A trip to San Juan is like the perfect mix between a beautiful island getaway, and the ideal city vacation. You’ll get the delicious seafood and fresh fruits, sparkling coastlines, and clear water. As well as great shopping, nice restaurants, interesting museums, and fascinating history.
Puerto Rico has a lot to offer, but even if you’re looking to explore the island and venture out of the city, a couple of days in the capital should still be on your list.
Things not to miss
Visit the home of Ponce de León
Casa Blanca was built in 1521 and once housed Ponce the León, today it’s a historical museum managed the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. It’s one of the earliest structures in the old city, it was both its earliest fortress, and home to its earliest ruling family.
Visiting the forts
Probably the first thing you should do when arriving in Old San Juan. Nothing really captures the history of Puerto Rico like the massive fortresses El Morro and La Fortaleza. They are among the most visited attractions on the island, and their cannons, ramparts, and layered defences have guarded the city for centuries. You pay $5 entry and with that you get entry to both the forts, just make sure to keep the receipt.
Dine out on Fortaleza Street
Food in Puerto Rico is on it’s own a good enough reason to visit. Whether you’re looking for some local classics, international cuisine, or some Caribbean flavors you’ll easily find it. Fortaleza Street in Old San Juan is known as Restaurant Row and here you’ll find some of the best restaurants in town.
Visit La Rogativa
Located in a quiet corner of the city, near the San Juan Gate, is the sculpture La Rogativa, commemorating one of the most evocative legends of Puerto Rico. La Rogativa means “The Procession” and the sculpture honors a religious procession in 1797 that, according to the legend, repelled a British attack.
Stroll along Paseo la Princesa
Paseo La Princesa is a broad promenade that stretches from near the docks, at the foot of the city, all the way to the lovely Raíces Fountain. On the weekends you can expect all kinds of stalls lining the road, and even some cultural performances to enjoy. Highly recommended is to walk along the promenade during sunset, from the fountain you’ll get a gorgeous view over the bay!
Go Souvenir Shopping
There’s nothing wrong with bringing home souvenirs from your travels, and Puerto Rico has plenty of options to choose from! The Island is filled with beautiful hand-crafted souvenirs, wonderful arts and crafts, and a lot of them can easily be found in Old San Juan. From the iconic vejigante mask you can find in plenty of shops, to the hand-carved santos, to the Panama hats at Olé, Old San Juan is the perfect place to find something to bring home!
Where to eat
Finding delicious food in San Juan is not a difficult task, with tons and tons of restaurants to choose from, and everything from local classics to international cuisine, you definitely won’t go hungry in San Juan.
Caficultura – A perfect place to start your day. Here you’ll find all-day breakfast and delicious coffee, a lot of classics like egg benedict and smoked salmon, as well as delicious roasted potatoes.
Señor Paleta – If you’re looking for an ice cream break, this is the place to go!
Dragonfly – One of the hottest destinations in San Juan, this An Asian-themed restaurant and lounge is definitely a good pick.
La Fonda del Jibarito – Classic Puerto Rican cooking.
El Picoteo – A great place to explore for everyone who loves traditional Spanish tapas.
311 – Located on Fortaleza Street, this beautiful restaurant serves classic French cuisine.