girl standing with her arms out in front of the I love PR sign - taking photos during our 3 days in Puerto Rico

Ultimate Guide for 3 Days in Puerto Rico

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Last Updated on February 25, 2024

Have a blast for 3 Days in Puerto Rico

Spending a long weekend in Puerto Rico? Follow this fun itinerary to enjoy Puerto Rico in 3 days, including multiple different types of activities like a natural rock slide, riding a ferry to a small island, hiking to waterfalls, relaxing on beautiful beaches, and exploring the rainforest.  Puerto Rico has enough to keep any type of traveler entertained.  

Plan your 3 day trip to Puerto Rico with all of my tips contained in this Puerto Rico travel blog in order to experience all that this magnificent island has to offer! I have even added some optional activities on each day so that you can extend your Puerto Rico itinerary into the evening.

The Ultimate Guide to Puerto Rico Itinerary:

Do you have 4 days in Puerto Rico?
I have also included an optional extension for a 4 day Puerto Rico Itinerary

Three Day Puerto Rico Itinerary

2 people sitting on a rock at a beach in San Juan on a 3-day trip to Puerto Rico
Playa Pena in Old San Juan

Click on the Table of Contents to jump to your favorite Puerto Rico activities for more details about the 3 day Puerto Rico itinerary.

Get a Rental Car in Puerto Rico

If you are venturing out of San Juan, you will probably need a rental car in Puerto Rico. There are a few day trips that you will want to include on your Puerto Rico itinerary. Getting a rental car and driving in Puerto Rico is easy and I have made a handy guide with tips to make it even EASIER!!

DAY ONE of a 3 day vacation to Puerto Rico

couple hugging in front of green nature in El Yunque National Forest on a vacation in Puerto Rico for 3 days
Spending Day One in El Yunque National Forest

The first day of our three days in Puerto Rico was my personal favorite, as it included natural rock slides, exploring the El Yunque Rainforest, swimming under waterfalls, taking in breathtaking views, relaxing in the hot sun at a beautiful Puerto Rican beach, ATVing, and even bioluminescent kayaking! 

If you follow our Puerto Rico 3 day itinerary, your trip will be filled with just as many fun activities, so grab your pen to write them down to help you fully experience Puerto Rico. 

Spending a Day at El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico

People standing on a trail on a stone bridge while Hiking in El Yunque National Forest
Make sure to spend at least one day in Puerto Rico at El Yunque National Forest

On our first day in Puerto Rico, we went to El Yunque National Rainforest, one of the only tropical rainforests in North America.  It is 28,000 acres, the largest region in Puerto Rico, containing mountain peaks, jungle vegetation, and many waterways.

You MUST include this on your Puerto Rico itinerary. You can tour El Yunque on your own like we did, or choose one of the fun-filled tours to El Yunque Rainforest.

Do you need a RESERVATION for El Yunque National Forest?

Although El Yunque National Forest is a popular place to visit, reservations for entrance to El Yunque are now not required.  It is currently operating on a first-come basis, however there is currently a capacity limit to ensure public safety. The park allows the first 200 cars in line at the gate when it opens.  After that, the gate is closed until the next 20 cars have left the park. They then allow 20 more cars to enter.

Make sure you check El Yunque U.S. Forest website for updates to El Yunque entrance policies.

PRO TIP:  Arrive early in the morning to be one of the first in line.  OR arrive later after the busy morning rush hour has finished.

PRO TIP: I would suggest printing out a map of the stops beforehand so you can plan your visit to see all of the interesting stops in El Yunque National Forest.

Our trip through El Yunque Rainforest 

Rainforest day was the most unique and exciting day because we got to experience waterfalls, natural slides, old towers in the rainforest, and plenty of different exquisite views.

Want even more details about exploring El Yunque on your own?

Read about and follow our detailed El Yunque itinerary with all the best photo stops here:

PRO TIP: Before you start your Puerto Rico road trip and head out to the rainforest, stop at the Puertorrican Bakery for breakfast. I would 100% recommend getting a ham and cheese croissant sandwich and splitting it with someone because they are HUGE! We also got some donuts to eat for a snack later since we wouldn’t be eating lunch for a while. 

El Yunque Rainforest Tour Options

If you don’t want to drive yourself through there are plenty of private and group tours through El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico.  Some of them leave from San Juan, some of them include a hotel pick-up, and some include a hidden waterfall!  

Natural Rock Slide: Las Paylas

girl in a tank top sliding down a waterfall on a natural slide in puerto rico

The natural rock slide was by far the best El Yunque Rainforest experience.  It is a must-do on your Puerto Rico travel itinerary! It is in a little town where you have to park on the side of the street at a local guy’s house. He will be outside and direct you to go down the muddy hill to the rocks. He accepts donations for parking. 

PRO TIP: Be prepared to get muddy before you even get to the slide!

The natural rock slide was so exhilarating! It was a long, long way on the natural slide to get to the bottom and into the water. I would definitely recommend for everyone to try the entire rock slide- from top to bottom. 

We spent a few hours at the Natural Rock Slide and you can read the details and hints about finding Las Paylas, the hidden natural rock slide at our detailed guide: 

OPTIONAL Puerto Rico Itinerary- Day one

There will be time leftover on your first day in Puerto Rico. There are several options for the remainder of your first day if you are wondering what can you do in Puerto Rico in the evening. Keep reading the Puerto Rico vacation blog for some great ideas for activities in Puerto Rico!

Luquillo Beach

water coming on shore of a beach while tourists are visiting the Beach in Lulquillo during 3 days in Puerto Rico
Enjoy the calm water at Luquillo Beach Puerto Rico after a busy day of hiking

After the exciting experience in the rainforest and on the rock slide, we decided to head to the beach to relax in the hot sun. Luquillo Beach is only a 15-minute drive from El Yunque National Forest. It is known for the many coconut palm trees and miles of soft white sand.

The Luquillo Beach kiosks are a bunch of food kiosks, restaurants, and souvenir shops – with the bonus of a big beautiful beach right behind it all. All of the shops and restaurants were spread out in a row close to the beach – with most of the kiosks providing a beautiful ocean view and fresh air on their back patio. On the beach, there are also public bathrooms with showers, water-based activities available for rent, and beach chairs and umbrellas.

We decided to go to Luquillo Beach after our trip through El Yunque and the Natural Slide. It was rainy by the time we got to the beach so we decided to eat at one of the restaurants called El Jefe Burgers and Mojito Factory. It was very yummy and we were so full so we decided to walk around and shop to burn off the calories we just consumed!

Definitely spend some time relaxing on this beach as the sand is super soft and they have beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent from a vendor that will set up for the day. This is perfect for a relaxing evening after all the hiking through the forest! 

Off Road in an ATV through Puerto Rico

Choose a “Ride of a Lifetime” as you race through the lush Puerto Rican forest and countryside in an all-terrain vehicle.  Take command of your own ATV with family and friends or ride solo through the scenic mountains, mangroves, and lagoons with a professional guide.  Some of the ATV tours offer transportation from San Juan hotels and some end the tour at a refreshing Mojito Bar where you will be able to quench your thirst after your exhilarating ride.

Zoom through the landscapes with these popular Puerto Rico ATV Tours:

Bioluminescent Kayaking

Blue Bioluminescent Plankton in Puerto Rico
Visit the bio bay Puerto Rico, Photo by Daniela Turcanu on Unsplash

After ALL the activities on day one, you have to finish it off with a blast! Spending the whole day in the water just means that you should spend the night in the water as well. What better way to do that than in a kayak paddling in bioluminescent water?

As someone who loves being around water, kayaking was an obvious yes for me. Even better; it was at night time and we would be able to see the bioluminescent plankton in the water when we moved our paddles or our kayak. It was like glow-in-the-dark kayaking. The Bio Bay Puerto Rico tours are near Luquillo Beach, so it is a good idea to head over there when the sun starts setting. 

Put bioluminescent bay Puerto Rico on your must-see list!

DAY TWO of a 3 day vacation to Puerto Rico

On your second day staying in Puerto Rico, of course, you have to dedicate a day to learning about the history. What better way to do that than walking around the old city of San Juan while admiring and taking pictures of the exquisite historical architecture. There are some great Instagram spots in San Juan Puerto Rico.

Make sure to include a walking tour when you plan your 3 day itinerary San Juan Puerto Rico

Walk around Old San Juan

old stone building fort-EL Morro Entrance- fort in old san juan puerto rico
Visiting the forts in Old San Juan should be a part of your Puerto Rico Itinerary

San Juan Puerto Rico is older than any city in the USA and there is a lot of history to explore on this prominent island in the Caribbean.  The old San Juan city has more than 500 years of European history behind it and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The entire city is walkable, so you can walk around old San Juan city in just a day.  Sprinkled throughout the cobblestone streets of old San Juan are historic forts, colorful buildings with beautiful architecture, the Capitol Building of Puerto Rico, many memorials, and even a relaxing beach.

Follow our walking tour of San Juan in this detailed post:

Don't want to plan your own walking tour of San Juan?
Take a guided tour to see all the sites in Old Town during your trip to Puerto Rico

OPTIONAL Puerto Rico Itinerary- Day two

Salsa Dancing

On this night, a cool experience would be to take a salsa dancing class either by yourself or with a partner! Some of the classes take place outside in a park near Old San Juan. 

Once you have learned the steps, or if you already know how to salsa, there are many local bars and clubs that have nightly salsa dancing at their establishments. Take your dancing buddy and opt for a night out!

Night Out in Old San Juan

taco dinner ingredients in the kitchen of hotel room in Old San Juan Puerto Rico

After our first day in Puerto Rico, we headed back to our suite at Fortaleza Suites in Old San Juan. We used our big kitchen to make tacos for dinner.

If you are not too tired from your exciting day, there are still many options for an exciting evening in Puerto Rico. You can find a local Mojito Bar where you can cool down with refreshing drinks. Another option is the dance the night away at one of the local bars, some featuring salsa dancing on certain nights!

It was a long day, so a few of us went shopping at the souvenir shops all around downtown and then went back for the night. It was an amazing, eventful, and unforgettable first day in Puerto Rico!

lady standing on the balcony with lights Enjoying the Puerto Rico city streets at night in san Juan
Enjoy a night in the streets of San Juan on your Puerto Rico trip

DAY THREE of a 3 day vacation to Puerto Rico

After learning about all the exciting history in San Juan, it is time to relax and enjoy the sandy beach in the sun. Put on your bathing suits and grab your towels - don’t forget the sunscreen! - and get ready for a fun-filled day in the water. Pinones Beach is the perfect spot to visit in Puerto Rico to catch some rays and swim with friends and family. Pinones also has some Puerto Rico food kiosks with local food to try.

Pinones Beach

palm tree on the beach in front of the water as travelers are Enjoying the Beach in Pinones during our 3 day trip to Puerto Rico
Strong ocean breeze at Pinones Beach in Puerto Rico

This was your typical palm tree, clear water, soft sand beach - but nothing is wrong about that! What stood out to me at Pinones Beach was the HUGE sandbar that stood out of the water. We swam over to it against the current and we were able to hop onto it and stand completely out of the water. It was perfect for sunbathing because we could lay out in the middle of the water on the sandbar while water was just barely touching our skin. 

PRO TIP: Warning - It is difficult to swim that far out against the current. BE CAUTIOUS with those that aren’t good swimmers.

At Pinones Beach, there are plenty of palm trees to lay your towels, and also plenty of open areas in the sun to catch some rays. Pinones beach was pretty big, but it allowed our family to have some privacy and spend quality time together. 

PRO TIP:  There are outhouse restrooms across the street near the food kiosks.

Pinones Beach Food Kiosks: Puerto Rican Food

Colorful buildings of Pinones Food Kiosks near the beach in Puerto Rico
Visiting the Pinones food kiosks on a three-day vacation in Puerto Rico

There is easy and free parking at the beach near the Pinones Food Kiosks.  We parked on the side of the street across from the beach, near the Puerto Rican food kiosks. There is also parking right in front of all the kiosks.  When we were there, most of the kiosks were closed because it was during the week. 

We did find one open kiosk when we walked from the beach to get some authentic Puerto Rican food for lunch. 

Everything was in Spanish, and the people working there only spoke Spanish, so the language barrier created a problem for us. We had to use google translate to order our food. My twin sister tried ordering what she thought was loaded fries, but it was actually a coconut!

girl sitting at a table Enjoying a coconut at Pinones Beach on a Puerto Rico vacation
Enjoying a coconut at Pinones Beach food kiosks on a Puerto Rico vacation

They fried them right up in front of us at the kiosk and we tried a sample of each of the foods.  We, of course, started with piononos!  They were filled with ground beef, plantains, cheese, and a whole lot of flavor.  We also made sure to try some pastellillos, bacalaitos, and alcapurrias!  

Want a full description of all the authentic Puerto Rican food we tried at the Pinones kiosks?

Find the BEST tours in Puerto Rico

Day 4 - Puerto Rico in 4 days!

You can explore quite a bit on a vacation with 3 days in Puerto Rico, but if you have even more time to spend, I have an optional activity to add if you are planning a 4 day trip to Puerto Rico. A Puerto Rico 4 day itinerary gives you more time to explore the islands off of the coast of Puerto Rico in order to find even more exciting sites to see. Add this extra day to your trip to Puerto Rico!!!

Ferry to Culebra Island

military tank in the blue water on a beach at Flamenco Beach in Culebra in Puerto Rico
Add Culebra Island to your itinerary if you have 4 days in Puerto Rico

If you have at least 4 days in Puerto Rico, make sure that you add a day trip to Culebra to your itinerary.

Culebra is a small island that is 17 miles to the east of Puerto Rico’s main island and is known for its white sandy beaches and the best snorkeling and scuba diving in Puerto Rico.  There is a lot of marine life including cute sea turtles swimming around Culebra’s healthy coral reefs. For details and tips about what to see and which beaches to visit in Culebra, read my Culebra Day Trip article linked below.

Add a trip to Culebra to your itinerary for Puerto Rico 4 days!

Ferry to Vieques Island

Vieques Island is another small Puerto Rican island a short distance off of the main island. It is larger than Culebra and might be worth spending a couple of days touring, but if you only have one extra day in your itinerary, as we did, and Vieques is on your bucket list, I have a guide to planning the perfect Vieques Itinerary. Vieques has the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world --so that is at least ONE reason to make the trip there!

Where to stay for a trip to Puerto Rico

family of six stands outside the on the street in front of the lobby of a hotel in Puerto Rico before cruise

I definitely recommend staying in the heart of the city in San Juan, especially for a weekend trip to Puerto Rico. From that great location, you can plan all of your daily trips around Puerto Rico. It is especially convenient when your tour the capital city of San Juan because you can just walk to all the sites!

Our recommendation for a hotel in Puerto Rico: Fortaleza Suites in Old San Juan

The hotel we chose and would HIGHLY recommend staying at is Fortaleza Suites in Old San Juan. We had a huge suite with a balcony, 2 bedrooms, a loft with another bed, a nice bathroom and shower, a full dining room table, and a HUGE kitchen! The balcony overlooked the downtown streets of Old San Juan with souvenir shops and a few bars. We were able to walk to the grocery store our first night to get a few meals at SuperMax so that we could have a family dinner in our beautiful suite.

Check out Hot Deals for Hotels in Puerto Rico

How many days in Puerto Rico?

No matter how many days you spend in Puerto Rico you will have a fabulous time. We kept busy for 3 days in Puerto Rico and you can too if you follow this itinerary! Even if you have 4 days in Puerto Rico, I have added a bonus idea. Use this ultimate guide to plan your itinerary for Puerto Rico. Let me know what other ideas I have missed since there are a lot of other sites to see on this beautiful island.

Planning a trip to Puerto Rico? Pin it for later!

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I always wanted to visit Puerto Rico, it looks amazing! And you have so many great tips… El Yunque Forest really caught my eye! Saving it for my future travels!

Thanks for all the ideas for visiting Puerto Rico! My last visit was on a cruise, so we just had one day in Old San Juan. We’ll have to go back and explore more of the island!

You are right. It is a very common cruise port and most people only get to see Old San Juan. Next trip to Puerto Rico you can see even more!

So many amazing things to do along with some great photos. Hope to travel to Puerto Rico so I will come back to this post.

The natural slide looks so fun! Did it hurt? Haha

no! I was surprised that it didn’t hurt! We wore some old clothes for protection just in case, but we didn’t need to.

I would love to plan a trip like this to Puerto Rico! It looks like there are some fantastic places to visit – thanks for the tips!

Great post, Puerto Rico is tempting 🙂

do it!! If you live in the US, you don’t even need a passport.

Fabulous itinerary. Lots to see and do. I look forward to experiencing your itinerary first-hand soon.

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