Things To Do In San Juan
The people of Puerto Rico are actually citizens of the United States because the entire island is a commonwealth. This means it is partially ruled by the United States of America. The vibrant city of San Juan is the ideal spot to encounter genuine Puerto Rican culture. The capital city consists of a highly progressive tourism industry. Be enchanted by the charms of the well-preserved fort San Juan National Historic Site. It is an impressive fort with beautiful surroundings, good explanations, and panoramic vistas. Continue your self-guided tour to the 16th century old El Castillo San Felipe del Morro at the forefront of the West Ville. It has superb bay views, great lawn, masonry dating from 1539, the iconic lighthouse, museum, and a little chapel.
When To Go:
Just like every tropical destinations in North America, the city of san Juan can be visited anytime of the year. There are no genuine "seasons," and the climate is tolerably warm and dry for the rest of the months.
The main thing travelers truly need to look into when arranging a holiday to San Juan is the tropical storm season and the hurricane warnings issued by its weather bureau. The tropical storm season begins in June until November. It isn't important to abstain from going to the city amid these months - simply make it a point to stay updated on the news about the hurricane signals and weather news on your planned days of touring the city. Hurricanes usually come without an advanced warning. By educating oneself about the nature of these un safe sea tempests you can enjoy a good vacation even in the middle of the storm season.
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There are constant rainfall seasons, but it’s a warm and tropical rain and enough to drench the city. Rainy season occurs mostly around February. If you don’t like getting soaked or rained on while you take a tour around its historic forts, avoid traveling during this month to San Juan.
Here are the exquisite attractions and top things to do when in the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico:
San Juan National Historic Site
The San Juan National Historic Site is great, well maintained, extremely leveraged by locals on weekends and is located on a hill with a spectacular view of the sea from Puerto Rico. It is worth going through the streets and alleys that has cultural and historical aspect plus the beauty of the place, paired with good gastronomic places and shopping centers. It is located on the border of the sea in Old San Juan. There is even a train that goes around and takes you to the parking lot out in the front area. The features and ramparts of the old fort are well maintained and each corner is guided by signposts.
It is surrounded by greenery and with a view of the past. It is highly regarded as a symbol of Spanish colonial history and of this country. The historic site of San Juan is definitely worth visiting for education and entertainment purposes with a reasonably priced entrance fee. In addition to the well-organized tour, you can see small museums with appropriate captions and historical explanations.
From the lookout towers you can see a spectacular view of the city and the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Isla de Culebre can also be seen in its panorama if the weather is clear. The overall atmosphere it wants to impart is that of pirates and Spanish galleons era. The site kept secured by the San Juan police and walking around is totally safe. It is best for families with children where they will both learn the significant role of this fort during Spain’s conquest of Puerto Rico. It is not difficult to reach this attraction and it can be accessed by taking the transport bus from the city center. The admission fee covers only the entrance fee to the fort, visit to the nearby cemetery and the walls are not free. To make the most of your visit to San Juan, a combination ticket is recommended to buy, so you can also visit the Castillo de San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
Castillo de San Cristobal
The Castillo de San Cristobal is classically structured and genuinely Spanish. From the top you have a great view of the whole San Juan and the coastal side of the city. The San Juan Cemetery, which lies directly on the coast of San Juan is also well worth seeing. You can buy at the store great books about the island and cute souvenirs you can bring back home to friends. You can spend half a day to see all of its interesting features and take photos inside the most photographed castle of the city.
Belonging to the National Parks of the United States guarantees its high standard. The site is indeed spectacular and gives a good impression of the defense situation of the city of San Juan in the old times. You should definitely have plenty of water here, wear sunscreen, and physically fit if you want to see everything.
In the south you have a great view of the Capitol of Puerto Rico and on the cliffs of the ocean, in the north you can see El Morro and take a look at the slum of La Perla that one should rather avoid otherwise. Particularly impressive are the many iguanas, which are found throughout the grounds. Do not worry, they are completely harmless.
Many birds and insects can be found in the old walls nesting. In the visitor center there is a great movie about the history and in the old crew's quarters there is a museum that gives a good overview of the different periods of Spanish and American rule of the island. With a short hike you can go directly to the second great fortress El Morro that also has direct access to the historic Old San Juan. All these attractions are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
The Castillo San Felipe del Morro is certainly the most impressive building in San Juan. You should definitely buy a combined ticket that includes Castillo San Cristobal to maximize your whole day tour of the forts in San Juan. Between the two forts there is a free shuttle provided for a convenient excursion. Although it is not that far to walk between two forts, in the blazing sun it can already be exhausting to come by foot to the other side. At the fortress of San Felipe you can cross to the other side and have a great view of the busy harbor of San Juan.
The fort and the strong walls were built in the sixteenth century on top of a hill in order to protect the city of San Juan. The building is huge with numerous tunnels, chambers, and watchtowers from where soldiers are stationed and can immediately see the arrival of the invaders. The view of the bay of San Juan from the fort is spectacular. The area is considered a historical heritage and is undoubtedly one of the main historic attractions of San Juan. This is the most famous tourist spot of the Puerto Rican capital and to fully enjoy its awesome landscape, you need to be agile and equipped with strong legs and limbs because there are plenty of walks to do while visiting the important corners of the fort. Do not forget the famous Garrita del Diablo.
Old San Juan
Walking through the narrow streets of Old San Juan is a must for anyone visiting the city. The streets are paved with cobblestones and houses in colonial style, all are very colorful and charming. Let yourself loose on the streets without a set destination, sit in a nice cafe, visit some stores, and immerse yourself in the Caribbean atmosphere of the place, observe the pretty Puerto Ricans, and delight in the warm smiles of its people. It is well maintained and the place is clean. The most famous forts are there, the cathedral, almost all of the tourist attractions of San Juan is concentrated in this place. It is a mandatory stop for any tourist.
The Old San Juan is the second oldest preserved settlement on American soil and probably the most beautiful part of the Caribbean. You will feel the Spanish-colonial flair and it should be visited at least 2 times a day, morning and night. It is located at the southern part of the city. San Juan has a very nice old town with many fine buildings and beautiful facades and also a variety of shops and restaurants for all tastes. The old town is quite small, so that you do not need a car, but you can leisurely stroll through the streets and allow everything to sink in as you try excellent restaurants with Latin-fusion cuisine and great bars around the city with salsa music. You should definitely take a stroll around the old city walls and take a visit of its two prominent old Spanish forts.
San Juan Bautista Cathedral (Catedral de San Juan Bautista)
The San Juan Bautista Cathedral (Cathedral de San Juan Bautista) is located right in the Old Town "Old San Juan" and is externally and internally held almost entirely in white. Opposite the façade of the 450 year old church is a small cozy place with some trees where you can often see performing artists; a guitar player, mime, or a painter. Right beside the entrance door is a stand for religious objects which can be purchased here. Admission is free.
On its side you can see the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the grave of the first Puerto Rican president (Juan Ponce de Leon) contained in a white sarcophagus, as well as the miraculous image of the Madonna and there is also the national flag in the shrine. Located in front of the apse is a colored window with the Annunciation scene. In the right aisle are the gallery organ area and where the choirs sing. In addition to the apse you can get through a door to the oldest parts of the cathedral from the Gothic period. With the white façade, this church is a safe intentional contrast to the many colorful houses of the old town.
Paseo de la Princesa
The Paseo de la Princesa is the initial part of the tour in Old San Juan. From this point you can already spot the inner and outer walls of the fortress as it stands over the sea. Do not forget to bring your camera, water, and a good sunscreen for the long walks along the avenue. The Paseo de la Princesa is a really charming place in San Juan.
If you pass there by mid-afternoon you can see Puerto Rican teens dancing, children playing, couples strolling amidst the warm climate. You can stop for a cup of coffee or a piña colada at the cafe and stay there while admiring the beauty of the place. Or you can choose to walk along a wooded path that leads to a fountain and a view of the sea, sit on a bench and admire the captivating sunset as the huge cruise ships pass right next to you.
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico is small but manages to gather the history of Puerto Rico, present their ancestry and their traditions. The beautiful rooms offer contemporary art, installations, and short film showing. The curators do not allow photography inside the rooms, even without flash. The upper floor is occupied by a stately exhibition about the life and times of Marco Polo.
In its botanical garden, one cannot fail to appreciate the fish, huge and super colorful, well-surfaced; the wooden bridge in the small creek and the singing of the small Coquis (a rare species of frogs that are endemic to Puerto Rico). Aside from learning about the historical side of San Juan, be sure to visit the garden at the rear side of the museum.
If you want to experience a picture-perfect island, you must come to Palomino Island. This island is one of the chains of small, mostly uninhabited islands that can be reached from Fajardo. There are both the possibility of boats with driver (like a taxi) to rent - as well as complete trips, where you can usually visit more islands and reefs via tour operators where there is on board drinks, meal and salad buffet.
The island has a magnificent palm beach and is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, which is reflected in the variety of blue and turquoise tones. The sand is gorgeous white. Good swimmers can reach the sister islet; Palmonito. It is so small that it can be orbited in two minutes. Only three palm trees and some bushes grow there. Upstream there is a reef with colorful fishes. Surfing, snorkeling, and deep sea diving are just a few of the things to do on this peculiar but gorgeous island.
Casa Bacardi is a world famous rum distillery that produces about 380,000 liters of rum a day. The famous is shipped from here worldwide. You can visit the production and see the process of distilling this prominent rum. It is driven with a small train to the individual stations. There is a small museum that discusses the history of Bacardi and the “Welcome Center” is impressive. The old barrels and bottles speak for themselves.
However, there is no entrance fee and per person, there are two beverage brands which can be redeemed while waiting for the tour at the bar. It then continues with a small little train just above the ground, ends up in a kind of cinema where you will learn about the history of the Bacardi company. Getting there is quite possible directly from the Old San Juan by ferry, arriving at the ferry there are already waiting taxis that will bring you directly to Bacardi.
Ocean Park Beach
The Ocean Park Beach is a typical San Juan beach that is more frequented by locals and tourists. The beach is beautiful, but it has no infrastructure like; tents, beach chairs, or parasols. Some coconut trees provide some shade but only on some areas. The beach is so long and the atmosphere is interesting to observe people. Sometimes the local bring chairs, tables, and sometimes even speakers. The atmosphere is very social, and local (men and women) fully participate. Sometimes it has a gazebo with a little band of amateurs playing salsa too. Simply enjoy your time when you come to this secluded beach in San Juan, it is a good way to interact with the charming Puerto Ricans.
San Juan is the breathtaking capital of Puerto Rico. In the neighboring village you can find their own international airport. The city is also served by numerous cruise ships of the Caribbean and has one of the largest Caribbean cruise ports. Directly from there you can reach on foot the old town of "Old San Juan". One of the biggest attractions is the fortress "El Morro", which can be visited for a fee along with its adjacent old Spanish old Fortaleza (San Cristobal).
In addition to the exhibition of military museum halls, forts, old guns, etc. In a few minutes you can reach the Old San Juan and stroll through old streets with historic homes, visit various old churches, squares and monuments as well as beautiful small parks. A few government buildings are located within the city and most of it is heavily guarded. The Cathedral of the Archdiocese located in this area can also be visited for free. San Juan is a lovely city with the Caribbean flair that is truly worth knowing when in Puerto Rico.