Puerto rico vacation ideas: 15 Puerto Rico Best Places to Vacation & Stay

Puerto Rico Travel Guide —

The Best Of Puerto Rico in 4 Days Itinerary

With lush green mountains, colorful homes, tons of culture, and great food, Puerto Rico is an incredible destination! With a Puerto Rico itinerary of 4 days, we explored waterfalls, beautiful beaches, took a road trip around the entire island of Puerto Rico, visited a bio bay, and more!

So is 4 days in Puerto Rico enough? I’d say yes, we were able to see so much of Puerto Rico with 4 full days in our itinerary. We were able to see the major attractions of Puerto Rico and even a road trip around the entire island of Puerto Rico.

Don’t have 4 full days in your Puerto Rico Itinerary? Here are the 16+ best things to do in Puerto Rico!

First time in Puerto Rico? Here are 15 things to know before visiting Puerto Rico (and some fun Puerto Rico facts).

So what can you expect from this 4 days in Puerto Rico Travel itinerary?

Detailed below, I cover the best things to do in Puerto Rico throughout your 4 days, where to eat, where to stay, the best ways to get around Puerto Rico, and all the travel tips you will want to know for planning your Puerto Rico vacation.

Isla Verde Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico Itinerary

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • The Best Of Puerto Rico in 4 Days Itinerary
  • Puerto Rico Itinerary Day 1 of 4: Explore Old San Juan
    • Top places to see in Your Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Itinerary
  • Day 2: Experience El Yunque National Forest & Puerto Rico Biobay
    • Day Trip to El Yunque Rainforest
    • Natural Rock Slide in El Yunque
    • Bioluminescent Kayaking in Puerto Rico Bio bays
  • Day 3 of 4 days: Road Trip Around Puerto Rico
    • Ponce, Puerto Rico
    • Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
    • Rincon, Puerto Rico
    • Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
  • Day 4: San Juan and Carolina, Puerto Rico itinerary
    • Casa de Bacardi
    • Carolina, Isla Verde
    • Puerto Rican Islands Vieques and Culebra
    • La Placita
    • Best food Places to Try in Puerto Rico
    • Getting to Puerto Rico
    • How to Explore Puerto Rico
    • Where to Stay with 4 days in Puerto Rico
  • Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria
  • 4 Days in Puerto Rico Travel Itinerary Wrap-Up
    • If you found this Guide for 4 Days in Puerto Rico Itinerary helpful, I would love it if you could share it below!

Puerto Rico Itinerary Day 1 of 4: Explore Old San Juan

Since you will likely be flying into San Juan, starting your vacation in Old San Juan is the perfect way to kick start your 4 days in Puerto Rico!

I highly recommend walking around Old San Juan or even considering taking a walking tour or food tour. Old San Juan is rather small so you will be able to see the city on foot. Also, it is almost impossible to find a spot to park a car in Old San Juan, trust me I tried!

Additionally, the streets are so colorful and picturesque. Oh, and not to mention there is a ton of history in Old San Juan. 

Colorful streets in Old San Juan

Top places to see in Your Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Itinerary

While walking around Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, here are some of my favorite places to visit around Old San Juan.

Fortaleza Street: This is the famous street that had all the umbrellas, however, they have changed it to flags. It seems that they change it pretty often, but this street is beautiful non the less. Additionally, you are right in front of La Fortaleza.

Address: C. de la Fortaleza, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro Fort):  El Morro citadel was built between the 16th and 18th centuries and helped protected Old San Juan from Pirates and other intruders! With a ticket here, you can also access Castillo San Cristóbal fort.

This is a must-see with 4 days in your Puerto Rico itinerary. The grounds are quite large so take ample time exploring.

Admission: $10 USD and is valid for 24-hours to access both fortifications. Children (15-years and younger): Free

Address: 501 Calle Norzagaray, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Plaza Del Quinto Centenario: A cute plaza that was built in honor of Columbus’ first voyage, with a tall clay monument and a splash area (which comes in handy from the high humidity!) This is close to El Morro Fort.

Address: Calle del Cristo, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico

The Black Puerto Rican Flag Mural: Found on an old abandoned building, the flag was painted black to show Puerto Rico is standing up to the fight and taking action upon the collapse of the educational system, healthcare workforce, and more!

Besides being a really cool mural, it’s also a very Instagrammable place in Puerto Rico and Old San Juan!

Address: Found on Calle De San Jose between Calle De Sol and Calle De Sebastian.

Save a Gato: Love cats? Find a haven at Save a Gato, where they take care of the stray cats of Old San Juan! The general area is really nice by Save a Goto with views of La Fortaleza (the official residence of the Puertorican Governor).

Address: Ballajá, San Juan, Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Pro Puerto Rico Travel Tip: You will want to take a Uber into Old San Juan because parking is almost nonexistent and Old San Juan is extremely walkable!

Colorful street in Old San Juan by Caficultura


Day 2: Experience El Yunque National Forest & Puerto Rico Biobay

On day 2 of your 4 days in Puerto Rico itinerary, we will be visiting two very unique Puerto Rican attractions.

El Yunque National Forest is actually the only tropical rainforest in the United States and is a must-see attraction with 4 days in Puerto! Did you know El Yunque is almost 29,000 acres?

Additionally, we will be exploring the bioluminescent bay at Laguna Grande in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

Day Trip to El Yunque Rainforest

El Yunque is located East of San Juan and takes about 40 minutes to an hour depending on traffic. This lush rainforest is so beautiful. If you love nature, you might even want to spend a night at El Yunque to disconnect and be in the Rainforest.

Getting Tickets for El Yunque Rainforest

El Yunque now requires you to make a reservation online before visiting El Yunque here. Reservations are $2 USD. The thing is, they sell out fast and are blocked out for months! So if there are no tickets available during your travel dates, you will basically be playing the lottery to get a reservation. 

They release new tickets for the following day at 8 AM EST and 11 AM EST. You can see more details on getting tickets to El Yunque here.

Or, if you want to save yourself the headache of getting tickets, you can book a tour here. They will likely hit most of the below attractions.

Things to do in El Yunque

To start the day off, I would recommend trying to get here early and first checking out the area near the Angelito trail (no reservation needed).

While heading towards the Angelito trail, there will be a pullover to your right-hand side right before the official pull-off, opening to an oasis and it is really beautiful!

Address: PR-988, Luquillo, 00773, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican Travel Tip: Make sure to get fuel for your car beforehand! Rookie mistake for us. Also, note there is no cell service through the park. Map below!

Other top places you will want to make sure to visit in El Yunque Rainforest include Yokahu Tower which offers panoramic views of the forest, La Coca Falls, and Juan Diego Creek which is a swimmable waterfall.

While in El Yunque you might see coquí (Puerto Rican famous tree frog), Puerto Rican parrot, and a variety of lizards.

There are tons of hiking trails for beginners and advanced hikers within El Yunque. I would also recommend packing an umbrella, raincoat, or Pancho since it rains every day (thus rainforest) and at points, it was raining like crazy during our visit!

Other great things to pack while visiting El Yunque are bug repellent, sunscreen, bathing suits, mosquito repellant, and quickdry towels (these are my fav)!

Get my full Puerto Rico Packing List

To get to El Yunque’s main entrance, use Yokahu Tower as your GPS Point: PR-191, Río Grande 00745, Puerto Rico

La Coca Falls in El Yunque Puerto RicoScreenshot from the USDA Forest Service


Natural Rock Slide in El Yunque

If you have additional time in your Puerto Rico itinerary and are looking for an off-the-beaten-path/local Puerto Rican experience, I would recommend checking out a natural rock waterslide that can be found in a very kind gentleman’s backyard. No reservation is needed for this either.

For a small fee of $5 USD, he lets you park in his yard and go through his backyard to what eventually leads to a hidden oasis of tiny waterfalls and a natural pool.

We had an amazing time here and could have stayed all day. There were very few tourists among the locals and everyone was very kind!

Please note, that you are responsible for your own safety, so be cautious of slippery rocks, flash floods, etc. since this is not considered a regular Puerto Rico tourist spot.  Also, please clean up after yourself since it is still considered a part of locals’ backyards.

18°20’16.3″N 65°43’51.8″W

A mini waterfall at the secret rock slide pool


Bioluminescent Kayaking in Puerto Rico Bio bays

With only 5 Bioluminescent bays in the world, 3 of the 5 calls Puerto Rico home. With 4 days (or even less) this would still make it to the top of any Puerto Rico itinerary!

The 3 bio bays are Mosquito Bay in Vieques, Laguna Grande in Fajardo, and La Parguera in Lajas. We visited Laguna Grande, which is the most popular bay. This is likely because it is so close to San Juan and El Yunque.

So you might be asking, what exactly is a bio bay? The bio bays have what’s called flagellates,  tiny micro-organisms that cause the bay to light up light blue!

While it is pretty spectacular to see in person, please note, the bay does not light up anywhere close to what you see in photos.

To have a better opportunity to see them, it is best to go when it is closer to a new moon, making the sky darker. The more light pollution, the harder they are to see, especially when you are close to the city.

Some other key notes I would mention is that you are kayaking at night and when I say night, I mean pitch blackness through mangroves. It was kind of creepy but also pretty cool!

Oh and be prepared to be completely soaking wet from the kayak paddles dripping down on you!

Lastly, it is near impossible to capture the lights on a camera, unless it is a DSLR (professional), which is why I have no pictures for this one. Find Kayaking tours here!

El Yunque Tropical Rainforest lookout


Day 3 of 4 days: Road Trip Around Puerto Rico

On day 3 of our Puerto Rico itinerary, we decided to take a road trip around the perimeter of Puerto Rico!

While this can easily be done with 4 days in Puerto Rico, if you have an extra day or two, I would suggest staying on the west coast in Rincon, Puerto Rico for a day or two. This was probably one of our favorite days because we got to see so much of the island!

Ponce, Puerto Rico

We started our road trip heading south from San Juan with our first stop in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The drive is incredibly scenic with large mountain ranges! If you have time, Ponce has tons of history and nice beaches nearby.

Villaronga House Ponce Puerto Rico

Some of the best things to see in Ponce, Puerto Rico include:

Villaronga House: Classical Revival-style mansion in Ponce that was acquired and restored by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and now operates as the Museo de la Arquitectura Ponceña.

Address: 106 Calle Reina Isabel, Ponce, 00730, Puerto Rico

Parque de Bombas: A rad firehouse that is anything but ordinary and is known as one of Puerto Rico’s most notable landmarks!

Address: Plaza las Delicias, Ponce, 00731, Puerto Rico

Ponce Cathedral: A historic Cathedral built-in 1835 located right in the middle of the town square, Plaza Las Delicias.

Address: Ponce, 00733, Puerto Rico

Parque de Bombas – Fire house in Ponce


Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Cabo Rojo was our first stop on the west side of Puerto Rico. We specifically came here to see the pink salt flats known as Salinas de Cabo Rojo.

This side of Puerto Rico was especially hot and dry, yet still incredibly humid if that even makes sense! Make sure to bring your water.

Pink Salt flats in Cabo Rojo

Salinas de Cabo Rojo

When arriving at the pink salt flats, just pull off to the side of the road and you can basically just walk right into an open gate entrance. We noticed tons of locals biking around.

While there are no signs, PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE WATER, which could negatively affect the environment.

Believe it or not, these salt flatlands are home to a large population of over 40 thousand birds that come to migrate in the winter. Overall, the Cabo Rojo salt flats are incredibly beautiful to see in person and very insta-worthy!

Address: PR-301, Boquerón, Cabo Rojo 00622, Puerto Rico

Cabo Rojo Salt Flats

Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo

Faro Los Morrillos is not too far from the pink salt lake and is where one of the historic lighthouses of Puerto Rico resides!

In this general area, you will see small cliff views looking out to the turquoise beaches. While we did not walk all the way up to the lighthouse, the grounds, in general, are quite unique with cacti growing everywhere.

Address: PR-301 Boquerón, Cabo Rojo 00622 Puerto Rico

Famous Cabo Rojo Lighthouse

Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico


Rincon, Puerto Rico

From Cabo Rojo, head north to Rincon, Puerto Rico! The next time I am in Puerto Rico, I will be spending more time exploring Rincon, since it is such a fun area.

Rincon is a surfer town with great eats, a very cute town, and nice beaches.

We came to Rincon to check out Steps Beach which is a National Reserve, meaning the sea and coral are protected.

Unfortunately, we learned from a local that around every day at 2-4 PM it rains/thunderstorms. It is a beach that locals told us it is not to miss and has amazing snorkeling. My suggestion is, to GET HERE EARLY!

We also ate at a great restaurant (mentioned below) located on Sandy beach, a little more north, which is a really unique beach full of palm trees and tons of restaurants overlooking the water. The west side of Puerto Rico is known for its surfing beaches.

Steps Beach Address: PR-413 Rincon Puerto Rico 00677, Rincón 00602, Puerto Rico

Sandy Beach Address: Carretera 413 Ramal Km 4.4, Rincon, Rincón 00677, Puerto Rico – This entrance is by Tamboo.

Rincon Sandy beach Puerto Rico

Steps Beach Rincon


Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

After many recommendations, we headed to Aguadilla’s Crash Boat beach which is a local hot spot in Puerto Rico. Upon arrival, the music was bumping, sweet smells of food filled the air, and even though it was slightly raining, everyone was still partying!

Food stands line the beach and boats, jet skis, and giant floats anchored in with boats battling each other over who can play music louder!

If you want to get an authentic Puerto Rican experience, I would put Crash boat beach on your Puerto Rico itinerary! Full Disclosure, we did come on a Saturday, which possibly equaled a bigger party =)

Address: PR-458, Aguadilla Pueblo, Aguadilla 00603, Puerto Rico

Crash Boat Beach Puerto Rico

Playa Peña Blanca (Wishing Wells)

A local recommended we also check out Wishing Wells beach, which is a small little cove found driving through a local neighborhood.

Iguanas crawled on the small cliff overlooking crystal clear water. This is definitely a little gem beach in Puerto Rico!

It is about a 2 hr drive back to San Juan, so if you do not feel comfortable driving at night, you might want to take that into consideration. This was our last stop on our Puerto Rico road trip. We left this location around 6:30 pm.

These coordinates should bring you there, but if you google map it, it should work since that is how we got there. 18°28’19.9″N 67°10’06.7″W

If you fancy seeing another waterfall instead of a beach, you can check out Cascada Gozalandia Waterfall located in San Sebastián which is very popular to visit. Address: Sec Lechuza, San Sebastián 00685, Puerto Rico

Playa Peña Blanca (Wishing Wells) Aguadilla, Puerto Rico


Day 4: San Juan and Carolina, Puerto Rico itinerary

On the last day of our Puerto Rico Itinerary, we wanted to keep it more local to San Juan and explore more of Old San Juan and do the Bacardi tour.

With 4 days in Puerto Rico, visiting Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a must. This fort was used to help protect the borders from incoming ships and Pirates.  There is tons of history within the two forts and the views of the ocean are also beautiful.

View from El Morro Fort in Old San Juan

Casa de Bacardi

We scheduled a historical tour on Bacardi’s website and it was so fun (btw am not even a big drinker)! This is actually the largest rum distillery in the world right in Puerto Rico!

We learned tons about making rum, which was way more interesting than I would have thought, and Baradi is still a family-owned business! WIN!

The tour was about 45 minutes so it was not overwhelming at all and it was a great way to spend our 4th day in Puerto Rico before hitting the beach!

Address: PR-165, Cataño, 00949, Puerto Rico

Carolina, Isla Verde

Who doesn’t want to enjoy more beautiful Puerto Rican beaches? Head to the beach in Isla Verde, in Carolina/San Juan! They are known to have beautiful beaches which I can attest to, and it is very close to Old San Juan! It is also right next to the San Juan Hotel.

Isla Verde Beach, Puerto Rico at sunrise

Puerto Rican Islands Vieques and Culebra

If you were thinking about island hopping instead, with 4 days in Puerto Rico this is also totally possible. The most popular islands to visit in Puerto Rico are Vieques and Culebra.

Both islands are known for having pristine beaches and great snorkeling. You can reach these two islands by ferry or commuter plane. Additionally, you can take a tour of the Puerto Rico islands. 

La Placita

I have been told by many Puerto Rican locals that La Placita is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico to get that real cultural vibe of how Puerto Ricans like to live on the weekends!

It is best to go to La Placita on a Friday or Saturday night! La Placita is a farmers market during the day and closes down into a huge party at night.

There is tons of music, food, and clubs all outside. You will see tons of locals coming here to enjoy their weekend and let off some steam. The party really gets started at around 11:30 pm so get your sala shoes ready!


Best food Places to Try in Puerto Rico

What would a Puerto Rico itinerary be without listing some great food options! Below are some of our favorite places to eat in Puerto Rico!

Tamboo: This was our best meal while in Puerto Rico! This was a recommendation from a Local and they did not steer us wrong! Tamboo is part of a hotel overlooking the beach in Rincon. I had the vegetable tower and fish tacos. It was DELISH!

Señor Paleta: A great place to go and beat the heat in Old San Juan for the most delicious fruit popsicles! Not to mention, they are pretty instragramable =)

Waffle-era Tea Room alias La Waflera:  This was such a gem find right in Old San Juan! I happen to love waffles and this is waffle heaven! I got a poached egg on top of my waffle with cheese, and they had plenty of delicious dessert-sounding waffles too!

Caficultura: Another great breakfast or brunch spot in Old San Juan! I had banana rum pancakes that were amazing! Also, the surrounding streets are super cute and totally photo-worthy!

Hijole – Cocina Mexicana (Isla Verde) We stayed in Carolina, just outside San Juan, and really enjoyed HiJole for dinners! The quesadillas were so good!

Additionally, make sure to try the traditional Puerto Rican dish Mofongo which is made of fried plantains and is filled with meat, fish, or vegetables.


Getting to Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a tiny island located in the Caribbean Sea nestled between the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands. The best way to get to Puerto Rico is by plane, and many major airports fly into Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU). We use Skyscanner to find the best flights!

Puerto Rico is also the perfect vacation for anyone looking for authentic Caribbean vibes from the USA. The best part is you won’t even need a passport (if you are from the USA) since PR is a US Territory! I know this seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many people ask if you need a passport from the USA to Puerto Rico!

FYI: UPDATE: I recently been made aware that Uber is now allowed to pick you up at the airport. If you are unable to get an Uber, there are still taxis.

Colorful Streets in Old San Juan


How to Explore Puerto Rico

The best way to get around for this 4 day Puerto Rico itinerary is by renting a car. While uber is readily available, to really discover Puerto Rico this is the best way!

I would recommend getting insurance from the rental company since their roads are rough and have tons of potholes (we lost a hubcap).

Pro Puerto Rico Travel Tip: Once arriving at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), you will need to get your rental car. Instead of using an airport rental location, we rented our car with the Enterprise location outside of the airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico.

By using the rental car location outside the airport, we actually saved $100’s. We just took a cab to the rental car location and wala!


Where to Stay with 4 days in Puerto Rico

We chose to stay in an Airbnb located in Carolina (right next to San Juan and the airport) The area is very walkable and has nice beaches!

Carolina (Care-o-lean-a) is located outside of San Juan. The area has major hotels, lots of food, shopping, and is considered to have better beaches than San Juan.   Here is my guide on the Best Airbnbs in Puerto Rico, here!

Other great areas to stay in Puerto Rico is San Juan, Old San Juan, Rincon, El Yunque and Ponce.

If you prefer the comforts of a hotel during your vacation, below are very highly recommended hotels around the San Juan, Puerto Rico area. For this Puerto Rico itinerary, I would recommend basing yourself in/around San Juan.

Caribe Hilton (High-end)

Caribe Hilton was recently renovated and the property looks beautiful. Their property includes a private beachfront on 17 acres of tropical gardens. Its unique location is perfect for beach lovers! Check prices here!

Hotel El Convento (Mid-High)

Known as one of the most Instagramable hotels, Hotel El Convento is located right in Old San Juan. Here you are within walking distance to everything in the Old City and 15 minutes from the airport. Check prices here!

The Condado Plaza Hilton (Moderate)

The Condado overlooks both the lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean with 4 onsite swimming pools. Considered a high-end 4 Star hotel. Check prices here!

The Dreamcatcher ( Low Moderate) 

The Dreamcature is San Juan’s only vegetarian hotel. This is the perfect place for someone looking for a unique boutique hotel stay that puts a lot of thought and care into the environment and its guests! Check prices here!

Colorful alley in Old San Juan by Hotel El Convento


Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria

You may be wondering about the condition of Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. While they are still recovering from the storm after all these years (mostly in rural areas), they are more than ready for tourists!

Even to the trained eye, it would be hard to tell the storm even happened, especially in Old San Juan. On top of that, we found the utmost hospitality during our entire trip, and by visiting, you are helping PR to re-grow from the once tragic storm!


4 Days in Puerto Rico Travel Itinerary Wrap-Up

That wraps up some of the best things to do in Puerto Rico in 4 days! As you can see Puerto Rico has a ton to offer. I hope you have the best time on your Puerto Rico Vacation! For more travel guides for Puerto Rico, click here!

For additional tours and activities for Puerto Rico, check Get Your Guide, which offers a range of different experiences!

Puerto Rico highlight

Other travel guides you might enjoy: Best things to do in Savannah, GA | New York in 4 days | Photo-worthy Places in Charleston 

Have any questions about this Puerto Rico itinerary? Let me know in the comments below!

If you found this Guide for 4 Days in Puerto Rico Itinerary helpful, I would love it if you could share it below!

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Top 15 Ways To Spend Your Vacation in Puerto Rico (2022) – Trips To Discover

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Alyssa Ochs

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Puerto Rico enjoys a very unique place in the world because it’s a U. S. territory and a Caribbean island at the same time. The island has a laid-back vibe with beautiful beaches and a fascinating history that feels a world’s away. This top travel destination offers wonderfully warm 80-degree year-round weather and affordable accommodations. Since the public transportation system here leaves a few things to be desired, the best way to get around is by renting a car to explore all parts of the island. It’s easy to visit Puerto Rico’s most alluring spots because it’s only about 100 miles long and 35 miles wide! These are just a few of the most unbelievable places to visit in Puerto Rico.

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Stroll through the Streets of Old San Juan

Best Places to Stay