Do you have to add San Juan to your journey want record?

Do you have to add San Juan to your journey want record?

Positioned on the north-eastern coast of Puerto Rico, San Juan is the capital and largest metropolis on this fascinating Caribbean island. Given it’s prime location within the coronary heart of the Caribbean, it’s no shock that Puerto Rico is likely one of the hottest trip locations within the Caribbean. 

Other than its lovely sandy seashores and tropical local weather, San Juan is a metropolis wealthy with historical past and tradition.

San Juan a Latin American metropolis with Spanish-based tradition blended with African traditions and Taino tradition. It’s the second oldest European-established capital metropolis within the Americas and the oldest below United States jurisdiction.

Most of our analysis highlighted San Juan’s former defensive forts, Fort San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristobal, because the prime vacationer sights in San Juan. Nevertheless, the spotlight from our time in Puerto Rico was wandering the cobblestone streets of Outdated San Juan.

We love its vibrant buildings and European-influenced structure. It’s a photographer’s dream!

Fast Information to San Juan, Puerto Rico

On this put up, we share our journey ideas for San Juan Puerto Rico. Skip forward utilizing the Desk of Contents above. And, you probably have any questions, please go away us a remark beneath.

This put up was initially printed in 2016 and up to date in July 2021.

Do you have to journey to San Juan?

If you happen to haven’t visited San Juan, or seen images of the town, you’ll probably be shocked by the dimensions of it. This isn’t a quaint Caribbean city on a laid-back tropical island. It’s a metropolis with tall skyscrapers, highways and the entire American manufacturers you’d count on to see in a significant US metropolis.

I point out this to not sway you from visiting, however to set correct expectations.

We had been shocked once we regarded out the window of the airplane and noticed the dimensions of the town as we approached the airport. We anticipated to see a small city with just a few low rise buildings and tall palm timber, not rows of high-rise condominiums.

Associated put up – That is our favourite spot in Puerto Rico

Town is split into outdated and new.

The brand new a part of the town consists of the enterprise district, thriving seaport, residential neighborhoods and widespread seashore strips like Isla Verde and El Condado.

The outdated a part of city, based by Spanish colonists in 1521, is the place most vacationers will spend their time. The outdated walled metropolis is stuffed with cobblestone streets, brightly painted colonial buildings and fortifications which were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Web site.

Whereas Outdated San Juan is a monument to the previous, new San Juan is a vibrant metropolis that captivates residents and guests alike with its seashores, nightclubs, casinos, museums and eating places.

It’s not an inexpensive vacation spot although, particularly if your property forex isn’t $USD. You’ll want to regulate your expectations when you assume Puerto Rico is a less expensive journey vacation spot, like Mexico. It’s extra akin to Miami or Honolulu.

San Juan Cruise Port

The Caribbean is the preferred cruising vacation spot on the earth and San Juan has one of many busiest cruise ports within the Caribbean. In reality, the San Juan Cruise Port is alleged to host an estimated 500 cruise ships (roughly 18 totally different cruise traces), leading to over 2 million cruise ship passengers per yr. That’s loads of cruisers!

As a result of San Juan is the anchor for a lot of Jap and Southern Caribbean cruises, and it’s a turnaround port for a lot of cruise ships, most cruisers will find yourself in San Juan sooner or later of their Caribbean travels.

Don’t make the frequent mistake of solely giving your self in the future earlier than and after your cruise ship expertise.

There are such a lot of issues to do in San Juan that you simply’ll wish to permit your self at the very least 3 or 4 days. We spent 3 days in San Juan previous to our cruise departure and 5 days afterwards, which gave us loads of time to completely expertise the town. It additionally allowed us to spend just a few days lounging on the seashore.

The preferred areas for vacationers keep are Outdated San Juan, Ocean Park, Isla Verde and Condado. We stayed in each Outdated San Juan (3 days on the Sheraton Outdated San Juan – extra about that lodge right here) and Isla Verde (5 days at an residence rental on the seashore).

Learn: Taking a Caribbean Cruise? Right here’s what it is advisable know

Issues to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Like most coastal cities, San Juan has rather a lot to supply seashore lovers and water sport lovers. The preferred seashores in San Juan are Condado, Playa Escambron, Ocean Park and Isla Verde (Carolina)

These seashores sit on the northern coast of Puerto Rico and may get fairly windy at instances, which makes splendid circumstances for kite-surfing, wind browsing, physique boarding and browsing (you’ll want to ask the locals about the place the very best surf spots are – browsing simply ain’t my factor).

You possibly can lease private watercrafts (sea doo or jet ski) at a lot of the metropolis seashores. There have been just a few totally different distributors close to our residence on Playa de Isla Verde. The going fee was approx US$80 for Half-hour. It’s not low cost, particularly with the best way the $CAD is valued today, however they regarded like highly effective machines.

You can too guide snorkeling, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, whale watching and catamaran excursions from most tour operators and lodges.

Mainly, no matter you wish to do, San Juan has you coated.

Sightseeing in Outdated San Juan

If you happen to’re on a cruise and also you solely have just a few hours in San Juan, sightseeing in Outdated San Juan must be on the high of your record.

The outdated metropolis is a comparatively small space so it’s straightforward to do a self guided tour. Put away the map and let your curiousity take over. Wandering the streets and getting misplaced is one of the best ways to find its hidden alleyways and genuine eating places and retailers.

It’s fairly hilly in some areas, and the roads are largely cobblestone, so it’s not the very best terrain for a child stroller. You possibly can take a free trolley service – see beneath for extra particulars.

The primary vacationer sights in Outdated San Juan are the fortification of La Fortaleza and San Juan Nationwide Historic Web site.

This historic website consists of the three forts of San Felipe del Morro, San Cristóbal and San Juan de la Cruz. It additionally consists of and a big portion of the Metropolis Wall, which is designated as a World Heritage Web site.

Different factors of curiosity in Outdated San Juan:

  • Plaza de Armas – one of many primary squares in San Juan
  • Cathedral of San Juan Bautista (pictured above)
  • Parque de las Palomas
  • Puerta de San Juan or San Juan Gate
  • Fortaleza Road – buying and eating places
  • Plaza de Ballaja (additionally referred as Ballajá Barracks)
  • Plaza San Juan Bautista
  • Museums – Casa de la Familia and Museo de la Farmacia

When you have time, take a look at Paseo de la Princesa, a Nineteenth-century esplanade that wraps across the historical metropolis partitions. The walkway ends on the beautiful Raíces Fountain, which symbolizes the island’s cultural roots (pictured above). We started our strolling tour right here and it was good that’s has loads of shade to flee the recent mid-day solar.

Free Trolley round Outdated San Juan

There are 4 routes to select from with 26 marked stops all through Outdated San Juan (much like a bus cease). There are two sorts of trolleys – an open-aired trolley that appears like a prepare of over-sized golf carts and one other trolley that appears like a small bus.

The longest route takes about Half-hour to finish. The circuit passes a lot of the widespread sights on the best way, so you may hop on and off as you please. 

It’s not a tour, so there are not any tour guides providing you with info. Nevertheless, it’s a good way to see the sights, particularly once you’re touring with younger youngsters or relations with mobility points.

Bio-luminescent Kayak Tour in Fajardo

There are many issues to do in Puerto Rico, however there may be one journey that stands out from the remaining – night time kayaking to Laguna Grande to witness the superb bioluminescent phenomenon.

There are only some locations on the earth that supply such a chance. Subsequently, we made it a precedence to incorporate this distinctive kayak journey throughout our time in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Examine our tour – Bioluminescent Kayak Tour in Fajardo

Discover an actual Pirate Ship within the Caribbean

Docked beside the cruise ship port on Calle Marina, throughout the road from the Sheraton Outdated San Juan lodge, is an attractive wooden pirate ship. Okay, so it’s not really a actual pirate ship, but it surely’s a reasonably superior duplicate, and your children received’t know the distinction! Our boys noticed it and instantly wished to test it out.

We’re unsure how usually the boat is docked there. Nevertheless, when you see it docked close to Outdated San Juan, it’s value testing. On the time of our go to, it price $10 per grownup and $5 per youngster over 5 years outdated. You solely want 15-Half-hour to see all of it, so it’s a enjoyable exercise for youthful youngsters.

Bacardi Rum Distillery Tour

If you happen to love rum, a go to to the biggest premium rum distillery on the earth is a should.

You possibly can guide a tour or catch the ferry from Outdated San Juan to the Bacardi Distillery. The ferry is barely $0.50 per individual. While you arrive in Catano, take a brief taxi to the manufacturing facility for approx $3.00 per individual.

Extra particulars right here –

El Yunque Rain Forest 

El Yunque Nationwide Forest, previously often called the Luquillo Nationwide Forest, is the one tropical rain forest in the USA Nationwide Forest system. It’s probably the most biologically various nationwide forests within the US, internet hosting a whole lot of animal and plant species, a few of that are endemic to Puerto Rico.

Begin your go to on the El Portal Rain Forest Middle to get conversant in the park. You don’t want a guided tour however there are a lot of out there. Highlights of the park are its many mountaineering trails, the Yokahu Statement Tower, Coca Falls and La Mina Falls.

Lease a automobile and discover surrounding areas

One other enjoyable factor to do is lease a automobile and discover San Juan and its surrounding space. There are some nice lookout spots and quiet seashores simply outdoors the town which might be too far to achieve by transit, so renting a automobile is a reasonably low cost solution to expertise these spots. Driving is much like what you’d count on in Canada or the US.

Don’t make the error of pondering San Juan is a less expensive vacation spot, like Cuba or the Domincan Republic. Costs are much like the USA, if not a little bit extra dear provided that it’s a touristy vacation spot. There are giant banks and ATM’s round city that dispense US {dollars}.

How’s the seashore in San Juan?

The seashores in San Juan had been good. We discovered the sand to be silky, tender and (largely) clear. The seashores play a giant function in San Juan’s tradition, to allow them to get fairly busy through the day.

We spent most of our time at Playa Isla Verde, which tends to see a blended mix of locals, expats and vacationers. There are many palm timber on the seashore so we all the time had shade out there, which is crucial with little ones.

You can too lease seashore chairs and umbrellas instantly on the seashore. The going fee was about $20 for a chair and umbrella for the day.

Some lodges embrace seashore tools for its visitors. Our residence rental got here with fold up seashore chairs that we introduced all the way down to the seashore.

We bought some low cost shovels and pails for the youngsters on the Walgreens retailer that’s positioned throughout the road from our residence rental, so our boys had been in a position to play within the sand for hours.

We didn’t find yourself swimming within the ocean as a result of our boys are nonetheless too small and we apprehensive in regards to the robust undertow. Though, we did play within the waves that crashed on the shore.

Is San Juan secure?

Sure, San Juan is secure and pleasant. The vacationer zones in Puerto Rico are secure and a police presence is seen, notably in Outdated San Juan and within the resort areas of Isla Verde and Condado.

In fact, frequent sense and primary security measures ought to all the time be practiced. Don’t get silly drunk and flash your money, don’t wander the darkish streets or seashores alone at night time, don’t get into stranger’s automobiles, and many others. You get the concept.

It’s a giant metropolis, so it has the entire typical huge metropolis issues, like opportunistic crimes, medication, gangs, and many others.

Tourism drives the native financial system, so residents are very welcoming and English is broadly spoken understood.

What in regards to the meals in San Juan?

The meals scene in San Juan is nice, particularly within the vacationer areas. Just like the individuals of Puerto Rico, the meals is sort of various and influenced by generations previous. We love that most of the eating places have an outside area, both alongside a sidewalk or on a patio.

We discovered just a few eating places proper on the seashore, so we had been in a position put our toes within the sand whereas consuming lunch. It is a enormous win when eating out with impatient little ones. We loved a few chilly cervezas whereas our boys ran round within the sand – all people wins!

Suggestions for eating places in San Juan:

  • Palio– Positioned within the Sheraton Outdated San Juan. It has the very best patio for completely happy hour beers. The view is excellent and the beers are served in a frosty chilly cup.
  • The Boutique Cafe & Lounge – Greatest for tapas and small plates. Positioned within the Condado space, it’s best to go for brunch.
  • Jose Enrique – Serves up Latin American and Puerto Rican delicacies. Attempt the standard PR dishes, they’re wonderful.
  • Casita Miramar – Great place for genuine Puerto Rican meals. Through the week they’re primarily solely open for dinner, however have longer hours on the weekend.
  • Punto de Vista Restaurant – Positioned in Outdated San Juan. Serving scrumptious Puerto Rican and Latin American meals. It’s good for each lunch and dinner.
  • El Jibarito – Serving up Latin American and Puerto Rican, it’s nice for lunch or dinner. You will need to strive the mofongo, it’s so good!
  • Molinis Cafe and Restaurant – Positioned in Condado, it serves Latin American meals. The menu modifications day by day primarily based on the provision of native components. It’s nice for each lunch or dinner.
  • Ropa Vieja Grill – Positioned within the Condado space, it serves up Cuban and Latin American delicacies. The black bean risotto and the canoas is the really useful dish. It’s finest to go right here for dinner.
  • St Germain Bistro and Cafe – Get the basil mojito. Right here you’ll discover salads and sandwiches. It’s finest for lunch.
  • Intercontinental in Isla Verde – The restaurant on the seashore is a good place for beers, views and pub type meals. The parts are enormous. You’ve been warned

San Juan has a lot of the typical American meals manufacturers out there, together with Chillis, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Subway, Senor Frogs, and many others. If you happen to’re not feeling adventurous, you may all the time default to a well-recognized eating expertise. 

The place to remain in San Juan?

Puerto Rico has loads of lodging choices that match each life-style, finances and timeline. Because of international funding, a whole lot of gorgeous trip properties have been constructed over the previous ten years. Most of those can be found for lease on web sites like VRBO and AirBnB.

We spent 3 days in Outdated San Juan and 5 days at Playa Isla Verde. 

We stayed at on the Sheraton Outdated San Juan Lodge (pictured above) for 2 nights earlier than our Caribbean cruise. This lodge is conveniently positioned throughout the road from the San Juan cruise ship terminal and it’s inside strolling distance to Outdated San Juan’s vacationer sights.

The rooms are a very good dimension and we had no drawback getting a typical crib for our infant. The lodge has a rooftop pool that provides excellent views of San Juan Bay. Extra lodge information right here.

Rainbow views from our residence balcony.

We additionally rented a 2 bed room residence positioned within the Isla Verde space.

The apartment is positioned instantly on the seashore (pictured above) and it has a pleasant pool. There are a number of eating places inside strolling distance, each on the seashore and on the primary street. There are additionally just a few huge casinos within the neighborhood.

It’s a pleasant space to spend just a few days lounging on the seashore, which is exactly what we had been searching for.

We spent a day on the seashore in entrance of the Royal Sonesta San Juan (formely the InterContinental San Juan Lodge). We checked out the pool space and captured the above picture. It’s a very nice property.

See extra images of this San Juan resort right here.

When is the very best time to go to San Juan?

The preferred time to go to is through the winter and cruise ship season, from November to April. San Juan has a tropical monsoon local weather and enjoys a mean temperature of 81.0 °F (27.2 °C) yr spherical.

Within the winter, temperatures can drop to round 60 °F (16 °C). In the summertime, temperatures can climb to 90 °F (32 °C) or larger. We visited initially of January, in peak season, and it was heat. Some days acquired to over 30 diploma Celsius. 

San Juan will get very busy throughout winter, so lodging costs are larger and availability is restricted. We seen a giant soar in costs beginning January 1st vs earlier in December.

>However let’s get severe, there’s by no means a nasty time to go to Puerto Rico!

How you can get to San Juan?

The vacationer areas are conveniently positioned near San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín Worldwide Airport. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the USA, which makes it very straightforward for Individuals to go to. Flights departing from the USA and arriving in San Juan aren’t handled any otherwise than home flights for US residents. Which means that Individuals don’t have to have a passport to be able to go to this Caribbean island.

Word: some United States airways/airports classify San Juan, Puerto Rico as a home flight, whereas others classify it as a global flight. Be sure you verify your departure terminal forward of time! 

Probably the most handy solution to get round San Juan is by taxi or lease a automobile.

It shouldn’t price greater than $40 USD for a taxi from the San Juan airport to Outdated San Juan, Condado or Isla Verde. Be sure you verify with the taxi stand earlier than you permit. Most taxis will cost additional charges per bag (count on this).

We took a taxi from the airport to the Sheraton Outdated San Juan lodge and it price US$30 for a non-public 7-passenger van that was in a position to take all of us (4 adults, 2 children) and our baggage. These giant 7-person taxi vans are frequent place in San Juan.

Do you have to add San Juan to your journey record?

San Juan is an fascinating and various metropolis that has rather a lot to supply its guests. It deserves to be a stand alone vacation spot, not only a journey hub for cruise ship passengers.

Certain, it has incredible white sandy seashores and tall palm timber, however you’d count on that from a Caribbean island. It additionally has lush rain forests, rugged mountain peaks and unique coastlines. Once more, that’s what we might count on from a Caribbean island.

However what actually makes this metropolis particular is its fusion of previous and current. 

From the European-influenced colonial buildings and cobblestone streets of Outdated San Juan to the lavish resorts, fashionable eating places and stylish nightclubs on Playa Isla Verde, San Juan has all of the components for an ideal trip. It’s secure, pleasant and accessible, and it’s oozing with tradition, creativity and Caribbean sizzle.

Sure, you need to positively add San Juan to your journey want record.


Have you ever visited San Juan? What did you assume? 

Share your suggestions and journey ideas within the feedback part beneath. Our readers thanks!

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