Traveling is fun, but who wants to return home with a big dent in their wallet? Escape San Juan’s big city expenses and experience some stunning sites for free! By participating in these two activities you can encounter amazing views and also learn about the Puerto Rican Culture – without even consulting your travel budget.
Escape to El Yunque National Forest
Now, obviously there will be some expense to actually getting to El Yunque National Forest – unless you just have some really great friends (Shoutout to LuLu and Javi!). However, once you get there you won’t have to pay for anything further. They will have stands to purchase food, drinks, and trinkets if you absolutely just want to take your wallet out but nothing in that list is a required purchase. I just packed a lunch and had plenty of water on hand.
Please note that there is a welcome center with a 3.00 USD entrance fee, but I didn’t see much of a point in visiting it since I had already researched everything extensively beforehand.
About El Yunque:
El Yunque is the National Rainforest in northeastern Puerto Rico. It is the only Tropical Rainforest included in the U.S. Forest Service System. El Yunque is a mountainous rainforest with its peak being one of the highest points in Puerto Rico. Luckily, this Tropical Rainforest has signs and maps that will help visitors navigate through the trails. Moreover, the trails are somewhat paved so that visitors can easily pin down which way they need to go. Things to see include: towers, waterfalls, mountains, wildlife, and vegetation. El Yunque is an absolutely breathtaking place to visit, especially if you love nature – and even if you think you don’t.
- Look up the trails beforehand.
- This will help you determine which landmarks you want to hit. If you want to see everything, looking up the maps can also help with planning out your route.
- This will also help you determine what difficulty each trail is categorized as and which ones are best for you.
- El Yunque National Forest opens at 7:30am and the gates close at 6:00pm, every day, year-round .
- Ranger stations are open from 9:00am – 5:00pm.
- Stay hydrated!
- This is very important as you will be outdoors and exerting physical strains on your body. Make sure that you have water on hand.
- These trails have one way in and out, so however long you walked to get to the destination it will take that long to return to the entrance.
Escape to Old San Juan
Again, you may accrue expenses to travel to Old San Juan, but once you get there you are under no obligation to spend any money. There are places that you can go into and look around that charge an entrance fee, but I did not feel the need to enter these places.
I always do a lot of research before I travel to figure out what exactly I want to see and what all I am willing to spend my money on. In a perfect world I would go see everything no matter the cost, but a chica has bills to pay and only wants to spend her money on what she feels is necessary.
About Old San Juan:
Old San Juan is just that – an older historic section of San Juan. Old San Juan is actually the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico. It is situated along the northern coast of Puerto Rico where the west side of the town is encompassed by Fort San Felipe del Morro, also known as “El Morro”. El Morro is one of the places that you can enter and explore inside, if you pay a fee. It was constructed to protect the San Juan Bay and on the opposite side of the town Fortín San Juan de la Cruz (or El Cañuelo) was constructed to supplement El Morro’s defense. You can’t enter El Cañuelo, but you can walk around it. Aside from El Morro and El Cañuelo, a few things to see in Old San Juan include: Paseo la Princesa, Cathedral de San Juan Bautista, and Casa Blanca (entrance fee). From the blue cobble stone streets to the surrounding colorful buildings, Old San Juan is full of beautiful sights and definitely chock-full of history.
- Look up the maps beforehand.
- Make a game plan of what landmarks you absolutely do not want to leave without seeing and plan your route.
- Some websites have Walking Tour maps that will ease your route planning because they are already planned out for you.
- There is a free trolley that has stops throughout the town.
- Use this free trolley’s route to help put together your plan of action while visiting San Juan. See if there are any bus stops near the landmarks you want to see.
- Research the history of Old San Juan before visiting.
- Just going to Old San Juan and walking around isn’t going to do much for you if you don’t know what you are looking at. You could hire a tour guide, or you could look up the information yourself to be more informed on the history and culture. This is especially important if you aren’t planning on paying any entrance fees to enter museums.
- Map out your route and then look up some history on the bigger landmarks that you are planning to see.
Have you been to Puerto Rico? Are you planning to go?
Let us know what free things to do that you have discovered and some tips on how to enjoy them in the comments below.