Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Amanda Stancati
With vibrant neighbourhoods, stunning architecture reflecting the country’s rich colonial history, and an energetic culinary and bar scene, San Juan, Puerto Rico is a must-visit for your sunny vacation. A popular cruise port and destination for vacationers looking for a sun- and fun-filled trip with a touch of adventure, San Juan offers something for everyone.
Take a day-trip to the middle of the country to Utuado for a taste of eco-tourism and visit the Tanama National Forest, a limestone forest, and go ziplining to see the country from the air. Explore caves seemingly untouched by society or enjoy the countryside on horseback or with a hiking stick in hand. In Old San Juan, revel at the country’s rich colonial history, displayed through brightly coloured buildings and fortresses that were once the crown jewel of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. Enjoy popular beaches, perfect for snorkelling, rainforest adventures just outside the city, or a food-filled vacation in San Juan’s many popular restaurants and bars, lighting up the entertainment scene. San Juan, Puerto Rico is a unique vacation destination and a great choice to cure your wanderlust.
Whether you’re visiting on a quick stop-over or staying for a full vacation, we offer some tips for the must-see locations in the city:
Old San Juan
Old San Juan is a must-do for tourists to San Juan and Puerto Rico: walk the old cobblestone streets of the walled city and experience the city’s colonial history through the surrounding fortresses and brightly coloured buildings, many of which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Museums, galleries, cafes, and nightlife are favourites in this tourist area of the city.
Visit the Castillo San Cristóbal, part of the San Juan National Historic Site. Situated along the coast, this fortress was completed in 1785, and was intended to guard against land attacks. Visit the beautiful area, now part of the National Parks Service to learn about San Juan’s military history. Don’t forget to browse the area’s art galleries for a taste of Old San Juan’s culture, and enjoy warm Puerto Rican evenings along the Paseo la Princesa promenade.
Isla de Cabras National Park
Take a short trip across the bay from Old San Juan and visit Isla de Cabras National Park, a tiny island (meaning goat island). This area also played an important role in the island’s defense, but is now open for tourists to visit the island for the beautiful public beach at Punta Salinas, or a stunning view of San Juan from the water. Watch cruise ships come in to San Juan’s port and imagine standing in the same area during the colonial era, watching war ships guard the bay.
Lesser-known to tourists but just as high on our must-see list for visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico is the Santurce neighbourhood; an urban cultural and art district. Visit La Placita, a thriving market by day and hot spot for nightlife by dark. Treat your taste buds to fresh produce from the market, find local crafts, or wait until dusk and try from one of many restaurants and cafes lining side streets, pumping the market place with culture and music. If you’re looking for a quieter evening out, don’t visit on Thursdays or weekends; locals are more likely to be enjoying traditional music and drinks those evenings.
Before leaving San Juan, Puerto Rico, enjoy local theatre, salsa dancing, music, and the Puerto Rico Museum of Contemporary Art. Keep your eyes peeled for a number of entertainment hubs, as Santurce is home to many fashion and textile areas, in addition to being known for it’s music and cuisine.
Did we miss something? Share your favourite tourist attractions and must-see sights for San Juan in the comments below!