The Best Things To Do In San Juan
The capital city of Puerto Rico, San Juan sits on the northern side of the island and is not only the cultural hub of the city, but it also is the most populated in Puerto Rico. A trip to San Juan provides visitors with a variety of options – whether you want to explore the city streets and soak in the unique culture or you want to spend more of your time around the many beaches. The good thing about visiting San Juan is you don’t need to choose between them – they can both be done!
When travelling to Puerto Rico, and San Juan specifically, dining on some of the authentic food and washing it down with locally made rum is a must. Plenty of authentic shops are found throughout San Juan, so you can easily find something to eat any time of day and on any budget. Some of the most popular food choices are pork and rice, which has a definite island flavor. San Juan also has quite the vibrant nightlife, so if that’s your thing, you’ll have no trouble finding a popular club or nightspot any evening of the week.
During a stay in San Juan, there are a few things you should do whether you plan on having an extensive itinerary or not. If you’re travelling to the city during its peak festival time, don’t miss out on the Three Kings Day or the San Sebastian festivals. These events take place during January, which is also a great time to visit the islands – especially if you’re coming from deep winter destinations throughout the northern hemisphere.
Visitors to San Juan will be interested to learn more about the culture and history of the area by exploring Fort San Cristobal, which was built by the Spanish centuries ago. If you prefer to stay in the city proper, many of the cobblestone streets and narrow enclaves still feature plenty of Spanish architecture in beautiful hues of pastel pinks, blues and green. Love to drink rum? You will definitely want to make time to visit the Bacardi distillery, which is located in the city.
HERE ARE OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN SAN JUAN…
Old San Juan
Located in the militarily important naval entrance to the city – on a small island – Old San Juan is the oldest settlement within Puerto Rico. No longer used primarily for military purposes, this is a “must visit” to see and explore the history of the city. Stroll through the narrow, hilly streets, and admire the bright colours of the houses, elegant wrought iron architecture, and the centuries old forts. Take your time and soak up the past when you visit the San Jose Church and the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista.
Flamenco Beach (Playa Flamenco)
Take a day off from sightseeing and head to Flamenco Beach (Playa Flamenco). A favourite day trip for those vacationing in Puerto Rico, the fun starts with a boat trip to the island of Culebra. When you arrive at the one mile long Flamenco Beach, hire a chair, and settle in for a relaxing day on this brilliant white sand beach with crystal clear water. There are plenty of food kiosks to choose from, and if you get tired of all this sitting around, stretch your legs with a walk along the sand to see the two old tanks marooned at one end!
El Yunque Rainforest
In the Luquiilo Mountains, you will find the EI Yunque Rainforest – the largest nature reserve in Puerto Rico. When you arrive, visit the El Portal Rain Forest Centre to get maps, an introduction to the rainforest, and to pick which of the well-marked trails you want to hike. Explore the lush and misty forests, and keep an eye out for the wildlife, including birds, frogs and larger animals such mongoose. There are plenty of lookouts to take in the spectacular views, so make a full day of it.
La Fortaleza (Palacio de Santa Catalina)
As you emerge from a narrow laneway, the striking architecture of La Fortaleza (Palacio de Santa Catalina) is instantly impressive. Built in 1533 to defend against invasion, the original tower still stands. The magnificent building with striking views is now used as the official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico, and guided tours of the building take you through the fascinating history and beautiful architecture of this historic site.
Bacardi Rum Factory
Whether it’s to earn bragging rights next time it’s your shout at the pub, or you’re a genuine student of this great drink, a visit to the Bacardi Rum Factory is great fun. This tour will take you through the process of how this humble product of the cane fields ends up in your glass, including the distillery and bottling process. Visit the museum to see how the rum has evolved over time, and of course, the grand finale is to try the drink!
Venture down to Fajardo’s “Bio Bay” while the sun shines, and its good fun. But come back at night to discover it has become the famous “Bioluminescent Bay”. Take a kayak tour and marvel as the water shines a fluorescent hue each time it is disturbed with a splash. The secret is the plankton, which thrive in these waters. Very few places in the world can offer this experience, so when you visit, make sure you leave with a priceless memory.
A short drive from San Juan is the beautiful Puerto Rican town of Loiza. This quaint, Afro-Caribbean town, is a breath of fresh air to anyone looking to escape the bustling surrounds for a little bit of relaxation time. Quiet, but full of things to do and see, this is the perfect place to get away from reality!
One of the largest cities in Puerto Rico; Ponce is situated on the southern coast with its rich history and well-preserved architecture throughout. A stark contrast to the nightlife of San Juan; Ponce is a majestic and charming destination that will sweep you off your feet from the second you arrive!
Caguas is a small town located a short drive from the coastal city of San Juan, and is the perfect idea for a day trip while you’re in the area! Take a walking tour through the town square and admire the many museums and culture which surround it. Discover this dynamic tourist destination today!
Known for its luxury resorts, white-sand beaches and its distinct, never-ending nightlife; Isla Verde is an elegant mix of vanity and style. A laid-back paradise during the day, this bustling city erupts through the evening, as locals and tourists alike flock to the city to be seen in the hottest clubs on the island!
Luquillo is a small but very exciting coastal town just a short drive from San Juan, Puerto Rico. This iconic travel destination is also home to the famous Playa Luquillo; with its beautiful golden sand, world-famous food kiosks and its unbeatable summer atmosphere. If you’re in the area – don’t skip it!
Cities & Towns