White, marble fountains, narrow rustic streets and a sense of history unlike anywhere else in Puerto Rico gives the port of Ponce a decidedly stylish edge over its port competitors elsewhere. The city has an extremely laid back atmosphere, with open-air cafes and market squares taking advantage of the tranquil breezes that sweep in from the coastline all year round.
Even if it can be a bit of a quiet retreat, Ponce never disappoints when it comes to nightlife, with clubs and bars playing reggaeton and salsa music until the early hours of the morning, as well as serving up cocktails you can only get the full flavour of in Puerto Rico.
Museo Art De Ponce
The artworks on display in this fabulous gallery rank as one of the finest collections in the Caribbean. A recent renovation means the Museo Art De Ponce is now better than ever, bringing 850 painting, 500 prints and 800 sculptures together to showcase over five centuries of art history.
There also exceptional galleries with comprehensive looks at Italian baroque art and the works of Puerto Rican Painters such as Rafael Rios Rey. The hexagonal galleries and winding central stairway make the interior a fitting complement to the masterpieces on show, but expect to get lost in the intriguing exhibits for at least an afternoon.
Plaza Las Delicias
This sun-dappled square is iconic of Ponce – this is the heart of the city, where plenty of the locals come to relax and soak up the ambience.
You should definitely follow suit, but only once you've taken in the landmark buildings of Parque de Bombas and Catedral Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, or been to the Fuente de los Leones at the very center. Built for the 1939 world's fair, the Fountain of Lions as it is known by the locals is an enchanting attraction which has lost its enduring allure, and neither has this awe-inspiring plaza.
This 100ft crucifix overlooks the entirety of Ponce, giving travellers an absolutely beautiful view of the entire coastline. The Spanish crown once posted scouts here to watch for smuggling upon the coastline, testament to how much of the landscape can be taken in from its lofty summit. There's plenty of history which is centred on this single monument, so much so that if you head off in any direction, you'll find further landmarks to increase the intrigue, Heading towards the coastline rewards you with the remains of smuggler's coves, while there are scattering of ruins to be discovered if you head inland.
Shopping in Ponce
Nueva Plaza Del Mercado is an exciting indoor market which offers an incredible range of produce, curios and handicrafts. You might have to haggle with the stall vendors, but that's all part of the thrill. Make sure to visit on the weekends, when the locals are out in full swing.
Eating out in Ponce
Las Tias is a two-tiered restaurant with incomparable views, impeccable service, and delicious food, all served in an elegant French townhouse. Make sure to ask for the local favourites to get the most out of its haute cuisine.