Colorful Houses In San Juan, Puerto Rico, Latin America, United States

Americans Don’t Need A Passport To Visit This Incredibly Trendy Latin City This Summer

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Latin America is every American’s go-to destination for tropical weather, sampling world-class cuisine, and exposing themselves to a different – arguably warmer – culture, but no trip to the Global South is exactly a smooth ride.

Colorful Houses In San Juan, Puerto Rico, Latin America, United StatesColorful Houses In San Juan, Puerto Rico, Latin America, United States

From minor details, such as ensuring there are enough blank pages left on your passport for entry stamps, to registering as a tourist in certain destinations, to applying for visas, as is the case with Brazil, or even taking safety precautions, there’s a lot of planning that goes into it.

Lucky for them, there is one particular Latin city where not only is it safer for tourists, but they’re welcome to visit passport-free:

Americans Can Visit San Juan In Puerto Rico Without A Passport

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Latin America, United StatesSan Juan, Puerto Rico, Latin America, United States

The capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan straddles the island’s Caribbean coast, and it’s one of a handful of Latin destinations U.S. citizens can explore without bringing a valid passport (perhaps the only one where the exemption applies to all Americans as opposed to only cruise guests).

As Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, it is treated as a domestic destination, even though it is not a state and has retained a separate national identity, and status as a country (for all international purposes, however, it’s U.S. land all the same).

Traveler Holding USA Passport At AirportTraveler Holding USA Passport At Airport

For that reason, Americans can fly to San Juan without presenting a passport, as long as they produce a U.S. Government-issued photo ID to board the plane or Puerto Rico-bound cruise.

These include:

  • A driver’s license
  • A valid verifiable state ID

Naturally, non-Americans flying to Puerto Rico, including Canadian citizens, still need to present a valid passport to enter.

Why Should You Visit San Juan In 2024?

Skyline Of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, United StatesSkyline Of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, United States

San Juan is the largest conurbation in tropical Puerto Rico, and like any Latin city, it’s full of vibrant colors, lively street markets, and historic monuments: in fact, the cobblestone Old Town (Viejo San Juan) is packed with Spanish colonial buildings, some dating back to the 16th century.

Viejo San Juan is a fascinating maze of brightly-painted facades and narrow, leafy streets leading to ornate Catholic shrines, and it’s even edged by a monumental fort – aptly titled ‘La Fortaleza – which Spanish settlers built to assert their control over the territory.

Woman Admiring The Coastal Views In A Fortress In San Juan, Puerto Rico, United StatesWoman Admiring The Coastal Views In A Fortress In San Juan, Puerto Rico, United States

Unlike the East Coast of mainland North America, San Juan was colonized by Spaniards, and local traditions and heritage are indisputably Hispanic in nature, and that’s evidenced in the local cuisine – heavily influenced by the Iberian diet – and the city’s ethnic makeup.

Despite the Spanish dominance, Puerto Rico was originally inhabited almost exclusively by the Caribbean-originating Taíno peoples, and several of the local foods carry native elements, most notably yuca (better described as bitter manioc).

Puerto Rico Restaurant, Latin America, United StatesPuerto Rico Restaurant, Latin America, United States

Strolling around San Juan, you’ll find an abundance of local restaurants serving regional favorites like plantain-based mofongo, meat-filled pasteles or wraps, and our personal favorite, arroz con gandules (rice, pigeon peaks and pork).

It is Puerto Rico’s national dish, and based on Google reviews, the best San Juan restaurant for trying it is Molini’s (1857 C. Loíza).

San Juan is also located within short driving distance of a number of pristine beaches, the most famous being Playa Condado, an upscale stretch of golden coast lined by resorts and bounded by crystal-clear waters, though there are quieter, more laid-back options in Piñones and Playa Escondido.

Palm Trees In Puerto Rico, Latin America, United StatesPalm Trees In Puerto Rico, Latin America, United States

San Juan may be beautiful and probably one of the most historically-charged cities in the New World, but it is far from being affordable by Latin American standards.

Why Is San Juan More Expensive Than The Average Latin City?

The currency is the U.S. dollar, so don’t expect to land on the island and see the value of your money double – or even triple – and consumer prices are (somewhat) similar to those in mainland America.

Food may be relatively more affordable, as there’s an abundance of local produce, seafood, and fresh tropical fruits, and based on Budget Your Trip estimates, you’ll spend on average $36 on meals per day in San Juan, but accommodation can be quite pricey.

A Man Wearing A Green Hoodie As He Puts Dollars Away In His WalletA Man Wearing A Green Hoodie As He Puts Dollars Away In His Wallet

A single room in Old San Juan can set you back by an eye-watering $171 per night – we’re not talking all-inclusive – and the cheapest options around are ‘beach dorms’.

These start from $27 (they’re great alternatives for budget travelers, but hostel life is not what most people have in mind when they plan a Caribbean getaway).

Overall, a one-week trip to San Juan for one person costs on average $1,342 per person, with accommodation, food, tourist activities and transportation included (not too bad actually, as long as you don’t compare it to other Latin destinations).

Busy Street In San Juan, Puerto Rico, Latin America, United StatesBusy Street In San Juan, Puerto Rico, Latin America, United States

Despite its costliness, San Juan is surging in popularity with tourists lately, featuring for the first time among the top 20 most-searched destinations on Google (at number 18), alongside tourist favorites Athens in Greece, New York, Cancun in Mexico, Orlando and Vegas.

It hosts on average 5 million tourists per year, and based on the latest booking trends, it looks set to have its biggest year yet.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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