Even if you only have one day to spend in Puerto Rico’s capital city, this list should help you get the most out of the quick visit to San Juan.
Old San Juan
First things first, you need to see Old San Juan. Walk along the city streets viewing 16th– and 17th-century Spanish colonial buildings, complete with pastel colors and intricate designs. Stop in locally owned shops and restaurants, getting a feel for this quaint part of town before heading to San Juan Bautista Cathedral. This history here is remarkable and definitely worth a few hours’ stroll. Take a free tour of the Palacio de Santa Catalina, also known as the La Fortaleza, and walk through the pristine gardens or pose for a picture beside the baby blue exterior.
A Touch of Strange
For stunning views and history, head to Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery. Sure, it can be a bit morbid wandering around ancient tombs, but the views are worthy of the trek and the cemetery plots are true masterpieces.
If You Like Piña Coladas …
Head to Barrachina, known as the birthplace of the famous drink. A bit touristy, but this place is legit. You’ll spot the vibrant building from down the block and feel lured in by the tropical oasis in the courtyard. That, and the famous drinks readily available at 9:30 a.m. Fill up on authentic Puerto Rican cuisine and get a taste for the local culture.
Views for Miles
Commonly known as El Morro, Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a 16th-century fortress with some of the best views in the city. Dating back to 1540, this six-story structure is not only historic and an architectural wonder, it’s also positioned 140 feet above sea level with views for miles. Enter the twisting, turning, maze-like walls and explore ancient dungeons.
Pro tip: While San Juan is easily walkable (and it’s one of the best ways to see the city) save some time and hop on the free trolley system to maximize time in the city. The trolley runs daily 7 a.m.– 6 p.m., (Monday–Friday) and 9 a.m.–7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
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