Famous places to visit in puerto rico: 16 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Puerto Rico

10 Most Beautiful Puerto Rico Destinations That Are Worth Exploring During Your Next Visit

By Faith Katunga

Puerto Rico is a diverse and exciting destination, with attractions ranging from pristine beaches to verdant jungles.


Aerial view of Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

With its beautiful scenery and abundance of fun things to do, Puerto Rico is the Caribbean’s most popular vacation spot. A popular destination for sun worshippers and island hoppers, this is the most populous of all the islands in the tropics. It’s no surprise that the picturesque palm-lined beaches attract visitors of all stripes, from young couples to college students to families with young children.

Experience magnificent snorkeling in the Caribbean’s beautiful waters, unwind in peaceful bioluminescent lagoons or discover the region’s history at one of the many historic Spanish villages. Here’s a list of must-see places for those considering visiting Puerto Rico.

Related: These Are The 10 Must-Visit Puerto Rico Islands (Recommended By Locals)

10 Old San Juan

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To visit this city is to step into another period altogether. San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city, is situated on the island’s Atlantic coast. Stay around the Isla Verde resort strip—famous for its casinos, nightclubs, and bars—which sits in front of the island’s largest beach. Spanish colonial architecture and narrow, winding lanes characterize Old San Juan. El Morro and La Fortaleza, two significant strongholds with magnificent ocean views and the Paseo de la Princesa bayside promenade, are some of the city’s most prominent attractions, and both date back to the 16th century.

  • Where you should stay:
    San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

  • Address:
    1309 Ashford Avenue, San Juan 00907-1324 Puerto Rico

  • Amenities:
    Valet parking, Free WiFi, Pool, Fitness Center with Gym, Bar/Lounge, Beach, Bicycle Rental

9 Castillo San Felipe Del Morro

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Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a citadel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries and is the primary attraction in Old San Juan. Enjoy a stay close to the stately fort, which dates back to 1539, stands alone on a peninsula, and offers visitors a unique glimpse into the past. In 1983, together with San Juan National Historic Site, the United Nations designated the citadel as a World Heritage Site. One of Puerto Rico’s top tourist destinations, Castillo sees over two million tourists annually.

  • Where you should stay:
    Hotel El Convento

  • Address:
    100 Cristo St, San Juan 00901 Puerto Rico

  • Amenities:
    Free WiFi, Pool, Fitness Center with Gym, Bar/Lounge, Rooftop terrace

8 Castillo De San Cristóbal

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Castillo of San Cristóbal is a must-see, even though it remains in the shadow of its more well-known neighbor, El Morro. Find a hotel nearby and pack a pair of walking shoes; San Cristobal is much larger than El Morro. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most prominent Spanish fort ever constructed in the New World, it offers visitors enjoyable sightseeing thanks to its five independent defensive units spread across 27 acres, all connected via moats and tunnels. This fort, built between 1634 and 1790, protected the eastern entrance to old San Juan.

  • Where you should stay:
    Decanter Hotel

  • Address:
    106 Calle de San Jose Old San Juan, San Juan 00901-1317 Puerto Rico

  • Amenities:
    Free WiFi, Pets Allowed, Baggage storage, Bar/Lounge, Rooftop terrace

7 Flamenco Beach

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Flamenco is a beautiful stretch of white sand and turquoise water, making it one of the best beaches in the world. The lack of waves at this beach makes it perfect for water sports like snorkeling and swimming and more sedate pursuits like lounging, playing in the sand, and reading a book. Visitors staying in the area can access lifeguards, a camping area, showers, and food stalls serving traditional Puerto Rican fare. Flamenco is also home to Culebra’s most famous landmark, The Tank, a monument commemorating the United States Navy’s time on the island.

  • Where you should stay:
    Hix Island House

  • Address:
    Carr. 995, KM 1.5, 00765 Puerto Rico

  • Amenities:
    Free parking, Free internet, Pool, Free Breakfast, Hiking, Snorkeling, Pets Allowed

6 Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay

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The beautiful island of Vieques hosts the brightest bioluminescence phenomena on Earth, as verified by the Guinness World Record in 2006. A must-do activity for guests vacationing on Vieques is a bay kayak tour with one of the island’s tour companies (some of which provide clear-bottom kayaks). Consider the moon phase while planning the trip, as the luminous effect peaks on nights when the moon is new or in its crescent phase.

  • Where you should stay:
    El Blok Hotel

  • Address:
    158 Calle Flamboyan, Esperanza 00718-2128 Puerto Rico

  • Amenities:
    Free public parking nearby, WiFi, Bar/Lounge, Evening entertainment, Patio, Car hire, Adults only

5 El Yunque National Forest

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Experience the tropical splendor of Puerto Rico’s nature by visiting El Yunque National Forest. Pico El Yunque is part of the Luquillo Mountains, home to El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the National US Forest System. One of the most visited natural attractions in Puerto Rico, it is often included in day trips for guests staying in San Juan. La Coca Falls, Yokah Tower, Bao Grande, Bao de Oro, and La Mina Falls are some of the most visited sites in El Yunque National Forest.

  • Where you should stay:
    Casa Alternavida

  • Address:
    PR 968 Km 0.87, Rio Grande 00721 Puerto Rico

  • Amenities:
    Free parking, WiFi, Yoga classes, Free breakfast, Beach, Hiking, Airport Transportation

4 Culebra Island

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Culebra may be smaller than Vieques, but its beautiful beaches and rolling green hills give it its own character and make it a perfect place to stay. The pace and the atmosphere here are relaxed. Culebra, a small island in the Caribbean, is just seven miles long and three miles wide and is surrounded by 23 smaller islands. More than twenty offshore cays and the entirety of Culebra’s shoreline are protected as part of the Isla de Culebra National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Where you should stay:
    Villa Pelicano Oceanfront

  • Address:
    Fulladoza #7, 00775 Puerto Rico

  • Amenities:
    Free parking, WiFi, Beach, Bicycle rental, Children’s Activities, BBQ facilities, Outdoor furniture, Self-serve laundry

3 Cayo Icacos

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Located off the shore of Fajardo on the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, Icacos is a tiny island with no permanent residents. Cayo Icacos, also known as Icacos Island, is the largest and most picturesque cay in the La Cordillera Nature Reserve. Azure seas lap softly against a narrow stretch of diamond-dust sand. To get to Icacos, visitors need to take a boat, so plan and book a ride on a catamaran or a water taxi. Even though there aren’t any lined palm trees to provide shade, the island is excellent for swimming and snorkeling due to the abundance of aquatic life to be discovered, so visit during a vacation in Puerto Rico.

  • Where you should stay:
    El Conquistador Resort

  • Address:
    1000 El Conquistador Avenue, Fajardo 00738-3711 Puerto Rico

  • Amenities:
    Free private parking nearby, Pool, Fitness Center with Gym, Bar/Lounge, Beach, Boating, Children’s Activities

Related: What To Know About Visiting Isla De Mona, Puerto Rico’s Untouched Caribbean Island

2 Rio Camuy Caves

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The massive cave system in Rio Camuy Cave Park covers 268 acres and is arguably the world’s third-largest. Visitors nearby can take the Cueva Clara Empalme trolley bus to a sinkhole (or cave) 200 feet deep and part of a protected area. There are many different chambers in the caverns, some of which have sky-high ceilings, rivers gushing out of their bottoms, and stalagmites and stalactites dangling from the walls. Visitors can visit the Cueva Clara Empalme on a guided tour. The cave system is stunning in its own right, and it is even more incredible to think that ancient people lived there.

  • Where you should stay:
    Royal Isabela

  • Address:
    396 Ave Noel Estrada, Isabela 00662-3279 Puerto Rico

  • Amenities:
    Free parking Free WiFi, Pool, Yoga classes, Bar/Lounge, Beach, Golf course

1 Isla Verde

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Isla Verde is perfect for travelers who want to be close to a big airport and have access to great resorts and a decent beach. Besides Puerto Rican culture, this place has everything visitors needs on vacation: sun, sand, and surf. Isla Verde is a tropical paradise with all the amenities, including calm waters, a white sand beach, palm trees, and luxurious resorts.

  • Where you should stay:
    The Royal Sonesta San Juan

  • Address:
    5961 Isla Verde Avenue, Isla Verde, Carolina 00979, Puerto Rico

  • Amenities:
    Valet parking, Free WiFi, Pool, Fitness Center with Gym, Bar/Lounge, Beach, Patio

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About The Author

Faith Katunga is a Malawian freelance travel and fashion journalist based in Milan and Spello, Italy, following her post-graduate studies in the country. Faith is the Founder and Editor of Fashionably Remoting, A Premium Lifestyle & Career Guide For The Creative Remote Woman. She owns and maintains vacation rental properties in Umbria and Puglia and travels extensively throughout Italy and the world. Faith has written for publications like Italy Magazine and TheThings. Follow her adventures on her blog and Instagram.

Best Tourist Attractions in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Travel ⏐ San Juan Puerto Rico ⏐ Best Things to Do in San Juan ⏐ Top Tourist Attractions

Stepping foot onto the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan is like walking into a living museum with a long list of treasures to explore.  If you’re a cruiser just spending a few hours in Old San Juan, there are some excellent tours that cover the top attractions packed with historical information and fun stories. If you’re staying longer, we invite you to see the following list and the guide for the best things to do in San Juan Puerto Rico.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Castillo San Felipe del Morro also simply called El Morro, is the most famous landmark in San Juan and on the island of Puerto Rico.   From history buffs to romantics to families with children, this is an amazing place for everyone.  Make sure to bring your camera, you’ll take some fantastic photos with sweeping views of San Juan Bay as the background.  The grounds of El Morro are one of the most beloved places by families where great memories are made.  Be sure to purchase a kite or bring your own… and not just for the kids, let your inner child free… run, roll down the grass, laugh, and feel the breeze.

+ Castillo San Felipe del Morro — San Juan, Puerto Rico

Top Rated Old San Juan Tours with Fort Visit

Castillo San Cristobal

Covering 27 acres, this is the largest Spanish fort in the New World, an architectural masterpiece, that allows you to travel back five centuries for a deep insight into the history of the New World.  Group tours with friendly park rangers are available, or you may walk on your own.  If you have mobility challenges, choose to explore Castillo San Cristobal, it is easier to navigate than Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

+ Castillo San Cristobal — San Juan, Puerto Rico

If your beach time in San Juan is limited, be sure not to miss Balneario El Escambron.  While there are many beautiful beaches on the north coast of Puerto Rico, overall this is the best public beach offering the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the city, safe swimming waters, easy access, and facilities.

+ What makes this beach so special?

  • Although Escambron Beach faces the Atlantic Ocean, the water was perfectly landscaped by nature with a natural coral wall creating a pool with clear water and rocky spots where beach lovers and tropical fish come together to swim and play.
  • There’s another small beach inside the park, which at first sight does not look like anything too special… but once you get in the water and look underneath the surface, you’re in a pretty cool aquarium that comes as a surprise in popular city beach.
  • Book a popular tour or bring your own snorkel gear to swim with sea turtles and a colorful variety of fish.   Boulders were added to the beach to keep the strong surf from coming in, making it a safe place to swim (under normal weather conditions).
  • If you never snorkeled or scuba-dived, Escambron Beach is a popular spot for learning, even for children.
  • There’s also a historic site inside the park and a trail for a romantic scenic walk.  See our Escambron Beach guide for a photo tour… we can assure you it is much better in person.

+ Balneario El Escambron — San Juan, Puerto Rico

Top Rated Snorkeling Tours — Escambron Beach — San Juan

+ Best Snorkeling Places, Beaches & Tours in Puerto Rico

Paseo de la Princesa

Paseo de La Princesa (The Princess Walkway) is the most scenic and historic walkway in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.  This walkway makes it to the top of our list for setting the mood for a romantic walking tour of Old San Juan.  Paseo de La Princesa is a cultural hub on weekends, special holidays, and especially during Christmas time.   When cruise ships are scheduled to arrive in Old San Juan, artisans, musicians, and food vendors line up at Paseo de La Princesa to welcome visitors.  This is a great spot to take home a special souvenir, taste traditional treats, and foods, and if there’s music playing join locals and dance.

Paseo La Princesa is a must for romantics, a place to hold hands, take in the views of the San Juan bay, watch the sunset, and admire the historic city walls that were built to protect the city. 

+ Paseo del la Princesa — San Juan, Puerto Rico

Top Rated Old San Juan Sunset Tours

Cathedral San Juan Bautista

This Cathedral is one of the most important religious landmarks in Puerto Rico, the second oldest church in the Americas, and the oldest under the US Flag.  The cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Puerto Rico.  Catedral San Juan Bautista dates back to 1521.  The Spanish sailors walked into the city through the San Juan Gate and had the tradition of stopping at this church to thank God for a safe voyage.   A tomb with the remains of Ponce de Leon and a mummified body of St. Pio are at the Cathedral. The San Juan Cathedral was also the first school in Puerto Rico.

If you happen to be here at Christmas, be sure to get here early to enjoy one of the most beautiful Christmas services on the island.  Catedral San Juan Bautista is a popular place for local and destination weddings, where many celebrities have said I DO. 

Cathedral Hours: Cathedral is open daily from 8 am – 4 pm and Sundays from 8 am – 2 pm. Location: Calle del Cristo, across from El Convento Hotel.  See the map below.

Casa Blanca

Visit the first fortification in San Juan, built to be the home of Juan Ponce de Leon, the first governor of Puerto Rico.  Casa Blanca is located on the corner of Calle Beneficiencia & San Sebastian.  Enjoy a self-guided tour of gardens, living spaces of the family’s mansion, and a small museum with exhibits of 16th and 17th-century artifacts.   Casa Blanca is an easy stop after touring El Morro.

+ Casa Blanca — San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Ballajá Barracks

After touring the magnificent Fortress of El Morro, walk across to Cuartel de Ballaja, one of the most impressive buildings in Old San Juan.  Cuartel de Ballaja was built between 1854 y 1864 to house Spanish soldiers and their families.  Today it is a cultural center where many events are held throughout the year.  If you are visiting during the Christmas holidays, be sure to stop by at night, the walls become red and green highlighting the elegant architecture.

During crowded cruise days in Old San Juan, Cuartel de Ballaja tends to be quiet and relaxed.  Walk around the courtyard, then sit and relax to enjoy a good cup of Puerto Rican coffee or have lunch at one of the restaurants.   If you wish to learn about the history of Puerto Rico and the Americas, go up to the second floor to Museo de la Americas (Museum of the Americas), see more information below.

Museo de las Américas

Museo de Las Americas (Museum of the Americas), located on the second floor of Cuartel de Ballaja in Old San Juan, is one of the most interesting,  family-friendly and educational places to visit.  The museum features permanent exhibitions about the history and culture of Puerto Rico and the Americas.  Exhibitions include popular art in America, the history of the natives in America (22 ethnicities), the African heritage, the conquest and colonization of Puerto Rico, and the newborn evolution that makeup what Puertoricans are today.  Works by renowned artists from Latin America, the United States, and Puerto Rico are featured throughout the year.

+ Visitor Information

Museum Hours

  • Tuesday – Friday: 9am – 12pm & 1pm – 4pm
  • Saturday: 10am – 5:00pm
  • Sunday: 12pm – 5pm
  • Mondays: Closed

Entry Fee

  • $6 – Adults
  • $4 – Children up to 12 years old, students & seniors 65 + years

Hours and entry fees are subject to change.  

Old San Juan Cemetery

The cemetery sits outside the 20-foot walls of fort El Morro – overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  Puerto Ricans consider this cemetery the ultimate location as a final resting place, many notable Puerto Ricans are buried here, and still today, families are willing to pay top dollar for a spot.  You can admire the cemetery from the grounds of El Morro.

At the cemetery, you’ll see unique ornate marble thumbs, some depicting stories of love and family.  Among notable Puerto Ricans buried at Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery:  Jose Celso Barbosa, Pedro Albizu Campos, Jose de Diego, Rafael Hernandez, the infamous real pirate of the Caribbean Roberto Cofresi, among others.  If you wish to enter, you may ask a taxi driver to take you and negotiate a rate to wait as you have a quick look and give you a ride back.  

+ Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery — San Juan, PR

El Capitolio / The Capitol Building

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is the meeting place for the Legislative Assembly.   El Capitolio is located in Puerta de Tierra district just outside the Old City Walls.  The constitution of Puerto Rico is exhibited on the first floor.

El Capitolio Hours:  Open to visitors Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm.

Museo de San Juan

The Museum of San Juan is housed in an elegant mid-19th-century building.  The mission of Museo de San Juan is to “enrich, preserve and disseminate the history, artistic riches and cultural heritage of the Capital City of San Juan”.  The Museum includes a permanent exhibit about the history of San Juan, temporary exhibits & an amphitheater. This place used to be a popular meeting place where goods were sold and cafes where locals met.  Currently, various events are held in the center courtyard.  If you happen to be here on a Saturday, be sure to stop, a farmer’s market is held every week.

+ Visitor Information

  • Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p. m. & Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Tel: 787-480-3555
  • Address: 150 Norzagaray St., San Juan PR 00901

La Fortaleza / The Governor’s Mansion

La Fortaleza / Palacio Santa Catalina and Casa Blanca were the first fortifications built in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Today, Palacio Santa Catalina is the official residence of Puerto Rico’s governor.  Guided tours are available.

Raices Fountain

The Raices Fountain is a popular spot among visitors.  Raices translate to roots, and the fountain represents just that – the roots of Puerto Rican culture, made up of Tainos (natives), Spaniards, and Africans.  See it at Paseo de la Princesa in Old San Juan.

La Rogativa

One of the most beautiful and meaningful statues in Old San Juan is centered at one of the top 5 most scenic spots of San Juan.  The statue celebrates a beautiful moment of history representing faith, hope, and unity.   Be sure to stop on your walking tour for great photos and inspiration.

+  La Rogativa — Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Fortín de San Gerónimo de Boqueron

If you’re taking a walk or enjoying a bike ride around Condado, Fortín de San Gerónimo del Boquerón is certainly worth a stop.  You’ll take some beautiful photos of where the Old and New City come together on the sea.  This fort is at risk of collapsing into the water, sadly it may not be standing for long, so don’t miss it.

You can observe Fortín de San Gerónimo del Boquerón from La Playita del Condado, and Dos Hermanos Bridge.   For a closer look, Fortin is located inside the Caribe Hilton, it is an easy walk through the seaside walkway behind the hotel (just ask a staff member for directions).  Entry to the fort is not allowed, because it is not safe.  If there is no guard, please do not attempt to enter for your own safety.

San Juan Wildlife Museum

Permanently Closed – San Juan Wildlife Museum is an excellent educational museum for both adults and children, with exhibits of about 200 mammals with insight into their habitat.

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