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Exploring Old San Juan In A Day

There may be a lot of things you can’t find in Old San Juan–world-class hotels and beaches. But what it lacks, it makes up for a whole lot more. This colorful city has so much to offer that any tourist would surely regret not taking the time to roam around and take as many photos as they can. If you’re up for some culturally and historically rich adventure, look no further because Old San Juan is more than what you need.

There may be a lot of things you can’t find in Old San Juan–world-class hotels and beaches. But what it lacks, it makes up for a whole lot more. This colorful city has so much to offer that any tourist would surely regret not taking the time to roam around and take as many photos as they can. If you’re up for some culturally and historically rich adventure, look no further because Old San Juan is more than what you need.

Although it’s ideal to explore the city generously time-wise, it’s possible to tour around its richness and vast culture in just a day. Just a gentle warning, though. You’ve got to pack a good amount of energy and a fully-charged camera and phone if you want your day to end up perfectly as you’d hope for it to be.

The Best Time To Visit Old San Juan

There’s no perfect time to visit Old San Juan but today. Sure, their peak season usually falls around December until mid-April, but that only means higher hotel and resort rates. They may have a hurricane season from June to November, but it’s very unlikely that you’ll chance upon a severe hurricane. So, the best time to take a trip from Puerto Rico to visit Old San Juan is practically all the time. 

This hidden gem of a destination is waiting to be discovered. Don’t let the unlimited time intimidate you from getting to know this majestic spot. 

El Morro Castle in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
El Morro Castle in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Go Forth and Visit The Forts

Old San Juan is nestled amid massive fortresses that perfectly capture and describe the history of Puerto Rico. The El Morro, which is also called El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, is among the most famous fortresses that you shouldn’t miss while visiting the old city. Initially built as a military structure in the 1500s, this picturesque destination is now one of the world heritage sites of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Take great pictures of the layered defenses, ramparts, and cannons that have served as their guards for centuries. Other forts to check out are Castillo De San Cristobal and La Fortaleza. But take note that since you only have a day, you could consider visiting just one or two of their forts to make time for other sceneries of the city. 

Next Order Of Business: The Foodie Scene

You can’t complete an exploration without getting a taste of what a place has to offer in terms of its cuisine. Old San Juan offers a rewarding and diverse dining experience–from breakfast to dinner and even late evening drinks. 

Here for some tips on where to eat in San Juan:

  • Calle Fortaleza
  • Calle Francisco
  • Calle San Sebastian
  • Calle Tanca
  • Avenida Juan Ponce De Leon

While almost all streets boast of international and local cuisines alike, these focal points can narrow down your mindless roaming by a lot. You can find authentic Puerto Rican food, as well as other international tastes, such as calzones, pizzas, desserts, a variety of cocktails, and more.

Arts And Crafts For Souvenirs

What’s a day trip without something to bring home as a souvenir, right? If you like shopping, Old San Juan is known for its hand-crafted souvenirs that you can find at numerous shops that conveniently lie in the streets and corners of the city. Don’t forget to pick one of their iconic masks–the vejigante made from coconut husks or papier mache that’s inspired by a demon figure from one of their Spanish folklores of the medieval era.

Speaking of arts, you could also stroll down their several art galleries on Calle Cristo. The main gallery to check would probably be Galeria Botello that showcases incredible local and regional artistry.

Cap The Night Off With A Sunset Stroll

If you’ve spent the whole day strolling around, shopping, and taking photos of the colorful city, what better way to end the adventure than to watch the sunset? You could go for a walk along Paseo La Princesa, which offers a beautiful view of the docks that lead to the stunning Raices Fountain. If you’re there on a weekend, you could stumble upon a free cultural performance and different stalls line up on the side of the road.

If you still have some time left, you can go salsa dancing in one of their great cocktail spots, such as La Factoria on Calle San Jose or Piso Viejo, where you can enjoy free salsa lessons. Don’t miss the chance to drink a glass or two (maybe more of beer, cocktails, rum, and spritzes). But remember to drink responsibly as a tourist.

Final Words

There’s just so much to see, taste, and experience in Old San Juan. Maybe you think a day won’t be enough and yes, that may be true. But if you want to get a bit of everything it has to offer, you may want to consider this guide to help you out. By doing so, perhaps, the next time you go there, you can check out more sights and places to vary your adventure.