This all-day experience is the best way to visit two of the island’s most well-known attractions: the Bioluminescent Bay and El Yunque Rainforest.
Ponce, Puerto Rico Historical Tour
- Adult Ages 13+
- Child Ages 6-12
- Infant/Toddler 0 - 5 years
Tour Ponce, Puerto Rico With a Local
“Ponce is Ponce and the rest (of the island) is parking” is a famous saying of the Ponce people that shows pride for their culture, history and traditions.
This town, also known as “The Pearl of the South” and “The Noble City” was named after its founder Juan Ponce de León y Loaiza, great-grandson of the famous conquistador Juan Ponce de León.
Originally established in 1692, Ponce is the second-largest city on the island and a major contributor to the political, social, economic and cultural development of Puerto Rico.
The beautiful downtown plaza is a must-see for visitors. Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral and the red and black century-old wooden firehouse are part of this historic plaza.
The beautiful neoclassical, Spanish Revival facades and the European touch are only a little bit of this city’s charm.
This guided tour will take guests to:
Plaza las Delicias
Right at the very Plaza is the century-old Parque de Bombas, the famous red and black firehouse, honoring the city colors. Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral stands behind it. This delightful plaza is adorned by beautiful lion fountains, gardens and the monuments honoring the noble and the brave.
The Ponce Museum of Art
This superb art museum is a world-class museum and the largest in the Caribbean, holding over 4,500 works encompassing the finest collections of European and Latin American art in the region, with works dating back 500 years, and a growing collection of contemporary art.
Iconic pieces include Fredrick Lord Leighton’s gorgeous “Flaming June” and “Brushstrokes in Flight,” a 28-foot high painted metal sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein that marks the main entrance. A 2010, $30 million renovation breathed new life into this cultural institution, expanding exhibition and theatre space, and renovating public areas.
The project of the museum officially began in 1956 when Luis A. Ferré traveled to Europe. There he bought copies of some masterpieces. Those first copies would encourage him to buy 71 paintings in an auction in New York.
In 1959, he opened a museum in a house in Cristina Street in Ponce. Some of these original paintings are still on display in the current museum.
Later, Ferré would obtain a section of land in Las Americas Avenue in Ponce, opposite the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico.
On April 23, 1964, the first stone was placed and the construction of the museum began. It was finished in 1965 and officially opened on December 28, 1965.
The design of the building was made by renowned architect, Edward Durell Stone. One of the main features of the museum is its hexagonal galleries, which allow natural light to pour through its corners, bringing a unique illumination to them. That detail was an idea of Ferré.
The museum has a total of 14 galleries, two gardens, and an amphitheater. The main entrance with its bifurcated ladders is another of the main features of the museum.
The museum is currently undergoing a renovation project to restore and repair parts of the museum which have deteriorated due to time and several hurricanes that passed in the mid-1990s. This project is spearheaded by the Ferre family.
The museum has an impressive collection of over 3,000 pieces that range from the 14th to the 20th Century, Italian Baroque, British Pre-Raphaelite, Spanish Golden Age, and contemporary Latin-American art.
Tibes Ceremonial Indian Park
This ancient Indian site is the oldest cemetery uncovered to date in the Antilles. This pre-historic site dates back to 400 AD and it holds twelve stone structures, including ceremonial plazas and ball courts (nine of which are open to the public today).
As a result of archeological-astronomical investigations conducted by Archeologist Osvaldo García Goyco, “there is evidence that some of the plazas are orientated in relation to the equinox and solstice of the four seasons of the year.” “This makes the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center the oldest astronomical observatory in the Antilles” (García Goyco).
CLOSED MONDAYS. Entrance fees are included.
Serrallés Castle Museum – Castillo Serrallés is a mansion overlooking the downtown area. It was built during the 1930s for Juan Eugenio Serrallés, son of businessman Juan Serrallés, founder of Destilería Serrallés, popularly known for their Don Q rum.
A drive through the center of the city where the driver points out numerous interesting sites, including:
- Ceiba Park – see and learn about the 100-year-old tree and busts of famous Poncerians.
- Calle 25 de Enero – a street of red and black wooden houses given to the brave firemen for their efforts in the fire of January 25, 1899.
- Parque de la Abolición – which has a beautiful statue in commemoration of the abolition of slavery, amphitheater, and park.
- Ponce Sports Museum – Museo Francisco “Pancho” Coimbre. This is a sports museum of Puerto Rico. I am not a big sports fan, but the tour guide at this site was very enthusiastic and interesting. He had some very enjoyable stories of old and current Puerto Rican sports figures. There are tons of pictures and sports memorabilia, from baseball to boxing.
- Plaza Juan Ponce de León. This is an open-air, small shopping market that has a number of booths selling local items. Here you are really going to enjoy getting home-made “Limbers.”
- Ponce Cemetery – was at the Panteón Nacional Román Baldorioty de Castro, which is an old cemetery. The guide explains why the graves are mostly abandoned. It is a very beautiful place, in a morbid kind of way.
- Roundtrip transportation from San Juan
- Professional guide
- Complimentary bottle of water
- Admission fees for Tibes Ceremonial Indian Park OR Serrallés Castle
- Admission fees for The Ponce Museum of Art
- Food and drinks
- Gratuities (optional)
- Roundtrip transportation included from selected San Juan areas or most convenient meeting point based on your location. Exact pick-up time and location will be provided the day prior to the tour.
- Pick-up will be provided from All San Juan Metro Area Hotels. An additional $45pp will be added from Río Grande and $65pp from Fajardo.
- Minimum number of 4 people necessary. There is a possibility of cancellation after booking a tour if the minimum number of passengers required is not met. In the event of this occurring, you will be offered an alternative or full refund.
- Tours may be changed due to weather or other circumstances not under our control. In the event of this occurring, you will be offered an alternative.
- Serrallés Castle closed Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and holidays.
- Have available: sunscreen, hat, rain jacket and bring comfortable walking shoes for this and every tour.
- Tour not available on Monday and Tuesday.
- If traveling with children from 0 – 6 years old, a car seat/booster seat is required. Please notify us at the moment of booking if you will be traveling with your own or require us to provide it. We can provide them complimentary but they need to be requested ahead of time.