One Week in Puerto Rico: Itinerary & Budget Breakdown

Last year I spent my Spring Break in London, England. It was not bad by any means, but let’s just say I wasn’t drinking mojitos in my bikini at any point during the trip… Well this year I knew better and planned a fun-filled, sun-filled week in Puerto Rico!

My friend Hannah and I spent 6 days and 5 nights in an AirBnB in Old San Juan and had an amazing time—and as college kids you know we had to finesse it all on a budget. So I’m sharing with you our itinerary and a break down of the average prices in Puerto Rico, in hopes that you too will find San Juan the perfect Spring Break balance of piña coladas and culture!

Day 1: Touchdown in OSJ

We landed at 2:30PM March 7, 2016 in San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, and took a taxi into Old San Juan to our AirBnb. The AirBnB itself was perfect for us, and we were within walking distance to a local university, museum, and of course the infamous El Morro. We dropped off our things and walked around (but not in) El Morro, and down by San Juan’s Cemetery.

Old San Juan, PR

Blue alleyway in Old San Juan

View From El Morro

View from Castillo El Morro

As evening approached we walked into inner Old San Juan (OSJ) down Calle de San Sebastion. Somehow we ran into a group of Hannah’s friends. No seriously, what are the chances of running into a friend from home in Puerto Rico!? It was a nice surprise though as we then joined them for dinner at a restaurant called Moreno Spot. I ordered a very strong margarita and a small pizza. (I know, typical American ordering pizza in a foreign country, but it was the cheapest thing they had and I had just gotten there!)

Expenses of the Day

Old San Juan is very expensive for food and drinks! If you have a kitchen I suggest a mix of cooking for yourself and eating out. Also, college pro tip, if you buy your own bottle of alcohol and just carry a flask with you while you’re out you can just pay for a soft drink instead of mixed drink. Taxi’s are also going to be significant part of your expenses if you don’t rent a car.
Taxi from Luis Muñoz Marín airport to OSJ: $24
Average meal at a casual restaurant: $20 – $25
Average alcoholic drink (rail drinks, mojito, margarita, piña colada, etc.):  $7 – $12
Average soft drink: ~ $2
Average car rental: $65/day
Average taxi ride: $15 – $20
Average AirBnb per day in OSJ: $80

Day 2: El Morro, Bacardi Tour

Today we woke up early and bought groceries from a local Walgreens. After eating, we walked to El Morro and did the actual tour. It was breathtaking, hopefully as demonstrated by the photos! The fresh sea breeze and wide open skies were in complete contrast with the magnitude of the weathered fortress.

Hannah and I at El Morro

We’re on that ultralight beam, San Juan style!

Bacardi Factory

Bacardi Factory

We then went to went on to the Bacardi tour in Cataño, a town just a 15 minute ferry ride away. The tour itself was moderately interesting, but it was fun to get out of San Juan a little and we had a fun time just relaxing and sipping out complimentary Bacardi drinks (buy sipping I mean gulping, and by relaxing I mean ascending to heaven).

The night started out pretty slow at Señor Frog’s, but definitely picked up after we made our way NoNo’s, the absurdly loud bar near our house. It’s a two-level bar/club, and after having the strongest drinks of our lives at the lower bar we headed upstairs and played pool with some locals. Eventually the night did start to blur… but luckily for us we were within crawling distance to our AirBnb, hehe.

Expenses of the Day

The ticket to gain entrance into El Morro can also be used for entrance into Cristobal; and it can be reused for entrance to both forts as many times as you like for up to a week after the date you bought it!
– Ticket for El Morro
: $5
Ferry ticket to Cataño: 50¢/person
– Taxi ride to and from pier to Bacardi factory: $3
Bacardi factory basic tour: $13.38 each, which includes the informational tour and one free drink.
Bus ticket from pier back to OSJ: 50¢/person . The bus system is very unreliable though, so it will likely be $5 per person for a taxi ride back.

Day 3: El Condado Beach!

After waking up much later than planned (read: moaning in bed all morning taking Aleve and wearing sunglasses inside), we decided the perfect cure was a beach day! We caught a taxi to El Condado Beach, and laid out on our towels to enjoy the palm trees and 80°. While on the beach we befriended two more local Puertorriqueños and grabbed lunch at Bun’s Burger Shop, a local favorite (at least says those two), and the food was great! After that we headed back to the beach where we stayed for a few hours until the weather had a turn, and we headed back to OSJ.

El Condado Beach.Packslight

El Condado could not have had more perfect weather!

Fruit Sherbert

I’m not ashamed that these delicious sherberts were 86.8% of my diet that week.

After a home cooked meal and siesta, we headed over to Señor Frogs to try our luck again and were not dissapointed! Luckily for us it was ladies night, so drinks were endless and so was the dancing. The venue was packed with partiers of all ages (believe me, from girls with braces to old men with toupees) and every was into the awesome MC that led the party! We stayed and shredded the dance floor until around 12:30AM, and then headed back to our AirBnb exhausted in the best way.

Expenses of the Day

– Taxi from OSJ to main El Condado beach: $15
– Hot dog, fries, drink at Bun’s Burger Shop: $13 (god bless a reasonably priced meal)
Señor Frog’s Ladies Night: ladies pay $8 and drink free all night!

Day 4: Salsa Night

Sun burnt and still drained from Señor Frogs, we decided this was our designated “chill day”. We headed to the Museum of the America’s, a 2 minute walk from our house. Of course it it had gorgeous architecture, and learning about the history of Puerto Rico in respect to African slavery, indigenous peoples, culture, and it’s political history really helped put the entire trip into perspective! We grabbed lunch and stopped by the other fort, San Cristobal, to take pictures and see the views before heading back to our AirBnb to regroup.

Museum of the Americas

Museum of the Americas, Old San Juan

To match our relaxed day we decided to start the night by checking out Café Nuyorican, a place frequently recommended to us.  We arrived at 10pm (early, apparently, for Puerto Ricans), and were happily surprised that there were free salsa lessons that night. We learned the basic salsa steps, and practiced with other people taking the lesson and got to struggle and laugh together. Around 11pm the actual club scene started as the live band showed up and the venue got more and more packed. We had the time of our lives dancing, drinking, and especially watching the experienced salsa couples twirl their lives away!

 

Budget Tips

You can leave and return to the Museum of the America’s as many times as you link in one day (to grab lunch, to run back to your hotel, etc.), but keep your receipt on you.
Also, Café Nuyorican is not at 312 Sebastian St. as your GPS will tell you(!!!). It’s located on a nearby side street; ask any local or police man for directions—or do what we did and just follow the music!
Cover charge for Café Nuyorican:$5
Average drink at Café Nuyorican: $6

Day 5: Naranjito Hike

This day we finally met up with Brenda, a fellow travel blogger from the Facebook group Female Travel Bloggers! Brenda was kind enough to coordinate a day with Hannah and I to show us some of the “real” Puerto Rico, via an amazing day hike and swim at a hidden lagoon in the mountains of Naranjito!

Naranjito.Packslight

The result of our 30 minute hike! UnBELIEVABLE!

After coming back from the mountains we stopped by a street art festival in Santurce with more of Hannah’s friends from home who happened to be in San Juan. It was close to the local college, the University of Puerto Rico, so it was a young crowd with cheap drinks and tons of music and amazing art!

We went out that night in El Condado with two of Hannah’s friends from home, to the main party scene called La Placita, which is basically an entire a little town of clubs and restaurants. We had a great time but wanted to get back to Old San Juan before it was too late, so we drove back to OSJ and went to Café Nuyorican to show her friends how to salsa!

Day 6: El Yunque

Our final day in San Juan! Squeezing in every ounce of Puerto Rico we could, we headed off to El Yunque National Park at 9:30am. It was indeed a rainforest, as it was raining and misting the entire time we were there. But the waterfalls and little hikes were well worth it, even though we did a mad dash to the airport to catch our flight!

El Yunque

Imagine waterfalls like these at every turn!

El Yunque

The view was amazing, you could see San Juan at some points!

Closing Comments

This trip was amazing, period. Initially I was skeptical about going to Puerto Rico for Spring Break to save money over Greece or Colombia. Puerto Rico was still technically in the U.S. so I thought it really couldn’t have that feel of being in a foreign land… And of course, I was oh so wrong.

Old San Juan made me feel like I was in a seaside town in Spain, and the rest of San Juan had a distinct vibe from different than other Caribbean island I’ve been too. I truly felt like I had a unique cultural experience and had way more adventures (and minor language barriers) than I would have ever imagined that I could get with a three hour flight from home!

And luckily for me, with a lot of preplanning and budget consciousness, it didn’t break my delicate college bank!

Til next time, Puerto Rico!

Total Cost: ~$786.30

Roundtrip Flight: $290.30
Accomodations (AirBnb): $289 (split two ways)
Total local expenses: $207.30


 

What was your favorite part of the article? Are you headed to Puerto Rico soon? Let’s chat in the comments!

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58 Discussion to this post

  1. Natasha says:

    This is great! At first I was like $1000/week? Seriously? But then I saw you included your flight in there. Was the Airbnb $289 total? $200 for a week of expenses isn’t bad, especially considering how much stuff you did. Do you think you would’ve spent less overall if you’d have rented the car? I love your pictures, btw! <3

    • Gabby says:

      AirBnb was split between the two of us, so $578 total for the week, but just $289 for my half. I think $200 was awesome considering all the alcohol and food we had! If we rented a car I think we wouldve paid the same, considering gas and the rental cost 🙂 But if you want to go furhur around the island a rental car is a must!

      And thank you!

  2. Puerto Rico is beautiful, and they are so many frugal activities! Great list for first timers.

  3. Hey Gabby, I saw this post summary on facebook and the display pic of your’s in swimsuit attracted me on your site. Then I read the whole post on Puerto Rico and absolutely like the way you described it. It only tells me compellingly that even if a non-traveler plans to come here on his first trip, everything’s gonna be smooth if he follows this post. Great post. Enjoyed reading and learning about Puerto Rico.

  4. Rachel says:

    This is so helpful in terms of planning cheap vacations! Money is one of the biggest barriers to travel, so I love seeing your breakdown on how you made your money stretch without having to miss out on awesome experiences. Thanks for posting!

  5. Sophia says:

    Beautiful pictures and it really looks like you had fun.

  6. Vy says:

    Excellent pictures and very informative post! I really enjoyed the budget tips and expenses,it really helps when planning an itinerary

  7. That’s amazing for less than $1000! Sounds like you had a fantastic experience. Personally loved the tip about carrying a flask – that’s one of the best travel hacks I’ve heard yet!

    • Gabby says:

      Haha thank you Kelsea! Drinks were soooo overpriced, it really saved a huge chunk of money to BYO-alcohol and just buy soft drinks 🙂

  8. Bree says:

    WOW! Looks super beautiful there! I’ve never been there before but now I am super tempted to book a flight!

  9. Crystal says:

    Great job on keeping those costs down! Have to use some of your tips for my next trip to Puerto Rico!

  10. Reading and seeing your blog post reminded me of the year I took my husband for the first time! It brought back wonderful memories and oh sooo romantic. We stayed in San Juan and walked all around the city and ate all the Puerto Rican food we could find. It helped that I’m Puerto Rican and I was able to get a few things cheaper than expected.

    Great post and video of Puerto Rico!

    Best,

    Ruthie

  11. Wow you did so well. I love itinerary posts and seeing what other people spent. Whenever I write them I always put a disclaimer – you can save A LOT more money if you don’t drink as many beers / cocktails as I did ha ha. I love this ladies night idea and think I have heard that Señor Frog’s is crazy (maybe they have one in Playa Del Carmen?). Anyway looks like you had a great time :).

  12. Sally says:

    It’s funny – I recently came back from Puerto Rico and had a totally different itinerary! Yours looked like SO much fun though – there’s so much to see and it’s great that it’s so budget friendly as well!
    PS loved the video!

    • Gabby says:

      Really! I stayed on the North side of the island definitely, so if you went around any other areas that’s awesome! I’d lobe to hear what yours was 🙂

      And thanks so much!

  13. Natasha says:

    wow — this is great. It looks like you had an amazing time — even on a budget. I am all about stretching my dollar when traveling, so I will keep this in mind in the event that I visit Puerto Rico someday soon!

  14. Kerri says:

    Looks AMAZING! The photos absolutely drew me in and I now know a lot more about this location that I have not visited yet. Did Bacardi originate in Puerto Ricp (hence the tours) ?

    • Gabby says:

      No, Bacardi was founded in Cuba but the factory in Puerto Rico is just one of the original factories, and also the largest 🙂 It was so cool to learn about! Thank you!

  15. Stephanie says:

    I am slowly becoming a better budget traveler. Haha I think my 5 days in Barbados are floating at under $500 now for flight + hotel, but i have to find some cheap eats and activities although our #1 activity will be sitting on the beach. PR looks lovely, and seems like a fabulous option for Spring Break. That waterfall is amazing. I was disappointed to find out Barbados doesn’t have many waterfalls, but there is one tiny one and I’m gonna go find it!!!!!!

  16. wow, looks like you had a great time!! Putting Puerto Rico on my bucketlist! 😀

  17. Rachel says:

    I spent a week in Dorado and San Juan in November. Great breakdown of how you can do a trip like this on the cheap but still have a great time!

  18. Atim says:

    You make me want to go back to PR again! I want to go to the little islands off PR next time I go!

  19. This is really informative. My friend is heading there soon with her boyfriend, and since it’s been a long time since I’ve been, I’m sending this her way. Budget Tips = super smart! (and honestly, I need those tiles from the Bacardi factory in my house!)

  20. Hena Tayeb says:

    wow.. that looks amazing. thanks for sharing.

  21. Brittany says:

    This is beautiful! I never would’ve thought of going to Puerto Rico, to be honest. That hike looks amazing!

    • Gabby says:

      It really was! I also thought Puerto Rico would be just like Key West or something… It’s a hold new world! I’m glad this post influenced you! 🙂

  22. I’ve been to Puerto Rico many times, but only a few times as a tourist and I’m so jealous! I’d love to go back and do some of what I’ve obviously been missing out on! Thanks for detailing all the pricing and writing this recommendation. Very helpful!

  23. Fern says:

    This post is so helpful! Especially the daily price breakdown 🙂 Love the pictures too, great article!

  24. Wow, what a jam-packed, beautiful vacay! I am impressed by the $$ amount! Well-done. Love the bikini shot walking off care-free into the ocean…

  25. Beautiful photos! It looks like you had a great time and looked fab doing it!

  26. Charlotte says:

    Love how you did this budget breakdown! Great photos as well 😉

  27. Karyl says:

    Oh wow this looks like it was such a great trip! I had no idea the Bacardi factory was in Puerto Rico. And a whole trip for under $1,000…that’s an amazing deal

  28. Victoria says:

    Looks like you had so much fun, that’s awesome. I enjoyed watching your video, as well as your pictures. I’ve heard many good things about vacations in Puerto Rico, but you actually showed it through pics and video in this post. Good job, and love the shot where you are walking into the ocean 🙂 makes me really wanna take a vacation. Have a great week!

  29. Suzannah says:

    Haha England is definitely not the place for bikinis and mojitos, but hopefully you found something in England that you loved and enjoyed! Puerto Rico looks stunning, I’d love to go!

  30. Kaitlyn says:

    Hi Gabby!
    My fiance and I just booked our 5 night stay for spring! We too are wanting to pack our trip with all the wonderful things we can see and discover. I would love more information on everything you would recommend us doing! This post was very helpful to us, and we don’t want to miss out on all kinds of adventures. 🙂

    • Gabby says:

      Hey Kaitlyn, thanks for dropping by. I’m glad you liked the post 🙂 This article is pretty expansive on my Puerto Rico trip, but if you have specific questions feel free to send me an email at gabby@packslight.com and I’ll as best I can!

      Puerto Rico is absolutely one of my most favorite place I’ve traveled, I’d love to help you have an amazing time too!

  31. Princess says:

    This is an awesome article especially as I try to decide between London and Puerto Rico! I was just curious which day of the week did Senor Frog have ladies night and which day of the week you went to Nuyorican and had salsa night.

    • Gabby says:

      Hey girl, thanks for reading! Depending on the time of year would decide between London and PR for, but PR is a good time for sure 😉
      I’m pretty sure ladies night at Senor Frogs was on Wednesdays, and salsa night at El Nuyorican is every night BUT on Thursdays from 10-11 they have salsa lessons you can go to for free 🙂

  32. Jonathan says:

    Sorry to say this but they spent waaayyyy to much and did not stray much from SanJuan and its surrounding towns being from PuertoRico I can tell you that was a waste of a spring break especialy being in PuertoRico my advice to everyone that goes there to stay away from SanJuan at all cost its the crappy tourist area spend time on the other side of the Island for a change… 780 is waaaay to much when beers are just a dollar and so many hidden legal beaches and locations for tourist like eating brick oven pizza at the top of a mountain where you can see everything or waterfalls that make hollywood and shows like travel chan look sad … Just saying…

    • Gabby says:

      Don’t be sorry Jonathon! I’m definitely not 🙂
      Thanks for the advice. As a 20 year old going with another 20 year old to PR for the first time, we had a great time in San Juan thanks. And I think $780 including flights is perfectly reasonable, apparently a lot of other people think so too.

      Feel free to write your own article, I’d love to read it!

  33. Atiyaa says:

    Hi! Thanks for the great article. My friends and I are going to Puerto Rico in the coming months. I was wondering if you found it easier to carry cash or if using your card was sufficient enough. Thanks so much!

    • Gabby says:

      Hey Atiyaa, thanks for reading! I definitely found it easier to carry cash, because 1) the taxis only take cash, 2) they take USD so converting it wasn’t a problem 3) Some places (like bars, or rural restaurants) only took cash, and it’s good for tipping. However in Old San Juan though and in most of the main places in the city you won’t have an issue using card 🙂

      Hoped that helped, enjoy your trip!

  34. Mark says:

    If you ever go back–there is some fantastic street art/murals in the neighborhood of Santurce in San Juan.

    • Gabby says:

      Hey Mark, thanks for commenting!
      I did actually see this, as there was a street art festival during this week I was there! 🙂
      Unfortunately it was at night and I couldn’t get any great photos, but I will definitely be back as that festival was great!

  35. Sky says:

    Oh I love this budget breakdown! Puerto Rico is at the top of my “must visit” destinations and I’ve been curious about how affordable it really is. I would love love love to do the Bacardi tour!

  36. Kate says:

    Love that you include an itemized break-down of your costs. That is so helpful. I visited Puerto Rico years ago and was able to see Bacardi, but clearly missed a lot of other amazing sights. This itinerary looks like a blast!

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