Just north of Old San Juan, within the San Juan National Historic Site, stands 16th-century Castillo San Felipe del Morro. The fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the northwestern tip of the islet of San Juan, kept watch over the Atlantic and protected Old San Juan and the Bay of San Juan from incoming enemies for centuries.
Driving and walking tours of Old San Juan usually include a stop at El Morro, as the fortress is commonly known, or you can zip around the site on a Segway or catch sight of it from the water aboard a boat tour. The fort’s more recent history includes the American military, which occupied the site from 1898 to 1961. The citadel occupies a picturesque spot, and when the wind blows, the lawn that connects it to town is a popular kite-flying spot.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a must-visit for history buffs.
- Park rangers present a free orientation every hour.
- Most levels of the fortress are accessible via ramps.
- It takes about 1.5 hours to explore the fort and its exhibits.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring water and sunscreen.
How to Get There
El Morro is located in the historic quarter, which is not accessible by public transportation. However, trolleys follow designated routes around Old San Juan, including one dedicated to stopping at the various forts, and taxis are also available. Driving is not recommended because the narrow, one-way streets are difficult to navigate.
When to Get There
You can expect the biggest crowds at El Morro when the cruise ships are docked, as well as on weekends, when kite flyers gather on the field leading up to the fort. Food vendors also gather then to cater to tourists and locals alike. El Morro is closed on major holidays.
Castillo San Cristóbal
History and military buffs will also want to stop at Castillo San Cristóbal, another fort on the northeast edge of Old San Juan that is also part of the San Juan National Historic Site. Within walking distance of El Morro, it is typically less crowded. If you plan to visit the two sites, save money with a combination ticket that covers entry to both.