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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!