Must-Visit Puerto Rico Guide

Advisor - Amanda Elshiekh
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Amanda Elshiekh

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  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • Puerto Rico

  • Local Culture

  • Shopping

  • Local Food

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Curator’s statement

I can confidently say that Puerto Rico is a must-visit destination for everyone, but especially first-time solo travelers. From its stunning beaches to its vibrant culture and rich history, Puerto Rico offers an unforgettable experience that caters to all types of travelers. Whether you're seeking adventure in the lush rainforests, immersing yourself in the vibrant local art scene or simply indulging in delicious cuisine, Puerto Rico has it all. With its warm and welcoming locals, you'll feel right at home as you embark on your solo journey.

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Where to stay in Puerto Rico

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Caribe Hilton

Breezy beachfront resort with relaxing rooms and suites offering ocean views.

La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort

Get a taste of local paradise at La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort just steps away from the prestigious Condado Beach.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Welcome amenity

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Costa Bela Boutique Vacation Rentals - Isabela

Experience the essence of coastal paradise at Costa Bela Boutique Vacation Rentals in Isabela.

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Things to do in Puerto Rico

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Must-Do Activities in Puerto Rico

Explore Old San Juan: Wander through the cobblestone streets of this historic district, lined with brightly colored Spanish Colonial buildings. Make sure to visit the impressive forts El Morro and San Cristóbal.

Relax on a Beach: With over 270 miles of coastline, you can't leave Puerto Rico without hitting the beach.

Hike El Yunque Rainforest: This lush national reserve is a must-visit, with its stunning waterfalls, hiking trails and the chance to spot endemic wildlife.

Visit the Bacardi Rum Factory: Take a guided tour and learn about the history of rum-making. The factory also features a museum, music venue and other attractions. Plus, you can get free samples of their signature cocktails!

Experience the Nightlife: Puerto Rico is the place to be for dancing all night long. From salsa to hip hop, reggaetón to bomba, San Juan is buzzing with dance spots for you to explore any night of the week.

Day Trips

There's so much to see and do across the beautiful island of Puerto Rico that you'll need to come back to do it all. But here are a few activities you can find outside the San Juan metro area.

  • Catch waves and sunsets in Rincón

  • Kayak the Bioluminescent Bay in Vieques

  • Explore Río Camuy Cave Park

  • Zipline over the rainforest on "El Monster" at Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park

  • Visit the Salt Flats and Lighthouse of Cabo Rojo

  • Snorkel off the island of Culebra

  • Check out Cueva Ventana in Arecibo

  • Eat your way through Guavate and la Ruta del Lechón "Pork Highway" in Cayey

Places to eat & drink in Puerto Rico

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Before we get into restaurant recommendations, let's start with menu choices. These are the top seven foods you have to try when in Puerto Rico.

  1. Mofongo: Mofongo, a must-try in Puerto Rican cuisine, is a delicious dish made from mashed plantains, garlic and often filled with meat, veggies or seafood. You definitely don't want to miss out on it!

  2. Lechon Asado: This slow-roasted pork is so flavorful and tender, usually served with rice and pigeon peas (arroz con gandules), a classic combination. Trust me, it's amazing!

  3. Alcapurrias: These fritters, made from yucca and green bananas, are filled with deliciously seasoned meat. They're a popular street food and a perfect quick snack.

  4. Pasteles: Another favorite, these delicious bundles are made with mashed plantains, beef, olives and raisins, all wrapped in banana leaves.

  5. Arroz con habichuelas: We've got a delicious dish called rice and beans, a staple for all Puerto Ricans. It can be enjoyed as part of a bigger meal or as comforting standalone entrée.

  6. Tostones: And let's not forget about tostones! These fried plantains are an extremely popular side dish in Puerto Rican cuisine. They're often served with a mouthwatering garlic mojo sauce, which adds an extra burst of flavor to this crispy delight.

  7. Tembleque: Tembleque, a silky-smooth coconut pudding, is a beloved dessert, especially in the hot Caribbean climate. It's light, refreshing, and absolutely delicious!

Now we can get into where to find those and other incredible meals in Old San Juan:

Breakfast

Café Cuatro Sombras: One of the most popular coffee houses in Old San Juan, stands out for its farm-to-cup operation and the exceptional quality of its single-origin coffee beans. The coffee beans are grown in the picturesque Yauco mountains, a coffee-growing region of Puerto Rico since 1846. Visitors are drawn in by the delicious coffee and captivated by the charming setting of a Spanish Colonial building with high ceilings, archways and a picturesque courtyard.

Café Manolín: Serving traditional Puerto Rican food for more than seventy years, Café Manolín is nothing less than an Old San Juan institution. With it's diner-style atmosphere, you can take a seat at the counter, get a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice and treat yourself to a tasty breakfast sandwich.

Chocobar Cortés: A chocolate lover's paradise, this café serves everything chocolate, from hot cocoa and pastries to chocolate-infused savory dishes. They have breakfast and brunch dishes like french toast, avocado toast and steak and eggs.

Lunch & Dinner

El Jibarito: This local family-run gem has been serving up delicious comida criollo in a laid-back and friendly atmosphere for decades. It's the perfect spot to indulge in authentic Boricua comfort food like stewed goat or breaded steak or treat yourself to a mouthwatering mofongo stuffed with shrimp in a sweet tomato sauce!

Barrachina: The restaurant that proudly claims to be the birthplace of the piña colada. With a cool history dating to 1963, this beautiful restaurant and bar is known for serving up some of the best tropical cocktails in town. Step into the inviting colonial-style courtyard and give their specialty paellas a try!

Patio del Níspero Restaurant: Indulge in a romantic dinner at one of the oldest buildings in Old San Juan. This fancy restaurant, situated in Hotel El Convento, offers a luxurious twist on classic Puerto Rican dishes - think mofongos topped with crab meat and braised short ribs cooked in beer, served alongside mashed plantains. Oh, and don't miss their incredible selection of over 200 premium rum labels!

Bodega Chic: Check out this amazing bistro-style restaurant in Old San Juan! It's got a vibrant atmosphere and an eclectic menu of delicious rustic French cuisine, carefully curated by owner and chef Brahim Haouchine. You can't miss out on dishes like duck confit, monkfish, lamb shank and escargot!

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, 5-Day Colorado Road Trip for First Timers.

Advisor - Amanda Elshiekh

Travel Advisor

Amanda Elshiekh

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to San Juan.