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Sensational San Juan

San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico and as famous Caribbean port, enjoys a rich, bloody and salaciously exciting history. Originally the lair of Spanish colonists chasing princely spoils, it later became home to pirates seeking exactly the same.

But before you strap on your peg leg and inflatable parrot, you should know that you’re now more likely to find a cultural gold mine in San Juan than an actual one. Costa Rica’s Spanish heritage evident in the bluestone cobbled streets of Old San Juan and the bustling nightlife of Ocean Park and Isla Verde. Whether you’ve spend the day rolling the dice in El San Juancasino or hunting couture at Condado, finish it with a rum in the evocative Paseo de la Princesaand pay homage to San Juan’s pirate past. Aaargggh!

San Juan’s Top 10

10. Pinones Immerse yourself in off-the-tourist-trail Afro-Caribbean ambiance and enjoy fresh seafood and coco frio (chilled coconut milk) from a local kiosk.

5. San Juan Beach A buzzing and beautiful locale just outside Old San Juan. Come here to spot the casino-loving glitterati.

9. Bioluminescent Vieques Bay The entire bay lights up as you kayak through Mosquito Bay. Insects have never been this beautiful.

4. The Casa Blanca Lived in by the first governor’s descendants for 250 consecutive years, it’s now a museum of 16th, 17th and 18th century history.

8. El Yunque Tropical Rainforest 26 species of bird call this lush rainforest their only home.

3. San Juan Museum of Art and History Originally a market and now a cultural centre showcasing local art and music concerts.

7. Centro Nacional de Artes Populares y Art Esanias This arts and crafts centre exhibits and sells island crafts, and is part of the Puerto Rico Institute of Culture.

2. Castillo de San Cristobal Built in 1634, vertigo is assured at the top of this ingeniously designed World Heritage site.

6. Casa del Libro (House of the Book) You won’t find Harry Potter or Twilight in this 18th-century book museum. Many of the 5,000 works are up to 500 years old.

1. El Morro A fortress of monumental proportions. Be sure to check out the maze of tunnels, barracks, outposts and ramps.

San Juan History

  • Old San Juan – The best way to explore the seven blocks of the old quarter is on foot.
  • Casino of Puerto Rico – Twelve-foot chandeliers and ballroom built before WWI.
  • Teatro Tapia – This is one of the oldest theatres in the Western Hemisphere, built in 1832. Still holds performances.
  • Casa del Libro – A museum with 5,000 antique books and manuscripts. It also has the original document mandating Columbus’ ships by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.
  • Iglesia de San Jose – The resting place of Ponce de Leon, dating back to 1523.

San Juan Art & Culture

  • Cuartel de Balleja – This was built for military personnel in 1863 and is now a museum for Caribbean and European art.
  • Felisa Rincón de Gautier Museum – This was dedicated to Felisa Rincon, mayor of San Juan from 1946 to 1968. It is a unique 300-year-old building.
  • The Pablo Casals Museum – Pablo Casals directed the San Juan Symphony Orchestra in the 1950s. The museum has photographs and footage of his concerts.
  • Museo de Arte – This is Puerto Rico’s most significant museum of art.
  • Museo Nuestras Raíces Africanas – Museum dedicated to the African roots of San Juan.

San Juan Shopping

  • Plaza Las Americas – Largest shopping mall in the Caribbean with more than 300 stores, including American fast food. All you could possible need is here.
  • Old San Juan – The old quarter is packed with fine arts, handicrafts, silversmiths, jewellery shops, textile stalls along with restaurants and cafes.
  • Calle San Francisco and Calle del Cristo – The most popular shopping streets in San Juan.
  • Wyndham Dock – Tax-free shopping on American goods and Bacardi Rum.
  • Plaza Arturo Somohono – For handmade crafts and designer silver jewellery.

Gay & Lesbian San Juan

  • Condado Beach Area – The place to go for gay bars and hotels.
  • Tapas in Old San Juan – For gay bars, clubs, cafes and night life.
  • Calle Vendig – Great hangout for gays and lesbians looking for night life.
  • Ocean Park – Best hangout for gays, along with hotels and restaurants catering to gay clientele.
  • Santurce – Large concentration of gay bars and clubs.

San Juan Outdoor

  • La Marquesa Canopy Tour – Best way to see the La Marquesa Forest Reserve; low impact.
  • Munoz Rivera Park – Near the ocean with beautiful palms and beach, an ideal day trip.
  • Parque de las Palomas – A beautiful park with views of the mountains, harbour and city.
  • Arecibo – Visit the Arecibo Observatory and nearby Cavernas del Rio Camuy (River Caves).
  • Rio Grande – Located near the Caribbean National Rain Forest, great for nature hikes and trekking.

San Juan Sport

  • Swim and sun on the beautiful San Juan beach, Condado.
  • Hiking and trekking are favourites in the National Rain Forest.
  • Central Park is the place for jogging, tennis and baseball.
  • Watch international swim meets at the San Juan Natatorium.
  • See the Puerto Rican national league soccer teams in the Academia Quintana.

San Juan Events

Bring out your inner child (or your actual one) and enjoy the live music, fairground rides and tasty fried delights at January’s Annual San Sebastian Street Festival.

The brainchild of Spanish cellist Pablo Casals, the Annual Casals Festival is a classical music carnival that runs from February to July.

Puerto Ricans are passionate about food. Taste the best at the Annual Sabdrea Puerto Rico in April.

Show off your moves (or just try to disguise your poor coordination) at June’s Annual Puerto Rico Heineken Jazzfest, which features jazz, salsa and merenge dancing.

Who said Sunday afternoons were meant to be lazy? It certainly wasn’t the organisers of La Tarde Romántica, a street fair held approximately 52 times a year.

When To Go

June to September is marked by scorching heat and dripping humidity.

If you want to avoid the rain, don’t travel from September and November.

December to May is peak tourist time, when temperatures are mild and the humidity drops.

Getting Around

The international airport is 13km (eight miles) east of the Old City centre.

There is a flat-rate system for most taxi journeys in San Juan, which is great in traffic.

On foot isn’t just the easiest way to explore the old town – it’s the only way.

General Information

The dynamic capital of Puerto Rico pulsates with the infectious rhythms of salsa and reggaeton and seduces visitors with magnificent colonial architecture and delicious cuisine. Throw in the enviable tropical climate of the Caribbean and you have one terrific destination.

Because Puerto Rico is under the sway of America, San Juan can sometimes feel like a big U.S. city. With a metro population of over 2.5 million people, the city has grown remarkably in recent decades. On the other hand, the cultural vibe of San Juan is entirely Puerto Rican in nature and certainly endemic to the Caribbean. A walk through Old San Juan is evidence enough, amid the colorful environs of 16th and 17th century colonial landmarks. Though most of the traditional tourist attractions in San Juan reside in the area, visitors would do well to get outside the historic district and explore the rest of the vibrant city, from the affluent beachfront community of Ocean Park to the barrio of Santurce.

Attractions

  • Fort San Felipe del Morro
  • Fort San Cristóbal
  • Fort San Juan de la Cruz
  • Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
  • San Juan Cathedral
  • Activities

  • San Sebastian Annual Carnival
  • Santurce Crabbers Baseball
  • Festival Folklorico Internacional
  • San Juan Cinemafest
  • Fiestas Patronales de San Juan Bautista
  • Restaurants

  • Siglo XX
  • El Meson
  • La Mallorca
  • La Bombonera
  • Al Dente
  • Nightlife

  • Rumba
  • Basiliko
  • Blend
  • Sonne
  • The Brick House
  • Climate

    San Juan's tropical Caribbean climate is ideal almost anytime, though August to November is rainy and prone to hurricanes. Other than that, the temperature remains steady between 22°C and 32°C throughout the year.

    San Juan Official Guide


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    Hotels in San Juan

    76 hotels in San Juan, PR

    1 Hotel Miramar

    3 stars
    3.5 / 5 2 reviews

    606 Ponce De Leon Ave. Map

    Ideally placed close to a beach and presenting spacious accommodation, the Miramar Hotel San Juan invites for a pleasant stay. GeneralBusiness guests can utilise the meeting and conference... More

    Vacationers looking to explore the coasts of San Juan find suitable retreat in the comfortable accommodations at Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel & Casino San Juan. While on a Puerto Rico holiday,... More

    3 The Condado Plaza Hilton

    4 stars
    4.3 / 5 3 reviews

    999 Ashford Avenue Map

    Captivate your imagination with surprising indulgences at The Condado Plaza Hilton that encompasses a grand new era of style and sophistication to immerse you in a true island paradise retreat. ... More

    4 Tres Palmas Inn

    3 stars
    2.0 / 5 1 reviews

    2212 Park Boulevard Map

    With comfortable accommodations and beachfront location, Tres Palmas Inn San Juan makes for an ideal base while visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico. This charming inn offers convenient distance to local... More

    5 Gran Melia Golf Resort Puerto Rico

    4 stars
    3.5 / 5 2 reviews

    1000 Coco Beach Blvd, Rio Grande Map

    With the scenic El Yunque rainforest as backdrop, Gran Melia Golf Resort Puerto Rico is an elegant and tranquil all-suites sanctuary that provides quick access to the pristine shores of Coco Beach... More

    6 San Juan Water and Beach Club Hotel

    4 stars
    4.3 / 5

    2 Tartak St. Map

    San Juan Puerto Rico's top beachfront luxury boutique hotel, Water and Beach Club epitomises the allure of the Latin culture. GeneralThe San Juan Water and Beach Club Hotel features 4,783 sq. ft.... More

    7 El Canario by the Lagoon

    3 stars
    2.3 / 5 3 reviews

    Calle 4 Clemenceau Map

    Providing professional service and comfortable accommodation, El Canario By The Lagoon Hotel San Juan is an ideal place to reside for both business as well as leisure travellers. This property is 3... More

    8 CasaBlanca Hotel

    3 stars
    3.1 / 5 7 reviews

    316 Fortaleza Street Map

    Set in the historic city of Old San Juan, CasaBlanca Hotel offers its guests well connected location, excellent accommodation and friendly staff. Area attractions of the city are Metro Cinema,... More

    9 Park Royal Club Cala

    3 stars
    3.3 / 5

    50 Club Cala Drive Map

    The sights and leisure of Palmas Del Mar are best enjoyed staying at Park Royal Club Cala. Set within a resort community, a lot of beaches like Punta Santiago, El Morillo and Buena Vista Beach are... More

    10 Fajardo Inn

    2 stars
    4.2 / 5 5 reviews

    52, Parcelas Beltran Puerto Real Map

    Vacationers looking to enjoy the natural attractions of Puerto Rico can set base at La Metropolis del Sol Naciente and stay at the relaxed Fajardo Inn Resort. Beach lovers can enjoy aquatic sports... More