Three day Puerto Rico itinerary

So you’re going to Puerto Rico, but you only have a few days and want to get a taste of everything this island has to offer? Well, this itinerary for a three day trip is perfect for you.

Puerto Rico is the perfect destination for those looking to enjoy all the sun and relaxation of a Caribbean vacation, but want a little more to do. As the home of one of the oldest Spanish forts in the region, the only rain forest in the National Parks system and the birthplace of the pina colada, you can’t go wrong or run out of things to do on this tropical paradise.

I’ve created a map with each of these places that you can use to find your way around! Find it at the bottom of this post.

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Day One

Your first day is all about getting to know San Juan and getting a sense of Puerto Rican culture and history.

Grab breakfast at one of Puerto Rico’s most popular joints, for both tourists and locals alike: Kasalta Bakery. Filled wall-to-wall with delicious pastries and baked goods, they also have a wide selection of breakfast and drink options. And you can even sit at the table President Barack Obama did when he visited Puerto Rico in 2011.

Catch an Uber (widely available and the easiest way to get around) to Castillo de San Cristobal or Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan. Spend a few hours exploring these ancient forts and learning about the history of the island. The forts are massive and require a lot of walking, plus they’re mostly in the sun. Bring lots of water and a hat!

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Old San Juan is where you’ll find the heart of Puerto Rico. These two massive forts border the area, and the streets are filled with the famous colorful doors and homes.

I recommend starting the day with the forts, since it can take a few hours to go through. Buying your ticket at one will get you entrance to the other as well, so it doesn’t matter where you start — although I would mention that San Cristobal is the only one with some air conditioning, so keep that in mind.

Don’t forget to take a walk around the water and see the gate to San Juan! You get a beautiful view of the water and a better sense for just how massive and expansive the fort walls really are.

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Have a pina colada where they were (reportedly) first invented. By now you’ll be exhausted and sweating up a storm. Take a walk over to Bararnchia, where they claim the pina colada was first invented. It’s also a great spot for lunch! But if you’re not feeling it, this area is full of great spots to eat.

From there, walk to San Juan Bautista Cathedral. It’s one of the oldest buildings in San Juan, and the oldest cathedral in the United States (second oldest in all of the Americas). It was first constructed in about 1521, and has been renovated over the centuries after hurricanes and to stay updated.

Stop for dinner and try some local favorites, like mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish made from mashed plantains. Great options include Jose Enrique and Cocina Abierta. 

Day Two

This day is all about relaxing and taking advantage of Puerto Rico’s famous beaches! Who comes to the Caribbean without wanting to get a little tan, right?

Start off with a fresh breakfast at Chocobar Cortes. The Chocobar pancakes are to die for. Since this is back in the heart of Old San Juan, it would also be a good time to check out any spots you didn’t get to yesterday. Take pictures with the colorful doors, do a little shopping…. whatever floats your breakfast-filled boat.

If you’d like to stay in the San Juan area…. head over to Condado or Ocean Park beach. They’re big, beautiful and there are plenty of little shops around to grab a drink or snack. I’d recommend splurging the $10 or so for an umbrella and chairs to be set up for you. It’s worth it and makes a day of relaxation extra comfortable.

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If you want to get out of the city…. You could take a jet ski ride and check out the famous row of shops at slightly more bohemian Loquillo beach. If you stop by here, check out AFuego. Get the slow roasted pork shoulder to share!

For a whole day excursion… Try a snorkeling trip to some of the other beautiful beaches and islands of Puerto Rico. You can read about my experience on one of these trips here.

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Wind down and finish off a chill day with a simple, casual dinner at one of the many great eateries along Calle Loiza — the “restaurant road” of San Juan. I recommend La Cueva Del Mar and Acapulco. 

Day Three

Today should be an early start to get to the park before it gets too hot and busy, but it’ll be worth it!

An early start is preferable. Grab some breakfast, maybe at Pinky’s, and get ready to hit the road to one of Puerto Rico’s best attractions: El Yunque Rain Forest.

I’d recommend renting a car, if possible, or you can do what I did my first time there and hire a driver. Either way, you’ll be wanting a car to get to and around the park.

The drive from San Juan to El Yunque can take anywhere from half an hour to almost an hour, depending on traffic.

Once there, there are a number of hikes and site seeing spots that are great to explore. The park was heavily affected by the hurricane in 2017, and many parts are still under repair or construction. You can find information on what trails and paths are currently open by visiting the park website.

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If you’re an avid hiker and into an all-day trek, the Peak Trail will take you to the highest peak in the forest. I haven’t personally done it (but it’s on my list!), but I’ve heard that it’s definitely worth the view.

But if you’re more like me, I’d recommend checking out La Coca falls and checking out the Yokahu Tower. If it’s open, the La Coca trail is a mild hike that really immerses you in the rain forest.

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After you’ve had your fill for the day, it’s time to head back, maybe take a nap or spend a little more time at the beach, and get ready for a great last meal. If you want a chic, special experience, Oceano is an upscale spot that is located on a beach and has a wonderful atmosphere. For a more lively, down-to-earth spot, check out Casita Miramar or Jose Enrique’s.

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If any of the spots on this itinerary interest you, I’ve created a map with a list of the places and a route of each day’s itinerary. You can save it and download it to your own Google Maps app so that you’ll have it even when you’re offline.

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