Top 10 Things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico

November 17, 2017 Vivienne Hutton

The festive city of San Juan is the perfect place to experience true Puerto Rican culture. Get to know its roots by exploring the vibrant neighborhood of El Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan), which consists mostly of Spanish colonial buildings. Flesh out your self-guided history lesson with a visit to El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 16th century citadel that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then reward yourself with a cooling dip at Luquillo or Carolina Beach, then a tasty tour of the Bacardi rum plant.
Restaurants in San Juan

1. Old San Juan

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Excellent
72%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 14 reviews

Old San Juan

Consisting of 400 restored buildings from the 16th- and 17th-century Spanish colonial period, this area in San Juan is steeped in history with an old-world and romantic European charm.

Reviewed By KayTee9 - New England - USA

We drove through both San Juan and Old San Juan in a private bus on a time schedule, so we had no time to stop except VERY briefly. It is a city with both an old and a new part, full of lovely old Spanish architecture as well as modern buildings, and areas filled with "local flavor". Some parts had been damaged by the recent 2017 hurricanes, and that was sad to see. There is so much potentially to see and do. I wish we had had more time. When you are on a cruise ship tour, you get at best a brief overview. I like to take this kind of tour in a foreign port when I know I have very little time. At least I get the flavor of the city. Perhaps I can return one day.

2. Castillo San Felipe del Morro

501 Calle Norzagaray, San Juan 00901-1213, Puerto Rico +1 787-729-6777
Excellent
75%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 3 reviews

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Reviewed By Gail F - Puyallup, Washington

The breeze from the ocean on the grounds here is wonderful and there are always lots of people flying kites. Once inside, the place is massive with plenty of places to explore and wonderful views. Watch the kids since climbing children could find some major drop offs. There are exhibits that provide history in both English and Spanish which were very educational. It is free with a National Parks Pass.

3. San Juan National Historic Site

Norzagaray St | Old San Juan, San Juan 00901, Puerto Rico +1 787-729-6777
Excellent
74%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 6 reviews

San Juan National Historic Site

Constructed to defend the San Juan coastline during the 17th and 18th centuries, this dramatic fortress rises 140 feet above the sea on a rocky promontory, and is composed of six huge levels of ramps, barracks, dungeons, turrets, towers and tunnels.

Reviewed By RagsKP94 - Lake Worth, Florida

We walked Old San Juan and ended with this great spot. The fortress is visible from the cruise terminal and so very easy to find. I think we paid less than $10 each to get in and tour around the inside. It is very well maintained, well marked and worth a visit if you have any interest in local history.

4. Castillo de San Cristobal

Calle Norzagaray | Old San Juan, San Juan 00901, Puerto Rico +1 787-729-6777
Excellent
69%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 4 reviews

Castillo de San Cristobal

This massive 27-acre series of fortifications is the largest the Spanish built in the New World.

Reviewed By musicman513 - Cincinnati, Ohio

If your in Old San Juan this is another must see - along with El Morro. San Cristobal is another National Park, so don't forget your National Park Pass. Give yourself plenty of time to explore this amazing old fortress, and try to see it all - inside and out. It shows how safely fortified San Juan was and the measures they took to keep out intruders. Wear comfortable walking shoes when you explore.

5. Paseo de la Princesa

Paseo de la Princesa, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Excellent
66%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Paseo de la Princesa

This restored 19th-century esplanade is the place to begin your stroll through Old San Juan, because of its central location and its inexhaustible charm.

Reviewed By Karen S - New York City, New York

After having a lovely dinner we decided to go for a walk along the ocean side. it's a lovely place to see old buildings and have a coffee or an ice cream

6. The Poet's Passage

203 Calle de La Cruz, San Juan 00901-1609, Puerto Rico +1 787-567-9235
Excellent
69%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 313 reviews

The Poet's Passage

Reviewed By jfarlam - Windsor, Canada

This would be a great shop anywhere. A combination of Arts and Crafts and old style book store along with gifts and art supplies. In addition they have occasional poetry readings with local poets and scheduled readings at night. This bright red historic building is a must see. Do not miss this place.

7. Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

299 Ave de Diego | Santurce, San Juan 00909-1799, Puerto Rico +1 787-977-6277
Excellent
70%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 361 reviews

Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

More than just an art museum, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico hosts Concerts and festivals as well. The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR), a non-for-profit organization, was inaugurated on July 1, 2000, as a legacy for the Puerto Rican people. The Mission of the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico is to enrich the lives of its diverse audiences by making accessible and promoting the knowledge, appreciation, and enjoyment of visual arts from Puerto Rico and the world. The MAPR engages diverse communities to facilitate learning experiences about the visual arts through: the growth of a well-researched permanent collection exemplifying significant and representative examples of Puerto Rican art from the sixteenth century to the present; a dynamic program of Exhibitions supported by engaging and exciting educational and cultural programs that collectively deepen the understanding of the role of the visual arts in the human experience and contribute to the creation of a curatorial legacy; documentation, research, interpretation, preservation, and conservation of the collection and the visual arts patrimony of Puerto Rico; and alliances with local, regional, and international museums and institutions to advance the knowledge of, access to, and understanding of the visual arts of the world.

Reviewed By Baltzer - Halifax, Canada

This art museum (gallery) is wonderful. It has a lot of really interesting exhibits ranging from historical to modern. I felt it was a good representation of the Puerto Rican culture showcasing local artists, as well as art work depicting life in Cuba. There was a tour guide on site who gave us some explanations for certain a paintings, but did not push too much to follow us the entire time. I think we were pretty obvious that we liked to ask questions, but not hear about things that didn't interest us. I liked that we could take pictures and video of what we wanted. They were very accommodating that way.
There are multiple floors to the gallery and it was easy to find each place. The building was well laid out. Unlike an other gallery I've been to, this one had an outdoor component. The gallery is located on nice grounds. Here you can enjoy a coy fish pond and outdoor sculptures.Do not miss this!
I would say its one of the better galleries I have been to. It had a lot of interesting pieces and held my attention the whole time.
If you would like to see this place in video form, i have put a video on YouTube showcasing what the gallery has to offer. You can find it at Josh the Travel Guy. Just serach for that and find the video. Hope to see you there!

8. Calle del Cristo

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Excellent
60%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 226 reviews

Calle del Cristo

"That shopping street," as known to cab drivers; a tourist must.

Reviewed By 27Ruben27 - San Juan, Puerto Rico

This street runs from Ballaja area, near el Morro at north down to Capilla del Cristo. Many important landmarks like the Cathedral(one of the oldest in the new world), Morro, Ballaja, restaurants, hotels, shops and down to La Capilla del Cristo, next to the Pigeons park. It crosses several important streets Luna, Sol, La Caleta, San Francisco, Fortaleza to name some of them. Beautiful buildings and a lot of history.

9. La Muralla

Old San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901
Excellent
65%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 134 reviews

La Muralla

Reviewed By Allen B - Muskegon, Michigan

Walk the wall , at least the paved path along the bottom along a tour of history. This wall when you think about it was used in real life. Along the way on the Western and Northern end you will find the Gate and eventually one of the forts. If you stop here and there for pictures you are likely to overhear a paid guide or park ranger providing information to a group.

10. Fundacion Casa Cortes

210 Calle de San Francisco, San Juan 00901-1613, Puerto Rico +1 787-523-4642
Excellent
66%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 295 reviews

Fundacion Casa Cortes

Casa Cortés, located in the heart of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, is the place to experience the Chocolate Cortés Collection, showcasing works by the Caribbean's contemporary art masters. Currently on exhibit; CCC Caribes, features 58 paintings by 50 artists from 10 countries. Free Admission.Open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from 11:00am - 5:00pm.

Reviewed By DiAlJo - Hockessin, Delaware

This is a restaurant and bar. But it also has chocolate in many forms at the front counter. We stopped in and bought a few pieces and watched their video on making the chocolate. Nice place to visit with in Old San Juan - even if it is just for the Chocolate.

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