Puerto Rico is a Caribbean Island and a self-governing commonwealth of the USA. Aside from being home to some lovely islands, Puerto Rico also offers history, forts and the only tropical forest in the USA. Five days in Puerto Rico is enough to get to know the place and explore a little more than just San Juan.
The best time to visit San Juan is from mid-April to June when the crowds are gone and the rainfall is not at its peak. It’s also the time when the prices are low and you can find good bargains.
It’s a very good idea to rent a car for some of the day trips. It saves time and allows you to explore the area at a difference pace than if you were to relay on buses.
Day 1 San Juan
San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico and where you’ll be landing. Although Old San Juan is charming , find a place to stay closer to the beach rather than the historical area. Depending on when you plan to visit San Juan, you’ll pay from US$52 per night for a double room in a hostel located close to the beach.
Take advantage of the first day to get to know the city and the area you are staying in.
>>book a room in a cheap resort in Puerto Rico
Day 2 Old San Juan
The old city is dominated by two forts and city walls dating back to the 15th century. Allow for an entire day to spend time on the narrow streets , getting wonderfully lost. Stop in the plazas to do some people watching. Take a lunch breach and delight your taste buds with Caribbean food . And yes, the best way to explore San Juan is on foot.
El Morro Fort is located at the entrance of San Juan Bay and offers stunning views of the area. San Cristobal is the largest Spanish fort in the USA and also offers amazing views of the area. Also in the historic area you can find San Jose Church, San Juan Cathedral, and San Juan Gate.
Take a stroll on the Paseo de la Princesa ,a promenade along the city walls. During the weekends, the promenade is filled with artisans and musicians.
>>read about Old San Juan : what to expect
Day 3 El Yunque Rain Forest
Take the Highway 187 – offers a superb scenic drive- to El Yunque , the only rainforest in the USA.
There are interesting trails in the forest for any fitness level. Make sure to get a map from the visitor’s center. The main trails include El Yunque Trail , Big Tree Trail and Bano de Oro Trail.
Day 4 Vieques
The islands are easily reachable by ferry from Fajardo. Once on the island, opt for the Publicos.
If the moon phase is right when you visit Vieques, consider a tour of the bay home to bioluminescent dinoflagellates, which glow when agitated. The only way to experience this is as part of an organized tour.
Otherwise, just plan for a relaxing day walking on the beach and soaking up the Caribbean feeling. Pack a picnic basket and relax in nature.
>>read more about Getting from San Juan to Vieques
Alternative Day 4 Ponce
If you don’t want to see the bioluminescent organisms (or just end up in Puerto Rico at a wrong time for that tour), plan a day trip to Ponce, the second largest city in Puerto Rico. It’s easy to reach by road and the drive is spectacular.
In Ponce, don’t miss Ponce Cathedral, Parque de Bombas – the old firehouse-, and a renovated coffee plantation. Do some people watching in Plaza Las Delicias.
Day 5 Culebra
Ferries to Culebra also depart from Fajardo and you can easily plan a day trip.
Culebra is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and Flamenco Beach is the most popular. Plan to spend some time on the beach , snorkel and just soak up the atmosphere.
>>read about the Best Beaches in Puerto Rico