If you’re looking for a quick getaway to the Caribbean, then a weekend in Puerto Rico is a great choice. Though you could easily spend 7 days in Puerto Rico, or even a month on the island without seeing everything, 3 days in Puerto Rico is enough — if you know how to do it right!
I’m a Puerto Rico local and I’m here to help you plan your trip! I’ve put together my best Puerto Rico weekend itinerary that, in just 3 days, takes in some of the best sites to visit in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is just a 3 hour flight from Florida, and 4 hours from New York. With tickets sometimes as low as $80 roundtrip during low seasons, it’s the perfect weekend getaway. All you’ll need is a weekend, an airplane ticket, a carry-on bag, and this three-day itinerary.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- 3 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary
- How to Get Around in Puerto Rico
- Tips for Planning a Weekend in Puerto Rico
- Tip #1 – Stay in San Juan
- Tip #2 – Rent a Car
- Tip #3 – Or Take a Tour
- Tip #4 – Arrive in Puerto Rico A Day Early (if You Can)
- Tip #5 – Avoid Peak Traffic Hours
- Tip #6 – Customize Your Itinerary
- Tip #7 – Arrive at the Right Airport
- Tip #8 – Add a Day to Your Trip
- Tip #9 – Make Arrangements With Your Hotel
- Tip #10 – Avoid the Hurricane Season
- Tip #11 – Travel During Low Season
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3 Day Puerto Rico Itinerary
Day 1 – El Yunque, Luquillo and Fajardo
After checking in early at your San Juan accommodation, leave your bags and grab some gear for a day outdoors, including your swimsuit, towel, and sneakers. As tempting as it might be to explore Old San Juan right away, you’ll want to save it for the last day when you need to stick closer to the airport.
Rent a car and drive towards the east coast of Puerto Rico until reaching Río Grande city, where you’ll visit El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the United States Forest System. El Yunque is home to hundreds of endangered species, four types of forest, and some of the best waterfalls in Puerto Rico.
👉 Pro Tip: If you’re planning to visit La Coca Falls or Juan Diego Falls, then you need to buy a ticket to enter El Yunque on Recreation.gov. If you can’t book tickets, then you can visit other areas of El Yunque that are open to the public without a ticket. Check out my guide to El Yunque National Forest to know which areas to visit.
Once mid-day arrives, head down PR 191, El Yunque’s main street, and set your GPS to Los Kioskos de Luquillo, a beachfront line of food stalls that sell the best Puerto Rico dishes, including mofongo. Following lunch, walk over to Luquillo Beach and enjoy a local fritter like alcapurria while bathing in the sun and refreshing yourself in the water.
But don’t take too long – while the sun is still up and high, get back on the road and head off to Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve in Fajardo. Here, you’ll find plenty of beaches to explore. Make sure you snap great pictures in Playa Colorá, hike to Playa Escondida, and snorkel on Seven Seas Beach.
After you’ve done enough beach hopping, visit one of the many restaurants in Las Croabas and enjoy the best of fresh seafood. Then, take a stroll through the beachfront area. Once the evening arrives, move on to Laguna Grande in Fajardo, where you’ll kayak in one of the three bioluminescent bodies of Puerto Rico.
Finish your night by heading back to Old San Juan for a night of good rest.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: El Conquistador Resort ($$$, kids waterpark, and private island), St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort ($$$$, luxury hotel)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Latin Burger Grill ($$), Luquillo Food Kiosks ($-$$$), Kalizo Kiosko ($$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: El Chinchorro de J ($), Soto Sports Bar and Restaurant ($$)
Day 2 – Cabo Rojo and Rincón
On your second day in Puerto Rico, grab an early breakfast at Café Manolín in Old San Juan and pack your things for a day trip to the west side of Puerto Rico. First, drive to the southwest tip of the island to Cabo Rojo.
The trip from San Juan takes three hours, but Cabo Rojo boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Rico and top-notch panoramic views of the west.
Start your day at the Pink Salt Lakes in the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge and follow the trails in the refuge until you find the stone bridge. Later, head over to Los Morillo’s Lighthouse to enjoy stunning views of the west coast, where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet.
Continue driving inside the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge and reach the hidden Playuela beach, where you can relax and bathe under the sun. Although it’s difficult to drive along the bumpy road, Puerto Ricans love this beach and it’s often considered one of Puerto Rico’s best beaches.
For lunch, drive to the Boquerón neighborhood where you can enjoy lunch at any of the local restaurants and take a stroll through the beach boardwalk. If you’re not in the mood to dine in, buy a local fritter and sit down at Boquerón Beach, where you can witness Puerto Rico’s lively culture on Saturdays.
Following lunch, continue driving north for about one hour until reaching the popular city of Rincón. Make Playa Escalera your first stop for some great snorkeling (during the low-tide season) or just a relaxing beach walk with lots of scenery. Try reaching the concrete steps on the shore that give the beach its name.
A short car ride away you’ll find the town center, where you can shop local independent brands and grab a quick snack.
Continue navigating further north to Punta Higüera Lighthouse, one of Puerto Rico’s historical lighthouses and a popular spot to see whales during the whale season. From the lighthouse park, you can also see Desecheo Island and Domes Beach, which you shouldn’t miss if you’re a surfing enthusiast.
For dinner, head over to the Beach House, where you can finish your day watching a breathtaking sunset and spend the rest of the night listening to live music and eating great food. But don’t stay out too late! The trip back to San Juan is three hours.
📚 Related Reading: 19 Best Things to Do in Rincon
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Combate Beach Resort ($$, beachfront location), Coconut Palms Inn ($$, budget-friendly)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Buena Vibra ($$), Pelican’s Boqueron ($$), The Beach House ($$),
- 🍺 Where to Drink: World Cup Beer and Drinks ($$), Rincón Beer Company ($$)
Day 3 – Old San Juan, Condado, and Piñones
Start day three of your Puerto Rico itinerary by walking through Cuartel de Ballajá, one of the most iconic buildings in Old San Juan, and stop for breakfast at Don Ruiz. After you’re done, cross the street to El Morro – with over 400 years of history, this is one of two forts of Old San Juan and one of Puerto Rico’s famous landmarks.
By mid-morning, walk to Castillo San Cristóbal, the other historical fort in Old San Juan, with amazing tunnels, a courtyard, and one of the best San Juan views. Later, stop at La Vergüenza to enjoy a local lunch or a refreshing drink and head back to your hotel for check out.
After you’re done, stop by Fortaleza street where you’ll find decorations, shops, restaurants, and the governor’s mansion known as La Fortaleza. If you’re into shopping and good food, then continue exploring Old San Juan cobblestone streets like Calle del Sol, Calle San Sebastián, Calle del Cristo, and Calle San Francisco until you reach Paseo de la Princesa.
Once you snap your best picture of the San Juan Bay next to the Raíces Fountain, continue along Paseo de la Princesa until reaching San Juan’s Gate, the only remaining gate of the multiple that once protected the old city.
After a day of walking, get your car rental and drive to Condado, where you can spend an hour or two bathing in Playita del Condado, Ocean Park Beach, or kayaking in the Condado Lagoon.
If you rather be closer to the airport, then visit Piñones instead, an extremely popular partying spot and a great destination to try Puerto Rican food like fried plantains, mofongo, and piña colada. Not far from Piñones, you’ll find Isla Verde beach, where you can watch the sunset and enjoy the last swim before heading back to the airport.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Sheraton Old San Juan ($$$, centrally located), Hotel El Convento ($$$$, luxury hotel), Casa Blanca Hotel ($$, budget-friendly)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Deaverdura ($), Marmalade ($$$$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: La Factoría ($$), La Vergüenza ($$)
How to Get Around in Puerto Rico
The main transportation methods in Puerto Rico include renting a car, taking the bus, or catching a train. Although the buses and the train run around the metropolitan area, they do not reach the entire island. Visitors that want to explore cities on the east, west, or south of Puerto Rico will need to rent a car.
Another downside of public transportation is that it’s time-consuming, and the times of arrival and departure are unreliable. So if you’re short on time, you should definitely opt for renting a car to complete your Puerto Rico itinerary. See my guide to renting for tips or just use Discover Cars to find the cheapest deals.
Tips for Planning a Weekend in Puerto Rico
Tip #1 – Stay in San Juan
Trying to explore Puerto Rico in just three days can be a challenge and you can easily get exhausted by trying to fit too much in. If you’d rather avoid driving around and stressing about itineraries, then spend your weekend in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Especially if you’re just staying in Old San Juan, you won’t necessarily need a car, as the entire neighborhood is walkable. San Juan also features scooters that allow you to easily move between Old San Juan, Condado, and Santurce.
There are many attractions in the capital city itself, from nice beaches to nightlife and most attractions are within walking distance.
Tip #2 – Rent a Car
If you’re having a quick weekend getaway in Puerto Rico, but you still don’t want to spend all of your weekend in San Juan, then you’ll definitely need to rent a car. Renting a car gives you time flexibility, but it also allows you to go wherever you want.
There isn’t public transportation that runs around the island so you won’t be able to reach certain destinations outside San Juan without a car of your own or without paying high fees for a taxi ride.
See my full guide to how to rent a car in Puerto Rico.
Tip #3 – Or Take a Tour
Another option for the visitors that want to venture out of San Juan but don’t want to rent a car is to book a multi-destination guided tour. Some tours take you on day trips to the main attractions of the island. Check out Viator’s Puerto Rico tour page to find the tours that fit your itinerary and your taste the best.
Tip #4 – Arrive in Puerto Rico A Day Early (if You Can)
If you’re visiting Puerto Rico during the weekend, then try to make it a long weekend so you can either take more time exploring certain areas or add more destinations to your Puerto Rico itinerary. If you can’t visit during a long weekend, then try to arrive on the island Thursday night, so you can start your itinerary early on Friday.
Tip #5 – Avoid Peak Traffic Hours
Puerto Rico’s traffic is no joke, and getting stuck in it can easily consume a lot of your precious vacation time. While the traffic is lighter during the weekends, you’ll find more locals in popular places like beaches, bars, and restaurants. Start your day trips early in the morning to avoid traffic.
See my guide to driving in Puerto Rico for more tips.
Tip #6 – Customize Your Itinerary
There are all kinds of places you can visit in Puerto Rico, but if you’re short on time, then make sure your itinerary includes your top attractions. As much as El Yunque National Forest is a famous landmark, if you’re not into nature, exteriors, and muddy hiking trails, then you should drop it from the visit list.
Tip #7 – Arrive at the Right Airport
If you already stayed a weekend in San Juan and you want to explore other areas in Puerto Rico, you can choose to arrive at an airport other than San Juan Airport. Puerto Rico’s airports include the Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla, the Antonio Rivera Rodríguez Airport in Vieques, and Mercedita International Airport in Ponce.
📚 Related Reading: Do You Need a Passport to Go to Puerto Rico?
Tip #8 – Add a Day to Your Trip
Vieques and Culebra are Puerto Rico municipality islands with beautiful beaches and pristine nature. Visiting them during a three-day short trip to Puerto Rico is almost impossible unless you prioritize them over other attractions on the island. Still, a visit to both islands would take at least two days.
Adding one extra day to your itinerary or visiting during a long weekend will give you the chance to explore Vieques or Culebra.
Tip #9 – Make Arrangements With Your Hotel
Check-ins and check-outs in hotels in Puerto Rico are done during specific hours. After you book your hotel or apartment rental, make sure to look at the check-in and check-out hours. If they don’t meet your schedule, then try to make the arrangements ahead of time to do early check-in and late check-out if necessary.
Not all hotels allow their guests to do a late check-out, but you could ask if it’s possible to store your luggage until you leave for the airport.
👉 Want to Learn More? Check out my top Puerto Rico Travel Tips!
Tip #10 – Avoid the Hurricane Season
Puerto Rico has a hurricane season from June to November, but this doesn’t mean that hurricanes affect the island directly every year. The last hurricane to affect Puerto Rico directly was Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Still, visiting during the Puerto Rico hurricane season involves a higher risk of facing hazardous weather. Since you only have a few days on the island, it’s best practice to travel outside the hurricane season as the effects of a storm can ruin your short vacation.
Tip #11 – Travel During Low Season
While the hurricane season could affect your trip negatively, it’s also the low season in Puerto Rico. If you want to spend less time waiting in line in La Placita on a Saturday night, or find parking on a popular beach, then traveling during Puerto Rico’s low season is your best option.
World-famous beaches in destinations like Culebra and waterfalls in El Yunque are usually empty during the low season. It’s the perfect way to both see these amazing things without the crowds and to save time exploring.
👉 Pro Tip: If you want to travel to Puerto Rico during the hurricane season, then make sure you get travel insurance for your trip. World Nomads travel insurance covers you in case any type of hazardous weather affects your trip, so you can book your Puerto Rico ticket worry-free.
Thanks for reading my guide to a 3 day weekend in Puerto Rico! A weekend is more than enough to cover most of the top things to do in Puerto Rico and have a good time.
Have fun on your weekend in Puerto Rico!