There are plenty of things to see on a day trip in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. From beautiful architecture with picture perfect colors, sculptures, history, culture and music to amazing views out to sea, no trip to the island would be complete without a day spent strolling the streets of Old San Juan.
Make a day of it! Here’s some ideas of things to see, do and eat while you’re there. Oh, and don’t forget your camera – there are photo opportunities at every step!
From Casa Santurce, just a 2 minute walk to the pickup point, you can take the T5 bus directly to Old San Juan for $0.75. Flag down the bus and jump on. Take it all the way to final bus stop, the terminal in Old San Juan.
Alternatively you might want to enjoy the amazing coastal walk to get there. Taking roughly 1 hour you can soak in the beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean along a nice pavement.
The third option is take an Uber, it costs around $6-$8 and takes less than 10 minutes to get there.
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Things to See
1. El Morro Fort
Buy the $7 pass and explore El Morro fort. Open from 9am-6pm you can expect to spend an hour or two here. Built in the 16th century by the Spanish, the fort was created as a defense for the San Juan Bay. With informational signs dotted around the site, you’ll be able to learn about the history of the structures as you go!
Once you’ve finished taking in the sights, walk along the coast and use the same pass to look around San Cristobal – don’t miss the views over the cemetery against the coast as you go!
2. Paseo El Morro
Starting around the San Juan Gate this path follows the bay around the base of the great city walls of El Morro fort. With full views across the bay there’s plenty of things to see. Note that it can get pretty hot and sunny, even with the breeze off the water providing a bit of cooling – but make sure you wear sunblock.
3. Paseo de la Princesa
For another beautiful walkway in Old San Juan, Paseo de la Princesa is the perfect spot for a stroll. Originally built in the late 1800’s, the tree lined walkway is always a good spot for people watching. Grab a snack from one of the street vendors or purchase some locally made gifts or souvenirs. You’ll often find music or performers around in the evening.
4. La Perla
La Perla is an instagrammers dream! Recently repainted in bright colours, the neighbourhood has all sorts of houses, buildings and incredible ocean views to soak in. You’ll recognize some of the sites from the Despacito music video.
Described by Wikipedia as a ‘Shanty Town,’ La Perla was established in the late 19th century to house the less desirable residents outside the main city walls. On foot you can access the area from a couple of different points – look for the old city ‘gates.’
5. Parque las Palomas
Described by google as a ‘great spot for bird watching’ there’s a nice view from Parque las Palomas. If you’re in to pigeons you can buy seed from a local vendor, otherwise dodge past them to see the bronze shoe statues and admire the scenery over the harbor.
Best Places to Eat & Drink
A great place for breakfast, try a classic Mallorca – sweet bread with ham and cheese sprinkled with a little extra icing sugar. Don’t forget a cafe con leche! Open from 7am you can get an early start to the day here.
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Enjoy an afternoon cocktail at Barrachina, the birth place of the Pina Colada cocktail! The colonial style courtyard is a tranquil place to spend the afternoon, or just pull up a seat at the bar! They also serve Puerto Rican food.
Head off the beaten track and enjoy a healthy lunch at St Germain on the corner of Sol y Cruz – the sandwiches, salads and soups are delicious!