The cobblestone streets of Puerto Rico’s Old San Juan, lined with brightly colored Spanish colonial houses, lend themselves to aimless yet inspired wandering, but don’t let yourself pass by the neighborhood’s key attractions. From the UNESCO World Heritage-listed forts of Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) and Castillo San Cristobal to restaurants serving plates of aromatic rice and fried plantains, Old San Juan charms travelers at every turn.
Old San Juan is a staple in city sightseeing tours, which offer an easy way to get an overview of the historic city (founded in 1521) and cross must-see sites such as La Fortaleza off your list. More tailored options include food tours and walking tours with a private tour guide. Those preferring to minimize walking can opt for a Segway tour or a cruise on San Jose Bay.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The neighborhood is a must-see for history buffs and those seeking postcard-worthy views.
- Visitors flock to Old San Juan year-round, so be prepared for crowds, especially in the busy summer season.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes to help navigate the cobblestones, and pack lightweight clothing and sun protection for the near constant warm weather.
How to Get to Old San Juan
Old San Juan is located on an islet, attached to the mainland of Puerto Rico by three bridges. If you’re coming from the mainland or the airport, book an airport transfer or drive over the bridges. Those arriving as Caribbean cruise ship passengers will likely dock at one of the many cruise ship piers in the neighborhood. Once in Old San Juan, getting around the area is easy by foot or taxi, and a free trolley system also runs through the area.
When to Get There
Old San Juan is most popular during winter and summer, when vacationers flock to this classic Caribbean destination. This is especially true for visitors from the United States who can travel to and from the US territory of Puerto Rico without a passport. If planning a spring trip, expect temperatures hovering around 80°F (26°C) and diminished crowds.