We know how important your hard earned vacation is for you, on this site, we take pride in offering objective and factual information. Many top ranking travel sites, including the most popular reviews site, lists attractions that are NOT in San Juan. This page is dedicated to attractions and places to visit only in San Juan. Imagine getting here, to find out you can’t make the trip to a specific attraction because it farther than you thought, or didn’t make the necessary plans.
Cruisers can visit most of the attractions in Old San Juan, you could pick out what piques your interest and mix it up with some beach time. We advise you to book a few days in San Juan before or after your cruise, you’ll understand why San Juan is the hottest and most interesting Caribbean cruise destination. If you’re in San Juan for a longer stay, a wide array of unique magical attractions await to be explored, San Juan is a great location to explore many places around the island.
The capital city of San Juan encapsulates much of Puerto Rico’s vibrant culture and history. San Juan is the hottest cruise destination in the Caribbean and consistently voted “Best Weekend Getaway Destination”. If you’re a cruiser your greatest frustration will be deciding what to see and do in one short day. If you’re planning a weekend getaway in San Juan, this city will exceed your expectations. Once you visit, we’re confident you’ll be coming back to experience it all.
We divide our list into the tourist districts of Old San Juan, Condado & Puerta del Tierra
Old San Juan Must Visit Attractions
Old San Juan is the definite place to begin your exploration of the capital city of San Juan. You can visit a long list of world class attractions including UNESCO World Heritage sites. The plazas (squares) are excellent places to experience the vibrant culture of Puerto Rico, there’s always an exciting event taking place in the historic district.
If you’re short on time, we encourage you to visit the forts first, then walk the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. You could take the free trolley to get a quick ride around the city, but when you walk the streets, you’re able to appreciate the architecture, and feel the energy of this vibrant city. There are many unique shops, relaxing cafes and great restaurants you may miss if you stick to a “must visit list”. The best way to enjoy Old San Juan is to let go of schedules, drop the map and let your eyes lead you to great places and attractions and you may miss if you stick to a map and list. You could get lost on the charm of the city for hours. We encourage you to start your walking tour on the following place to visit, Paseo de la Princesa and continue walking along Calle del Cristo, where you’ll find various attractions, unique shops and excellent restaurants.
The Forts – Castillo San Cristobal & Castillo San Felipe del Morro – Part of San Juan National Historic Site
Take a walk back into history by visiting the magnificent fortifications of Castillo San Cristobal & Castillo San Felipe del Morro, build over five centuries ago to defend the city. The history is intriguing and the entire family will be engaged as they walk through tunnels, barracks, dungeons and more. The views from the forts are breathtaking with the Atlantic Ocean and San Juan as a background. These historic landmarks are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you leave Puerto Rico without visiting these sites. More about San Juan National Historic Site.
Paseo de la Princesa
A walking tour of Old San Juan ought to begin at Paseo de la Princesa, a 19th century walkways outside the city walls along the San Juan Bay. Walk through gardens, let your children play on the playground along the historic city walls, shop for unique authentic souveniers sold by local artists, have a refreshing piragua or cup of Mavi, walk into historic La Princesa building, take a picture on the elegant Raices fountain and dance to the rhythms of salsa. Paseo de la Princesa has been referred to as “One of the most scenic walkways in the world”, so hold hands with your loved one, pause for a kiss and head towards the La Puerta de San Juan (San Juan Gate) to begin your walking tour of the Old City. More about Paseo de la Princesa – Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Cuartel de Ballaja & Museo Las Americas
After touring the magnificent Fortress of El Morro, walk across to Cuartel de Ballaja. As soon as you walk into courtyard, your eyes will wonder admiring the elegant architecture. Head to Cafe Don Ruiz for a great cup of Cafe con Leche or have lunch at one of the restaurants by the courtyard. Then head to the second floor to visit Museo de la Americas, where you can visit a number of exhibits showcasing aspects of the history of Puerto Rico and the Americas. Works by renowned artists of Latin America, United States and Puerto Rico are featured throughout the year. During crowded cruise days in Old San Juan, Cuartel de Ballaja tends to be quiet and relaxed.
Catedral de San Juan Bautista “San Juan Cathedral”
This Cathedral is one of the most important religious landmarks in Puerto Rico and under the US Flag. Catedral de San Juan Bautista is the seat of the Archdiocese of Puerto Rico. This is the oldest church under the US Flag and the second oldest church in the Americas. Catedral San Juan Bautista dates back to 1521. The Spanish sailors walked into the city through the San Juan Gate and had the tradition of stopping at the this church to thank God for a safe voyage. Famous celebrities choose the San Juan Cathedral to say “I do”. If you happen to be here at Christmas, be sure to get here early to enjoy one of the most beautiful Christmas services on the island. A tomb with the remains of Ponce de Leon and a mummified body of St. Pio are at the Cathedral. Cathedral is open daily from 8am – 4pm and Sundays from 8am – 2pm.
Location: Calle del Cristo, across from El Convento Hotel.
Be sure to visit the Nuyorican Cafe, just about any salsa singer and music lover has visited this small cafe. The food is second to the dance floor, where you can get free salsa lessons. Put on your dancing shoes, you can’t leave Old San Juan without learning to Salsa. Music is an integral part of of Puerto Rican culture, this is a great place to experience it.
Location: Calle San Francisco #312 Tel: 787-977-1276 / 787-366-5074 Website
Casa Blanca Museum
Visit the first fortification in San Juan, built as the home of Juan Ponce del Leon, the first governor of Puerto Rico. Enjoy a self guided tour of beautiful gardens, living spaces of the family’s mansion, and a small museum with exhibits of 16th and 17th century artifacts. More about Casa Blanca Museum, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Cementerio San Maria Magdalena de Pazzis
This cemetery is the utmost romantic location as a final resting place…nestled between the city walls and facing the Altantic Ocean. Walk through unique ornate marble thumbs, some depicting a story of love. Many famous Puerto Ricans are buried here, among them: Jose Celso Barbosa, Pedro Albizu Campos, Jose de Diego and the infamous real pirate of the Caribbean Roberto Cofresi. More about Cementerio San Maria Magdalena de Pazzis – Old San Juan, PR
Plaza de Armas
A visit to Old San Juan is not complete until you visit one of the plazas. Plazas are very important to Puerto Ricans. They are places where friends meet, where life seems to slow down, where a cup of Cafe con Leche (coffee with boiled milk) and a delicious Quesito (crispy pastry stuffed with cream cheese), goes great with conversation. Plazas are a cultural center where traditional events take place, locals dance to salsa on an open air dance floor or relax to the sounds of jazz on Adoquin Jammin Nights every Friday night at 7pm. Plaza de Armas is an elegant plaza surrounded by beautiful historic buildings. It is a great place to take a break from your walking tour and observe the everyday lives of Sanjuaneros (San Juan residents) enjoying their city. At night, the plaza takes on a golden glow and turns into a romantic place to sit down and relax with your loved one. Children will love feeding the playful pigeons during the day.
La Fortaleza was the first fortification in San Juan. The fortress fell and it was insufficient to protect the cityIt a fortress and turned into an executive mansion. La Fortaleza is the oldest executive mansion in the New World, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the San Juan National Historic Site. La Fortaleza is the current residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico. Free Tours are available on weekdays. Tours take you through the gardens, the dungeon and chapel. For more information call: 787-721-7000 ext. 2211.
Attractions & Places to Visit in Condado
Condado is all about the beach, luxurious hotels, high end shopping, and an exquisite dining scene. Popular places you’ll enjoy visiting are the following:
La Ventana al Mar Park
This park is located on the main avenue of Ashford Drive facing the Atlantic Ocean. This modern park is a place you want to hang out for hours. The park is centered between the iconic and luxurious Condado Vanderbilt Hotel and the trendy La Concha Renaissance Resort. The park offers access to Condado Beach, the most chic beach in San Juan. At Ventana al Mar you can enjoy lunch on a variety of relaxed cafes, walk across the street to luxury shops, and attend the various exciting events such as Ventana al Jazz. More about Ventana al Mar – Condado, San Juan, PR.
Condado Beach is the most popular beach in Condado, with excellent beachfront resort options. You can rent a lounge chair and umbrella at La Concha Resort, get the perfect tan, enjoy pina coladas on the beach and walk to relaxed cafes, romantic restaurants and splurge on the luxury shops across the street. More about Condado Beach – San Juan, PR
Playita del Condado (Little Condado Beach)
This beach may be small, but it has some pretty awesome qualities. We love Playita del Condado because of the access, the views of the fort and modern city, proximity to restaurants, kid friendly waters, and the outdoor gym to help ease the guilt of too many pina coladas. Umbrella and lounge chairs are available. La Playita del Condado is a great beach option for cruisers who want beach time nearby. More about La Playita del Condado – Condado, San Juan
Laguna del Condado / Condado Lagoon
Take a walk along the Condado Lagoon, an oasis at the center of Condado with a scenic walking and bicycle path. The calm waters of the Condado lagoon is a wonderful place to paddleboard and kayak, rentals are available.
Attractions & Places to Visit in Puerta de Tierra
Balneario El Escambron
One of the top beaches in the San Juan / Metro area is Balneario El Escambron. Once inside you can swim, dine, snorkel and scuba dive. More about Balneario El Escambron – San Juan, Puerto Rico
Playa Peña & The Ruins
When the tide is low, this is a great beach for those that prefer uncrowded beaches. This is a nice beach for walking, lounging to get the perfect tan, and refreshing on a hot day. Very few walk all the way to the right of the beach, there you’ll find ruins of a fort forgotten and claimed by the sun, sky and sea. More about Playa Peña and the ruins – San Juan, PR.
Map of Best Tourist Attractions & Places to Visit in San Juan, Puerto Rico
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