• Puerto Rico Things to Do Guide
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San Juan Puerto Rico - 2024 Best of Tourism Guide

  • Best Things to Do
  • Fantastic Excursions from San Juan
  • Top 10 Experiences
  • Bioluminescent Bay
  • El Yunque Rainforest
  • Food & Cultural Experiences
  • Night Experiences
  • Romantic Things to Do
  • Rum Distilleries
  • San Juan National Historic Site
  • Tours Directory
  • Best Beaches
  • Snorkeling Beaches
  • San Juan Beaches Map
  • North Coast
  • South Coast
  • Best Places to Stay
  • Convention Center District
  • Condado Hotels
  • Old San Juan Hotels
  • Adults Only
  • Near Cruise Ports
  • Casino Hotels
  • Vacation Rentals
  • MAP of Hotels
  • About Old San Juan
  • Old San Juan Tours
  • Things to Do & Landmarks
  • Places to Stay
  • A Romantic Day in Old San Juan
  • Calle Norzagaray
  • Beaches Guide
  • Snorkeling Guide
  • Places to Go
  • Islands to Visit
  • Cruise Port Guide
  • Things to Do / Excursions
  • Hotels Near Ports
  • Beaches Near Cruise Port
  • Getting Around
  • Private Transfers
  • Getting Here
  • San Juan Airport
  • Airport Transfers
  • Ferry – Cataño / Old San Juan

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Welcome to San Juan, Puerto Rico 2024 Tourism Guide

San Juan Puerto Rico 2023 - Tourism Guide

San Juan, Where Old World Elegance & Modern Caribbean Meet to Create the Most Vibrant and Romantic Destination in the Caribbean.

Save a spot - top culebra day trip from san juan.

Welcome to San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico , where Old World elegance, modern luxuries, and tropical allure come together to offer unforgettable experiences like no other destination.   Swim, snorkel , surf, and relax at San Juan’s beaches , explore the historic and romantic district of Old San Juan , and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture .  Whether you’re honeymooning, a solo traveler, a young family, or young at heart, San Juan will deliver extraordinary experiences.

Go on a number of exciting day trips from San Juan , such as exploring the El Yunque Rainforest , seeing the magic of the bioluminescent bays , sailing to secluded islands , beach hopping to stunning beaches, exploring world-class caves , going on off-road adventures , ziplining , and much more.

Experience Two Distinct Exciting Destinations

Old san juan / el viejo san juan.

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan ( El Viejo San Juan ) is the most beloved town in Puerto Rico by both locals and visitors; you’ll feel like you’re in a European city, but more intimate, colorful, and certainly livelier.  We invite you to make Old San Juan your first stop in Puerto Rico.  Wear comfortable shoes; you’ll

… want to walk every block leading to five-century-old forts, museums, cathedrals, elegant squares, romantic promenades, delightful restaurants, and one-of-a-kind shops.  Immerse yourself in our vibrant culture by joining the festive events celebrated throughout the year.  For honeymooners, the Old City unfolds romantic experiences and quiet spots to cherish moments of love. Get lost in the allure of this historic gem and create memories that linger in the heart.

About Old San Juan ⎮ Hotels in Old San Juan ⎮ Old San Juan Tours

The New San Juan

San Juan Puerto Rico

Discover the ever-evolving “New San Juan,” the vibrant metropolis of the Caribbean that seamlessly blends modernity with tropical allures.  Our capital city presents a dynamic fusion of urban amenities and lively entertainment, complemented by the enchantment of tropical beaches…

… lavish beachfront hotels, excellent dining options, shopping extravagance, and exhilarating nightlife.  Explore the tourist hotspots of Condado, Ocean Park, and nearby Isla Verde, where you can revel in the best of both worlds — experience the energy of bustling city life and unwind in the true spirit of a fun and relaxing tropical escape. 

Take a few minutes to learn more about the Best Tourist Spots to Stay in San Juan that fit your travel preferences.  

Tourism in San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan Puerto Rico - Best of Tourism Travel Guide - 2024

Five centuries ago, San Juan was an impenetrable walled city; today, it is a hassle-free and exciting tropical escape in the Caribbean, welcoming visitors with open arms.  San Juan is the most popular tourist destination in Puerto Rico and a bustling cruise port in the Caribbean, giving visitors world-class attractions, fun activities, and rich cultural experiences easily accessible, so no precious vacation time is wasted.  

Getting around San Juan to enjoy it all is easy; no car rental is needed; you can walk to many places, take a taxi or Uber, or enjoy scenic bicycle rides around the city.

+ Key Facts for Visitors

  • If you’re a U.S. Citizen, there is no passport requirement; it is like traveling to another state. 
  • There is no need to travel far; the average flight from many US city airports is just 3.5 hours. 
  • Spanish and English are the official languages, and most of the staff in the tourism industry are bilingual. 
  • No car rental is needed to explore and enjoy the city of San Juan. 
  • Outside of the city, you can explore the natural wonders and fun things to do around the island; visitors can book tours with friendly professional guides or rent a car to explore at their own pace. 

This travel guide includes everything you need to help plan an extraordinary vacation.  Sit back, relax, keep this page open, and begin your adventure in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Experience The Beach Life of San Juan - Welcome to PRdise!

San Juan Puerto Rico Beaches - 2024 Guide

Indulge in the allure of San Juan’s stunning beaches , each offering a unique experience from snorkeling in clear waters with sea turtles at Escambron to sunbathing at the trendy Condado Beach , taking long walks on the golden sands of Isla Verde , kiteboarding at Ocean Park , or, of course, doing nothing at all with a refreshing Piña Colada in hand.  If you dream of seeing a dreamy beach, there’s a plethora of more pristine beaches to visit around Puerto Rico ; the hardest part of your vacation will be not having more days to explore, which is the reason why so many visitors keep coming back to Puerto Rico. 

Experience the Historical Marvels of San Juan

San Juan National Historic Site - San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, the oldest city under the United States Flag, celebrates 500 years of history.  Puerto Rico became a Free Commonwealth (territory/colony) in 1898 following the Spanish-American War.  Embark on a captivating journey in Old San Juan , a UNESCO World Heritage Site that unfolds like a living storybook full of history and legends. 


The majestic forts of El Morro and San Cristobal , built five centuries ago to protect the city, now stand as formidable guardians of the city’s rich history, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline and sharing tales of resilience and historical significance.  Walk through the red-colored gate, walk into San Juan Bautista Cathedral , the second oldest church in the Western Hemisphere, take a tour of Casa Blanca, Ponce de Leon’s family mansion , and so much more.  You’re invited to experience San Juan’s historical marvels of history and create your chapter in the captivating story of this historic gem.

Experience The Natural Wonders & Fun Adventures of Puerto Rico

Best Places to Visit in Puerto Rico from San Juan

Get ready for a fun and adventurous vacation or as relaxing as you want it to be.  There’s plenty to see and do in San Juan , but we encourage you to go beyond the city to explore the treasures around the island .  Take a hike at El Yunque Rainforest and jump into gorgeous waterfalls, go on a snorkeling excursion to the idyllic islands of Puerto Ric o, go ziplining or horseback riding , have a thrilling off-road adventure, explore caves, and have the best and most exciting beach hopping experience in the Caribbean.

See the wonderful adventures you can enjoy from San Juan .

Where is San Juan, Puerto Rico?

trip to puerto rico san juan

San Juan is located on the north coast of Puerto Rico, a great location to explore the greatest natural wonders and fun activities of Puerto Rico .   Puerto Rico is situated in the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean.  Spanning 35 miles from north to south and 100 miles from west to east, makes Puerto Rico a wonderful destination for exploration; since no place is too far.    Puerto Rico is nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.  From San Juan, you can hop on a small plane and visit the offshore islands of Culebra and Vieques for the most pristine beaches and breathtaking landscapes that one may think only existed in the Caribbean of the past. 

Experience San Juan's Hospitality

San Juan Puerto Rico Hotels Guide 2024

San Juan’s diverse lodging options reflect the richness of its culture and the warmth of its hospitality, ensuring that every visitor finds their perfect hotel, resort, or rental to feel at home.  Whether you seek budget-friendly simplicity, family-oriented comfort, romantic, historic charm, or lavish beachfront luxury, San Juan has the perfect lodging experience for your Caribbean getaway. 

We recommend you start by learning the differences among the tourist districts / best places to stay in San Juan . 

Beachfront hotels in San Juan ⎮ Adults Only Hotels ⎮ Condado Hotels ⎮ Old San Juan Hotels ⎮ Convention Center District Hotels ⎮ Hotels near Cruise Ports   ⎮ Casino Hotels in San Juan

Budget-conscious hotels, cozy guesthouses, and affordable hotels dot the city, offering a wallet-friendly retreat without compromising comfort.  Saving money on accommodations in San Juan doesn’t mean sacrificing fun; most budget-friendly hotels and small inns are within walking distance to beaches and some attractions or a short taxi ride away.

Families with children can find spacious accommodations with kid-friendly activities and great service to keep everyone comfortable.  Save a little money by staying just a block away from the beach or rent an apartment with all the amenities of home.

Romantics & History Buffs – Old San Juan offers small inns and luxury hotels in beautifully restored buildings for those yearning for a touch of history and Old World romance.  Immerse yourself in the charm of colonial architecture while being steps away from all that Old San Juan has to offer.

Experience the epitome of indulgence with our luxury accommodations in San Juan.  Select from a range of exquisite options, from lavish waterfront and beachfront resorts like The Condado Vanderbilt to the charm of elegant colonial buildings such as Palacio Provincial or El Convento.  Immerse yourself in a haven that seamlessly blends European sophistication with tropical allure.

Experience the Sounds & Vibrant Culture of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Culture / Cultural Experiences in San Juan

We warmly welcome you to San Juan, the pulsating cultural heart of Puerto Rico.  San Juan is a captivating blend of Taino, African, and Spanish influences intricately woven into our music, art, and cuisine.  Immerse yourself in our vibrant tapestry of culture by joining island residents as they flock to San Juan to revel in countless festivals and exciting events throughout the year.  Embark on a journey…

… of discovery as you explore museums, art galleries, and cultural centers that proudly showcase the island’s rich heritage and artistic expressions.  Enrich your experience with various cultural activities, from taking salsa, plena, and bomba dancing lessons to indulging in food-tasting tours led by passionate locals, all designed to offer you an authentic experience of our vibrant culture.

At Christmas time, we invite you to come to San Juan to celebrate the longest festivities in the world. Christmas celebrations begin right after Thanksgiving and end in the third week of January.

Experience The Flavors of Puerto Rico

San Juan Puerto Rico Food Culture

Prepare for an exciting culinary journey, rooted in three cultures and expertly combined to serve up tantalizing, sultry flavors. And, if you like Piña Coladas, get ready to sip on the best you’ll ever have—San Juan is where the drink was invented.

San Juan proudly stands among the top Caribbean destinations for food enthusiasts. Delight in the authentic flavors of Puerto Rico, from traditional dishes like mofongo, the most delicious rice and beans you’ll ever eat, to delicious fritters such as alcapurrias and empanadillas and innovative fusions.  San Juan offers fine dining experiences that cater to the most refined palates. Visitors on a budget will find plenty of dining options where flavor is not compromised.

+ Cultural Experiences in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Experience The Rhythms of San Juan Nights

Nightlife in San Juan, Puerto Rico / Activities

Get ready to ignite your evenings in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as we unveil the vibrant heartbeat of the city’s nightlife .  Even in nature, San Juan’s activities continue through the night, such as the beloved Condado Lagoon and nearby bioluminescent bay in Fajardo , where you can kayak in calm waters and experience the magic of bioluminescence .  From lively beachfront bars and Old San Juan pubs to sultry salsa clubs, San Juan offers a diverse and electrifying array of nighttime experiences.  Sip on tropical cocktails while enjoying the rhythmic beats of Caribbean music, or dance the night away in the energetic ambiance of salsa and reggaeton hotspots.  The Old San Juan district comes alive after dark, with its charming cobblestone streets lined with trendy lounges and historic pubs.  Whether you prefer a laid-back beachfront vibe or a high-energy dance floor, San Juan’s nightlife promises unforgettable moments for every nocturnal adventurer.

+ Nightlife in San Juan Puerto Rico

Experience Happiness

Experience Happiness in San Juan, Capital City of Puerto Rico

If you love taking photos,  you may find yourself already ready for a selfie with a smile.  San Juan invites you to be free, just look at the locals and follow their lead… run around the grounds of El Morro and fly a kite, basking under the sun and jumping on the water at the beach, dancing to the rhythms of salsa, to smiling to the effects of chromatherapy as you pass by candy colored painted buildings in Old San Juan… it just feels happy and it quickly fills your heart.  

San Juan has something for the young and the young at heart with a high dose of happy vibes.

Experience San Juan Just a Quick Flight Away

Travel - San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Tourist Districts of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old san juan, puerto rico.

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

+ Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Whether you choose to stay in Old San Juan or another destination around the island, this is one place you simply cannot miss visiting while in Puerto Rico.   Old San Juan  equals happiness, with many fun events held throughout the year, giving visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture of Puerto Rico.  Everything you could possibly need during your vacation is within walking distance along the charming narrow streets with candy-colored buildings and blue cobblestones.   Visitors will be captivated by the European charm, majestic castles that protected the city five centuries ago, the sounds of salsa, the romantic restaurants, unique shops, and friendliness of welcoming locals.  Nightlife is vibrant, and days can be full of interesting places to visit, yet you’ll find many spots to simply relax.  During Christmas, Old San Juan is the best place to be with live music, lights, and activities young and old will enjoy.  Foodies seeking extraordinary culinary experiences will have plenty of great choices without necessarily breaking the budget. 

+ Old San Juan, Puerto Rico   ⎮ +  Hotels in Old San Juan

Condado – San Juan, Puerto Rico

Condado - San Juan, Puerto Rico

+ Condado - San Juan, Puerto Rico

Condado is the most popular tourist vacation destination in New San Juan.  Condado is a cosmopolitan destination boasting some of the trendiest and most luxurious waterfront resorts and hotels.  Condado offers visitors: excellent dining options, lounges,  casinos , nightclubs, and beautiful event venues.  Pack light and bring empty luggage, just steps from Condado Beach, you’ll be shopping at high-end boutiques and shops including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Cartier, and Salvatore Ferragamo.  Condado is a great location for couples and families wanting beachfront accommodations.

Condado Hotels   ⎜   Condado Beach

Convention Center District – San Juan, PR

Puerto Rico Convention District - Tourist destination in San Juan

+ Convention Center District

Convention Center / Miramar is a hot spot for events and business travelers and home to the   Pan American Cruise Pier ,   Isla Grande Airport, and Puerto Rico Convention Center – a state of the art convention center offering year-round events for both locals and businesses across the globe.  The harbor is currently being re-developed, and a beautiful new luxury hotel by Starwood was just built.

Hotels at the Convention Center District

Ocean Park - Tourist Destination in San Juan

+ Ocean Park - San Juan, Puerto Rico

Ocean Park is a popular destination for its   beach ,   water sports , recreational park, small boutique hotels, and guest houses offering beachfront access at very affordable rates. Compared to Condado, Ocean Park has a more laid back and casual feel.

Ocean Park Hotels   ⏐   Ocean Park Beach

Map - Capital City of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Basic & interesting facts about san juan, puerto rico.

San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico .  Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States.  San Juan is the financial and industrial center of the island and the most visited tourist destination.  The tourist areas span over 8 miles of the beautiful Atlantic coastline, from historic Old San Juan to the beaches of Isla Verde in the neighboring town of Carolina.

The San Juan Airport and Cruise Port are both Caribbean hubs welcoming millions of tourists every year.  This modern city is the second oldest settlement in the Americas, it is rich in history, treasuring its past, but setting new standards in technology across the Caribbean by always moving forward.

Formal Name of San Juan

  Municipio de la Ciudad Capital San Juan Bautista (Municipality of the Capital City, Saint John the Baptist). 

The original name for what today is the capital city was Puerto Rico (Rich Port), which was later named San Juan, and the entire island was named Puerto Rico. 

Pronunciation of San Juan

 “ Sahn  Hwahn ,  Pwer -toh  ree -koh”

The pronunciation of "San Juan" in Spanish is approximately "sahn hwahn." The "San" is pronounced with a short "ah" sound, and "Juan" is pronounced with the "hw" sound, which is similar to the English "wh" in "what." Together, they form "sahn hwahn." Remember that the "J" in Spanish is pronounced like an "H."

Where is the Capital City of San Juan?

  San Juan is located on the north-east coast of   Puerto Rico   bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the north side.

Map - San Juan, Capital City of Puerto Rico

City Hall (Alcaldia) Office

  • Address: 153 Calle San Francisco, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901
  • Tel: +1 787-524-2500

Culture of San Juan Puerto Rico

The capital city is the cultural center of  Puerto Rico .  San Juan is a happy place all year round and around the clock!  Residents from across the island flock to the capital city to attend cultural events and visit the many points of interest. Visitors are encouraged to join in and experience the heart and soul of San Juan.  +  Culture in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Electricity in San Juan / Puerto Rico

Current is 110 volts AC, same as the United States

Puerto Rico Flag

The current flag of Puerto Rico was officially adopted in 1922.  The red stripes are symbolic of the “blood” that nourishes the three branches of its government; Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary.  More about the Puerto Rico Flag . 

Hospitals & Pharmacies in San Juan

During your visit to San Juan, easily find pharmacies in tourist areas within walking distance of hotel/resort areas.  Should you need any medical assistance during your travels, there are various hospitals ready to give you care.  +  Hospitals and pharmacies in San Juan, Puerto Rico

76.93 sq. miles (199.2 km²)

Language in San Juan / Puerto Rico

Spanish & English are the official languages in  Puerto Rico .  Spanish is preferred, but most locals, especially in tourist areas, speak English.

Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Miguel A. Romero Lugo Address:   P.O. Box 4355, San Juan, P.R.  00901-4355 Telephone:  (787) 524-2500

Money Matters

  • Currency:   U.S.A. Dollar   (dolar, peso)
  • Banks   – You’ll find local banks throughout the city with ATH’s (in U.S. called ATM’s) that function on U.S networks.  Banco Popular, Scotiabank, Doral, Santander, & FirstBank ATH machines are most frequently available.
  • Methods of Payment –   Cash, VISA, MasterCard, and ATH (debit cards) are the most commonly accepted methods of payment.  American Express, Discover, and Diners Club are not as commonly accepted in Puerto Rico.
  • Sales Tax Rate:     11.5%

Population is 395,326 according to the 2010 US Census.

Sources:   US Census

Police & Emergency Services

Visitors can feel comfortable exploring the tourist areas of San Juan.  There is a strong police presence and the officers are trained to help visitors feel safe.

+  Police and emergency services in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Post Offices

There are various Post Offices located in tourist districts of San Juan, visitors are welcome to stop by and send postcards and packages back home.  Post Service is by the United States Postal Service.

  • See map with Post Office locations
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico Zip Codes & Area Codes

Subdivisions of San Juan

The  municipality  of San Juan (like a  county  in the U.S.) is divided into 18 districts   (barrios) , which are further divided into communities/ neighborhoods   (sub-barrios) .

Television & Internet

Television and Internet access are available via satellite or cable companies as in the United States.

Temperature / Weather in San Juan

Average of 81 degrees F.  See our  Weather  page for more information.

Time Zone in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST) = Eastern U.S. Daylight Savings Time (EDT)

Puerto Rico does NOT recognize daylight savings as in the U.S.

If you're traveling from the U.S., here are the time zone conversions:

During U.S. Daylight Savings time months (early March thru October):

Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) is the same as Puerto Rico time

Central Daylight Time (CDT) + 1 hr. = Puerto Rico time

Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) + 2 hrs. = Puerto Rico time

Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) + 3 hrs. = Puerto Rico time (i.e. Noon PDT = 3 pm in San Juan)

During U.S. Standard Time months (November into early March):

Eastern Standard Time (EST) + 1 hr. = Puerto Rico time (i.e. Noon EST = 1 p.m. in San Juan)

Central Standard Time (CST) + 2 hrs. = Puerto Rico time

Mountain Standard Time (MST) + 3 hrs. = Puerto Rico time

Pacific Standard Time (PST) + 4 hrs. = Puerto Rico time

The tourism office is a great place to stop after arriving at the airport or beginning your walking tour of Old San Juan.  The staff is ready to help you and answer any questions you may have.   See locations and maps of tourist offices.

Typography of San Juan, PR

San Juan  is mostly flat, with coastal areas facing the Atlantic Ocean and the San Juan Bay.

Water in San Juan / Puerto Rico - Can you drink it?

San Juan Puerto Rico  Tap Water,  and around most of the island, is “city water” and  safe to drink , tastes good, and meets the same requirements set by the EPA for the United States.  The Puerto Rico Water Company,  Autoridad de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AAA) , uses the latest technology to filter and purify drinking water for San Juan and other towns throughout Puerto Rico.  For water quality information, visit their website at  acueductospr.com .   As in the U.S., if a business or home uses well water (rural areas only), they are responsible for monitoring its quality and safety.

When was San Juan founded?

San Juan was founded  on August 8, 1508, by Juan Ponce de León, an explorer from Spain. 

Zip Codes & Area Codes of San Juan

San Juan Zip Codes & Area Codes

Puerto Rico Zip Codes

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Your San Juan Vacation

A great way to experience this vibrant city is with a custom-made San Juan vacation package. Base yourself in the neighborhood of Old San Juan, which is great for bars and pubs, dining and history or choose someplace else — our packages are all about you. Fill up your itinerary with tours of San Juan Gate , Catedral Basilica Menor de San Juan Bautista and La Fortaleza , some of the top attractions you simply have to see during a trip to San Juan. Check out Expedia's wide range of travel options and book your ultimate vacation to San Juan today.

The Latest San Juan Vacation Packages

San Agustin Apartments

San Agustin Apartments

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El Colonial - Adults Only

El Colonial - Adults Only

Reviewed on Jun 19, 2024

Urbana Hotel

Urbana Hotel

Don Rafa Boutique Hotel & Residences

Don Rafa Boutique Hotel & Residences

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Reviewed on Jun 17, 2024

Where to stay in San Juan


Oceanfront and upscale, Condado boasts picturesque beaches alongside hotels, nightclubs, casinos, and shops. Stroll through La Ventana al Mar park, and enjoy easy access to public transport via T21 and D53 bus routes.

San Juan

Old San Juan

The fascinating museums and captivating waterfront views are top of the list for many visitors to Old San Juan. A stop by Port of San Juan or Pier 1 might round out your trip.

Puerto Rico Island which includes a city, a sandy beach and tropical scenes

Bask in the sun on Atlantic Ocean beaches and experience vibrant nightlife at La Placita de Santurce, while exploring museums like the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico. Enjoy easy access to public transportation via bus lines and the Tren Urbano.

San Juan Cemetery

San Juan Antiguo

Walk down picturesque cobbled streets lined with centuries old buildings and some of the most popular historical attractions in Puerto Rico.

San Juan showing a sandy beach, a city and tropical scenes

Upscale beachfront community with trendy beachgoers, Ocean Park offers kitesurfing and windsurfing opportunities. Stroll along Calle Loíza for bars, restaurants, and boutiques or unwind at nearby Parque Barbosa.

San Juan Beach Vacation

Whether you're on the road alone or with the whole crew, it'll be easy to kick back and relax on your San Juan vacation. Look for seashells or kick back on the shore and watch the sunset. Whatever you decide to do, your trip to San Juan will certainly be memorable. Condado Beach, located 2 miles (4 km) from the city center, is ideal for those looking for convenience. Many people also lock in San Juan vacation packages closer to Escambron Beach, another appealing option.

San Juan Essential Information

San juan hotel deals.

San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino

Reviewed on Jun 16, 2024

Condado Ocean Club - Adults Only

Reviewed on Jun 18, 2024

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Frequently asked questions, discover the most popular places to visit in san juan, port of san juan.

Explore the waterfront in San Juan with a trip to Port of San Juan. Discover the area's top-notch restaurants and its acclaimed art scene.

Luquillo Beach

Sample local street food or doze under a palm tree on this picturesque stretch of coast.

Condado Beach

This beach within the bustling city of San Juan is the perfect place to relax for a few hours.

What to do in San Juan

Carolina: atv adventure at campo rico ranch with guide, from carolina: horse riding at a private ranch, other vacations you might like.

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40 Best Things To Do In San Juan, Puerto Rico (2024)

  • Things To Do

If you travel to Puerto Rico, you can’t miss visiting San Juan.

San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico, and is home to iconic beaches and centuries-old architecture. 

As a local, I can tell you first hand that the oldest city in the United States has lots to offer.

In this article, I will cover the 40 best things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico:

1. Explore Old San Juan

Old San Juan is a neighborhood of San Juan full of historic fortresses and culture.

Old San Juan should be on your “to do” list when visiting the city for vacation. 

image of El Morro

Explore El Morro Fort, La Perla, the San Juan Cathedral, and many more historic monuments.

Learn more in our article Old San Juan – All You Need To Know .

2. Explore Condado Beach

Condado is a beachfront community and one of the neighborhoods of San Juan. Condado Beach is the largest and most popular beach in the tourist area.

image of Condado Beach

Condado is located between La Concha and The Marriott Resort .

Learn more in our article Condado – All You Need To Know .

Try your luck in a casino.

There are many casinos to choose from in San Juan.

image of La Concha

It doesn’t matter if you choose the Condado Plaza Casino or the Casino of Santurce (among others) either way you’ll have a blast.

For more ideas of what to do at night, read our article Nightlife In San Juan .

4. Shopping

There are plenty of malls in the San Juan area. 

Including Plaza Las Americas — the largest mall in the Caribbean and Mall of San Juan (for high-end shopping).

image of San Juan's shopping bags

Besides the malls, there are plenty of areas full of stores in San Juan where you can go shopping.

Check out our article 21 Essential Things To Pack For Puerto Rico before your trip to make sure you are prepared.

5. Visit the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo

Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) to experience a new view of contemporary art.

image of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo

You’ll enjoy exhibits of Puerto Rico’s community that includes social issues and cultural currents.

Learn more about museums around the island in our article 12 Best Museums In Puerto Rico .

6. Visit La Placita

The interesting thing about La Placita is that it’s a shapeshifter.

During the day, La Placita is a picturesque marketplace where you can find the best vegetables and fruits. 

image of La Placita de Santurce

But at night it turns into a party place where you can drink and dance all night.

7. Bioluminescent Bay Tour

Puerto Rico is home to three bioluminescent bays , one of which is the brightest in the world.

Although these bio bays are not in San Juan, Laguna Grande Bioluminescent Bay is the closest, located about an hour from San Juan.

image of 2 girls swimming in La Parguera Bioluminescence Bay

Make sure to visit at least one bio bay during your trip to Puerto Rico. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Check out our article Bioluminescent Bays Puerto Rico – All You Need To Know to learn more.

8. Visit Ocean Park Beach

Ocean Park is one of the beaches of Condado.

This beautiful beach is most popular for water sports and travelers who like to stay active.

image of Ocean Park Beach

You can bodyboard and kite surf in the water and also do a little jogging in the surroundings.

9. Visit a Fine Arts Theater

Enjoy the latest releases of independent and foreign films in comfortable seating and a relaxed atmosphere.

image of fine arts cinema building

There are a few Fine Arts Theaters you can choose from in San Juan — including Fine Arts Café, Fine Arts Popular, and Fine Arts Miramar.

10. Bar hopping Calle Loiza

Visit Calle Loiza for a great night out.

Calle Loiza is located in the Condado neighborhood of San Juan.  

This street is lined with pubs, nightclubs, and bars. You will enjoy the party ambiance and its street art at the same time.

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Yonathan Chefito Kruz (@chefito_kruz)

Photo Credit: @chefito_kruz

11. Paddleboard in Condado Lagoon

The Condado Lagoon is perfect for paddle boarding.

If you are into water sports I recommend paddle boarding in the lagoon of Condado.

image of a girl paddle boarding at Condado Lagoon

You don’t need to make a reservation to experience the amazing view while enjoying paddle boarding.

12. Visit T-Mobile District

This entertainment center is one of a kind!

image of Distrito T-Mobile

There is only one place in Puerto Rico where you can catch a movie, dine in a fine restaurant, and zipline all in the same place.

13. Check out the Convention Boulevard 

Visit this monumental structure.

Convention Boulevard is mostly used for big events like concerts, auto expos, big conferences, and so on. 

image of Convention Boulevard

But even when there are no scheduled activities on Convention Boulevard it’s still an amazing sight.

14. Bicycle riding in Condado

Enjoy the sights in an eco-friendly style.

Rent your bike and experience San Juan while riding a bicycle.  

Either because you want to better appreciate the views or because you want to help the planet, bicycle riding in San Juan is a must-do!

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Bike Rent Puerto Rico (@bikerentpuertorico)

Photo Credit: @bikerentpuertorico

15. Explore urban art in Santurce

Enjoy the street art of San Juan.

image of a mural in Calle Cerra

This amazing urban art can be found on Calle Cerra in the Santurce neighborhood where you’ll find the most popular murals.

You can walk around yourself or take a tour.

16. Try Puerto Rican ice cream

Try the ice cream and frozen yogurt from Puerto Rico.

You can choose from various ice cream shops like Cool Hope Creamery, Peccas, Señor Paletas, and many more.

image of different ice cream flavors

You can also enjoy either a delicious breakfast or brunch with coffee and/or tea.

17. Surfing

Surfing in San Juan is a great experience.

Visit “La 8” (The 8), the perfect beach area for experienced surfers because of its largest waves. 

image of a guy surfing in Condado

Located at the entrance of Old San Juan — right beside Escambrón Beach.

image of Pine Grove Beach

Pine Grove Beach in Isla Verde is known as the best spot for beginner surfers.

For more info about surfing in Puerto Rico, make sure to read the article The Best Surf Spots in Puerto Rico .

18. Snorkeling

Snorkel with sea turtles!

image of a guy while snorkeling

Experience the coral reefs, sea turtles, and many tropical fish of Puerto Rico. 

You can book the San Juan guided snorkel tour of Escambrón Beach, or enjoy it by yourself in Condado Beach and many others.

Be sure to read our article The 25 Best Snorkel Spots in Puerto Rico .

19. Kayaking  

There are many kayaking spots in San Juan.

Rent your kayak for the day and enjoy the tropical waters.

image of a night kayak in Condado Lagoon

You can also go night kayaking and experience an amazing kayaking-led light tour.

20. Centro de Bellas Artes

Visit the Centro de Bellas Artes.

Enjoy Puerto Rican theater plays, classic music festivals, and theater events in this scenic musical center.

If you enjoy theater plays there are many other theaters in San Juan like Teatro Tapia and the Francisco Arriví.

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Kenny Merle (@kenijen)

21. El 24 Market Place

Visit 24 Market Place for a fun night out.

The 24 (as locals call it) is a sports bar/meeting point. Enjoy many events in this social hang-out spot.

You will also love their bakery/Deli/Restaurant food.

image of 24 Market Place

You can’t miss visiting 24 Market Place on your next visit to Puerto Rico.

22. Scooter around Condado

Experience the views from a new perspective.

You only have to download the Bird app on your phone to unblock the scooter of your choice and off you go!

Rent one of the coolest electric scooters and ride the Condado streets for a unique experience.

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Skootel (@skootelrides)

Photo Credit: @skootelrides

23. Chinchorreando, Roosevelt Avenue

Visit this restaurant/bar for a night full of music and delicious food.

Experience the Puerto Rican way to hang out! Enjoy a different event every night.

image of Chinchorreando En Hato Rey

Taste a delicious dinner while drinking and dancing.

24. Karaoke

Show off your singing skills or sing out of tune.

Visit one of the many karaoke bars in San Juan and have a blast with your friends and family.

image of a microphone

You can choose between Daiquiri Lounge, El Quincé, or El Local en Santurce.

25. La Playita, Condado

Check out the smallest beach in Condado, La Playita (Little Beach).

Enjoy its waveless waters right next to the Condado Lagoon.

image of La Playita

You can relax in the sand or swim the whole day.

26. Spa 

Take a relaxing massage or a facial in one of the spa centers of San Juan.

Visit one of the Spa Centers of San Juan like Euforia Spa Center and spoil yourself.

Experience aromatherapy, body wraps, or acupuncture.

Check out Euforia Spa Center in the following video:

27. Ashford Avenue

This avenue is full of Miami Vice vibes.

Experience this nonstop nightlife avenue lined with restaurants, nightclubs, and stores.

image of Ashford Avenue

You can also find most of the San Juan hotels on Ashford Avenue.

28. El Ultimo Trolley Beach

Another amazing beach in Condado.

Known as a good spot for surfers and an entry point to Ocean Park Beach.

The beach’s mid-size waves make a perfect place to surf for experts and beginner surfers alike.

Check out Playa Ultimo Trolley in the following video:

29. Parque del Indio

This park is perfect for the whole family.

Enjoy the awesome features of this relaxing park with a stunning ocean view.

image of Parque del Indio

Bring your kids and spend the day in Parque del Indio.

30. Kasalta Bakery

You must try the Kasalta Bakery breakfast!

Even President Barack Obama had his breakfast here the last time he visited Puerto Rico.

Experience a mouthwatering blend of Spanish and Caribbean cuisine. 

Their menu offers hot soup, Spanish mallorcas , Cuban sandwiches, and more.  

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Linny’s Lunchbox👅 (@linnyslunchbox)

Photo Credit: @linnyslunchbox

31. Miramar food truck park

An exciting spot to try out.

Visit this food truck park to try a diversity of food and cocktails.

From Mexican food to artisanal beers, anything you fancy you may find it here. 

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Miramar Food Truck Park (@miramarfoodtruckpark)

Photo Credit: @miramarfoodtruckpark

32. Club Brava 

The most exclusive nightclub in San Juan is located in the iconic Fairmont El San Juan Hotel and Casino .

The favorite of many celebrities, this ultra lounge nightclub offers a selective ambiance.

Spend the night like a celebrity in Club Brava.  The place to see and be seen. 

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Club Brava (@clubbrava)

Photo Credit: @clubbrava

For table reservations text or WhatsApp at 787-674-8000.

33. Try the famous Piña Colada

Try the Piña Colada where it was invented!

image of Barrachina's piña colada

This famous tropical drink was created right here in Puerto Rico in 1954 and it’s available almost everywhere on the island.

But if you want to go directly to the place of its creation, check out Barrachina.

34. Visit Chocobar Cortés

Chocolate Cortés is the largest chocolate manufacturer in the Caribbean.

When visiting Puerto Rico you should not only try the Cortés chocolate but you should also visit Chocobar Cortés in Old San Juan.

image of Cortés chocolates

There, you will taste their delicious chocolate and a variety of food and cocktails.

35. Parque Luis Muñoz Marín

Visit Parque Luis Muñoz Marín.

Complete with playgrounds, biking lanes, water areas, and a dog park! This is the place to take your kids and family for a fun day.

image of kids playing at Luis Muñoz park

You can also rent a gazebo for the day.

36. Bistro Cafe

The perfect breakfast and lunch place.

Visit Bistro Café with your friends and family to enjoy a delicious breakfast in a relaxing atmosphere. 

Try the Moca waffles and Nutella French toast!

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Bistro Café | Since: 2011 (@bistrocaferest)

37. Lote 23, Santurce

Experience this gastronomic park.

Lote 23 is known for highlighting Puerto Rico’s culture and cuisine. 

image showing how Lote 23 Gastronomic Park looks like

Hop from kiosk to kiosk in this vibrant food hub while enjoying a diverse variety of food, coffee, and drinks.

38. Drum Circle Ocean Park

Experience the magic of a full moon.

image of a full moon

Every Full moon locals gather in Ocean Park Beach, Condado to share stories and celebrate the magic of the full moon.

A unique experience!

39. Sobao – Los Cidrines (sandwiches)

Sobao is where you will find the best bread in Puerto Rico!

image of Sobao's pepito sandwich

Visit this bakery/restaurant for the best sandwiches around.

Be sure to try the Pepito Sandwich!

40. Parque Luis Muñoz Rivera

Take a walk in this park to appreciate its impressive trees and sculptures.

Besides being the perfect place to relax, this park is excellent for photography and videomaking due to its stunning grounds.

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Jorge Rigau (@rigauarquitectos)

FAQ section

What are three things you could do in san juan puerto rico.

The three most popular things to do in San Juan are to visit Old San Juan, enjoy its amazing beaches, and experience the nightlife of Ashford Avenue.

Is three days enough in San Juan Puerto Rico?

Three days is perfect for an introductory experience! If you want to fully appreciate all San Juan has to offer I would recommend at least 4 days.

Final thoughts

San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico and has many things to do.  

I recommend that you check out Old San Juan and Condado whilst you are in San Juan.

I also recommend that you visit a bio bay. There are three bio bays in Puerto Rico, with one being just an hour from San Juan. Check out our article to learn more about Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays .

For a broader experience in Puerto Rico be sure to read our article about 45 Best Things Do do in Puerto Rico .

40 Best Things To Do In San Juan, Puerto Rico (2024)

Dimary Hernández Soto

Writer at PuertoRico.com. I have lived in Puerto Rico my entire life. When I’m not writing, I work in the healthcare industry as a Quality Control Specialist. After Hurricane Maria, my teammates and I were responsible for ensuring that life support equipment reached patients in need around the island.

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  • There are loads of types of vacations in Puerto Rico and the cost will depend on what type of trip you’re taking and for how long you’d like to stay. Here are the latest prices for a 3 night trip for 2 travelers: Top vacation $561; Family vacation $575; Romantic vacation $600; Luxury vacation $693; Budget vacation $354.

Why should you book a vacation package to Puerto Rico?

When you purchase Puerto Rico vacation packages, that won't be an issue. By blending flights, hotels and car rental in one package, travelers can save money and spend more during their trips, without balancing the books all the time.

When should you book a vacation package to Puerto Rico?

The time to avoid for Puerto Rico vacations is hurricane season, which lasts from June to November, though August is generally seen as the highest risk month. April to June (or even into July) are good times to find accommodation bargains.

Where should you stay in Puerto Rico during your vacation?

For any vacation type in puerto rico:.

The Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel in the island's capital caters for all sorts of visitors, with a stately building, on-site casino and proximity to the cruise port, shopping neighborhoods and colonial sights. Taxis cover the 6 mile distance from the airport in around 20 mins.

Another all-round San Juan favorite, the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel is a larger than life upmarket choice, with no fewer than seven eating options, a fitness center, wellness spa and pools. Expect taxis to get there from San Juan Airport in 15 mins.

For family vacations in Puerto Rico:

The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort is situated on a sweeping bay near the stunning Carabali Rainforest. A pair of golf courses, numerous pools, free cribs and plenty of entertainment options make it ideal for families. Expect a taxi ride of 45 mins from the airport.

The Embassy Suites by Hilton Dorado are also set in a beautiful resort, this time 15 miles west of San Juan. There are often gourmet meal deals for kids and entertainment to take them off parents' hands, and it's only around 30 mins from the airport by taxi.

For romantic vacations in Puerto Rico:

If you're hunting for a dazzling boutique hotel, the San Juan Water and Beach Club is perfect. Just east of the capital, the hotel has an exclusive beach and complimentary towels and loungers - just what couples need to unwind. And it's also only two miles from the airport.

San Juan's Olive Boutique Hotel is another romantic gem, this time with a Mediterranean theme which runs from the delicious food to the elegant room furnishings. Transfers are available to and from the airport, which is just 2.5 miles away.

For luxury vacations in Puerto Rico:

Enjoy the best of everything at La Concha Renaissance San Juan. Instantly recognizable with its conch-like shape, La Concha is close to Old San Juan and the beach, boasts seven fine eateries along with an on-site casino. Taxis from the airport get there in around 25 mins.

Offering sublime accommodation on an idyllic beachfront, the Caribe Hilton gave birth to the Pina Colada - so it's a must visit for cocktail fans. Everyone can enjoy the multiple pools, the private beach and the well-stocked gym - as well as the convenient 15 minute transfer time to Luiz Marin Airport.

For budget vacations in Puerto Rico:

Modest on the outside but friendly and comfortable within, the Coral Princess is a great budget option in San Juan. The rooftop terrace is a great place to relax, as is the large pool, and the hotel is about 20 mins from the airport by taxi.

San Juan's Hotel Milano offers excellent low-cost accommodation with all the features you'd expect from an upscale alternative. Centrally located, it's at the heart of SOFO - Puerto Rico's gastronomic hub. So expect some dazzling meals. Expect fast transfers too, with the airport just 3.5 miles away.

Where to stay in Puerto Rico

Puerto rico vacation information, popular package vacation destinations in puerto rico.

United flights to San Juan from $ 198 *

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Things to do after your flight to San Juan (SJU)

The capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan is known for its stunning harbor, colonial history and vibrant culture. The combination of Caribbean, African, Spanish, Taíno and American influences makes San Juan a unique destination.

San Juan’s top attractions

  • Visit historic fortresses and citadels such as El Castillo San Cristóbal (Fort San Cristóbal) and El Castillo San Felipe del Morro (Fort San Felipe del Morro).
  • Tour the Bacardi rum factory, Casa Bacardí, in nearby Cataño.
  • Sunbathe and swim at the beaches of Condado and Isla Verde.
  • Watch a performance at the old Teatro Tapia (Tapia Theater).
  • See the UNESCO-listed Palacio de Santa Catalina (Santa Catalina's Palace), most commonly known as La Fortaleza (The Fortress), the Governor’s mansion.
  • Stroll through the Paseo La Princesa (La Princesa promenade), a promenade that borders Old San Juan.
  • Hear whispers from time gone by at the old cemetery of Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis.

Best time to travel to San Juan

A tropical destination, April to November is the rainiest period in San Juan. The winter offers cooler temperatures with lower chances of rain. The island’s patron saint is celebrated in June, with Noche de San Juan Bautista (St. John’s Eve) featuring religious processions, concerts and beach parties. Visit from December to January to experience one of the longest Christmas seasons in the world, ending with the Festival de la Calle de San Sebastián (San Sebastian Street Festival) in late January. In the summer, enjoy the Congreso Mundial de la Salsa (World Salsa Congress).

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San Juan vacation rentals

Book unique homes, vacation rentals, and more on Airbnb

Top-rated vacation rentals in San Juan

Guests agree: these vacation rentals are highly rated for location, cleanliness, and more.

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Condo in Cangrejo Arriba

Dolce Oasis: Centric and cozy studio @ Isla Verde

Cozy and centric apartment @ Isla Verde with direct access to this beautiful beach (beachfront building). Just 5 minutes away from SJU International Airport. Several restaurants and eating places @ walking distance. A bank right across the street and a supermarket just a 2 minute walk. - 10 minutes from Condado/Ashford Ave. - 15-18 minutes from Old San Juan Historic Site - 15 minutes from Hato Rey Financial District - 15-18 minutes away from Plaza Las Americas (biggest mall of the Caribbean)

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Condo in San Juan

Tropical 1-BR Condo | Walk to the beach

This fresh and modern property has everything you need for a comfortable and relaxing stay. In this peaceful, Miami-like building you are a quick 3 minute walk to one of Puerto Rico’s most famous bakeries, Kasalta. Take on the sun at the beautiful Ocean Park beach which is a quick 8 minute walk. When you are ready for dinner, head out to Calle Loiza, which is a culinary hot spot and nightlife center. After a day of sun and entertainment recharge in the comfortable Tempur-Pedic KING size bed.

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Rental unit in Cangrejo Arriba

Ocean Waves PR-Elegant Studio Suite near Beach-Pkg

Adults Only 21+. Our exclusive studio-suite has all the space you need to travel the way you love to live. Make it a possible space to work, relax, and feel like yourself-all in one place! The suite has a balcony with a beautiful partial view towards the ocean. Located on the best tourist strip in Puerto Rico and the finest beaches in the metropolitan area. It also is within walking distance to many great international restaurants and shopping areas. Close to many activities and nightlife.

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Guest suite in San Juan

Garden Oasis, Steps to the Beach

We are located steps from beautiful Ocean Park Beach. This 1 bedroom/1 bath 2nd floor apartment is nestled among tropical flowers, orchids and foliage. It includes an equipped kitchen, linens and a futon in living area - plus a new bathroom and A/C. The garden is gorgeous!!!! Coquis serenade you in the evening plus the fountain and wind chimes are devine. There are boogie boards, a kayak and even paddleball. Amazing restaurants and a variety of bars are just a block away on Calle Loiza.

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ESJ Tower beachfront airport free park amazingView

Penthouse Apt. studio in ESJ Towers condo-hotel 5 minutes from airport, direct private beach access, swimming pool, night live, restaurants, shopping centers, supermarkets, parks, near everything. You’ll love the beach, mountains views. Perfect for couples, solo adventurers, business travelers, families, groups. 1 assigned indoor private parking. Note: the swimming pool area, Bistro, restaurant, Lobby bar are closed among other services for renovations, I apologize for the inconvenience.

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Home in San Juan

The Garden Miramar 1 • Best Location Ever

This unique place has its modern-minimalist and chic own style. Our gold decoration bring the space a elegant and sophisticate ambience, spacious, and well located location. Close to everything and at the same time feeling the greenery of our beautiful garden. Walking you have beach, pharmacy, supermarket, restaurants, District T-Mobile, convention center, hangout areas, rooftop and more. The apartment has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, full kitchen and living room. There are beds for 6 people.

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Good Vibes Only! Walk to Beach/Close to Airport #1

PRIVATE APT. Close to beach and airport! Relax in this boho unit. 5 min driving to the airport, close enough for a quick transfer but located in a dead end, tranquil street; 5 min walking to the beach; 10 min driving to Old San Juan. Enough parking in front of properties. Near recreational park, tennis and basketball court. Queen bed, TV, coffee maker, fridge, microwave, single stove top, and Wi-Fi. Beach chairs, towels, umbrella provided. Ground floor.

trip to puerto rico san juan

Beach Therapy

Remodeled apartment steps from a semi private beach, less that 5 minutes from the airport, walking distance to bustling night life and the best restaurants. Have a late brunch at walking distance, then Sunbathe during the day with all the amenities included, chill with Netflix in the afternoon and bar hoop in the evening... or just stay in! Explore the island with your rental then return to your own private parking. All thats missing is you!!!

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Cabin in San Juan

Cabin hidden paradise, cozy & romantic loft cabin

Experience a few days of nature's unique serenity in our cabin overlooking the mountains and by the river, steps from the stunning waterfall "El Salto en Charco Prieto". Embark on an exciting upstream adventure to a hidden paradise. Enjoy quiet nights with starry skies, campfires, and the relaxing tune of nature. Come, host, and live moments that will take your breath away. We are welcome to enjoy this unforgettable experience!

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Ashford, San Juan -“The Place”!

The heart of New San Juan... Fall in love with Condado, San Juan’s most exciting district. Condado’s oceanfront, tree-lined community offers an array of elegant hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and more. Everything is within walking distance, including stunning beaches where you can dine at beachside restaurants, go paddle boarding or just relax in the sun.

trip to puerto rico san juan

Oceanpath 2 @ Ocean Park

Welcome to this stylish, modern and very comfortable apartment. Placed between Condado and Isla Verde area. It is only minutes walking from the best beach in the San Juan area. It is also adjacent to a continuing expansion of restaurants, bars and music venues in the Loiza St.

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Rental unit in San Juan

Direct beach access... best spot in Condado

Cozy 1 bed/1 bath apartment with a city view and steps to the beach. Walking distance to restaurants, groceries store, hospital and public transportation. Fully equipped kitchen, parking space, tennis court, BBQ area and pool...

Vacation rentals for every style

Get the amount of space that is right for you

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Popular amenities for San Juan vacation rentals

Stay near san juan's top sights, san juan beach vacation rentals.

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Luxury Condo Near the Beach ! 1408

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Studio @ White House by the Beach.

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Condo in Luquillo

Breathtaking Oceanfront and City View “Playa Luna”

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Ocean View Studio - Prime Condado!

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Exquisitely decorated loft, great for couples!

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Beautiful Playa Studio

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Beach Vacay!

trip to puerto rico san juan

Vacation Rental studio steps from the beach

San Juan house rentals

trip to puerto rico san juan

Home in Cangrejo Arriba

Adventurer’s Hideaway

trip to puerto rico san juan

#1-Full Apartment W/Balcony, Kitchen, A/C, TV,Wifi

trip to puerto rico san juan

Home in Gobernador Piñeiro

Spotless Private Retreat: AC, Balcony & Parking

trip to puerto rico san juan

Casita del Sol☀️couples’ HOUSE-rooftop, water views

trip to puerto rico san juan

Home in Guaynabo

Viajero. #4

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Home in Carolina

"Casa Piña Colada” Perfect for family

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New and central house Free WiFi & Netflix

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Home in Ceiba

brisas de ceiba

San Juan condo rentals

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San Sebastián y Cruz Apt. 10

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Beautiful Modern Style & Location

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Beautifull beachfront apartment on 17th floor

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Colonial Old San Juan Apartment

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Treat yourself to a Tropical Elegance at Luquillo!

trip to puerto rico san juan


trip to puerto rico san juan

Condado - Ashford Imperial - Epic ocean views

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NEW! Breathtaking Beachfront sunset view, Studio !

Quick stats about vacation rentals in San Juan

Total rentals.

6.9K properties

Rentals with dedicated workspaces

3.7K properties have a dedicated workspace

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Your guide to San Juan

Welcome to san juan.

Puerto Rico’s capital, a booming port city on a bay facing the Atlantic Ocean, offers a multitude of charms to those who visit. It’s a first-class metropolis marked by exciting nightlife where inventive restaurants, street food, world-class museums, and vibrant murals hunker beside a glittering shoreline of white-sand beaches. The city’s visual presence reflects the centuries of occupation that have shaped the island’s history, and you’ll find striking examples of Spanish colonial architecture, alongside Art Deco influences and modern buildings.

The city is guarded by defensive walls and forts built by the Spanish: These imposing structures, which feature towering walls and sentry lookouts, are now filled with visitors trying to deepen their understanding of the island’s complicated past. At night the city’s welcoming plazas come alive with musicians and street vendors. This is a place very much in touch with the tropical vibe — the pina colada was invented here in the 1950s — and that beguiling atmosphere infuses this urbane city with a unique character all its own.

The best time to stay in a vacation rental in San Juan

San Juan, along with the rest of Puerto Rico, enjoys warm, tropical weather year round. The dry season, roughly December through April, brings more visitors to the area’s vacation rentals, while crowds dip during the hotter and wetter summers. Hurricane season runs from June to November. One of the island’s largest events, Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, a musical street party, takes over San Juan during the third weekend of January. On June 23 the city celebrates Noche de San Juan, when crowds gather on the beach at midnight and jump into the water — backwards — seven times for good luck.

Top things to do in San Juan

Museo de arte contemporáneo de puerto rico.

Housed in a circa-1918 neoclassical Georgian-style building, this museum showcases Puerto Rican artworks from the mid-20th century onward, alongside exhibitions of works from the Caribbean, Latin America, and the diaspora. Its interior atrium, protected by a modern glass ceiling, is especially striking.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

This six-level Spanish fortress, protected by 140-foot walls, whose construction began in 1539 was in use for centuries, including as a U.S. military outpost during World War II. You can climb to the top of those walls to get the same vantage point a sentry would have, taking in panoramic views of the ocean and island. At night, the fort is so dark, it’s an ideal place for stargazing.

La Placita de Santurce

Around 6 p.m. this place comes alive with musicians, revelers, and dancers. Sanjuaneros looking to shake off the work week start amassing on Thursdays, and the festive atmosphere continues through Sunday. Dine on delicious street fare from the kiosks, such as empanadillas, perfectly fried pockets of pastry stuffed with a variety of fillings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the weather in san juan.

San Juan experiences a tropical monsoon climate. Average high temperatures hover around 87°F (30.5°C) year-round. The driest period is from December to April, while the rainy season typically lasts from August to November.

What are some of the best things to do in San Juan?

Visitors often enjoy exploring the historic architecture in Old San Juan, sunbathing at the beautiful beaches of Condado, or sampling local cuisine at the Santurce farmers market. Touring the Bacardi rum factory and taking a sunset walk at Paseo de la Princesa are also frequently recommended activities.

What is the best time of year to visit San Juan?

San Juan is often visited in the winter, between December and April, when temperatures average around 85°F (29°C). During this period, guests can enjoy local events like San Sebastian Street Festival taking place in January, and the Ponce Carnival, a vibrant display of music and dance occurring in February.

What are the best places to stay in San Juan?

Guests often choose to stay in areas such as Old San Juan, known for its historic charm, Condado, famous for its beaches, or Isla Verde, a lively neighborhood with plenty of restaurants and shops.

What are the best places to visit in San Juan?

Guests frequently suggest visiting the historic Old San Juan, known for its colorful Spanish colonial buildings, or the 500-year-old fortress, Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Other frequently recommended places include the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico and the urban, vibrant neighborhood of Santurce.

What are some hiking trails in San Juan?

Trails such as El Yunque Rainforest Trail, which lets you explore a tropical rainforest, and the Paseo Lineal Bayamon River Walk, a paved trail along the Bayamon River, are often recommended to nature enthusiasts visiting San Juan.

What are some family activities to do in San Juan?

Families usually enjoy visiting the San Juan National Historic Site, exploring the Children's Museum, or relaxing at the Balneario El Escambron, a family-friendly beach. They might also like a boat tour around the San Juan Bay, or a visit to the vibrant Santurce neighborhood.

What are some of the best day trip ideas in San Juan?

Visitors often enjoy a day trip to the Bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo, where the water lights up at night due to microorganisms, or El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the US national forest system. A journey to the Cueva Ventana, a window-shaped cave in Arecibo, is another frequently suggested day trip.

What types of vacation rentals are available in San Juan?

Uncover the perfect home-away-from-home with our diverse selection of vacation rentals in San Juan. From over 1,030 house rentals, over 1,250 condo rentals to over 3,560 apartment rentals, we've got you covered. For even more variety, explore our Airbnb Categories to find the ideal space for your getaway.

Are there vacation rentals with a dedicated workspace in San Juan?

Yes! Work meets play with ease at over 3,730 vacation rentals in San Juan featuring dedicated workspaces. Stay connected and productive in your home away from home.

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  • › Puerto Rico ›
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Flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico

Vacation packages, the island of enchantment, beautiful beaches, friendly locals, fascinating history and natural wonders are just a few things waiting for you to explore in puerto rico..

Traveling to Puerto Rico is easier than you think. No passport is required for U.S. citizens. The strong and utterly resilient island of Puerto Rico is as historic as it is scenic. The island has an abundance of natural beauty and unspoiled landscapes. White-sand beaches meet jungle rainforests that extend inland towards the island mountains. Additionally, there are three bioluminescent bays on the island, an experience in and of itself as this phenomenon exists in just a handful of places worldwide.

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More About Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is just a short plane ride from most east coast U.S. cities and is a popular destination for many reasons. For citizens of the United States, passports are not required to visit this island paradise. Additionally, Puerto Rico is a popular destination for cruise ships to make port as they sail around the Caribbean islands.

The Old San Juan district of the city is the historic colonial section and the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico. This district is a National Historic Landmark District and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing guard over the harbor entrance is Fort San Felipe del Morro, a towering presence that adds to the region's dramatic cliffside coastline.

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Before You Go

  • To make it easier to replace your passport if it’s lost or stolen, in addition to your passport, take a photocopy of your passport information page (keeping it separate from your actual passport).
  • Carry only a limited amount of cash, just enough for gratuities and incidental purchases. Major credit cards are widely accepted and can be replaced if lost or stolen.
  • Always lock your hotel room door (including patio and balcony door on any level of the building) and use the peephole before opening the door.
  • Store your valuables (such as cash, credit cards and airline tickets) in the hotel’s in-room safe or front desk safety deposit box.
  • If you must carry valuables on your person, do so in a pouch or money belt concealed under your clothing. Purses and backpacks can be easy targets for thieves.
  • For complete and current safety and security information, including travelers' tips, public announcements, travel advisories and more, please visit the website of the U.S. Department of State at www.travel.state.gov.
  • December through February: 85° to 84° (Winter)
  • March through May: 85° to 87° (Spring)
  • June through August: 89° to 89° (Summer)
  • September through November: 89° to 86° (Autumn)

Sargassum/Seaweed Advisory

Sargassum is a free-floating seaweed that is especially prolific in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. While beneficial to ocean life, these large free-floating seaweed mats often wash up on beaches. The amount of seaweed on the beaches fluctuates based on the time of year and ocean currents. While resorts do their best to maintain the beaches for their guests, you may experience some inconvenience during your stay.

Top Experiences

Baseball : The sport was one of the first to gain popularity in Puerto Rico and is just as impactful today, with many major league players hailing from the island.

Beaches : From tourist-filled to secluded stretches, there is a beachfront for surfers, sunbathers, and families alike.

Cuisine : Many outside influences have contributed to the unique flavors of Puerto Rican cuisine.

El Yunque National Forest : El Yunque is a stunning rain forest with bioluminescent waters in the island's central area.

Golf : Puerto Rico has more than 20 championship golf courses on the island.

Rum : Puerto Rico is one of the largest rum-producing nations in the world. As such, it is no surprise that the island is the birthplace of the iconic Pina Colada.

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How to spend the perfect long weekend in San Juan

Jan 27, 2022 • 9 min read

A woman walks on a beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico on a bright sunny day.

A long weekend in San Juan will let you soak in beach time, history, rainforest hiking, salsa in the streets and more © © Maremagnum/Getty Images

Lonely Planet has partnered with San Juan–based travel community Platea to provide comprehensive guides, curated lists and insider tips for your next trip to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is one of the most accessible tropical destinations for domestic US travelers. From the East Coast, you can hop on a flight after breakfast and have lunch with your feet in the sand. 

San Juan is the perfect launchpad for discovering la isla del encanto . Puerto Rico’s romantic capital is chock full of historic landmarks, vibrant dance halls and celebrity chef–helmed restaurants. A three-day itinerary provides a perfect taste of this revitalized metropolis and allows time to venture beyond the city limits for more picture-perfect beaches and the island’s prize attraction: El Yunque National Forest . 

Man in a straw hat playing an accordion in Old San Juan

Morning: Tread the cobblestones of Old San Juan

Fall under the spell of Old San Juan . Puerto Rico’s cultural jewel is a rainbow-hued confection of preserved Spanish townhomes, palatial forts, venerable churches and historic plazas, encircled by a (largely intact) 16th-century wall. Immerse yourself in the city’s romantic charms with a stroll along Calle San Sebastián, which brims with flower-filled patios, eclectic boutiques and contemporary art galleries. 

Stop for brunch and a locally grown Gustos coffee at Mercado la Carreta . Stroll along Calle Norzagaray, a picturesque street lined with townhomes, to the colossal Castillo San Cristobál . 

No visit to Old San Juan is complete with exploring  El Morro , widely considered the oldest fortification in the Americas. This remarkable feat of military engineering was built by the Spanish over a quarter century from 1529. Pick up a kite from the vendors alongside the fort’s grassy promenade and join local families who gather on the weekend to picnic, walk their dogs, play baseball and fly kites. 

Afternoon: Fall for Puerto Rican art 

Explore the city’s dynamic art scene. The streets of Old San Juan and Santurce are dotted with galleries and museums that celebrate emerging local artists and established international talent. 

A short walk east of La Placita  is Puerto Rico’s most prestigious cultural institution, the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico . Located in a lofty 17th-century building, the museum houses 24 exhibition galleries and an expansive collection of paintings, lithographs, sculptures and mixed media artworks spanning over 400 years. 

If you’re short on time, head straight for seminal paintings by Puerto Rican artists, including José Campeche and Francisco Oller, and acclaimed photographs and installations of modern artist Marta Mabel Pérez. The beautifully curated collection of Taíno artifacts provides a historic perspective of the country. 

Dozens of San Juan’s small galleries showcase Puerto Rico’s contemporary artists, who are finally gaining recognition on the international stage. Our blue-chip picks include  Walter Otrero and Roberto Paradise .

Evening: Play in La Placita

Spend your first night in the Santurce district. Bold street art, innovative cocktail bars and culinary temples orbit La Placita de Santurce – a farmers market by day and nightlife hub by night.

Some of San Juan’s top restaurants and cocktail bars are here. Asere Kitchen and Bar is a slice of Old Havana. Amid its eclectic vintage vibe – burgundy-and-green walls etched with landscape paintings, red velvet sofas, chandeliers – try a signature passionfruit or habanero mojito, made from local rum, tropical fruit and spices. 

A short walk south of the plaza, La Penúltima is a community bar housed in a low-slung building painted with colorful murals. Locals swing by at all hours for an ice-cold Medalla (Puerto Rico’s national beer), a glass of wine or a classic cocktail – daiquiri, old fashioned or Negroni. The mixologists here are purists and let the island’s local produce and ingredients shine without any flashy gimmicks. 

After dinner, choose from dozens of bars and live-music venues that surround La Placita. Every night of the week the sounds of local folk music (bomba and plena ) and the island’s soundtrack – reggaetón – fill the air.  

A foodie’s guide to San Juan  

A male and female tourist sit on the beach of Condado, San Juan, looking out at towers along the coast

Morning: Enjoy sun, sand and surf

Choose one of San Juan’s beautiful beaches, rent an umbrella and relax or snorkel , jet ski, paddleboard or take a surf lesson. With its high-end resorts, tropical vibe and luxury boutiques, Condado is the kind of neighborhood that attracts folks with money to spend.    

Just west of the main beach, the sheltered cove at Playita del Condado is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Take the Puente Dos Hermanos bridge across Condado lagoon and stroll along Escambrón Beach , a local’s favorite for its laid-back vibe, postcard views and (generally) decent surf. 

Here, fabled La Ocho (named after its bus stop, the 8th) has some of the largest swells – locals claim the left side is the best. Novice wave riders should head to Pine Grove in Isla Verde , known for its small, steady waves. Or join the locals for a sunrise yoga class or a game of beach tennis on the scalloped white sands of Ocean Park , an exclusive residential enclave. 

Active travelers can rent bikes and explore the coast. A 4-mile, partly paved boardwalk skirts the oceanfront from Isla Verde to the mangrove-fringed beach of Piñones. 

Fronting the beach, a string of kiosks serve some of the island’s best traditional street food – try bacalaítos (codfish fritters) or alcapurrias (fried plantains stuffed with beef or crab). After lunch, go barefoot in the ocean at La Pocita Beach and hydrate with a coco frío (ice-chilled coconut).  

Afternoon: shop local, shop cool

Experience Puerto Rico’s creative verve on Calle Loíza, San Juan’s “Avenue of the Arts.” Walkable and buzzing day and night, gourmets and night owls will find endless diversions. Restored buildings emblazoned with street art house dozens of cafés, restaurants and concept stores that channel Puerto Rico’s apoyololocal (shop local) movement. 

Take a stroll along Calle Cerra to see iconic murals that have their origins in a 2010 street art festival called  Santurce es Ley (“Santurce is law“) – now an annual tradition.

San Juan’s best neighborhoods  

Evening: Sip, dine, dance

Dress the part for an artisan cocktail at the storied lobby bar of the historic Condado Vanderbilt Hotel – arrive early for happy hour (5-7pm daily). Head out onto the patio for stunning Atlantic views or sink into a red velvet chair and linger for a while over a Lady Rosemary – a smooth combination of Hendrick’s gin, Cointreau, lemon, lavender and egg white. 

Reserve a table at least two weeks in advance for a prix-fixe dinner at Marmalade – a 10-minute taxi or Uber ride away in Old San Juan. Iowa native Peter Schintler conjures artfully presented dishes, including fresh-smoked swordfish garnished with anchovies and olives, seared salmon encrusted with quinoa and aromatic baba ghanoush topped with pomegranate seeds.  Schintler ’s must-try item is the rich potato truffle soup, one of Marmalade’s trademark dishes. 

For night owls and salsa lovers a visit to La Factoría is an absolute must. With an international cult following, this hot spot has raised the bar for everything a salsa bar should be. For all its fame and place on the tourist map, it packs impassioned locals into its storied dance hall every night of the week – Daddy Yankee’s 2017 summer smash “Despacito” was filmed here. If you want space on the dance floor at the weekend, arrive after 2am, or visit on Sundays.

Full-length shot of woman standing on rocks at lake shore against lush trees in El Yunque National Forest

Morning: Hike through the rainforest

For your final day, head out of the city to where thickly forested mountains meet the sea. The only rainforest under the care of the National Park Service, El Yunque National Forest is a hiker’s dream. Miles of accessible hiking trails traverse this ecological wonderland of cloud-laced mountains and teeming greenery.

Four distinct zones harbor an array of flora and fauna. The 5-mile El Yunque trail immerses hikers in the park’s signature biomes. Winding amid thick clusters of bromeliads, ferns and orchids, the route ascends to El Yunque summit (3469 ft) and rewards with sweeping views. For novice hikers, the short and scenic Big Tree Trail (less than one mile) culminates in the gorgeous waterfalls of La Mina . 

El Yunque is a 45-minute drive east from San Juan. Many tour operators offer full-day tours with hotel pick ups, but with a reliable rental vehicle and GPS, tours aren’t necessary.

Best classes and workshops in San Juan  

Afternoon: Go back to the beach

After a long hike, relax on Luquillo Beach , a gorgeous crescent of palm-fringed white sand lapped by calm, clear waters. Just a 10-minute drive from the entrance to El Yunque, this balneario (public beach) is one of the island’s best and boasts plenty of amenities – including bathrooms with lockers where you can change out of your hiking gear. 

A clutch of outfitters along the beach offer jet skiing, kayaking, windsurfing and snorkeling. For lunch, head over to any of the dozens of family-run kiosks that line the beach. Feast on authentic Puerto Rican bites as well as superb ceviche and classic American fare. 

Evening: Splurge on a farewell dinner 

For your San Juan grand finale, start your night with a cocktail at one of San Juan’s most fashionable rooftop bars,  Arya . Located inside the award-winning O:LV Fifty Five in Condado, the lounge combines lagoon views, a hip vibe and expert mixology (whiskey-infused cocktails are the specialty here). 

Make a reservation for a sunset liberation and then stroll over to the James Beard-nominated José Enrique . The humble facade and minimalist dining room set the tone for unadulterated dishes that let the quality ingredients speak for themselves. The menu changes daily according to what Enrique procures from local farmers but expect gourmet renditions of Puerto Rican classics. 

Or if you are in the mood to splurge, head to 1919 , widely considered the pinnacle of fine dining in Puerto Rico. Executive chef Juan José Cuevas earned his stripes at the Michelin-starred Blue Hill in New York and was a pioneer of the island’s farm-to-table movement.

Fresh seafood is the focus here, with decadent menu mainstays that include lobster salad, crispy soft-shell crab, and wild shrimp flecked with coconut then doused in lobster jus. It’s expensive, but worth it. 

You might also like:  San Juan’s hottest bars for cool cocktails and tropical nights How to travel sustainably in Puerto Rico   Best free things to do in Puerto Rico  

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8 Reasons Why Winter Is the Best Time To Visit Puerto Rico

P uerto Rico is a Caribbean island that is technically a territory of the United States. It is best known for its capital city, San Juan, and exploration opportunities . A big appeal of the island is the convenience of getting there and its unique cultural background . While its colorful neighborhoods and nightlife may steal the show at times, its lush nature is another feature that travelers enjoy. Puerto Rico’s landscape is diverse with rainforests, mountains, and even waterfalls. All of these features can be enjoyed year round but the best time to visit Puerto Rico is during the winter. Travelers may be surprised at how much there is to do and see during this season.  

Average Temperature This Time of Year

  • 70-85 Degrees F

The winter, between December and March, is one of the best times to visit Puerto Rico due to the weather. The pleasant climate of the ‘cold’ season is a big appeal for tourists. In Puerto Rico there is no traditional winter, so even during this time, travelers can enjoy warm temperatures. During the winter months, but more specifically at the end of November until April, there is also less rain and humidity, making it the perfect place to escape the cold. 

Travel Tip : In Puerto Rico, temperatures rarely drop below 70 degrees even at night, so there’s no need to worry about enduring chilly conditions. Packing light clothing and a hat are the best options for staying cool and minimizing sun exposure. 

Festival Season 

Puerto Rico’s festival scene is thriving, featuring the best music, food, and art of the region. The island has many different annual festivals that travelers can enjoy during their winter visit. They are a significant part of the local culture too so travelers can witness locals unwinding and sharing authentic Puerto Rico. One of the most popular festivals is the Festival de Pascuas. This event celebrates the beginning of the Christmas season. Pascuas or Flor de Pascuas is the island’s Christmas flower so this festival is a holiday display. It usually takes place in the middle of November, when the holiday season starts. The world-famous Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián is also popular. It is held in Old San Juan during the third week of January and is a celebration of Saint Sebastian. 

Travel Tip : The dates of the San Sebastian Street Festival can change each year, so travelers who do not want to miss it should check before making any travel plans. 

Friendly Locals 

On arrival, you will likely notice that the locals are friendly and residents of Puerto Rico are pretty laid back. This demeanor is likely to rub off on visitors, especially if their stay lasts longer than a few days. Locals may be even more cheerful during a winter visit since it is during the holiday season. Island life at this destination is nice and some people even say that Puerto Ricans are some of the happiest people in the Caribbean. Of course, since Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States and many people speak English, travelers will most likely not have to struggle through a language barrier. Travelers can immerse themselves in the island and get to know the locals. 

Travel Tip : Greet locals with “buenos días,” “buenas noches,” or “buenas tardes.” These phrases mean good morning, good evening, and good afternoon, respectively. Visitors are more likely to be greeted by strangers in areas like Old San Juan. 

Enjoy The Holiday Season In The Sun

One of the top reasons that the winter is the best time to visit Puerto Rico is due to the holiday environment and celebrations. Puerto Rico still has relatively warm temperatures during the holidays, and many people enjoy swimming on Christmas Day. With the holiday season in full swing from November to January, those who visit a little before or after Christmas can still enjoy the island’s festive energy. There may even be some decorations up ahead of and after the holiday season.

Travel Tip : Experience the thriving Boricua Christmas Spirit during a winter visit to Puerto Rico. The island has many Christmas traditions and celebrations but parrandas are family gatherings that typically occur on Christmas Eve. The island may be quieter than at other seasons of the year since locals are spending time with their families.  

Seasonal Cuisine 

Puerto Rico’s cuisine is known for its vibrancy and unique flavor. The holidays bring some of Puerto Rico’s best comfort foods which are a must-try. Taste dishes like arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), a hearty meal that is treasured by locals and also serves as the national dish. Puerto Rico’s desserts are worth saving room for, too. Desserts to try while in Puerto Rico include traditional tembleque, a silky coconut custard, and arroz con dulce, a creamy rice pudding topped with cinnamon. 

Travel Tip : Some delicious and traditional Christmas dishes include pasteles, pernil, and Asopao de pollo. 

Visit The Beach

A popular feature of Puerto Rico is the beaches. The winter is the perfect time for visitors who plan to lounge on the sand or enjoy the water. Due to the winter season, travelers are not likely to get rained out on their beach days. The temperatures during winter are also ideal. This is true throughout the whole season since January is the ‘coldest’ month of the season and usually has temperatures around 70 degrees at the lowest. Puerto Rico’s crystal clear waters are great for surfing, snorkeling, and kayaking.

Travel Tip : Some of Puerto Rico’s most popular beaches to visit in the winter are Isla Verde and Domes Beach.  

Check Out the Island’s Natural Attractions

Since Puerto Rico has thriving nature and wildlife there are many sites for travelers to visit. In the winter, nature excursions are more pleasant due to the more mild temperatures. Even if travelers decide to explore the tropical rainforest, they should be quite comfortable while they explore. One popular outdoor site that travelers should check out during their visit is El Yunque National Forest . This forest is located on the northeastern side of Puerto Rico and is a vibrant environment to explore. Travelers can walk the trails of this forest for a scenic hike. 

Travel Tip : The coquí tree frogs of El Yunque National Forest are famous for their vocal stylings and are a unique feature of the area. Travelers who explore the forest in the afternoon are likely to hear the forest come alive, so they should be prepared for the symphony of wilderness sounds. 

Learn More About Historic Sites

While many visitors to Puerto Rico seamlessly learn more about the local culture, history buffs in particular can enjoy Puerto Rico during a winter visit. This season allows travelers to comfortably explore on foot since the heat is more tolerable. There are countless historic sites throughout Puerto Rico that travelers can explore. Castillo San Cristóbal is a fortress that is a National Historic Site. Castillo San Felipe del Morro (known as El Morro) is one of Puerto Rico’s most distinctive landmarks so it is a popular stop for tourists. This iconic landmark preserves a rich history spanning centuries. 

Travel Tip : Admission to Castillo San Cristóbal will cost travelers around $10 but the ticket grants visitors access to Castillo San Felipe del Morro as well. If travelers prefer free excursions, they can walk around the historic streets of Old San Juan, which is home to the San Juan National Historic Site. 

Travelers who want to visit Puerto Rico should consider the winter for countless reasons. From pleasant weather to the variety of activities, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is finding the balance between rest and exploring. There might be slight crowds at the most popular attractions but Puerto Rico’s culture, cuisine, and community are well worth the sacrifice. 

Puerto Rican flag waving over street in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Across the Country

A map of the United States. A red pin marks San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Cats of Old San Juan Are Being Run Out of Town. Locals Can Empathize.

A federal plan to remove feral cats from a historic site in Puerto Rico’s capital has upset some residents, who are also feeling pushed out as housing costs soar.


We’re exploring how America defines itself one place at a time. In Puerto Rico, a historic neighborhood is undergoing a transformation unwelcome by many of its residents.

By Patricia Mazzei

Photographs by Erika P. Rodriguez

Reporting from San Juan, P.R.

Leer en español

Feral cats have roamed the blue cobblestone streets of Old San Juan for as long as anyone can remember. They meander around a historic fortress that looms over San Juan Bay, hiding from the hot sun under sea grape bushes.

San Juaneros feed them. Tourists snap their pictures. But probably not for much longer: The federal agency that manages the fortress and the land around it wants the cats gone, saying that they are a nuisance and could be carrying disease.

Puerto Rico, a United States territory plagued by financial troubles and natural disasters, has bigger things to worry about. But the plan to remove close to 200 cats from Old San Juan — a neighborhood of San Juan that was the first place on the island settled by the Spanish — has struck an emotional chord at a time when many Puerto Ricans feel like they, too, are in danger of being pushed from their homes.

The reasons differ — for the people, it is investors snapping up properties and pushing up rents and home prices — yet in Old San Juan, the two stories could ultimately share the same ending: a beloved neighborhood so changed that, at least some longtime residents fear, it will have lost its soul.

“This town may end up like an empty shell,” said Rei Segurola, 72, who wonders whether he should move out of Old San Juan. “It may end up with a lot of facades, like Disney or Epcot or Las Vegas.”

The fight over the cats began a couple of years ago, when the National Park Service, which operates the San Juan National Historic Site , a 75-acre stretch of rocky peninsula that includes the old fortress known as El Morro, said the feline population had become too problematic.

San Juan was founded by Spanish colonialists in 1521. The cats have been around at least since the mid-20th century, when a mayor of San Juan is said to have brought them in to kill rats.

Last year, the park service said that its goal was to “alleviate nuisance issues” and “align the visitor experience with the purpose of the park.”

Residents wondered what that meant. Had tourists complained? What about wealthy new investors who moved in during the pandemic? They got few answers.

Thousands of written comments came in, including some in favor of the plan.

“I am a resident of the area and I use the space almost daily and it is extremely unpleasant,” one person wrote in Spanish. “The cats create areas where they accumulate their excretions and it becomes unsanitary and unsafe for one’s health.”

trip to puerto rico san juan

Most of the commenters, though, pleaded for the cats to stay.

“If they are causing any issues,” one wrote, “it should be left to the people of San Juan to decide. They are the members of the local community who should get the say on whether they want them there or not.”

But in November, the park service decided to press forward. It said that if Save a Gato, a nonprofit organization that has trapped, neutered and spayed the cats of Old San Juan for nearly 20 years, was unable to find homes for about 170 of them by June, it would hire a company to remove and likely euthanize them. Only cats living on the historic site would be removed.

In March, Alley Cat Allies, a nonprofit group based in Maryland, sued in federal court in Washington to stop the plan.

Save a Gato has trapped about 50 of the cats since November; about half of them have been adopted, or soon will be.

Tell Us About Where You Live

The park service did not respond to specific questions about what might happen next. But on Monday, it took the first formal step toward seeking a contractor to remove the remaining cats.

Some of the cats are too feral to adopt. Even catching them can be difficult, said Danielle Tabler, a longtime volunteer.

“I’ve been trying to trap one for more than two years,” Ms. Tabler said as she and Irma Podestá, who has worked with Save a Gato for 15 years, walked the waterfront trail below the enormous stone fortress, filling several feeding stations with fresh kibble.

Part of the problem is that people keep dropping off more cats. “In Puerto Rico, there are so many abandoned animals,” Ms. Podestá said. “It’s a never-ending story.”

The number of abandoned animals on the island surged after Hurricane Maria in 2017, when many Puerto Ricans lost their homes. Amid natural disasters and economic uncertainty, Puerto Rico’s population shrank by about 12 percent from 2010 to 2020; the island now has about 3.2 million people, many of whom have struggled to keep up the rising cost of housing in particular.

As she walked, Ms. Podestá rattled off the names of friends who used to live in Old San Juan until their rents doubled or tripled and pushed them out.

“I am one of those who always worries that she will get displaced,” she said.

Many of Old San Juan’s brightly painted colonial-era houses, with their tall ceilings and airy courtyards, were once home to artists and craftspeople who gave the place a bohemian feel. Families lived there, too, many over generations. Now, homes have increasingly been turned into vacation rentals. Building after building is lined with the telltale sign of short-term occupancy: combination master locks used to store keys.

trip to puerto rico san juan

Mr. Segurola, a retired lawyer and teacher, sold his home in another San Juan neighborhood in 2015 to move to Old San Juan, which he had always loved because it was so charming and close knit. “Now, that sense of community is falling apart,” he said. “It’s the complete opposite of what one looked for and had in Old San Juan.”

He and others blame, at least in part, a tax law passed in Puerto Rico in 2012, when the island faced an economic collapse. The law, now known as Act 60, offers a break on long-term capital gains, dividends, interest and other taxes for investors who buy a home in Puerto Rico if they have not been a resident for at least 10 years prior.

Gov. Pedro R. Pierluisi, who was defeated in a primary election this week, has stood by the law, calling it an important way for Puerto Rico to attract outside investors.

The influx of outside buyers, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, has distorted the real estate market. That, along with inflation and rising interest rates, put rents and homeownership out of reach for many Puerto Ricans, said Alonso Ortiz, the founder of El Otro Puerto Rico, a nonprofit organization that tries to slow displacement.

His organization found that 71 percent of residential properties purchased in Old San Juan between 2018 and 2022 were purchased by beneficiaries of Act 60, or companies associated with them. Often, Mr. Ortiz said, those owners “kick families out, remodel the properties and then turn them into Airbnbs or short-term rentals, causing earlier rent prices to skyrocket.”

Puerto Rico lawmakers passed regulations on short-term rentals last year requiring owners to pay an annual fee on their properties, but critics said more far-reaching action was needed.

Margarita Gandía, a longtime Old San Juan resident and real estate agent, said that with clients seeking investment properties, she tries to emphasize the district’s historic character and friendly feel. Some buyers have shown a commitment to maintaining it, she said, but others have not.

“Old San Juan is going to become a ghost town,” she said. “You don’t run into neighbors. People used to say good morning. Yes, you can feel the difference.”

Pleas from Ms. Gandía and other residents to the city government to do a better job of collecting trash and regulating noise have gone unheeded, she said, “as if we did not exist,” while the federal government addresses what she considers the more trivial cat issue.

“The cats,” she said, “are not the problem.”

Patricia Mazzei is the lead reporter for The Times in Miami, covering Florida and Puerto Rico. More about Patricia Mazzei

We’re exploring how America defines itself one place at a time.

San Juan, Puerto Rico: A federal plan to remove feral cats from a historic site has upset some residents, who are also feeling pushed out as housing costs soar .

Muenster, Texas: The town has hosted a German-heritage festival for nearly 50 years. Then some locals rebelled .

Columbus, Miss.: Each spring, this Southern city has opened its Civil War-era homes to visitors. But some say the event should instead reflect  the oppression behind the architecture .

Alta, Utah: As a throwback destination, the cult-favorite ski town thinks small, with a one-room public school to match .

Georgia: Augusta National Golf Club has long forbidden cellphones for almost anyone  at its hallowed tournament, the Masters, but patrons delight in making free calls the old-school way via landlines.

  • Philadelphia

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trip to puerto rico san juan

San Juan, Puerto Rico – Photo: Breezy Baldwin via Flickr , used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

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