Come to where the old world meets new in electrifying San Juan. Feast on the city’s rich cultural heritage as you stroll Old San Juan’s cobblestoned streets or shake your hips to salsa in local nightclubs. Cruise to San Juan to soak in the city’s charms, sunbathe on gold-sand beaches or hike through rainforest jungle a short ride from town.
Dance to the intoxicating beat of Puerto Rican reggaeton.
Shop for handmade masks and hammocks along Calle San Francisco and Calle del Cristo.
Take a sunset walk along San Juan’s waterfront promenade, El Paseo de Princesa.
Listen to the song of the coqui tree frog in El Yunque rainforest.
Soar through the treetops on a zip-line tour.
The distinct blue paving stones of Old San Juan’s streets were originally used as ballasts by ships crossing the ocean from Spain.
Old San Juan’s City Wall (La Muralla), completed in the 1700s and once part of the New World’s most impregnable defenses, has walls that average 40 feet high and 20 feet thick.
Puerto Ricans officially became U.S. citizens in 1917.
Within Walking Distance
The Spanish colonial forts and city walls of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and with Old San Juan Walking Tour as you wander through the neighborhood and feel like you’re walking through five centuries of history. The hilly cobblestone streets are lined with brightly painted colonial town houses, intimate parks, and sun-drenched plazas. More than 400 Spanish colonial buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries, many featuring intricate wrought-iron balconies, have been lovingly restored here.
Walking west from the Plaza de la Marina, overlooking San Juan Bay, you’ll come to San Juan’s showcase promenade, El Paseo de Princesa. This renovated 19th-century walkway traces the ancient city walls past heroic statues, gurgling fountains, and landscaped gardens. First built in 1539, and substantially enhanced in 1787, the Castillo San Felipe del Morro (“El Morro”) was the envy of the Caribbean for several centuries, see it on Fortresses of Old San Juan. Built in 1634 (and expanded in the 1770s), Fort San Cristóbal rises more than 150 feet above the sea.
Beyond the Port Area
At the Bacardi Distillery located nearby, also known as the “Cathedral of Rum”, you can learn how this spirit goes from barrels of thick molasses to distinct bottles of smooth rum. For the more adventurous, try a zip-line with Canopy Adventure tour into the nearby rainforest.
El Yunque, both the name of a tropical rainforest and the mountain that anchors it, is located nearby. Get acquainted with one of Puerto Rico’s premier natural wonders, the rainforest, and dip your toes in Baño Grande, a natural swimming hole, hike along lush trails past parrot nests, giant ferns, orchids, and palms, and see the Coca waterfall.
Beaches in San Juan
Puerto Rico is ringed by hundreds of miles of sandy beaches, and you won’t have to leave San Juan to play in the surf. Condado Beach, at the western end of Ashford Avenue, is the backyard playground of Condado’s resort hotels. The beaches along Isla Verde Avenue, have white sand, palm trees, ocean breezes, beautiful bodies, and plenty of bars and eateries. In between the two neighborhoods is Ocean Park, with its wide beaches and tree-lined streets.
Shopping in San Juan
With Carnival cruises to San Juan, you’ll find this port has some great bargains—prices here are often lower than those in St. Thomas—and U.S. citizens pay no duty on items bought in Puerto Rico. Shop at Old Town during San Juan City & Shopping Tour where you’ll find local handicrafts include santos (handcarved wooden religious figures), needlework and lace, straw work, hammocks, loose-fitting guayabera shirts, papier-mâché masks, and paintings and sculptures by local artists.
- Spanish and English are official languages here. However, the farther you venture from San Juan, the more likely you’ll have to practice your Spanish.
- Because Puerto Rico is part of the United States, the U.S. dollar is the official currency.
- San Juan enjoys warm, sunny weather most of the year, with an average annual temperature of 80 degrees.
- Almost all San Juan cruises dock in Old San Juan, but during periods of heavy volume, you may dock at a cargo pier across the water.