling around Puerto Rico is most convenient by renting a car, as this provides flexibility to explore various parts of the island, though public transportation and guided tours are also available.
Puerto Rico can be both affordable and expensive depending on travel preferences; budget accommodations and local eateries are available, but luxury resorts and dining can make it a more costly destination.
Final Tips | 4 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary
That wraps this 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary, which I think is perfect for first-time visitors. I love this beautiful island, and can’t wait to go back. Here is just a quick recap of tips to keep in mind when you visit the island:
- Don’t visit during Hurricane season to avoid rainy weather (and worse). Consider traveling between late November to April
- If staying in Old San Juan, don’t rent a car until you are planning to travel outside of the area, as parking in this area is very challenging
- See more of the island than just San Juan. San Juan is such a small part of the island – there is much more beauty to explore, even if you do not have a lot of time to travel there
- Book your ferry tickets early if you plan to Vieques (or Culebra); the online tickets go fast, and no one enjoys waiting in line for the in-person tickets
I hope you enjoy your Puerto Rico vacation! If you have already been there, let me know of any other places you’d recommend people check out in the comments below!
Looking for More Posts on Puerto Rico?
- What to do in Old San Juan
Additional Caribbean Travel Guides
- The Best Montego Bay Excursions
- 5 Ways to Travel from Havana to Varadero
- Top 10 Things to Do in Havana
- How to Plan an Independent Trip to Cuba
- Where to Eat in Havana
- Latin American Destinations
Christen Thomas is the founder of TravelWanderGrow, established in 2018. She has lived abroad and traveled extensively to over 30 countries. In addition, she is a certified Travel Advisor and is an expert in planning trips focused on city history and culture. As a frequent traveler, she also shares tips on how to prepare to travel well and how to save money while doing so.
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The ULTIMATE 4 Day Itinerary in Puerto Rico
November 16, 2022
If you are headed to Puerto Rico for the first time and need help planning your trip, this guide is exactly what you need. Here, we’ll cover the essentials and logistics of how to plan an EPIC 4 day itinerary for Puerto Rico!
Is it Worth Visiting Puerto Rico?
The simple answer to this is yes. Puerto Rico is an island abundant in history, diverse landscapes, beautiful nature, vibrant culture, and amazing food.
There is simply something here for every type of traveler to enjoy. And for Americans, the fact that it’s so easy to travel to from the US, it should be a no brainer to add it to your bucket list.
Plus, as one of the safer destinations in the Caribbean, travelers can enjoy all there is to love about traveling in this region without some of the safety concerns that usually come with it.
Is 4 Days Enough in Puerto Rico?
It’s hard to give a definitive answer to whether 4 days in Puerto Rico is enough.
The truth is, you could easily spend way more than 4 days in Puerto Rico and still not see it all. This island has a lot to offer, especially given the wide range of natural landscapes present here, from rainforests, to heavenly beaches, to caves, waterfalls – the list goes on.
However, for most of us, a 4 day trip makes the perfect first bite into what Puerto Rico is all about. This 4 day itinerary in Puerto Rico will highlight the best of the best, and most bucket-list worthy destinations in Puerto Rico.
Of course, a subsequent trip here can definitely dive into the other amazing parts of Puerto Rico. But 4 days is definitely still enough to have an amazing trip.
Have Less that 4 days in Puerto Rico? Read: How to Spend 2 Days in San Juan
When to Go to Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has a clearly defined dry season and rain season. The dry season is defined as running from December to March, while the rain season runs from April to as late as November.
Puerto Rico in December
December is generally the busiest time in Puerto Rico due to holiday travel, with this time seeing the highest prices for hotel bookings. You’ll also have a harder time booking tours and gaining entry into certain parks, such as El Yunque Rainforest.
You do have the best temperatures and chance of sunny days in this time of year, but I’d opt to visit a month or so later, just to avoid the crowds.
Puerto Rico in January – April
The best time of year to visit Puerto Rico is likely in spring. This is right after the holiday season, but still during dry season. This will ensure maximum sunny beach days, more comfortable temperatures and bearable numbers of tourists.
It’s still considered high season, so you’ll need to book hotels in advance to ensure getting a room you prefer. Tours and entry into some sites should also be booked ahead of time.
Puerto Rico in May – November
This is considered the low season in Puerto Rico. A visit in this time period usually means less crowds, lower prices on hotels, and some tour companies becoming less operational.
It can still be a great time of year to visit, especially in the earlier months in this time frame. You have some chance of rain, but it’s still very likely to have days of sunshine. Plus most tours and attractions are still open and ready for visitors.
Puerto Rico Hurricane Season
Puerto Rico’s hurricane season runs from August to October. Since this is peak low season, it offers the best deals for travelers. Still, I don’t really advise planning a trip in this time.
The risk of your trip being disrupted by a hurricane are greatly higher, presenting safety issues for the travelers themselves. But the real issue is that if a hurricane does hit, it’s really unfair to locals if hurricane relief supplies will need to be shared with tourists at this time.
I visited Puerto Rico in September in 2021, and had nothing but sunny skies. However, exactly one year later, Puerto Rico was slammed by a hurricane that left most of the island without power or water for weeks.
Plan your trip responsibly, and try to visit outside of this time.
Getting To Puerto Rico
Most people will get to Puerto Rico by flying from somewhere within the US. There are direct flights from most major hubs on the east coast, midwest and southern states now.
For Canadians, you have direct flights from Toronto and Montreal. For the rest of us, we will need to have a stopover somewhere along the way.
Things to Know Before You Go
Puerto Rico is a unique destination as it’s an official U.S territory, but still in some ways it’s own thing. Here are a few details you should know before planning 4 days in Puerto Rico.
Americans Don’t Need a Passport
If you are an American citizen, you won’t need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico. This makes it a great tropical getaway for Americans, especially considering 50% of us still don’t have a passport.
You’ll just need an up-to-date drivers license or state issued ID to present on check in and arrival. If you plan to travel onwards, such as to another Caribbean island or to Mexico, you will need your passport.
Real ID Act in 2023
There is a new regulation to be set in stone by 2023, known as the Real ID Act .
Essentially, depending on the state your ID was issued in, you may or may NOT be allowed to travel to Puerto Rico without a passport. You’ll need to verify whether the state your ID was issues in is complaint with this act or not.
If in doubt, just bring your passport for good measure.
The Currency is USD
Another reason Puerto Rico is such a convenient destination for Americans or those coming from the US, is that they use the same currency.
US dollars are the official currency used in Puerto Rico. Moreover, I’d say that card payments are nearly as widely accepted as in the States.
You should still bring some cash for tipping, street food stalls, and those few places that may still pefer cash payments.
Use Uber for Getting Around
In the city of San Juan, opt to use Uber to get around if you won’t have your own car or for when you plan to drink.
I did a cross-comparison of Uber and taxi prices while in San Juan, and Uber was always a fraction of the price of taxis offered to tourists.
Plus, it’s more convenient, and you won’t need to use cash.
No Wifi at the Airport
There is no wifi at the San Juan Airport. If you need any documents or information in order to get to your hotel, have it preloaded or saved on your phone prior to take off to ensure a smooth arrival.
COVID Test Required
Puerto Rico still currently requires COVID vaccinations or a negative COVID PCR test for travelers coming from outside of the US.
If you are vaccinated, you can present your vaccination card. Otherwise, you’ll need to present a PCR test result from no earlier than 6 days before arrival.
For more info on Puerto Rico COVID requirements, click here .
Getting Around Puerto Rico
The best and most convenient way to get around is by renting your own vehicle. You can easily rent a car from San Juan Airport, ready for pick up on arrival. You can also choose to ship your own car to Puerto Rico for longer stays.
There are many rental companies to choose from, and I’d advise doing your own up-to-date research to choose the best on for you.
We rented from Alamo and can report a positive experience. We split the car rental price between 5 people, so it was economical and affordable.
Can you Do Puerto Rico Without a Rental Car?
For a 4 day itinerary in Puerto Rico, you actually can get by without renting a car. Since many travelers opt to take tours in Puerto Rico, these almost always include a free transfer from San Juan to your destination.
So, you could totally just base yourself in San Juan, take tours to reach other places in your itinerary, and take Uber to get around the city itself.
We did not use our rental car very much in Puerto Rico, apart from getting to and from the airport, and a half-day trip to Camuy Caves. You can’t drive in Old San Juan, so there isn’t a huge need for a car in the city at all.
Cost to Rent a Car
The average daily price for renting our car was $196 USD. This did not include gas nor parking in San Juan.
Since we split this between 5 people, it was worth it, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that car rentals in Puerto Rico are pricey.
Decide where you’d like to go, whether you prefer to join tours or do self-guided trips, and weigh out for yourself if renting a car is worth it.
Puerto Rico by Public Transportation
With only 4 days in Puerto Rico, I do not recommend trying to get around using public transportation. While public transportation is available, the island is perhaps a lot bigger than you think.
You don’t want to waste your short trip in transit half the time, so opt to rent a car or book tours with transfers included.
What to Pack
No matter what time of year you visit Puerto Rico, two things will remain certain: It will be hot, and it could rain at any time.
If you are visiting in the summer months, expect scorching heat and very high humidity. For those lucky to be visiting closer to winter or in spring, the temperatures will be more favorable, but still hot and sticky.
If you aren’t used to this weather, I’d definitely advise loose, breathable clothing. I saw people there in jeans and almost got a second hand heatstroke.
Here is what I’d personally recommend packing for 4 days in Puerto Rico:
4 Days in Puerto Rico Packing List
- 3 – 4 loose fitting tops (you will potentially change more frequently here due to the weather)
- one work out outfit (will be handy when walking in the rainforest)
- 2 flowy dresses (instagram ready)
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 1 pair of loose linen pants or a maxi skirt
- one wide hat (to block the sun)
- MOSQUITO SPRAY
- sunscreen SPF 50 or higher
- a beachbag tote
- beach sandals
- comfy sneakers (a lot of Old San Juan is cobbled streets)
- a small backack (for going into El Yunque)
- your camera
- one lightweight scarf (can double up as a beach coverup)
- waterproof/ sweat proof make up
- A good deodorant
Where to Stay
For this 4 day itinerary in Puerto Rico, it could be practical to base yourself in San Juan for the majority of the trip.
This is especially true if you won’t be renting a car, and will be taking guided tours to the points of interest around the island as most day tours start and end in San Juan.
I’d definitely opt to stay in Old San Juan, simply for the vibes. But you also have a ton of options for bars and restaurants to unwind in after a long day of sightseeing.
Best Hotels in San Juan
Decanter Hotel : Located smack dab in the center of Old San Juan, this hotel is walking distance from most sights in San Juan, plus a huge number of restaurants and bars. This hotel is ideal for groups, as they offer conjoined rooms and kitchen with their rooms. No special amenities such as pool or rooftop.
El Colonial : This is likely the best place to stay in San Juan. Located in the old town, this hotel offers the best in location , style and comfort. The rooms are simple, yet tasteful in decor, and there is a fabulous rooftop terrace and bar onsite.
Palacio Provencial : This hotel offers a mix of colonial and modern architectural styles, together creating a beautiful aesthetic. It offers possibly the best rooftop pool deck in Old San Juan, and other amenities such as hot tub and a gym.
4 Day Itinerary in Puerto Rico
This 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary covers sites mostly on the Eastern side of the island. While that won’t show you all of Puerto Rico, and all it has to offer (you can’t see it all in 4 days anyway!) it includes the most impressive aspects of what Puerto Rico has to offer, including a UNESCO heritage site, the only rainforest in the US, Puerto Rico’s top rated beach, and the #1 bioluminescent bay in the world!
Here is the perfect 4 day itinerary in Puerto Rico!
Day 1: Old San Juan & Surroundings
Start your first day in Puerto Rico by exploring the capital city of San Juan. Ideally, you’ll stay in Old San Juan, which is by far the most convenient and scenic area to base yourself.
Here, you’ll be close enough to walk to most of the must-see places in San Juan.
Calle de la Fortaleza
Get your bearings for Old San Juan by first walking down the main street of Calle de la Forteleza. This street runs through the length of the entire historic district of San Juan.
You’ll find the characteristically colorful old buildings that line both sides of the street, giving the entire street a whimsical and vibrant appearance. Admire the old architecture and snap away those instagram photos, while maybe stopping into one of the many cafes or restaurants for breakfast.
Walk down the length of Calle de la Fortaleza until you hit La Fortaleza. This is the historic and current residence of the governor of Puerto Rico. Visits aren’t permitted, but you can admire the building from the outside.
Sometimes, the street just in front of La Fortaleza will be decorated seasonally. At one point, it became insta-famous for the umbrellas that hung across the top of the buildings.
In 2021, the umbrellas were sadly already gone, but there was a different decoration installed.
Paseo de la Princesa
This is known as one of the most beautiful walking areas in Old San Juan. There is a famous fountain here that is popular with tourists, as well as streets that are beautifully lined with trees.
Puerta de San Juan
Puerta de San Juan is the historic gateway into San Juan, and today leads the way into the walking path around the cities outer walls.
Walk the Paseo del Morro
The Paseo del Morro is a boardwalk walking path that covers the outer parameters of San Juan’s historic outer wall.
The walk will take you along the edge of the sea, to the fortress of Castillo San Felipe de Morro, walking alongside the historic outer wall of San Juan. On the other side, it’ll take you alongside the bay of San Juan.
Historic Park of San Juan
You’ll come to a large park overlooking the sea. At the end of the park, you’ll come to Castillo San Felipe de Morro . This historic fortress was built by the Spanish as a means of protection for San Juan from would-be invaders.
Today, it is a UNESCO site, and well worth a visit to learn of the history and admire the views.
Cementerio Santa María Magdalena de Pazzi
At the other end of the Historic Park of San Juan, you’ll come to the Cementerio Santa María Magdalena de Pazzi . In my opinion, this may be one of the most scenic cemeteries in the world.
Set alongside the sea, it’s now the resting place of several prominent figures in Puerto Rican history.
Visit La Perla on a Tour
La Perla is a famous shanty town located on the oceanside just below Old San Juan. What was once a rough neighborhood riddles with crime, it has now become a place of interest largely due to its feature in the Despacito music video.
Here you can admire the colorful buildings and vibrant murals, while walking along the sea. You can get a feel for another side of Puerto Rico. You can visit on your own, but for safety, it’s advisable to go with a tour.
Old San Juan Nightlife
End your first day in Puerto Rico by indulging in the many offerings in terms of bars, restaurants and lounges in Old San Juan.
For food, you have many options from more low-key Puerto Rican cuisine, to swankier tapas bars, and fine dining restaurants. I personally loved having small bites and cocktails at T•tuan , a restaurant located in a courtyard of fairy lights and live music.
If you are seriously hungry, opt to check out Deavadura or El Jibarito for authentic Puerto Rican eats in a humble, no frills setting.
When the time comes for a drink, there is simply one place you cannot miss out on: La Factoria . What was named among the top 50 bars of the world several years over, a visit here is quite literally a rite of passage during your 4 days in Puerto Rico.
La Factoria is actual a group of 7 bars, with a single hole in the wall, unmarked entrance. You could easily spend a night hopping from one bar to another, as each other a unique vibe and drink menu.
Visit a Cigar Lounge
If you’re up for something unique, you may opt to visit a cigar lounge while in San Juan. While Puerto Rico is not as famous of a cigar producer as the some of the neighboring island nations, they do produce their own high quality brands here.
Whether or not you’re a fan, you can still learn about different types of cigars, how they are made, and maybe even test one out yourself at Monte Cristo Cigar Lounge .
Here, the staff are knowledgeable and happy to give you a little tour of their cigar room.
If one day in San Juan isn’t enough for you, here is a 2 day guide to San Juan Puerto Rico , including all the sites in Old San Juan and beyond.
Day 2: El Yunque National Forest
Your second day of your 4 day itinerary in Puerto Rico will take you to the only tropical rainforest in the U.S.
El Yunque National Rainforest is one of the most biologically diverse forests in the U.S national forest system. While only 28,000 acres in total area, making it one of the smallest of the national forests, it packs a lot to see and do into a small area.
Getting to El Yunque
You have one of two options: either join a guided tour with provided transfer, or drive your own rental car to El Yunque Forest. The one that is best for you will depend on your preferences.
If you’d like someone else to take care of all the logistics such as reserving a spot in El Yunque (more on that later), and taking you from one hotspot to the next, a tour is a good idea.
El Yunque by Tour
Some good tour companies into El Yunque Rainforest are El Yunque Tours and Island Journeys . Both provide pick up in San Juan and will take care of booking a reservation into the park itself. You’ll also have a knoweldgeable guide to give background information during your visit, plus take you to all the best spots.
El Yunque Without a Guide
You technically do not need a guide to visit El Yunque. You may also appreciate the idea of exploring the rainforest on your own terms, or just want to save a bit of cash, in which case you may come by renting a car.
It’s doable to self-drive yourself to El Yunque, and through the park itself. The only thing you need to consider, is that you’ll be responsible for getting your own tickets into El Yunque, which can be a hassle in and of itself.
Getting Tickets to El Yunque Rainforest
If you won’t book a tour with a guide, you’ll need to get your tickets to El Yunque Rainforest prior to your visit.
In order to ensure your entry into El Yunque on your desired date, I’d recommend booking ahead of your trip. You can reserve and purchase an entry ticket up to one month before your visit on the recreation.gov website or by clicking here .
You’ll need to buy just one ticket per vehicle, and the person who’s name is on the ticket must be present in the vehicle upon entering the park.
A the time of writing, a ticket is $8 USD per vehicle.
Last Minute Tickets to El Yunque Rainforest
For those who want to be more spontaneous or just forgot to book ahead of time, you can try your luck at grabbing last minute tickets the day before your visit.
A few tickets are released every day at 8 am and 11 am local time, for entry the following day. You have a good enough chance at grabbing a ticket, especially outside of peak season and if you set an alarm a couple minutes ahead to ensure you login on time.
However, with only a 4 day itinerary in Puerto Rico, I wouldn’t leave anything up to chance. Book ahead of time if you can, to avoid any disappointment.
Things to Do in El Yunque
Although El Yunque is one of the smallest forests in the national forest system, it packs in a vast array of diverse landscapes, vegetation and wildlife into a small area. Plan to start early and spend most of the day here to make the most of your visit.
Pro-tip: Do NOT forget the mosquito spray. Doing so may just result in swollen, baseball sized bug bites!
La Mina Falls
La Mina Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the El Yunque Rainforest. The waterfall itself is a 35 foot tall free flowing wall of water, that flows into a pool popular for swimming. It’s one of the most visited spots in the park, so prepare for crowds!
Juan Diego Falls
Juan Diego Falls is actually a set of waterfalls, that is quite a bit less visited than Mina Falls. The lower falls are relatively easy to get to from the road, while the upper falls requires a bit more effort to reach by hiking. The reward for reaching the upper falls is a 40 foot, relatively unvisited waterfall surrounded by lush greenery.
Spot the Wildlife
This would definitely be easier with a guided tour, but given the abundance of life in El Yunque rainforest, you just may get lucky even on your own.
El Yunque is home to a wide range of exotic species of reptiles, amphibians, and birds. With persistence, you may spot some coqui hopping around, an indigenous Puerto Rican frog species. If you’re lucky you may also spot some boas, the colorful Puerto Rican parrot, or some unique reptiles.
There are many hiking trails to choose from for enjoying the scenic beauty in El Yunque. The easiest trail is the Caimitillo Trail , which is only a little over half a mile long and mostly flat. Although short, it still gives you a good taste of the natural beauty of this region. It’s also a great trail for birdwatching.
Another easy trail is the El Angelito Trail . This hike also takes just over 20 minutes one way, and ends in a great swimming area along the Mameyes River.
For those seeking a view from above, try out the Mount Britton Trail . This trail will take you up into the cloud forest and onto the mountain, eventually leading up to the El Yunque Peak. From up here, you have one of the best views of the entire El Yunque rainforest and even the ocean from afar.
Day 3: Culebra Island & Puerto Rico’s Best Beach
For day 3 of your 4 day itinerary in Puerto Rico, you’ll be heading to Culebra Island to visit Puerto Rico’s top rated beach.
You can either reach Culebra by booking a tour that departs from San Juan, or by driving to the ferry terminal in Cieba and taking the ferry. For those that want to drive and have a car, you may actually head towards the ferry port straight after El Yunque Rainforest the day before.
If you choose to take the ferry, you may opt to take the last ferry onto Culebra Island at the end of day 2, and spend the night on the island. This way, you’ll have the beach to yourself in the morning before the day trippers roll through.
Be warned that the ferry has a track record of being not fully reliable, and that for the most part, ferries won’t allow you to bring your car. You should plan to leave your rental car behind, and parking is available at the port for $5.
Taking the Ferry to Culebra Island
The ferry to Culebra departs from the ferry terminal in Ceiba, in the western part of the main island. The ferry schedule will vary depending on time of year, so check here for the schedule.
Typically, the last ferry to Culebra leaves some time in the late afternoon, and starts as early as 6 am in the morning. The ferry only takes 45 minutes to reach Culebra.
You can book tickets ahead of time online, but it’s also possible to book a ticket on the spot.
Taking a Tour to Culebra Island
In many ways, joining a tour to get to Culebra Island makes the most sense. It’s convenient, and they often bundle in activities that you may otherwise pay for separately anyway, such as kayaking and snorkeling excursions.
With only 4 days in Puerto Rico, I might even say this is the better option, just to save yourself any hassle and time.
About Flamenco Beach
The main draw of visiting Culebra is to spend a day at the world-famous Flamenco Beach.
Flamenco Beach hasn’t just been rated the best beach in Puerto Rico, but often pops up in the ranks among the best beaches in the world.
Historically, this beach was occupied by the U.S Navy for bomb testing and target practice. One of the most photographed aspects of the beach are the tanks that still sit arrested in decay on the beach itself.
This beach is ideal for truly all types of beach goers. The sand is ultra-soft and pure, while the waters are the most strikingly clear blue color, with virtually no waves.
Things to do at Flamenco Beach
Flamenco Beach is also home to some of the best snorkeling locations in Puerto Rico. If you don’t have your own gear, opt to join a snorkeling tour. Many of these will take you to the best snorkeling spots in and around Flamenco Beach by boat and provide gear.
See the Beach Tank s
The American Navy officially un-occupied Culebra in 1975, but in their haste, left behind a lot of equipment. As a result, there are a handful of American tanks that still litter Flamenco beach, disturbing its otherwise paradisiac appearance.
Today, the tanks make cool subjects for photography, where they sit rusted and covered in graffiti.
Boat Tour to Isla Culebrita
Boating is a popular activity at Flamenco Beach and Culebra Island as a whole. You can take a boat tour or public water taxi and head to the uninhabited island of Culebrita. This tiny island is home to some quiet, yet beautiful beaches of it’s own, plus a ton of unspoiled, raw nature.
Kayaking is another activity on offer for those who don’t fancy sunbathing as a beach activity. You can rent a kayak at Tamarindo Beach and kayak to and from Flamenco Beach. Another option is to book a tour with Aquafari , which will take you on a half-day kayaking and snorkeling excursion in and around Flamenco Beach.
Visit the Mangrove Forest
These are located a bit further, on the other side of Culebra, on the southeastern shores. But i you’re keen to explore something different, you can definitely squeeze in a visit to the newly restored Puerto de Manglar Red Mangrove Forests. Here you can see how this unique ecosystems thrives and provides a home to some endangered animals.
Enjoy a Beautiful Sunset
Sunsets on Culebra are known to be a colorful event. While you can get a decent sunset on Flamenco Beach, you may opt to head to Tamarindo beach on the western shores for the absolute best sunset views.
Where to Stay on Culebra Island
Whether or not you stay on Culebra island is up to you. If you booked your visit to and from Culebra as a tour from San Juan, you will likely only visit as a day trip since the catamaran leaves in the afternoon to take you back to San Juan.
But if you came by car, there is definitely value in staying on the island over night, even if just to have it to yourself once the day-trippers leave. If you would like to spend the night in Culebra, here are some good options:
Aleli Cottages : Homely apartment stay on the western shores of Culebra. Most cottages offer beach westward facing views from the terrace, meaning perfect sunset views. Includes kitchen and an onsite garden, ideal for families.
Oceania Villas : These villas offer stunning views of Playa de Cascajo and Datiles Beach from the spacious wrap around balcony. It’s ideal for group travelers, with access to onsite barbecue facilities, a pool and garden.
Day 4: Mosquito Bay for Bioluminescent Beach
For day 4 of your 4 days in Puerto Rico, you’ll head to possibly the most unique destination of the trip.
On your last day, you’ll want to travel to Vieques, another small island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. You can reach Vieques one of two ways: by ferry or by flying in from San Juan.
If you’ve already taken the ferry to Culebra from Cieba on day 3, then taking the ferry to Vieques will make more sense since the ferry departs from Ceiba as well.
If you are based in San Juan, you should opt to fly.
Visiting Mosquito Bay
Bioluminescent beaches are a rarity to come by in the world, so Puerto Rico is unique in the fact that it is spoiled by a total of 3 bioluminescent bays.
While each of them are amazing in their own way, Mosquito Bay is the one regarded as the world’s absolute best bioluminescent bay. It’s also the hardest one to reach of the three in Puerto Rico, but it’s a bucket-list experience not to be missed.
Sure, you’d be able to see bioluminescent algae at any of the 3 bioluminescent bays, but they are dramatically more dense at Mosquito Bay. It really is a once in a lifetime experience to witness the beach twinkling brighter than the night sky itself!
Kayaking Tours of Mosquito Bay
Most people will opt to join a kayaking tour of Mosquito Bay. Tours generally meet up in the late afternoon, and allow you to kayak in the bay when darkness falls.
There are many different tour operators offering kayaking tours of Mosquito Bay, I’d advise booking ahead if possible.
Other Things to do in Vieques
Seeing the bioluminescent algae in real life makes the trip to Vieques entirely worthwhile, but if you have more time in Vieques you can check out some of the following places.
Vieques is home to many unspoiled, beautiful beaches that are less frequented by tourists. One of the most memorable would be Playa Negra which translates to “Black Beach”. Here you can walk on black volcanic sand, that is often times mixed in with golden sand, creating interesting contrast and designs in the surf.
For certified divers, Vieques makes an excellent place to venture off into the undersea world. The visibility around Vieques is amongst the best, making it ideal for exploring the colorful reef and abundant marine life here. It’s not uncommon to spot eagle rays, sea turtles, manatees and even barracudas here.
Hiking Trails in Vieques
Vieques is a somewhat more rugged island in Puerto Rico, and you’ll often do some hiking to reach the best beaches. Playa Grande Sugar Mill Ruins is another great hiking trail that leads you to the ruins of the historic mills, while offering stunning views of the sea along the way.
Alternative 4 Days in Puerto Rico Itinerary Ideas
With the destinations mentioned, you are bound for an action packed 4 day itinerary in Puerto Rico. However, if you find yourself with some free time, or want additional ideas for places to visit, below are some worthy mentions.
The Camuy Caves are the third largest cave system in the world. They are located on the northwestern side of the island, about an hour and a half away from San Juan.
The Camuy Caves can be visited as a half day trip, perhaps before you fly to Vieques on day 4 of this itinerary. While the entire cave itself is very impressive, and surrounded by beautiful nature, I would not recommend it for those who are afraid of spiders.
This cave is where I saw the biggest (I didn’t really see it, I had my eyes closed the whole time) spider of my life right next to my face, in a narrow passageway deep inside the cave, with no way out. If you are crazy, google Puerto Rican Scorpian Spider to get an idea of what I mean.
This is the second best of the 3 bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico. It’s the most popular amongst tourists because it is far easier to reach than Mosquito Bay.
The bioluminescent algae here is not nearly as dense nor as bright as in Mosquito Bay, therefore not as visually impressive. But if you want a faster option to have more time for sipping mojitos, this makes a good second option since you can easily drive there from San Juan.
You can reach Laguna Grande by driving to Fajardo, from which you can join a kayaking tour to see the bioluminescent algae.
San Juan Area
With only a 4 day itinerary in Puerto Rico, you may not have that much extra time to allocate in San Juan. But if you have some free time (maybe before your departure), there is a lot more to discover outside of Old San Juan.
For example, try heading to La Placita Market in the afternoons to try some food, and stay for the evenings when it becomes a nightlife hotspot. Here, you’ll find an abundance of bars, restaurants and even clubs, where you can let loose and maybe mingle with some locals.
See more: A Guide to How to Spending 2 Days in San Juan
Safety in Puerto Rico
For the typical traveler, Puerto Rico is a largely safe destination. If you are basing yourself in Old San Juan, you can rest easy knowing this is one of the safest areas in the city, and country, and there is a ton of police present to reassure you of that.
Travelers who will join guided tours, visit the touristic sites during the day, while taking normal precautions, will probably be fine.
If you will rent a car and do a self-guided trip, you’ll also be fine. Certain precautions should be made such as remembering to leave no valuables or visible items in your car. And of course, always make sure you have GPS to avoid getting lost, especially at night.
There are some areas that are known to be rougher than others, but those aren’t typically where tourists go. If in doubt, ask your hotel receptionist the day before about where you plan to go.
If traveling alone, try to avoid walking around alone late at night, a precaution that is advisable in almost any destination.
Solo Travel in Puerto Rico
I spend the tail end of my 4 days in Puerto Rico alone, and I can report a good experience in Puerto Rico for solo travelers.
If you make the effort, it is easy to meet locals, as I found Puerto Rican people to be very open and friendly. It also helps that many people in the city speak English.
San Juan is great for solo travelers, even first time solo travelers. For visiting further destinations in Puerto Rico, it may be slightly more enjoyable to go with someone, since most of us don’t consider going to the beach or hiking to be a solo activity.
However, if you are comfortable being alone and are experienced traveling solo, then there is no reason why Puerto Rico can’t be a great solo travel destination.
Puerto Rico Travel Tips
How should I prepare for a trip to Puerto Rico?
There isn’t a whole lot you need to prepare for to travel to Puerto Rico aside from choosing a good time of year to go. For Americans, since Puerto Rico is a U.S territory, you’ll have access to a lot of the conveniences you’d find in the states. You’ll find
Is it best to bring cash or card to Puerto Rico?
When I visited in 2021 cards were already widely accepted. It’s still best to bring a bit of cash, maybe for tipping, some side-street food stalls, and in case of emergency.
What is the #1 attraction in Puerto Rico?
Since the entry point into Puerto Rico is via San Juan Airport, I’d say most people will spend time in San Juan. But there is good reason to. You have a good mix of things for tourists to enjoy, such as activities for cultural and historical immersion, as well as options for leisure, dining, relaxing, nightlife, and shopping.
What food is Puerto Rico best known for?
There is a LOT of great food to try for the first time in Puerto Rico that would require it’s own article. But if you were to aim to try just one thing, it’ll probably be mofongo. It’s on the menu in most places as a side dish and sometimes as part of the main. Also, did you know pina colada was invented in San Juan? Try it from its source at Barrachina in San Juan.
How much should I budget for a trip to Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico is probably a more affordable travel destination that most major U.S cities. You can easily budget for $150 – $200 a day while here, depending on how much you’ll spend on tours and your hotel. Food is reasonably priced, with the most high end options not surpassing normal dining prices in a U.S city.
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The ancient forest: guide to the california …, through the fog: how to road trip …, golden hour: where to see the best …, ready by the runway: 7 san francisco airport …, 8 day trips from miami that don’t …, american paradise: 4 day puerto rico itinerary.
With tropical jungles, white-sand beaches , and colorful history, this 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary will make you forget that you’re in the US! Puerto Rico is a part of the US, but it feels like an entirely different world.
Ready to get the most out of PR but not sure where to start? No worries! I’ve got all the highlights you need in this 4 day Puerto Rico Itinerary.
PS: Make sure you pack all the beach necessities for Puerto Rico!
A few quick FAQs –
- Almost everyone speaks English and Spanish.
- The currency is the dollar, and you will not need a passport as a US citizen.
- SJU is the biggest (and therefore cheapest ) airport in Puerto Rico, but there are smaller airports if SJU doesn’t suit your needs.
Navigate to where you want to go:
Where to Stay in San Juan
- If you want your 4 days in Puerto Rico itinerary to include absolute indulgence, you want the Caribe Hilton. Just 2 miles from the city center, Caribe Hilton has over 17 acres of tropical gardens on-site! The private beachfront hotel has a pool facing the ocean, a bar, and 9 restaurants.
- La Terraza de San Juan (Old San Juan) is a boutique hotel just a 9-minute walk from the beach. Decorated in 19th-century Colonial with happy pastel colors and tile floors, La Terraza is beautiful.
- La Capitana Old San Juan is conveniently located in the heart of everything. You won’t need a car and will be able to walk to all of San Juans major attractions like Del Morro and Fortaleza Street.
- Santurica Hostel and Bar is clean and compromise-free, located just a scenic 13-minute walk from Ocean Park Beach, and air-conditioned rooms that will help you recover after your walk.
Day 1 Luquillo Beach
A relaxing beach day is one of my favorite things to do after a long flight.
Luquillo is one of Puerto Rico’s most famous beaches, just 40 minutes from San Juan. If you’re a beach-y person, you can enjoy the entire day at Luquillo Beach. Bring along your favorite drinks and snacks in a beach tote bag with a detachable cooler , perfect for keeping a cold drink on hand while you spend the day sunbathing.
Otherwise, explore Las Pailas waterfalls or the town of Luquillo.
Where to Stay in Luquillo
If you prefer to stay overnight in Luquillo to get a head start at El Yunque, I recommend the adorable Luquillo Sunrise Inn . This hotel is affordable, a 20-minute drive from El Yunque and a 1-minute walk to the beach!
Day 2 Old San Juan
On the second day of your 4-day Puerto Rico itinerary, visit the charming city of San Juan. Founded in 1521, this is the iconic part of the city you’ve likely seen on Pinterest. Picture colorful houses, cobbled streets, statued plazas, and a distinctly Caribbean vibe- that’s Old San Juan.
What To Do in Old San Juan
El morro fort (castillo san felipe del morro).
San Felipe del Morro is a stunning 16th-century citadel built to protect the city from enemies arriving by ship. Del Morro has views of the cemetery, the ocean, and Old San Juan.
Go deeper with a guided walking tour of El Morro Castle.
Del Morro is divided into 2 levels :
- From the upper level, you will have stunning views of the San Juan Cemetery (Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cementerio) to the east and the ocean to the west.
- On the lower level, you can walk along the ocean and enjoy the colony of super cute, semi-feral cats maintained by Save a Gato .
The Garitas (sentry boxes, pictured below) are positioned all along the upper and lower walls of the fort and make for incredibly unique photo ops and viewpoints (keep your eyes peeled for sunbathing Iguanas).
Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cementerio
Ok, even if cemeteries aren’t your thing, you gotta admit- romantic architecture against a moody ocean makes for one gorgeous sight to behold. Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cementerio is the final resting place of Ponce de Leon and other important residents.
The Bautista Cathedral houses the tomb of the famous explorer Ponce de León.
This is the famed ‘umbrella street,” although umbrellas were removed and replaced with a Puerto Rican flag.
Fortaleza Street leads to the governor’s mansion and is closed down (and guarded!). The atmosphere is charming af- colorful colonial-era shops and residences line the street, and at dusk, you’re likely to see dancing in the street or children playing.
Catch a Sunset at El Morro
I will take time out of every single day to observe the sunset, forever inspired by El Morro.
Out of every item on this 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary, this is my absolute favorite!
How to Park in Old San Juan
So, these charming, cobblestone streets do not offer ample parking. They’re also extremely narrow- we literally had to pull in our side mirrors to get through at times.
I’d recommend this parking garage located across from El Morro- save yourself the hassle and foot the bill on this one.
Day 3 Catamaran Tour from Fajardo
This is hands down the clearest water I’ve seen in my entire life! I mean, you could see for literal miles. Fajardo Beach is an absolute gem, and I can’t say enough good things about it.
We took this cruise for $113 per person. The price included:
- A catamaran ride to deserted Icacos island
- Unlimited Pina Coladas
- Lunch (the vegetarian option was phenomenal)
- Snorkel Gear, floaties, and paddle boards for use at no extra charge
The crew members were knowledgeable, fun, and attentive.
You’ll want to bring a quality underwater camera to capture epic photos while snorkeling and swimming. If you can’t splurge on a camera, you can still take amazing photos with your smartphone using a waterproof phone case !
Culebra is another deserted island off Fajardo, also popular to snorkel and tour.
Bioluminescent Bay tour
Puerto Rico is famous for its 3 Bioluminescent bays, AKA Bio bays.
Bioluminescence is caused by microorganisms called Dinoflagellates. The Dinoflagellates glow a blue-green color whenever they are disturbed- every little movement in the water causes the dinoflagellates to light up in the water around you.
Photographing a bio bay is virtually impossible.
Mainly because it isn’t the water lighting up, but the dinoflagellates in the water. These guys light up for a brief instant and then go dark, making the overall effect extremely difficult to capture on film without using long exposure techniques.
The images that the tour companies show are photoshopped.
That being said, the actual in-person experience is magical . It just doesn’t translate to electronic devices well.
Want to Swim in a Bio Bay? Read This
La Parguera is the only one of the 3 bays you can swim in. This bay also has the least number of dinoflagellates and is, therefore, the least glow-y.
Breakdown of the 3 Bio Bays
Mosquito bay in vieques.
This is the brightest of the 3 bays and the furthest from San Juan. To get there, you’ll have to take the ferry from Ceiba, which doesn’t run at night.
This means that most people end up spending a night on the island of Vieques . Also, it’s called Mosquito Bay for a reason, so don’t leave the spray at home.
Take a Tour of Mosquito Bay in a kayak or small group catamaran .
Laguna Grande in Fajardo
Laguna Grande is the closest to San Juan, an hour’s drive away. This is the most visited bio bay because of how close it is to San Juan.
Take a Tour of Laguna Grande
La Parguera in Lajas
La Parguera is the only bay that allows motorboats and the only bay that allows swimming and, consequently, is the least bright of the 3 bays.
Take a Tour of La Parguera
Tips for Visiting any Bio Bay
- Map where the moon is on her lunar cycle . Tours do not run during a full moon, as the light makes the Dinoflagellates less visible.
- Call ahead to see how bright the bio bay is forecasted to be on the day of your tour. Most tour companies will give you a better sense of how the bay is looking.
- Request the latest available time slot , or just ask if you can go at a time when the bay is likely to be empty.
- You’ve got options. Not all bio bay tours are created equal. Some are shorter, some involve booking an entire boat, while others are glass-bottom kayak tours. Prices vary quite a bit.
Day 4 El Yunque Rainforest
This was my first ever rainforest experience, and it did not disappoint! El Yunque (Yunque rhymes with junk) is the only rainforest in the U.S.
We had no problem navigating the maps and trails without a tour, but if you don’t have a rental car, tours will pick you up from San Juan. I like this tour which includes swimming, shopping, and waterfalls.
The 3 Waterfalls of El Yunque
La coca falls.
La Coca Falls is the easiest to see because it’s right off the PR-151 main road, around 4.9 miles (8 km) from the park’s entrance. Because of its unique rock surface that appears smooth, La Coca Falls is a favorite spot to snap pics.
The rocks are super slippery, and this fall is not swimmable. For parking, the side of the road is fine- there’s no designated area.
Juan Diego Creek
Juan Diego Creek is actually a set of cascades that line the river. The short trail leads to natural pools that are lovely to swim and relax in, though remember the area is popular. The trailhead sign is visible from the PR 191 main road, with limited parking.
La Mina Falls
La Mina is the most popular fall in the El Yunque Rainforest. The natural swimming pool below the falls is around 65°F (18°C).
Note : To reach La Mina Falls via trail, you have to cross over a couple of scenic bridges.
Opening Hours : El Yunque is open every day except for holidays. Since the park closes before dark, it’s best to start your adventure early.
Fees : A fee of $2 ticket per vehicle is required.
Parking : Park on the side of the road for most hiking trails and waterfalls. Be aware of the “No Parking” signs; rangers check often, and they do fine.
What to Bring : Spending a day exploring the waterfalls means you will get wet! So keep your items in a dry pack to ensure your gadgets and spare clothes stay untouched by the water and mist.
Note : Post-hurricane Irma and Maria, some of the trails remain closed. Check USDA El Yunque Rainforest for updates before visiting.
Have a question or suggestion? Did you add anything to your 4-day Puerto Rico Itinerary? Let me know in the comments below 🙂
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