While Old San Juan is a destination you can’t miss, small Puerto Rico towns outside the metropolitan area offer plenty of fun places to explore and discover.
As a Puerto Rico local who loves to travel and find unique places around the 78 municipios, I can tell you firsthand that exploring small towns in Puerto Rico will enrich your time on the island. Not to mention, they’re some of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico!
Whether they’re on the coast, in the mountainous center, or outside the main island, here are my picks of the best small Puerto Rico towns to explore during your next trip to the island.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- 11 Best Small Towns in Puerto Rico
- FAQs about Towns in Puerto Rico
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11 Best Small Towns in Puerto Rico
A mountainous municipality with plenty of outdoors to explore
Toa Alta is one of those cities in Puerto Rico that visitors tend to skip during their trip, but if you’re looking to escape the chaos of the metropolitan area just a short drive from San Juan, then Toa Alta is a great option.
The city is home to La Plata lake where you can fish, kayak, or have a picnic with your family. From Toa Alta is easy to access other municipalities like Dorado, Bayamón, Corozal and Naranjito.
📚 Bookmark for Later: The Best Activities in Puerto Rico [Epic List by a Local!]
A coastal municipio with beautiful beaches and a historical lighthouse
While many of the best cities in Puerto Rico are on the west side, the east side of the island boasts hidden gems like Maunabo. Maunabo is a coastal municipality with a small village vibe that offers a relaxing atmosphere for stressed-out workers.
Maunabo has a beautiful nature reserve where locals like to hike. There is also a popular fishing site in the Emajagua neighborhood known as Villa Pesquera.
👉 Pro Tip: Maunabo is one of the best places to stay in Puerto Rico if you want to be close to Ceiba, where you can catch the ferry terminal to Culebra and Vieques islands. While Fajardo and Humacao are closer, they’re also more crowded.
A San Juan twin city without the crowds and the high prices
Ponce is one of the most popular Puerto Rico cities for its multiple attractions, convenient location, and overall budget-friendly hotels. Besides being a touristy destination, Ponce is also home to a large population of ex-pats.
Among all the fun things to do in Ponce, travelers can find great beaches, historical buildings, restaurants, and food stalls with top-notch gastronomy for foodies.
A beach city with a Caribbean vibe and top-notch beaches for surfing
Isabela is a city with a laid-back atmosphere and a beautiful coast full of beaches for surfing, snorkeling, fishing, and swimming. There are a lot of things to do in Isabela for outdoor lovers and it’s also one of the most budget-friendly cities in Puerto Rico.
If you’re afraid to stay right next to the sea, then you’ll be happy to hear that Isabela is a city with coastal cliffs. This makes it possible to have an ocean view, but without directly hearing the waves every night.
The second oldest city in Puerto Rico with unique architecture and history
The second oldest city in Puerto Rico, San Germán is hands down one of the most charming cities on the island. The city hosts a historic district with more than a hundred buildings with neoclassical style architecture.
Although similar to Old San Juan with cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, San Germán is more relaxed and less crowded, making it a paradise for history buffs.
🚗 Need some wheels? Check out my comprehensive guide to renting a car in Puerto Rico!
Puerto Rico’s top destination to see breathtaking sunsets
Located three hours away from San Juan, Cabo Rojo is the perfect destination for nature lovers. With everything from breathtaking beaches to a unique nature reserve, the popular things to do in Cabo Rojo attract thousands of visitors every year.
Boquerón is one of the neighborhoods where you can stay to enjoy a beachside experience with lots of food and colorful sunsets.
One of the best municipalities for beautiful beaches and mountains
Aguada is one of Puerto Rico’s municipalities that visitors often miss out on, but the truth is you’ll never run out of things to do in Aguada.
Located among the most popular cities in the west of the country, Aguada offers travelers beaches, waterfalls, and a historical downtown, where culture fans can enjoy festivals, concerts, and exhibitions.
A municipality home to the largest tropical dry coastal forest in Puerto Rico
With dozens of beaches, a tropical dry coastal forest, and farms, Guánica is one of Puerto Rico’s best municipalities for outdoor recreation.
Adventurers can kayak to Gilligan’s Island, one of the small islands just off the coast of Puerto Rico and one of the best things to see in Guánica. Guánica is known as the “Town of friendship”, and it honors the warm and welcoming people of the municipality.
Home to Crash Boat and Survival Beach, two of the best beaches on the island
Aguadilla is located in Puerto Rico’s northwest and it’s one of the best Puerto Rico cities to live in and visit. While somewhat touristy, especially because of its famous Crash Boat Beach, Aguadilla still has a calm tropical island lifestyle that beach buffs will love.
While rentals are high-priced, you can find overall budget-friendly food and many free things to do in Aguadilla.
One of the best island municipalities for beaches and pristine nature
Vieques is one of Puerto Rico’s most popular municipalities because of its virgin beaches and bioluminescent bay. A large part of this municipality is a nature reserve, offering a relaxing getaway for eco-travelers.
In comparison to other destinations in Puerto Rico, the island receives large tourist traffic and therefore can be expensive, but there are dozens of free attractions in Vieques.
Of all of the municipalities in Puerto Rico, Cayey is the place with the best food
While the mountainous side of Puerto Rico might not be for everyone, foodies can’t skip a visit to Cayey. Cayey is one of the municipalities in the center of Puerto Rico, home to the famous Pork Highway in Guavate, with traditional restaurants aligned side by side.
Cayey also has rivers, natural ponds, forests, hiking trails, and camping sites where outdoor enthusiasts can unwind and breathe the fresh mountain air.
🧳 Have your bags packed yet? My Puerto Rico packing list will help you pack all the essentials!
FAQs about Towns in Puerto Rico
What are the towns called in Puerto Rico?
Towns in Puerto Rico are called municipalities (municipio). Depending on the population of the municipality, it’s considered either a city or a town. Each municipio has a neighborhood that is called “el pueblo” or the same name as the municipio.
How many towns are in the island of Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico features 78 towns called municipios or municipalities. Puerto Rico doesn’t have any first-order counties.
What is the nicest town in Puerto Rico?
There are multiple nice towns around Puerto Rico to visit and live in, including San Juan, Ponce, Lajas, Cabo Rojo, Maunabo, Isabela, Aguadilla, and Aguada.
What is the best area to live in Puerto Rico?
The best areas in Puerto Rico to live in include the west area known as Porta del Sol, and the south area called Porta Caribe. These areas include cities with a large population of ex-pats. Cities outside the metropolitan area are less crowded and have overall a cheaper cost of living.
Thanks for reading my guide to the best towns in Puerto Rico!
While you’re on a road trip, don’t forget to pin on your map some of the best attractions in Puerto Rico.
Have fun in Puerto Rico!