Puerto Rico is an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea consisting of a main island, four small islands, and hundreds of cays and islets. The island territory is only 100 miles long and 35 miles wide (8,870 square kilometers), but it packs an amazing diversity of sights, scenery, and culture.
The true charm of Puerto Rico is its people. The people of the island are charismatic, hospitable, super joyful, and passionate. They will make you feel like you belong and will even invite you to dance with them. Puerto Ricans are optimistic and energetic people, very proud of their cultural heritage and history, which emerges from a mix of Taíno, Spanish, and African traditions.
The quickest way to begin to experience the island is to immerse yourself in its food, drinks, and music! You can taste exquisite local dishes and cocktails with exotic infusions, dance to the rhythms of contagious salsa and reggaetón, and see first-hand how Puerto Rican pride manifests itself at exciting festivals. But there is much more to discover on the island as well.
The island of Puerto Rico is rich in festivals, traditions, art, and music — but it doesn’t end there. Come see how welcoming and enchanting the island’s culture really is.
Festivals and Traditions
From Three Kings’ Day parades in January to clapping the moment a plane touches down on the island, traditions are kept alive by Puerto Rico’s locals year after year. With endless festivals, events, and holiday celebrations happening from East to West and North to South, it’s easy to find a tradition that speaks to you.
Join the “party in the street” vibe at Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián in the historic city of Old San Juan or experience traditions like Three Kings’ Day that date back to the island’s Spanish history. No matter what time of year, culture is present in every corner of this Caribbean paradise.
A favorite tradition is drinking the local coquito during the holidays. It looks like eggnog but is much sweeter and coconut-based. Make sure to try some while you’re there! Puerto Ricans have traditions that are their own and love to share the experience with visitors.
Art in Puerto Rico
With colorful street murals and contemporary art museums, Puerto Rico’s art scene is unique and full of history. The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (Museum of Art of Puerto Rico) in Santurce is packed with contemporary and classic pieces that date all the way back to the 17th century. Nearby, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Puerto Rico Contemporary Museum) is not to be missed if you want a taste of the island’s modern side.
The island’s long-lasting relationship with art – whether it’s view in museums, galleries, or street murals – has paved the way for a colorful, intriguing way to learn about the island’s culture and history. You’ll find more art in places like Ponce and Bayamón as well. Finding a piece of local artwork, whether it’s a painting or hand-carved figurine, is the perfect souvenir to take back home with you!
Music and Dancing in Puerto Rico
Speaking of enchanting, the island’s contagious musical rhythm is sure to delight you. The sounds of the island range from traditional salsa to bomba y plena, a contagious dance inspired by Puerto Rico’s African roots. Bring your dancing shoes, because the musical culture on the island is alive, vibrant, and too good to miss.
All year round, you can hear Puerto Rico’s energetic and vibrant culture through the music that blankets the island. Whether you’re looking for upbeat salsa or a softer beat like the trova, the tropical flavor of Puerto Rico makes its way into the songs, music, and artists of the island. You’ll have to go out on the town and dance the night away to really understand it!
Top Art Museums in Puerto Rico
You’ll find a variety of art waiting to be enjoyed as you move throughout the island — from murals to art galleries to museums.
Whether you want to appreciate historic European art or contemporary island artists, there’s an art museum on the island that’s worth your time. If you are an art lover who admires talent and searches for creativity and inspiration during your vacation, plan to visit one (or more) of these five museums during your trip.
Exploring the Santurce Neighborhood
ourney through one of San Juan’s lively arts districts.
Santurce offers a window into a colorful, free-spirited neighborhood that invites you to immerse yourself in the artistic heartbeat of the island. Located south of Condado, Santurce is enjoying a “renaissance”, including an influx of new restaurants, shops, galleries, museums, and more. Make sure to pause and admire the abundance of bright murals and street art as you stroll through this barrio.
Things to Do
Arts & Culture
Walking through Santurce you’ll notice the buildings are adorned by art created
by some of the best street artists and muralists in the world. What began as a
beautification of old and abandoned buildings has turned Santurce into Puerto
Rico’s version of the Wynwood Arts district in Miami. For a deeper dive into
these artists and their artwork, check out some of Santurce’s creative festivals:
Santurce es Ley and Los Muros Hablan.