Considering a trip to Puerto Rico? Great idea! Sher from Sher She Goes shares the scoop on why NOW is a great time to make your visit happen.
I spent 5 days exploring Old San Juan, Condado and Isla Verde, and quickly fell in love with the colors, sights and sounds of Puerto Rico. Here are 6 highlights from our trip to help you prepare for yours!
What to Expect When Visiting Puerto Rico
1. Vibrant Festivals
“To know where you are going, you must know your heritage,” said our tour guide on a walking tour of Old San Juan. Puerto Rico’s culture is a fusion of Taíno Indian, African and Spanish influences. Nowhere is this lively mix more evident than during Puerto Rico’s vibrant festivals.
In December, there is Old San Juan’s White Christmas Festival, Puerto Rico Heritage Artisans Fair, the religious procession of Las Mañanitas and the dazzling light display at the Town of Bethlehem.
In January, this is followed by the Three Kings Festival and San Sebastian Festival, the latter which we were fortunate enough to attend. Dubbed “Sanse” by locals, San Sebastian was a mixture of art fairs, street food vendors, parties and parades – with festivities lasting long into the night.
Puerto Rico has festivals each month in addition to year-long celebrations. So, whenever you visit, you’re sure to be swept up in Puerto Rico’s zest for life!
2. Beautiful Old World Architecture
Old San Juan is the second oldest city established in the New World and a must visit! Walk through a 500-year-old fort overlooking the Atlantic, worship at the second oldest cathedral in the Americas and take countless photographs of the city’s colorful buildings and archways.
For historic charm, stay in El Convento, a former convent turned hotel within the walled gates of Old San Juan.
3. A Flourishing Restaurant Scene
Puerto Rico proudly calls itself the ‘Dining Capital of the Caribbean’ due to its exotic blend of African, Spanish and American cuisines. Ready your taste buds for exotic flavors and hearty comfort food! Must try classic Puerto Rican dishes include mofongo (mashed plantains), pernil (slow roasted pork shoulder) and arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas and pork).
Some notable meals during our trip include:
- SAKI at Intercontinental San Juan: Asian fusion with innovative cocktails. Make sure to try the pineapple rum cake
- Zest at Water Beach Club: Classic Puerto Rican dishes with a twist and truly excellent cocktails. Ask for the passionfruit cocktail with cilantro
- Oceania: Fresh seafood and great burgers overlooking the ocean.
- Boronia: A local hotspot for Puerto Rican classics and live salsa bands. Huge portions!
- Lote 23: An empty building lot has been transformed by enterprising locals operating food trucks. Mix and match whatever you like! Try a local beer or fruit soda.
- Verde Mesa: A vegetarian and pescatarian focused menu. Make sure to try the tamarind juice!
4. Breathtaking Beaches & Soft Sand
With over 227 miles of white sand beaches, Puerto Rico is perfect for water lovers. Head out east for a day trip to Culebra to snorkel, scuba dive or just relax in the clear blue waves.
Looking for more nature and adventure? Puerto Rico is home to the United States’ only rainforest, El Yunque, as well as three bioluminescent bays where plankton light up the waters at night. Active travelers can challenge themselves by trekking the island’s underground cave system and tall mountains!
5. Inventive Cocktails and Great Rum
From the place that created the piña colada, you’re sure to have a good time! Rum is Puerto Rico’s official drink of choice, and mixologists throughout the island whip up fun, inventive cocktails using local fruits and herbs. Puerto Rico also boasts the largest Bacardi Factory in the world and fantastic home-grown sipping rums like Barrilito and Don Q.
Take a tour of the Bacardi Factory to learn about the nuances between different sipping rums or head to the La Concha bar at any time of day to try some of the best cocktails of your life!
There’s no excuse for Americans not to visit Puerto Rico because it’s incredibly easy!
Puerto Rico is a short flight from the U.S. and many carriers offer direct daily flights from U.S. cities. All you need is your license – no passport required. Even your U.S. cell works so don’t worry about buying SIM cards or turning on an international plan. Packing is easy too as you won’t need to worry about converters, adapters or currency exchanges. Puerto Rico uses the same voltage, plugs and currency as in the States.
Even getting around Puerto Rico is straightforward. We stayed at the La Concha hotel on Condado and frequently took trips into Old San Juan, a short 10- to 15-minute ride via taxi. The entire island is easily navigable by car and just around 3 hours from end to end.
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