San Juan Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in San JuanWhere to Stay
When staying in San Juan, you have different options for deciding how you'd like your stay to be. Both beach and city center accommodations are available. The old city area of San Juan is extremely walkable and is a great location for sightseetng and easily getting around the city. In addition, locations close to the city's two majestic forts will boast some spectacular views of history and sea. The beach neighborhoods are also a great place to find some boutique hotels.
Caution: Hotels in the busy city center of San Juan can be noisy. If you need peace and quiet to sleep, choose accommodation outside of the city.
Take It or Leave It: Hotels right on the harbor offer great views, but are also prone to a lot of noise since that is where the cruises dock at.
What to Eat
San Juan has everything from cafeteria-style cafes to 5-star restaurants. Old San Juan has a great mix of restaurants - be sure to try some traditional Puerto Rico cuisine. The neighborhood of Miramar isn't as clustered with restaurants, but does have some excellent dining choices making it worth checking out. Head to the neighborhood of Ocean Park for some beachfront, laidback eateries.
Caution: Restaurants right by the harbor can be overpriced; head farther into the city center.
Be Sure to Sample: A mallorca, a delectable sandwich covered in powdered sugar.
Things to See
San Juan is steeped in history, the most noticeable of which are the two forts at separate ends of San Juan's shore, El Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal, which were used as active military forts as recently as World War II. San Juan also boasts old cathedrals and churches, colorful architecture, and wide beaches framed by the sparkly teal Caribbean sea.
Take It or Leave It: The Cathedral of San Juan Bautista showcases historic San Juan architecture.
Hot Tips: Take the trolley to the forts if you're not up for the walking distance to them from Old San Juan.
Places to Party
San Juan may at times feel like a bustling metropolis, but it's still a Caribbean island, meaning when the sun goes down you have many different options for nightlife. The beach neighborhoods have laidback bars great for grabbing a beer or margarita while listening to the waves. Old San Juan has nightclubs and cocktail bars to while the night away.
Hot Tips: Try a mango mojito to start off your night in San Juan.
Where to Shop
San Juan has many different options for shopping. In Old San Juan, you can find many souvenir shops. Head to the beach towns for beachwear and other tropical souvenirs. In the neighborhood of Condado, you'll find luxury shopping and high fashion. While walking around San Juan, keep an eye out for outlet stores of popular brands such as Coach.
Take It or Leave It: Plaza Las Americas in San Juan is the Caribbean's largest shopping mall and features staples such as Abercrombie and Fitch and Banana Republic.
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About San Juan
San Juan is a city of dichotomies — Spanish and English, Puerto Rican and American, Ancient and Modern. To understand the city like a Sanjuanero, one must understand the symbiotic relationship between each of the city's districts. Old San Juan is the historic heart of the city. Spanish colonial homes dating back hundreds of years border plazas with statues honoring Christopher Columbus, among others. In sharp contrast, the city's Condado, Ocean Park and Isla Verde sections of town are 100% modern glitz and glamour. Comparable to Miami Beach and Las Vegas, these regions are home to the high-rise hotels, beaches and casinos prized by tourists from around the world. The Hato Rey area is as contemporary as any large city's financial district. Referred to as the "Wall Street of the West Indies" the "Golden Mile" is home to many world banks and much of the money in the Caribbean filters through here at one time or another. Further to the south is Rio Piedras where the University of Puerto Rico makes its home. With over 25,000 students, this vibrant center for learning energizes the city. Santurce and Miramar are two of San Juan's residential districts. Upscale Miramar sits next to bohemian Santurce, where many experimental... Read more »