If you’re looking for a tropical Caribbean vacation spot, Puerto Rico has it all and more. People from all walks of life come to the beach to enjoy the beautiful palm-lined beaches. Some have calm, warm waters that gently lap the golden sand, while others have huge waves that make them famous surf breaks.

Puerto Rico is a great place for nature lovers because it has the only tropical rainforest in the US Forest Service and the Bioluminescent Bay, which glows at night. Historic San Juan, with its colonial architecture as well as the old forts, makes this picture even better!

In Puerto Rico, the Spanish Caribbean culture is evident, yet the island also has a distinctly American flavor. This is most obvious in San Juan, where there are a lot of chain restaurants and other things you’d expect to find in the United States. You’ll find quaint towns, small villages, beautiful islands, caves, and a rugged mountainous interior if you go farther away from the coast. See our list of the best things to do in Puerto Rico for more ideas.

1. Old San Juan (San Juan Viejo)

old san juan street puerto rico
When you walk through the streets of Old San Juan, with its beautiful colonial architecture and imposing forts, it feels like you’ve traveled back in time. Remember that this is one of the top sites to visit in Puerto Rico, so make sure to include some time in your itinerary for this destination.

Old San Juan, the second-oldest city in the Americas and the world’s oldest continuously inhabited settlement, is a fascinating mix of Spanish colonial history and contemporary Puerto Rican life. The entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it contains hundreds of restored Spanish colonial buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries. Several of these historic buildings are now open for business, including restaurants, shops, and even lodging.

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2. El Morro Fort (Fuerte San Felipe del Morro)

san felipe del morro castle
El Morro Fort is the primary tourist attraction in Old San Juan and one of the most popular tourist locations in Puerto Rico (Fuerte San Felipe del Morro). This fort, which dates back to 1539 and is situated majestically on a peninsula, is a fascinating journey back in time.

Consider what life would have been like here about 500 years ago as you stroll through the well-kept grounds of this national park, which has been beautifully maintained. Explore the dungeons, walkways, ramps, and tunnels, much of which was constructed in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. If you have the opportunity, make your way up to the top of the walls and out to one of the guard towers for spectacular views out over the ocean and back into Old San Juan, with the modern city towering behind you.

The trek from the Old City to El Morro is only a few minutes. Come in the morning if possible, when the temps are more pleasant. El Morro is beautifully illuminated at night, making for wonderful photography opportunities.

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3. Castillo de San CristΓ³bal


Castillo of San CristΓ³bal, despite its location in plain sight but still in the shadow of the more famous El Morro (which receives all of the attention), is a must-see attraction in Seville. Bring comfortable walking shoes because San Cristobal is significantly larger than El Morro. In reality, it is the largest Spanish fort ever constructed in the New World, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site..

The Castillo de San Cristobal is a fascinating spot to see. Five independent components are interconnected with moats and tunnels for defensive purposes, and they are spread out over 27 acres for this purpose. In the event that one unit is penetrated, the residents can easily relocate to another.

It was built between 1634 and 1790 to guard the eastern gate of old San Juan, and it served that purpose until its destruction in 1898. While El Morro was built and planned to withstand a sea attack, Castillo de San Cristobal was built and designed to withstand an attack from the landward side of the island.

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4. El Yunque National Forest


El Yunque National Forest, located in Ro Grande on the east side of the island, is the only tropical rainforest that is a component of the United States National Forest System. Known for its more than 240 different species of trees and birds, as well as native animals like the coqu frog and breathtaking scenery, the forest encompasses 28,000 acres of land and contains 25 waterfalls, multiple rivers, and ancient petroglyphs of Taino deities, among other things.

The most prominent attractions are only a one-hour drive away from San Juan, and you can either travel the island on your own or join a guided tour to get to them. Choose from a variety of activities such as hiking, ziplining, or horseback riding, and prepare to fall in love with the breathtaking view from the top of the forest, which overlooks the region’s verdant valleys.

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5. Culebra Island (Isla Culebra)

old rusty tank at Culebra Island beach puerto rico
The lovely beaches and verdant hills of Culebra are often compared to Vieques, although they are distinctively different. The pace is slow and the mood is calm. It is a popular eco-tourism destination, with many foreigners running tourist businesses.

Culebra is a seven-mile-long, three-mile-wide Caribbean island with 23 outlying islets. Some of the Caribbean’s greatest coral reefs are found here.

The island’s most popular and ideal beach, Playa Flamenco, is formed like a horseshoe. Stunningly white beach is surrounded with palms and the ocean is clear with no waves for swimming or diving.

In addition to Culebra’s shoreline, the refuge encompasses about 20 offshore cays. Cayo Luis Pea, a small island immediately west of Culebra, is part of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge. Hiking options abound with coves and steep terrain here.

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6. Vieques and Bioluminescent Bay


Vieques, a small island just eight miles off the coast of mainland Puerto Rico, has become a popular beach destination with boutique hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and galleries. During the United States Army’s departure from Vieques in 2003, the island’s focus moved to tourism.

Beautiful beaches are now accompanied by a high-quality tourism infrastructure, which attracts both Puerto Ricans and visitors from across the world. As a result, there aren’t any massive hotels or high-rise condominiums to contend with. Vieques, the largest of the Spanish Virgin Islands, is 21 miles long and five miles wide, but it retains a small-island feel despite its size.

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7. Catedral de San Juan Bautista

inside of catedral de san juan bautista located in puerto rico
Puerto Rico’s Catedral de San Juan Bautista, also known as the Cathedral of San Juan, is a historic ecclesiastical structure that dates back to 1540 and is one of the country’s most prominent religious landmarks. For centuries, the cathedral has been known as the ultimate resting site of Ponce de Leon, the Spaniard who set out on a mission to find the Fountain of Youth in the Americas.

An interesting fact about the church that many people are unaware of is that it is the second-oldest building in the Western Hemisphere. Thanks to its parishioners’ tremendous assistance, the church has weathered the test of time. There are stained-glass windows that shine as brightly as they did the day they were installed, if not brighter. The inside is pristine as well.

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8. Cayo Icacos


You might think it unusual that you’d want to hop on a boat and travel to another beach when there are so many wonderful ones on the mainland. However, don’t let that train of thought deter you from participating in one of the most enjoyable activities available in Puerto Rico.

Cayo Icacos, which is known for its magnificent beach, is roughly a 20- to 30-minute boat ride from Fajardo, a small hamlet located at the northeastern extremity of the island. Cayo Icacos is recognized for its incredible beach. Cayo Icacos is located within the La Cordillera Nature Reserve, which means there will be no development here; it is as close to a deserted island as you can get without actually being on one.

The majority of visitors join a tour on a huge catamaran that includes transportation, a luncheon, and beverages. These friendly cruises depart from 9 a.m. and return at 4 p.m. on a daily basis, with a break for snorkeling at an offshore reef on the return journey.

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9. Surfing and Whale Watching at Rincon

beach in rincon puerto rico
RincΓ³n, also known as “Pueblo del Surfing” (Surfing Town) and “Little Malibu,” is a popular tourist destination in Puerto Rico and is known as a “Gringo Paradise” by foreigners. The predominant language in the area is English, and the town is home to a large number of foreign surfers and other expats from across the world.

In 1968, the World Surfing Championships were held in Rincon, and photographs of the beach and the frequent 15-foot-high waves were broadcast throughout the world. Rincon quickly became known as a surfing mecca. You’re not a fan of surfing? The majority of the beautiful beaches that are suited for swimming are located to the south of the city.

RincΓ³n is also one of the most popular destinations in Puerto Rico for whale watching excursions. The best time to go whale watching is from the middle of January until the beginning of March, when humpback whales are in the area. Tours may be arranged quickly and easily throughout the city.

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10. Luquillo Beach


Luquillo is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a quick getaway from the crowded beaches of San Juan. It is only a short drive from the city to Luquillo Beach, which is a palm-lined stretch of golden sand that offers a reasonable degree of quiet due to the lack of high-rise structures and development in the immediate vicinity.

For swimming, the sea is normally calm, and the beach extends for over a mile, making it an excellent strolling destination. Modern facilities, showers, and changing rooms with lockers can be found on the grounds, which are covered by coconut palms, and food vendors can be found just outside the entrance to the grounds. The beach can be paired with a day trip to the El Yunque National Forest, which is about an hour away.

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11. RΓ­o Camuy Cave Park (Parque de las Cavernas del RΓ­o Camuy)


The Rio Camuy Cave Park is home to a massive cave system that spans 268 acres and is estimated to be the third largest cave system in the world, according to some estimates. Visitor transportation is provided by a trolley bus to Cueva Clara Empalme, a 200-foot-deep cave or sinkhole that has been designated as a protected area.

The caves contain a variety of rooms, some of which have incredibly high ceilings, as well as stalagmites and stalactites, as well as rivers that rush along the base. Visitors can take a guided tour of the Cueva Clara Empalme, which is located in the Sierra Nevada. In addition to the natural wonders that the cave system has to offer, it’s fascinating to remember that the caves were once used by the indigenous population for a lengthy period of time.

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12. Ponce’s Historic City Center

building ponce puerto rico
Even though Ponce is a huge city that is not typically included on a tourist itinerary in Puerto Rico, its historic city center is a sight to see, with 17th-century buildings and wide plazas. Visitors will find the Plaza Las Delicias to be a suitable starting point, as it is lined with cafΓ©s and park seats for people-watching.

Particularly noteworthy are the red and white-striped Old Ponce Fire Station and City Hall, as well as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was built much more recently than the other structures in the neighborhood. Ponce is also home to a slew of high-quality museums, the most notable of which being the Ponce Museum of Art.

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13. Isla Verde


Isla Verde is the perfect destination for the all-inclusive population searching for good resorts and a reasonable beach that is within easy reach of a major international airport. You’ll find everything an overworked, sun-seeking, beach-loving vacationer could want for – with the exception of Puerto Rican culture – right here on this island. Featuring tranquil waters bordered by a white-sand beach and a backdrop of palm trees and resorts, the island of Isla Verde is a tropical haven with all the amenities.

As a suburb of San Juan, those who want to get away from the resort without going too far will find the historic streets of Old San Juan to be a short taxi ride away from their destination. For those looking for a getaway from the beach, a journey to El Yunque National Rainforest is also an option.

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14. Condado Beach

Condado beach puerto rico
Condado Beach, which is similar in nature to Isla Verde, is a beach location that is only a few minutes away from the historical attractions of Old San Juan. Beachfront condo and hotel complexes line both sides of the beach, creating a bustling atmosphere that offers some of the best people-watching in the city.

As for Condado Beach, it is a very tiny stretch of golden sand washed by the warm waters of the ocean, which makes it ideal for swimming. In order to find a longer expanse of beach, head a little further east, toward Punta Piedrita.

It is the activity that takes place away from the shore that gives this region its vibrancy. The Condado neighborhood of the city is a stylish and opulent destination, with Michelin-rated chefs whipping up the newest trendy delicacies and premium boutiques displaying the latest trends in clothing and home dΓ©cor.

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16. Seven Seas Beach


With tranquil, clean waters, and excellent facilities, Seven Seas Beach is a secluded beach located only 30 miles south of San Juan. The beach is ideal for families, and just steps away from the sand are picnic tables, toilets, food stands, and convenient parking.

Sand is golden brown in color, and the beach is gently sloping in this area. Boats are not permitted in the bathing area, which is cordoned off. The best area of the beach is located at the western end, whereas the eastern end might be rocky at times.

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15. Museum of Art Puerto Rico


The Museum of Art, one of the most prominent museums in Puerto Rico, is one of the most popular cultural attractions in the city of San Juan. A total of 24 separate rooms comprise the 130,000-square-foot museum, which displays both permanent and temporary exhibits on a rotating basis. The museum is housed in two buildings, one of which is old and the other of which is modern.

In the permanent collection, pieces dating from the 17th century to more current works are the primary focus of the collection. An excellent method to gain a better knowledge of all of the treasured works is to participate in one of the free tours that are conducted on Saturdays at 10 a.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

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16. Museo de Arte de Ponce


Among the pieces on display at the Ponce Museum of Art are works by Puerto Rican and other Latin American painters. In addition, it features one of the most important pre-Raphaelite collections in the Western Hemisphere, which includes works by a diverse range of European artists, including Van Dyck, Reubens and Rodin, as well as Delacroix and Gainsborough, among others. Edward Durell Stone was responsible for the design of the structure (Museum of Modern Art, NY).

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17. Playa Mar Chiquita


In the northwestern part of the island, on Route 648, sits Mar Chiquita (Little Sea), which boasts some of Puerto Rico’s most stunning beachside scenery. That makes it stand out from the crowd; it is not your normal coastline. In the midst of the turbulent Atlantic Sea, which sprays foam in random bursts, two coral structures shield a small and shallow cove from harm.

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18. Playa Flamenco, Culebra


With its picture-perfect expanse of white sand and turquoise waves, the Flamenco beach in Puerto Rico has been dubbed “one of the world’s best beaches.” Due to the fact that this beach has virtually no waves, it is great for snorkeling, swimming, relaxing, playing in the sand, or simply lounging around on the beach. Among the facilities at Flamenco are lifeguards, a camping area, showers, changing rooms and bathrooms, a parking lot, and kiosks where you can purchase traditional Puerto Rican cuisine.

Take advantage of the opportunity to see The Tank, Flamenco’s most distinctive feature, which serves as a reminder of the United States Navy’s presence on Culebra.

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19. Cabo Rojo Lighthouse

cabo rojo lighthouse puerto rico aerial
The Cabo Rojo Lighthouse, perched on the cliffs of 200-foot limestone cliffs above the Caribbean Sea, marks the southernmost point of Puerto Rico’s south-western edge. The Cabo Rojo Lighthouse (Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo, also known as El Faro in the local community) was built in 1881 by the Spanish government and shares the same architectural design as the Fajardo and Arecibo lighthouses. We’ve been to both of those other lighthouses, and it’s kind of interesting to see how similar they all appear to one another in terms of design.

The Cabo Rojo Lighthouse has undergone numerous renovations and restorations over the years. It is still in operation and aids ships in navigating securely across the Mona Passage, which connects the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, between the two oceans.

Except if you are a true “fanatic” of lighthouses, I believe you will be underwhelmed with the lighthouse and its surroundings. Despite this, it is still useful in navigating the seas surrounding this spot. It is, in and of itself, a little entity. It is possible to climb the spiral staircase to the observation deck on the roof of the lighthouse on rare occasions when it is open to the public and enjoy the surrounding scenery from up there.

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20. La Parguera


A drive to La Parguera in Lajas, Puerto Rico, may take two and a half hours from San Juan, but it is well worth the time and effort it takes. The hamlet, which is located on the southwestern side of Puerto Rico, offers a variety of attractions for visitors. The MalecΓ³n, a waterfront neighborhood with colorful tourist stores and breathtaking vistas, is a great place to sample local cuisine and sip a genuine Puerto Rican cocktail. If you are looking for adventure, you can snorkel in the neighboring bioluminescent lagoon, go scuba diving in some of the best dive sites on the island, climb, go birdwatching, bike, or charter a boat to view dozens of little mangrove islands, all within a short distance. Various varieties of birds and sea creatures can be found in Caracoles, Mata la Gata, and Cayo Enrique, among other places. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and manatees if you plan on staying for an extended period of time at the beach.

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21. Porta Coeli Church


Originally a school and a convent, El Convento de Santo Domingo de Porta Coeli Church is one of the oldest churches in Puerto Rico and the Americas. It is one of the oldest churches in the Americas. The white church, which stands on the west coast of the island in San German and whose exterior was painted a peachy-salmon color for many years, is home to a religious museum that houses sculptures, paintings, and other artifacts. The church is the most famous landmark in the town, which is home to a religious museum with sculptures, paintings, and other artifacts.

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22. Fort San Cristobal


One of the largest fortresses on the American continent, Fort San Cristobal was built during Spanish control to offer defense. The three-level structure was constructed over a period of 150 years, with head engineer TomΓ‘s O’Daly playing a significant role in its construction and development. Tourists of all ages can stroll through the fort, which features a moat, a plaza, and a network of tunnels, and take in the breathtaking vistas.

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