Old San Juan, San Juan

4.5 out of 5 stars 45 Reviews

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  • Old San Juan Street in Evening
    Old San Juan Street in Evening
    by ainsleigh
  • Ballaja Statue (Ochoa, 1992) in Old San Juan
    Ballaja Statue (Ochoa, 1992) in Old San...
    by ainsleigh
  • Colourful Buildings of Old San Juan
    Colourful Buildings of Old San Juan
    by ainsleigh
  • jandris's Profile Photo

    Holiday Lights in Old San Juan

    by jandris Written Feb 15, 2008

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Since we were booked in the Wyndham Old San Juan Resort, it was a natural that we would walk down the main street that was parallel to the beach there. And since we were there in mid-December, the holiday lights were up and quite spectacular.

    Felice Navidad 2004 We found a nice restaurant And all the trees along the walk were lit up
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    Fiesta San Sebastian

    by Tom_Fields Written Feb 10, 2008

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    In mid-January, when most of America is busy shovelling snow or quietly sitting by the fire, San Juan comes alive. It's time for the Fiesta de San Sebastian, an annual street party with impromptu musical shows and parades. It's centered around San Sebastian St, in Old San Juan.

    It's very crowded, and often seems rather chaotic. But the police are everywhere, and keep order. Just look out for pickpockets; it's perfect for them.

    The fiesta in front of Iglesia San Jose Revelers on stilts One of the parades A band performing at Quincentennial Plaza Just a few of the many vendors
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    The Plazas

    by Tom_Fields Written Feb 10, 2008

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    Old San Juan is known for its beautiful plazas, or public squares. The places give the city some open space, alleviating the cramped feel of having too many buildings and people in too small an area. The best known is the Plaza de Armas, located in front of City Hall. In early January, it's still festooned with Christmas decorations.

    Another example is the Plaza de Cuartel, in front of La Ballaja. Yet another is the Quincentennial Plaza, with its totem pole. And, at the entrance to Old San Juan is the Plaza Colon, named for Christopher Columbus.

    Plaza de Armas, with City Hall Quincentennial Plaza, with the totem pole Plaza Cuartel Plaza Colon City Hall by night
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    by bsfreeloader Written Jan 9, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Old San Juan is a great place to spend at least a few days. Consisting of less than ten blocks north to south and east to west, Old San Juan’s narrow, cobblestone streets are best explored on foot. Many of the colorful buildings have been taken over by shops and restaurants competing for money from cruise ship passengers, but the further away from the cruise pier you get the more the old town shines. Whether simply admiring the architecture, seeking out the local galleries and eateries, or entertaining yourself watching the cruisers (almost invariably these are people who think merely stepping foot in Old San Juan is a brave thing, eating at Senor Frogs is adventurous, and standing around smoking a cigar and bullsh#$&ing in the street with another American with fish-belly white legs is experiencing Puerto Rican culture), Old San Juan will not disappoint.

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    WALK AROUND OLD SAN JUAN

    by moiraistyx Written Aug 9, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    One walk around this beautiful city and you'll fall in love. It has it's own unique charm. My favorite thing here were all the colorful houses. The old fashioned cobble stone streets are very charming also. Old San Juan is loaded with shops. It's easy to find a bargain if you don't impulse buy. My favorite store hear was called The Butterfly People, it's a store that sells preserved butterflies to use as decoration. Old San Juan is loaded with historical sites to visit, including El Morro and San Cristobal. Just about every hotel will have a walking tour map of Old San Juan available, if not pick up a free copy of Que Pasa, the local tourist magazine. The best part is most of the places to see here are free, although it will cost you a small amount to tour the forts.

    Some of the many colorful houses you'll see
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    Cemetary

    by chodearm Updated Jul 20, 2006

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    Yukes wants this to be her final resting ground. Sandwiched between La Perla Barrio and San Cristobal this cemetary is the final stomping grounds of Ponce de Leon. How good does death get if you can forever feel the mist of the great Atlantic.

    sky,sea, cemetary
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    La Plaza de las Palomas

    by XanderDone Written Jun 2, 2005

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    This is an old park that locals use to bring their kids to feed the birds here. Literally, it means "Plaza of the Doves," and all you see is pigeons (for those zoologists here, you know that pigeons are a species of dove). On the ground, there are so many pigeons that you cannot see your feet, and it looks like the ground is moving. Truly a sight to see, and younger children will get a kick out of it. Be careful where you step, though, because you might squash one of the birds. Best part: it's totally FREE! Minus the price you'd pay for the bread if you decide to bring some.

    Plaza de las Palomas
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    La Fortaleza

    by XanderDone Written Jun 2, 2005

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    Currently the Governor's Mansion, this is the place where the Spanish government would send their hostages and inmates back in the colonial times. You can get a tour of the place, now blue but when I was last there, it was white. The tour is highly reccomended, as the guides take you down to the tiny dungeon and through the grand rooms of the "palace." A home for the conquistadors way back when, the name and shape of the edifice definatley makes one think that it is still a fortress. Even when I was a kid, I enjoyed la Fortaleza for some reason.

    La Fortaleza in blue in the back, center
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    Paseo de la Princesa

    by el_ruso Written Mar 10, 2005

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    This is a promenade built for (and used by) the tourists who get off the cruise ships. Nonetheless, it offers great views of the city walls and the bay, and a fountain in front of which the cruiseship tourists feel compelled to photograph each other.

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    Governor's Mansion

    by el_ruso Written Mar 10, 2005

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    This elegant building is hard to see because of the fences, city wall and gardens surrounding it. This is supposed to be the oldest governor's building in the US - it dates from Spanish colonial times.

    By contrast, the congress building is a derivative of the US state capitols, without any creative or custom touches; it is located to the east of the old city.

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    Plaza de Armas

    by el_ruso Written Mar 10, 2005

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    This is the central square in the city, the site of the city's government, souvenir shops, fast food franchises, what must be a thousand pigeons, tourists, lovers sitting on a bench in the shade of a tree, older city residents chatting... You should start your tour of the city here, and end it here as well, sitting on one of the benches and taking in the atmosphere of the city.

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    Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour

    by starship Written Jan 15, 2005

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    The top of attractions of Old San Juan can easily be seen on foot for the most part. Although for anyone wishing to save the shoe leather or just get there faster, a taxi to El Morro or San Cristobal should not be too expensive. Since Old San Juan is considered to be the area within the old fort or castle walls and only 7 square blocks, you can see alot in one day on foot if you are so inclined. This area will delight you with its Spanish architecture, churches, shops, restaurants, and museums, not to mention historically significant buildings and other features. Calle Fortaleza is a street favored by many tourists because of its attractive restaurants, hotels and shops.

    Since the old town is bordered by San Juan Bay, a walk along the waterfront can be a pleasant way to start or end your walking tours or enjoy a respite while taking in the great vistas it has to offer.

    Guided tours of Old San Juan or excursions to other sites on Puerto Rico can be arranged from La Casita (see General Tips) or from your hotel.

    Corner near Plaza de Armas

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    Local merchants by the pier

    by lashr1999 Written Sep 24, 2004

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    You have to go to old San Juan and check out the local merchants by the pier near the visitor center. Some of these have quite good prices and craftmanship, while others are rip-off. One of my favorite purchases is this leather name bracelet that was hand made. Total cost $5 with name. It costs 10$+ without name in NYC. Needeless to say, I brought several of these. I don't smoke but there was a merchant selling hand made cigars a block away for those of you that do.

    Local merchants by the pier Old San Juan
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  • Marble Building

    by Veronica1977 Written Nov 24, 2003

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    I forgot what it was called, but there is a government building there that is made entirely of marble. It's beautiful. There are paintings of Ponce de Leon and Columbus on the walls. It only cost a half a million to make. Just breathtaking!

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    Stroll through shaded street in Old San Juan

    by 807Wheaton Written May 13, 2009

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    Continue your stroll out of San Juan Cathedral towards the San Juan Gate, which is the official entrance to the city.

    Celeta San Juan Celeta San Juan Celeta San Juan
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    • Seniors

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