The author, Vanessa Ramos, posing at the Cueva del Indio during her visit in Arecibo, one of the free things to do in Puerto Rico

17 Free Things to Do in Puerto Rico in 2023 (By a Local)

With all the free things to do in Puerto Rico, your vacation doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars.

In fact, lots of things to do in Puerto Rico are mostly outdoors and don’t require you to spend a single dime. You’ll also find that many museums and festivals are free or cost just a small fee. 

As a Puerto Rico local that loves to explore on a budget, l can tell you there is plenty to see and do for free in Puerto Rico, and I’m about to tell you all about it! Let’s get into it:

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17 Best Free Things to Do in Puerto Rico

Old San Juan

Walk the cobblestones streets and discover unique sights, small shops, and museums.

View of the iconic Raíces fountain in Old San Juan
The Raíces fountain is an iconic landmark in Old San Juan

📍 Google Maps

Old San Juan is one of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico, and it’s also free. It boasts colonial architecture and fortresses such as Castillo San Felipe del Morro. 

In Paseo de la Princesa, Calle del Cristo, and Calle de la Fortaleza, you’ll find iconic landmarks. 

Old San Juan is always buzzing with local artisans, performances, and visitors taking pictures. 

The cobblestone streets and the city walls add a historical element even to a typical sunset stroll. Besides the architecture, Old San Juan also has some of the best restaurants and coffee shops in Puerto Rico.

👉 Pro Tip: There are multiple days in the year when the entrance to the Morro is free, including National Park Week in April. You can also book a free walking tour through the historical district provided by the municipality.

Cueva del Indio

One of Puerto Rico’s most popular caves hides centenary petroglyphs left behind by the Taino.

The author, Vanessa Ramos, posing at the Cueva del Indio on a gloomy day
Me visiting Cueva del Indio

📍 Google Maps | Hours: Open always if accessed through the beach 

Many visitors mistakenly believe they need a tour or have to pay to visit Cueva del Indio in Arecibo.

But, history enthusiasts on a budget don’t have to miss this spot as the entrance to the nature reserve is free. The official entrance to the nature reserve is through Playa Inés where you can park on the roadside.

After entering the beach, you’ll have to walk to your left over the rock formations to get to the cave. You can only enter the cave through a small aperture in the wall next to the natural stairs. Since the place is frequented, you’ll find someone you can follow. 

👉 Afraid To Do it Alone? If you’d like to visit, but you’d like someone to guide you through the process of going into the cave, then book a Cueva del Indio tour instead.

El Yunque National Forest

El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest in the United States forest system and houses waterfalls, rivers, and wildlife you can experience for free.

A rock tower nearby the water in Puente Roto in El Yunque
Rock towers in Puente Roto in El Yunque
The author, Vanessa Ramos, posing with the clear water in the background in Puente Roto
Me in Puente Roto

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 888 – 1880 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 5 pm daily on the main entrance | Entrance: $2 on PR 191, and free in other areas

El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the national forest system and it has also competed as one of the top natural wonders of the world. What’s more, you can explore most of it for free and the rest for a cheap fee. 

While the main attractions of El Yunque National Rainforest are located in PR 191, where you have to pay a fee of $2 per vehicle. But, El Angelito Trail, El Toro Wilderness Trail, the Rio Sabana Recreational Area, and Puente Roto are free. You can visit with your family every day.

👉 Pro Tip: To visit the waterfalls on PR 191 you need to book a ticket through


One of the best beaches on the island, top-notch food, and a beachfront boardwalk make Piñones a budget-friendly stop.

The wooden beachfront boardwalk surrounded by coconut trees in Piñones
Beachfront boardwalk in Piñones

📍 Google Maps

Piñones is the capital of Puerto Rican food and Puerto Rican culture. While the delicious food isn’t free (but still cheap), touring the area, listening to live entertainment, beach hopping, and walking the boardwalk is.

Families can enjoy the small cove known as La Pocita, and party enthusiasts can grab a drink and do karaoke at a local bar. 

La Placita de Santurce

Showcase your best salsa dancing skills in La Placita de Santurce.

View of the vendors at the Santurce Market
(photo: Mark Zhu / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps 

Salsa dancing is a popular cultural activity in Puerto Rico, and in La Placita de Santurce, you’ll experience it at its best. La Placita is a normal marketplace during the day and a nightlife center after dark.

It’s easy to find a local dance partner to dance salsa with. On the weekends, salsa bands take over the space and entertain guests with live music. 

That said, visit the nearby Piso Viejo in Calle Loize if you’re a beginner at salsa as you can take free salsa lessons every Thursday. As with most free events, you do need to make a reservation, so make sure to call ahead.

La Fortaleza

La Fortaleza is one of the best preserved examples of early colonial architecture in Puerto Rico.

View of the garden landscape in La Fortaleza
The gardens in La Fortaleza are part of the free tour

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 721-7000 ext. 2358- 2211- 2323 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 5 pm Mon- Fri

La Fortaleza, the oldest executive mansion in continuous use on the American continent, is open for visits. La Fortaleza was the first fortress built in San Juan to protect the city from attacks. 

Although it was adapted to be the permanent governor’s residence in the 19th century, the historic building still preserves two of its original towers from the 16th century. 

A free tour will allow you to see the interior patio, the towers, the stairs, and the gardens of the building. You can learn more about your visit in our La Fortaleza Guide

Parque de Bombas

Parque de Bombas is a national historical landmark with a colorful and unique facade.

View of the unique façade of the Parque de Bombas
Parque de Bombas seen from up front

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 840-1045 | Hours: 8 am – 4:30 pm Mon, 8 am – 5 pm Tues-Fri,  9 am – 5 pm Saturday and Sunday 

Parque de Bombas is one of the most popular Puerto Rico landmarks. Known as the first fire station in Puerto Rico, Parque de Bombas is now a museum you can access for free. 

Inside history enthusiasts will find an antique fire truck and firefighter equipment. But, most visitors stop by to take a photo in front of the station’s unique red and black structure. 

Once downtown, stroll through the city and explore the best things to do in Ponce.

Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge

A wildlife refuge where you can go birdwatching, hiking, and cave hunting.

View of the rock bridge towers in Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge
The rock bridge is part of the refuge

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 851 7258 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm Mon-Sat, Closed Sundays 

The Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge offers so much to do, that it’s almost impossible to believe it’s free to visit. The refuge boasts hiking trails, salt flats, lagoons, mangroves, and coastal cliffs where you can see the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea meet. 

At this same point, history enthusiasts can see one of Puerto Rico’s iconic lighthouses known as Los Morrillos Lighthouse, built in 1882. The area has a high diversity of both endemic and migratory bird species.  

👉 Local Tip: Even if the access to vehicles in some areas of the refuge is limited, there are alternative pedestrian entrances you can take to explore the refuge.

Casa Blanca

The first residence built in Old San Juan offers the best views of the city.

Exterior view of the Casa Blanca Museum from below perspective
(photo: William Silver / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 725-1454 | Hours: 8 am – 4 pm Wed-Sun, Closed Mon-Tues | Entrance: $5 

What was meant to be Juan Ponce de Leon’s residence is nowadays a 16th and 17th-century-themed museum that reflects Puerto Rico’s history. Although Puerto Rico’s first governor didn’t see his finished home, the structure is well known for being the first residence in the islet of Old San Juan. 

It’s even older than La Fortaleza and El Morro. The museum itself has a small fee to enter, but you can take a free garden tour. Photographers will love capturing one of the best views of the city.

Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve

This nature reserve offers great views of the northeast coast and an interesting long hike in a coastal dry forest.

A long boardwalk over the water surrounded by mangroves in Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve
The mangrove in the nature reserve

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 722-5882 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 4 pm Wed-Sun, Closed Mondays and Tuesdays 

Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve is one of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico. Not only does it boast a few of the best Puerto Rico beaches, but it’s home to multiple ecosystems including one of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays.

Even if Para La Naturaleza manages the site and offers tours in the area, the entrance to the nature reserve is completely free. Visitors looking for a nice hike in the dry forest can either access it through the gate or Seven Seas Beach.  

San José Church

Recently restored, this church has murals, frescoes, and 16th-century gothic style architecture.

Closeup view of the frescoes in San José Church
Frescoes within the San José Church

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 918-3800 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Wed-Sun, 10 am – 5 pm Tuesdays, Closed Mondays

The streets of Old San Juan are home to various historical churches and cathedrals. However, the San José Church is a gem that went through a 20-year renovation and is now open.

The second oldest church in the American continent, the San José Church dates back to the 16th century, being one of the few Spanish Gothic architecture sites on this side of the world. Inside, art enthusiasts will find the church to be almost a museum and will rave about the mermaid frescoes on the ceiling. 

Noche de San Juan

Visit the beach with hundreds of locals on June 23 to get rid of bad luck.

📍 Google Maps 

Noche de San Juan is one of Puerto Rico’s most popular festivals. Puerto Rico celebrates Noche de San Juan on June 23rd. During the festivity, hundreds of Puerto Ricans crowd the beaches during the night.

The festival is in honor of Saint John the Baptist’s birth, who is the patron saint of Puerto Rico. At midnight, Puerto Ricans walk into the water and plunge backward three, seven, or twelve times to get good luck and get blessed. 

Even if it’s a tradition based on a religious belief, these midnight swimming traditions along with other local Patron Saint festivals are family-friendly events.

Noches de Galerías

Dive into Puerto Rican art and culture through these weekly and monthly art exhibitions.

View of the colorful buildings in Bayamón
Houses of resident artists in Bayamón

📍 Google Maps

Noche de Galerías in Old San Juan isn’t running anymore, but art lovers will find similar activities in other towns on the island. On the second Friday of the month, resident artists who are part of the Casitas project open their art galleries to the public in Bayamón.

Similarly, in Mayagüez, every Wednesday of the month, “Entre Café, Música y Arte” takes place in the town square. There, local artists, artisans, and musicians meet to entertain visitors. 

Other great local art nights include Noches de Artes in San Germán on Saturdays, Noche de Galería in Rincón every Thursday, and Noche de Artesanías every Wednesday in Isabela.

Buyé Beach

Shallow and clear, Buyé Beach is one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico.

The author, Vanessa Ramos, posing under the shade at the shoreline of Buyé Beach
Me in Buyé Beach

📍 Google Maps 

Around the entire island, Puerto Rico’s beaches are budget-friendly attractions as they are free and the parking is either free or cheap. If you’re looking for a free beach with shallow waters and white sand, visit Buyé Beach in Cabo Rojo.  

Part of the Guaniquilla Nature Reserve, Buyé is one of the top attractions in Puerto Rico. The long beach offers different experiences depending on which spot you visit. The sandy beach across Beach Buyé Resort has amenities and more crowds, while other areas are calmer with relaxing landscapes.

For a small fee, head over to Flamenco Beach on Culebra Island. It’s at the top of our best Puerto Rico beaches list, along with Condado Beach, Crash Boat, Sun Bay, and Luquillo Beach.  

Charco Azul

This waterhole is hidden within the Carite State Forest in the Puerto Rico mountains.

View of the clear water of Charco Azul in the middle of the forest

📍 Google Maps 

Don’t feel like hitting the beach? Well, you’re in luck as you’ll find countless rivers and waterholes to refresh yourself in Puerto Rico. Charco Azul is one of these, and it’s located within the Carite State Forest. This waterhole is known for its turquoise color, which gives it its name. 

Families with kids can easily do the 10-minute hike from the entrance. However, as with most Puerto Rico rivers, there aren’t any on-site amenities and you’ll need to bring everything to spend the day outdoors.

Guánica Dry Forest

This dry forest is home to beautiful beaches, historical ruins, and endemic species.

The author, Vanessa Ramos, hiking in Guánica Dry Forest
Me hiking in Guánica Dry Forest

📍 Google Maps | Phone: 787 821 5706 | Hours: 7:30 am – 4 pm daily 

The Guanica Dry Forest on the south coast is one of the best free things to do in Puerto Rico for outdoorsy people. 

The multiple trails from the visitor’s center lead to the best highlights of the subtropical dry forest, including a viewpoint from the highest point of the forest. 

But, you will also find popular beaches on its coast, including Playa Tamarindo, one of the best places to visit in Guánica. If you’d like to take a shortcut, you can drive to most attractions on PR 333.


Sitting on a hill in Yauco, this neighborhood is a macro-mural.

View of the colorful mural around Yaucromatic

📍 Google Maps 

You don’t need to pay a museum fee to enjoy Puerto Rican art. Puerto Rico offers an impressive display of street art in downtowns, highways, and small neighborhoods. Yaucromatic in Yauco is one of the many places you can visit for free.

This neighborhood in Yauco displays a mosaic of colors and murals. On the weekends it is also common to find food trucks and street vendors in the area. Other popular street art zones for art lovers are Boquerón, Santurce, Aguadilla, and Yabucoa.

FAQs About What to Do in Puerto Rico for Free

What is there to do in Puerto Rico for free? 

Free things to do in Puerto Rico include visiting the beaches, hiking in nature reserves, swimming in the rivers, and exploring its caves. Also, the island hosts frequent cultural festivals such as La Noche de San Juan, the Mask Festival, and the Ponce Carnival for free.

Is Puerto Rico a budget-friendly destination? 

Overall, Puerto isn’t a budget-friendly destination compared to other Latin American countries. It’s true that hotels, restaurants, and renting a car in Puerto Rico are expensive. But, most outdoor activities are free. Outdoor enthusiasts will spend very little during their vacation.

What are the best free attractions in Puerto Rico?

The best free attractions in Puerto Rico include Old San Juan, the beaches, nature reserves, and the caves. Festivals and city-specific festivities are also free and open to the public.  


Now you know how to save money during your next trip with these free things to do in Puerto Rico! If you’d like to dive deep into the best of Puerto Rico, check out our guide to the best places to visit in Puerto Rico.

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One Comment

  1. Thank you so much for your suggestions! I’m looking forward to visiting so many places while there!!🤗

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