The Ultimate 3-Day Puerto Rico Itinerary
This 3-day Puerto Rico Itinerary highlights the best things to do in Puerto Rico as well as some insider tips on sights, restaurants and activities for the trip of a lifetime.
by Caresa Lamers
If you’re wondering how many days to spend in Puerto Rico, it’s worth considering that the island of Puerto Rico is one of North America’s most under appreciated treasures. This means that while there is plenty to keep you busy for 10 or more days, it’s possible to have a great vacation in Puerto Rico if if you just have three days or even a long weekend.
In this three day Puerto Rico Itinerary, I’ll share details on the best things to do in Puerto Rico as well as some insider tips for you to have the best Caribbean vacation.
Ultimate 3-day Puerto Rico Itinerary
Located in the Caribbean Sea, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands, the island archipelago of Puerto Rico will steal your heart the second you step foot on its soil.
I fell in love with this magnificent island the second I laid my eyes on it.
If this is your first time visiting Puerto Rico, I recommend staying in the capital city of San Juan. From what I noticed is that more people know English in San Juan and Old San Juan than in the outskirts of the city.
Staying in San Juan was very handy for me since I don’t know a lick of Spanish. Also, most of the major tourist sights are located in that general area which makes things fairly easy.
Day 1: Relax in San Juan
After you get settled into your hotel, I always recommend to dedicate the first day of your vacation to relaxation. As we all know, traveling can be quite exhausting and depending how far you traveled, you may even have jet lag.
It’s always good to give the body the rest it needs to prepare it for the upcoming adventures your vacation will bring.
Start your day right with the most important meal of the day – breakfast! If you’re staying in San Juan I would recommend grabbing breakfast at Pannes. (1129 Ashford Ave, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico)
This little breakfast joint had some amazing food to kick off our day the right way. All at a great price too! Also, make sure to try the Tostones. Tostones are deep fried plantains that are extremely popular in Puerto Rico.
Spend a Day on the Beach
I don’t know about you but when I think of the perfect way to relax, drinks on the beach always comes to my mind. Spend your day relaxing on either Condado Beach or Isla Verde Beach – two of the best beaches in San Juan.
I spent my day on Condado Beach and loved how they delivered food and drinks as you relaxed on the beautiful beaches.
If you’re not a big drinker, make sure to grab yourself a Coco Rico while you lay out on the beach. Coco Rico is a traditional Puerto Rican coconut drink, also known on the island as the Coke of Puerto Rico.
Grab Dinner in San Juan
Okay, I will let you in on a little secret, Di Zucchero (1210 Ashford Ave, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico) is hands down one of the best restaurants I have ever been to. If you love Italian food (Who doesn’t love Italian?) then this place is for you! Although, they have more to the menu, the pizza at this restaurant is absolutely delicious!
Pro-Tip: If you do decide to dine at this fine Italian resto, I highly recommend the 4 queso pizza or the John Gotti pizza. Yum!
Day 2: Explore Old San Juan
From the beautiful Spanish styled architecture, the cobble stoned streets and vibrant colored buildings, Old San Juan will forever hold a piece of my heart. A must-add to any Puerto Rico itinerary is spending a day in Old San Juan.
There are so many different things to do in Old San Juan, whether you’re looking to shop till you drop, indulge yourself in some authentic Puerto Rican cuisine or just let your wanderlust run free. Old San Juan is where it’s at!
Don’t Forget Breakfast!
Again, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Before wandering the streets of Old San Juan, grab a nice, healthy breakfast at Genesis Restaurant. (327 Calle Recinto Sur, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico) I ordered a vegetable omelet and it surpassed any and all expectations.
Pro-Tip: On my trip I tried for the first time empanadallias, another popular Puerto Rican dish, and they were absolutely delicious. I highly recommend trying them during your time on the island. They are almost the same as empanadas but empanadallias have a thicker crust.
Explore Old San Juan
Alright, now that you got your hearty breakfast out of the way, it’s time to explore the beautiful streets of Old San Juan.
With so many different things to do in this colorful, vibrant city I will list the most popular.
- View all the beautiful doors, buildings and the famous Puerto Rican Door. One of Old San Juan’s most famous photo ops.
- Visit Fort El Morro: El Morro is a fort that was built by Spain to protect Puerto Rico from attacks and unwanted visitors in 1843. It is 140 feet above sea level and has a gorgeous, panoramic view of the vast ocean. It was created with different levels including towers, tunnels, dungeons and more. It’s definitely a sight worth checking out.
- Visit Fort San Cristóbal: Another popular fort to see that was built by the Spanish.
- Shop and eat on Fortaleza Street: One of the most famous streets in Old San Juan. Filled with all kinds of shops, boutiques and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to learn about some of Puerto Rico’s wonderful and unique culture.
- Browse the bright regional fruits, spices, fish and flowers in lively regional markets such as Plaza mercado and Mercado de Rio Piedras.
- For an immersion into the flavours of Puerto Rico, take the Flavor of San Juan Food Tour. There is no better way to find out about the islands’s authentic Puerto Rican cuisine than going on a food tour.
During the Flavor of San Juan Food Tour, you’ll be guided around Old San Juan on a 1-3 hour food tasting excursion.
Not only will you learn about the city’s history on your walk but you will be taken to different establishments to sample the best authentic food on the island. From vegetable stuffed fried plantains to mofongo and so much more!
Dinner at Punto de Vista Rooftop Restaurant
End your night by grabbing dinner and a cocktail at Punto De Vista. (307 Calle Fortaleza, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico) A popular rooftop restaurant located in Old San Juan. Make sure to try some pastelon, pastelon is pretty much Puerto Rican lasagna and it is to die for!
Pro-Tip: The mojitos in Puerto Rico are absolutely DELICIOUS.
Day 3: Hike El Yunque Rainforest
Spend last of your three days in Puerto Rico exploring El Yunque Rainforest, just a short 45 minute drive from the capital city of San Juan, El Yunque is truly a Puerto Rican treasure and should be added on anyone’s Puerto Rico itinerary.
Before venturing off into the vast and wild rainforest, give your body the right nutrients by eating at Cafe del Angel (Av. Doctor Ashford 1106, Condado, Puerto Rico) in San Juan. This little breakfast join serves some exquisite food.
Be sure try the Asopao de Pollo while you’re exploring the island. It is a blend of broth, chicken, rice, olives, oregano, onion, tomato and garlic. Yum!
Hike El Yunque Rainforest
The El Yunque National Forest is one of the most beautiful wild spaces in the Caribbean. Featuring a lush landscape dotted with beautiful waterfalls, tree ferns and 240 tree species of which 23 are found only here, this one-of-a-kind rainforest requires a full day to experience it fully.
When I visited, much of the forest was closed to the public due to damage from Hurricane Maria but there were still hiking trails to take and waterfalls to see. I hiked La Coca trail which was gorgeous but a tad strenuous. Revered as a holy place for over a thousand years by the indigenous Taino inhabitants, there are five endangered species in this rainforest but no large mammals.
Pro-Tip: Be sure to pack on the bug spray, these mosquitos are brutal. Also, make sure to wear some good hiking shoes. The ground is so slippery and it’s easy to fall.
Get our 12 tips on avoiding mosquito bites and mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue fever, zika and chikungunya.
Dinner at Oceano
After an eventful day of hiking in the forest, relax over dinner at Oceano. (2, calle Vendig, San Juan, PR 00907) This upscale restaurant sits right on the beach and overlooks the ocean for a wonderful fine-dining experience with plenty of ambiance. There’s nothing quite as magical as listening to the waves crashing on the shore. Although a bit pricey, the quality and presentation of the food made it worth it.
Take a Kayak Tour to the Bioluminescent Bay
Wrap up your vacation in Puerto Rico by taking a nighttime kayak tour to the bioluminescent bay. Puerto Rico is home to three bioluminescent bays out of the five that are in the world. The blue lights that emerge from the water are caused by microorganisms that inhabit the water and when they are disturbed, they glow briefly. Puerto Rico offers kayak tours to check out this awesome phenomenon and they are highly recommended.
I hope you enjoyed this 3 day Puerto Rico Itinerary!
What I learned on my recent three days in Puerto Rico was that the local food is fresh, authentic and delicious, the people are welcoming and it’s a great place to relax and unwind if you’re looking for a close-to-home, affordable Caribbean vacation.
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Caresa Lamers is a blogger, traveler, fashion lover and adrenaline junkie who sold everything in July 2018 to travel the world and live her dream life. Ever since then she has been traveling full time with Vegas as her home base.
All photos by Caresa Lamers unless otherwise noted.
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Travel Guide to Planning a Puerto Rico Vacation
You do not need a passport if you’re flying to and from the continental United States. A passport will only be required if you are using Puerto Rico as a port of entry.
Canadian citizens using Canadian passports do not require a visa to enter Puerto Rico for tourism or business stays under ninety (90) days. They do require a valid passport.
For more information on travel to Puerto Rico, including details on attractions, hotels, popular restaurants and more, visit SeePuertoRico.com.
Where to Stay in Puerto Rico
Budget Hotel: I stayed in the Sandy Beach Hotel (4 Condado Ave, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico) in San Juan. I was looking for more of a budget hotel so it definitely wasn’t a five star hotel but I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good deal. All for $80 a night, I was right on the beach, was offered free breakfast throughout my stay and the customer service was exceptional!
Check for the best prices for Sandy Beach Hotel.
Luxury Hotel: If you’re on the hunt for a luxury hotel, right next to the Sandy Beach Hotel, you will find the San Juan Marriott Resort. This swanky hotel has everything from a pool with a water slide attached to it, a gym and a wonderfully indulgent spa to really get the most out of your vacation.
Check for the best prices for the San Juan Marriot Resort & Stellaris Casino.
Islands of Puerto Rico: If you get the chance to stay longer then 3 days, visit one of the surrounding islands like Isla de Vieques or Palomino Island. Puerto Rico is comprised of over 140 islands and they are all just a short ferry ride away. The most popular islands include Isla de Vieques, Cayo Icacos, Culebra, Caya de Muertos and Desecheo Island. Only Culebra and Vieques are inhabited year-round.