How to spend 4 days in Puerto Rico: Family Vacation guide

How to spend 4 days in Puerto Rico:  Family Vacation guide

This post was last updated on August 27th, 2021 at 01:59 am

posing in front of green pastel building in Old San Juan

Want to explore most of Puerto Rico on your next family trip but only have a few days? I have got you covered. We spent only 4 days in Puerto Rico and experienced so much this Island could offer us, even with a toddler! With its rich culture, ideal weather, turquoise waters, and historical sights, Puerto Rico is a great, quick, Caribbean escape.

In this post, I am sharing the ultimate guide on how to spend 4 days in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

If you have more than 4 days or have no age restrictions in the family, stick around till the end because I am also sharing some additional bucket list activities you should absolutely add to your list!

What to Know Before Your Trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico

  • Puerto Rico is a Caribbean Island with a year-round desirable warm temperature ranging from 70-80 Fahrenheit.
  • Because Puerto Rico is a US territory, American citizens do not even need a passport to travel here!
  • The most widely spoken languages in Puerto Rico are English and Spanish. The more you explore locally, the more Spanish you will hear. However, we had no issue with language even when exploring locally.
  • The Puerto Rican Currency is United States Dollar (USD).
  • Credit cards are widely accepted throughout the Island.
  • Visiting Puerto Rico is considered generally safe especially when you are visiting a big touristy city, like San Juan. Be aware that pickpocketing could take place in public transportation or if you leave things unattended.
  • Hurricanes are common in tropical places including Puerto Rico. Hurricane season in Puerto Rico starts in June through November. The island was terribly damaged from its latest hurricane Maria that happened in 2017. Puerto Rico is still recovering from that big damage.
  • Puerto Rico is NOT home to any indigenous wildlife. No snakes!
exploring colorful puerto rico streets

When to Visit Puerto Rico?

The best time to visit Puerto Rico is Mid April to June. Keep in mind since it is the most demanded season, airfare and hotel prices are higher. Hurricane season (June-November) attracts fewer tourists. Therefore, airfare and hotel prices drastically decrease. If you are traveling on a budget, off-season travel could be the best opportunity. If you decide to plan your trip during these months, make sure you check the weather conditions closer to your trip dates.

palms at condado beach, puerto rico

Are 4 Days in Puerto Rico Enough?

There is never enough time to explore every single sight, visit every beach, check every good restaurant, but we felt that four days was a decent amount of time to experience San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Where to Stay in Puerto Rico

1. Stay in Old San Juan

Old San Juan is the most colorful and historically rich place of San Juan. It is a must-visit during your 4 days (or more) in Puerto Rico. Here you will find the most historical monuments, nightlife, restaurants, and shops. Old San Juan is a safe place to stay for a few nights. It could be especially convenient for someone who is planning to do a lot of exploring around Old San Juan. Here are some of the great hotel options in Old San Juan.

women exploring colorful Old San Juan Streets in Puerto Rico

Old San Juan Hotels

Hotel El Convento – Located on one of the prettiest streets in Old San Juan, this is a luxury and historic hotel. Relax and unwind in hotel rooms that feature ornate handcrafted furniture, marble bathrooms, and Andalusian tile floors.

Casablanca Hotel – Great option in the center of the Old San Juan City. Located on Calle Fortaleza this hotel is conveniently located near all attractions you will most likely be exploring, including historical forts, shops, and restaurants.

The Decanter Hotel – Another great hotel in an 1880 colonial building conveniently located to main attractions of the Old San Juan city.

2. Stay in Condado

Located just minutes from the Old San Juan, Condado is considered to be the fashionable district. Its beautiful beachfront hotels and high-end stores make it a great choice for families and also for someone looking for more upscale vibes. We chose to stay in this area and think this was the ideal location for traveling with a kid.

Ocean view from Condado Vanderbilt resort in Puerto Rico

Condado Hotels

Condado Vanderbilt Hotel – This resort is only 15-20 minutes away from the Airport and is situated by the edge of the Atlantic ocean. A great option for adults or families traveling with kids.

La Concha – Another luxury resort just steps away from Condado beach. Offering chick rooms and breathtaking ocean views. With many restaurants, casinos, and nightlife.

Condado Ocean Club – Beautiful boutique hotel resort where you can stay and bring kids age 7 and less free of charge!

Below is my ultimate itinerary to spending 4 days in Puerto Rico

Day 1. Stay and Relax at Condano Vanderbilt Resort

Relax and explore around Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. Checking out from the airport, checking in to the hotel, and next, you know the half-day is gone. We usually like to stay at the resort on day 1. Explore around. Find out all about reservations, visit the concierge for any fun activity tours, and go to bed early for a full-day adventure on day 2.

Pina Colada in hand

the resort has multiple dining and bar options ranging from casual to fancy. As a family traveling with a toddler, we enjoyed our meals at the Ola Oceanfront Restaurant the most. There are 4 pools to choose from depending on the guest’s age and rules. Also, there is a spa.

For more hotel details check out Our Stay at the Condado Vanderbilt Resort.

Day 2. Explore Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Get Breakfast at Caficultura

Make sure you set your alarm early in the morning to head to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Also, skip the resort breakfast.

Start your day early with breakfast at Caficultura. A cute little cafe with delicious food and some top coffee selections! The staff is very welcoming and laid back. The interior is cute and clean. You may choose to have your breakfast inside or outside.

holding a cup of coffee at Caficultura Cafe in Old San Juan

I would highly recommend the egg benedict and chocolate mocha. The rest of the menu selection looked amazing as well. This place should not disappoint you.

Visit Castillo Felipe Del Morro (Simply El Morro)

After breakfast, head over to explore El Morro. This is one of the first forts built in 1539 by the Spanish to defend Puerto Rico from sea attacks by the Dutch, British, and Americas for over 400 years.

$10 entrance fee is valid for entrance to both Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristobal, which is another castle located in Old San Juan and definitely worth a quick visit. Children 15 and under can visit for free.

El Morro is located at the highest point of the Old San Juan Overlooking the Bay. Not only you will walk through history and learn about military life through exhibitions, but you will also enjoy the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, go through the tunnels and check out the WWII lookouts. This place is one of the most picturesque spots in whole Puerto Rico so make sure you visit it. set aside about 2 hours to spend on this sight.

Exploring El Morro Fort exhibitions

When you get tired of exploring you may move yourself and the rest of the family to the grass in front of the fort. Here you may purchase or bring your own kites to fly. This is considered a very fun activity for families with kids.

couple twirling

Tips When Visiting El Morro

  • Wear comfortable shoes and light clothes.
  • Bring your water bottle to hydrate. It gets very hot.
  • Bring a sun hat, sunglasses and apply some sunscreen.

Wonder Around Colorful Streets of Old San Juan

After exploring the fort, get yourself lost into Old San Juan streets. There are only 7 square blocks in Old San Juan. It is totally explorable in just one day. We returned for the second round only because we had to be back to the hotel for our kid’s naptime but if you are traveling without kids, you should be fine.

baby and mommy exploring Old San Juan Streets

Enjoy cobblestone streets and make sure you cool off inside the shops.

My favorite streets were Calle San Justo and Calle De La Luna. While every block is like a rainbow, these two were especially beautiful to me. (Check below picture)

Baby and Mom exploring Old San Juan

Grab Refreshment at Mercado La Caretta

No matter when you visit Puerto Rico, you may easily get dehydrated while exploring the city. Thankfully, there are many shops and cafes to getting inside to cool off. We actually randomly went to one of the gift shops to cool off a little.

colorful street in Old San Juan
Smoothie cups

Yet another best way to cool off is to get some cold refreshments at La Caretta. This street was my favorite. This brunch restaurant is located in between Luna and Tanca streets. Gorgeous! They offer brunch, lunch, tapas, cocktails, and delicious smoothies. We wish we had enough time to come back here for a lunch.

How to get around in San Juan

The best way to get around in San Juan, Puerto Rico is to rent a car. Make sure to have it reserved a few days earlier before you arrive. First, we thought we would not need it but later we regrated our decision.

The minute we decided to rent a car through the resort concierge, there were not any cars left for us so we had to get around by Uber. That was totally fine and nothing too expensive but a little time-consuming. The usual wait time was about 12-15 minutes or more. So if you are planning to get away from the resort a lot, invest in a car rental!

Day 3. Visit El Yunque Rainforest

Just about 45 minutes from San Juan, there is El Yunque National Forest. This is the only tropical rainforest in the US. It is an absolutely stunning forest to visit with the family when in Puerto Rico. We felt comfortable taking our kid with us as well. However, you may need to check the age requirements if you are purchasing a tour.

El Yunque Rainforest plants

Best way to get to El Yunque Rainforest

Remember Ubers are not allowed in the park. One of the best ways to get here is by tour bus.

Our Experience

The tour started with an interpretative hike into the foothills of the forest. The guide was very informative and friendly. Since the major waterfall trails are now closed for the public (Including La Mina Waterfall) we had a relatively easy and short hike that was ideal for my son. If you are planning to hike one of the most popular trails to La Mina Waterfall, you may need to reconsider taking kids under eight with you.

mom and baby walking into the El Yunque Rainforest

El Yunque is the home of thousands of native plants and trees. Large animals or poisonous snakes are not found here but there are a lot of small animals such as Puerto Rico parrot and tree frogs called “Coqis”.

Baby and mom hiking in El Yunque Rainforest

Just about steps away from the parked bus, there was a river where we stopped. Here you may swim and rope jump. Make sure you have your swimwear under the hiking clothes, water shoes, and a towel.

On our way back the tour stopped at the local beach kiosks for delicious empanadas and alccapurias. The beach is also a very popular place so you may stay here and get back to the hotel on your own if you do not want to be rushed by the tour bus.

Day 4. Beach. Local Food. Sunset.

On your day 4 visit the local beach. Puerto Rico is famous for its turquoise waters and white-sand beaches. make sure you spend some time there.

Beaches in San Juan Puerto Rico

Condado beach is considered one of the best beaches in San Juan. Here you will find some of the most gorgeous resorts. We stayed at Condado Vanderbilt resort located on this beach and had the pleasure of relaxing on their public beach as well as a private beach. For more beach options, you may also check out Escambron Beach and Luquillo beach.

Watching the ocean at condado beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Try the Local food

After the beach, head over to try some local food! No matter how good the resort food is, you should absolutely try Puerto Rican cuisine. Some of the most famous dishes here are mofongo, empanadillas, and Pollo Guido.

Entrance of local food cafe in Puerto Rico

For an amazing Caribbean cuisine, we headed to La Casita Blanca. This Puerto Rican restaurant is located about 20 minutes away from the Condado resort. The location is not the most attractive spot but wait until you go inside and try the food.

Local restaurant decor in Puerto Rico
Local Puerto Rico dishes

From the moment you enter you will be greeted warmly. The interior is super casual. The atmosphere is very homey. I instantly fell in love with the place.

We ordered few dishes to try and they were all so good!

Later for the day stroll by the beach (If staying in Condado) and enjoy the Caribbean sunset. You may also take this opportunity on day 4 and book the sunset sailboat ride.

Other Local places to eat in Puerto Rico

  • Cayo Caribe – This place is popular for its seafood selection, high end service, and lovely environment.
  • Barracchina – Local place to try Puerto Rican cuisine. They also offer other international dishes on top of local food selection.
  • Cafe Monolin– Popular for its Puerto Rican cuisine, this restaurant is located in Old San Juan. If you are planing to try Mofongo (Puerto Rican Dish) then this should be the spot.

Other Bucket List Activities in Puerto Rico

Do you plan to spend more than 4 days in Puerto Rico? Or are you traveling without little kids? If you answered yes, I have two more amazing adventures for you to add to your list. You do not want to miss out on these.

Day Trip to Culebra Island

Put aside one full day to escape to one of the most beautiful and secluded Islands in the world! A day trip to Culebra Island is one of the best adventures you can do in Puerto Rico.

From San Juan to Fajardo to Ferry, you will be cruising around the beautiful waters and eating delicious food, and enjoying refreshments. From there you will have a short sail to reach the stunning Flamenco beach and enjoy water activities and relax on the prettiest beach you will see in Puerto Rico.

Experience Bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo

For the families who want to experience one of the most magical natural phenomenons in Puerto Rico, kayak tours of a bioluminescent lagoon should be one of the top things. Here you can spot millions of illuminated planktons that light up in the water while kayaking through the night.

While this sounds like a fun excursion, there are age restrictions. You can only take kids 6 years and over. Even if you have older kids, make sure they are comfortable with the night tour, being in the kayak instead of a bed.

Our plan is to revisit Puerto Rico with no age restrictions at some point to experience this adventure.

What to Pack for your 4 days trip to Puerto Rico

  • Swim Suits
  • Sunhat
  • Camera
  • Waterproof Bag
  • Sunglasses
  • Light umbrella
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Windproof Travel Umbrella
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Water Shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Colorful Clothes

Are you looking for a full packing list? Check out the ultimate beach vacation packing guide.

When are you planning to visit Puerto Rico? Are you going to do any of the activities found in this post? Comment below.

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