Walk through the labyrinthine streets of Puerto Rico’s second-largest city and you’ll find richly decorated colonial architecture, museums and pretty fountains.
Ponce has a captivatingly distinctive character that sets it apart from the island country’s biggest city, San Juan. Founded by Juan Ponce de León y Loayza in 1692, the city’s aristocratic pride lives on in its exquisite architecture and historic landmarks. Check out this snapshot of old-world Puerto Rico as you explore the city center’s museums and narrow streets and discover a waterfront district with a lively dining scene.
A good place to begin your exploration of Ponce is the city’s main square, Plaza of Delights (Plaza Las Delicias). From here, you can stroll to most of the sights in the compact downtown area. Visit the tourist office in the striking Parque de Bombas, the red-and-black striped façade of the former fire station. Admire the exquisite architecture of the Casa Aldacía (City Hall), the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe and El Museo Castillo Serrallés, which is a Spanish Revival treasure.
Learn about the local history at the Casa de la Masacres de Ponce and enjoy the cultural insights at the Museum of Puerto Rican Music. Find out about pre-Columbian cultures at the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center. The modern Museo de Arte de Ponce is one of Latin America’s most impressive art museums and hosts a series of touring exhibitions.
Make your way south of downtown to find the waterfront district of La Guancha Paseo Toblado. This harborside area can be explored via a boardwalk and features some of the city’s top restaurants.
Go on a tour of some of the city’s outlying destinations, such as Caja de Muertos (Coffin Island) or the coffee plantations on the northern edge of the city. Visit El Tuque Beach or join snorkeling and Jet Ski tours of the nearby cays and islands.
Ponce is located on Puerto Rico’s Southern Coastal Plain. Reach Ponce by air to Mercedita International Airport, which is a 10-minute taxi ride from downtown. You can reach the city via car from San Juan in a little over an hour, while public bus trips take approximately 2 hours. Book accommodations near Ponce’s main square to enjoy having some of the city’s main attractions on your doorstep.