Old San Juan is best explored on foot. The streets are extremely narrow, parking is quite a challenge, and traffic is generally slow moving. Their are so many wonderful things to see. Take notice of the beautiful cobblestone streets paved with blue aquinos, which are bricks baked in the 1800s in Spain, that were shipped over as ballast. The buildings are painted a palette of tropical fruit colors and have elaborate wooden doors and quaint balconies. Check out El Morro, the Capilla del Cristo, duck into a bar for a Pina Colada (they originated in Puerto Rico), and spend time shopping for santos de palo (hand carved wooden saints). Their is a lot of commercialization in Old San Juan, but I still recommend visiting it, because it still has managed to retain its old world charm.
Old San Juan is a beautiful city filled with multihued buildings, blue cobblestone streets, and lots of shops, resturants and museums. We spent our last day in Puert Rico strolling around and window shopping before heading out to Luquillo for the sunset. We visted the city walls, the original gate into the city, Plaza de Armas (the city's main square), The Capilla del Cristo, and more.
Weekends have the city are teeming with people. The cruise ships are in port, and the locals come into town for all the street fairs.
The distinctive blue cobblestones were made in Spain and brought over to pave the streets of San Juan.
more to come!
When you walk the historic district of Old San Juan you will notice these beautiful blue cobblestone streets. The stones were baked in Spain in the 1800's and brought to Puerto Rico as ballast. They are known as aquinos for their beautiful blueish gray color. Many of the stones are very worn, which just adds to their charm.
You have to take a walk through Old San Juan. Absorb the city's history and feel it though the cobblestone streets, the town squares/plazas, its cruise ship filled dock, tiny shops, El Morro and the many other treasures that Old San Juan offers.
There are tons of shops and restaurants to cater to everyone's tastes. Set aside a day to fully explore the city on foot.
See the El Morro to get a taste of what life was back in the Pirate days. It is this fortress that kept Puerto Rico safe in the 15th century.
Embrace the talented street performers and lucrative street vendors.
If you are planning to visit Puerto Rico, San Juan will almost certainly be your port of entry into the Island. San Juan's Old City, or Viejo San Juan is a must-see for all tourists and the top-priority stop for those ones, perhaps on a cruise, who plan spending in town only few hours.
Top sights of the Old City are (i) the colonial architecture and (ii) the Spanish forts El Morro and San Cristóbal, the best-preserved Spanish forts in the whole Latin America. The colonial town with its pastel-colored few-story houses and the cobble-stone streets is pleasant to walk around, the two Forts, with the dramatic views of the ocean and the coastline, are impressive. But Old San Juan is not only about history or "the past", it is also very much into the present with a very rich and lively dining and partying scene. In the last few years the area called "SOFO" in Calle Fortaleza along with Calle San Sebastián have developed as a major center of San Juan's nightlife with trendy restaurants, bars, lounges and dance clubs, and it is worth to give them a try.
Once in San Juan, I recommend getting an Hotel in the Old City and spending in the Old City at least two full days to have enough time to visit the sights and enjoy some of the nightlife life. If you are coming on a cruise with only few hours at disposal, plan to have a walk through the colonial streets and visit one of the two forts (in my view San Cristóbal is a more impressive construction while El Morro has a better panoramic view).
San Cristóbal Fort was built to protect San Juan from attack by sea. Along with El Morro, San Cristóbal Fort has been designated a National Historic Site and is part of a World Heritage Site.It is administered by the U.S. National Park Service. Open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
More photos on my San Juan Page.
El Fuerte San Cristóbal fue construído para proteger a San Juan de ataques por mar. Al igual que El Morro, el Fuerte San Cristóbal ha sido designado como Legado Histórico Nacional y es parte del “World Heritage Site”.
Más fotos en mi página de San Juan.
The Old San Juan is a picturesque historic city with colonial architecture, hanging balconies, fortifications, city walls and cobble stone streets.
If you come to Puerto Rico you have to at least dedicate one day to take a walk through the Old San Juan and its different historic fortifications, chapels, plazas, etc.
For more info and photos see my San Juan page
El viejo San Juan es una pintoresca ciudad histórica con arquitectura colonial, balcones colgantes, fortificaciones, murallas y calles de adoquines.
Si viene a Puerto Rico debe dedicar al menos un día a caminar por sus calles y visitar sus capillas, fortificaciones, plazas, etc.
Hay más información en mi página de San Juan.
Pick up a walking guide map from the visitors center and explore this charming town. The fortress are interesting. Shopping....caution do not shop when there are Cruise Ships at the dock...prices go up. Enjoy the walk, savor the Puerto Rican Cuisine and hospitality of the people.
Old San Juan is charming. The buildings are beautiful and the promenade has a lovely view of the sea. Old San Juan is a nice place to spend an afternoon strolling around, meeting people, enjoying the architecture, seeing the sites, and of course-- sampling the local cuisine!
What is unique about San Juan, Puerto Rico? It's not the Hispanic culture. It's not the people...The doors of San Juan are obviously the talk of the tourists! Check out all the doors of the houses and apartments- these are exquisite and unique...Just a door but made so unique!
On the cliffs above the Caribbean Sea between El Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal the breezes off the sea rise over the large grassy area in front of the fortress making the perfect kite flying green. There were many family groups with kites on the green. Many of the kites were real works of art. Flying dragons, actual paper biplanes, birds, and a flying sailboat
The National Park Service hplds a kite flying festival here which includes a kite flying competition, educational exhibit, and a kite making class. All activities are free of charge.
We planned on checking out Old San Juan on another trip, however we had some time between our Isla Nena flight from Culebra and our flight back to Orlando......so we checked our bags and decided to hire a taxi to show us Old San Juan. We paid the taxi driver $50 to drive us to a restaurant in Old San Juan (he waited for us while we ate), then he drove us to the Fort (he waited for us while we went sightseeing), and then he drove us back to the airport. This gave us some peace of mind (we didn't have to worry about hailing a taxi every time we needed one) and the driver was happy to earn $50. It was a good use of the time we usually spend waiting around the airport!
From our hotel, we rode the bus into the terminal in Old San Juan then walked around this historic area. Plan to spend an entire day here or 2 half days to even begin to see it all. We saw the Old Custom House, Princess Promenade, old city gate, El Morro fort, the old cemetary, Casa Blanca, San Jose Church, and the Governon's Palace. There are also a lot of great places to shop and eat here. All of it is within walking distance of the terminal. I wouldn't even think of trying to drive here much less park. You can get excellent guides to the area and maps from the tourist center or possibly from your hotel.
The main bus terminal in Old San Juan is at the bottom of the hill with the fortresses. You can catch the Old San Juantrolly bus at the bus station of at any of the numbered trolly stops around town. The trolly is free and stops at about 30 attractions in the Old town.
This small square in the center of Old San Juan was originally called St. James Square but was renamed in 1893 to honor Christopher Columbus on the 400th anniversary of his discovery of Puerto Rico. The statue of Columbus stands atop a high pedestal with bronze placques in the base the pedestal to record important episodes in the explorer's life.
The Old San Juan trolly stops at the street intersection just below the square. Hop off, visit the square, shop in the many shops surounding the square, or just take a break and then hop back on the free trolly.