I must tell you why Old San Juan is one of my favourite city in the Caribbean, can I say this is my 4th-time visiting San Juan, PR and I can’t wait to go back to discover more about this vibrant island!
Here are a few local insights on things to do if you transiting or travelling to Puerto Rico, take the time to walk through the streets of Old San Juan, it’s worth the trip!
1- Private walking tour Old San Juan
You can Walk through the coloured streets of Old San Juan, one of the most beautiful old cities in the world, with a private guide or by yourself. Although having a private tour will help you understand the history and the importance of this beautiful place. Old San Juan has been part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1966, and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. There is a lot to see and enjoy in this small town. San Juan is one of the biggest cruise ship port transiting in the Caribbean, do not miss the chance to see the biggest cruise ships stopping by almost every day!
You can consult the Luxury Travel Guide Tour operator website or the Puerto Rico Tourism Board for more info to hire qualified guided tour or tourism office location for a city map.
2- San Felipe del Morro Fort
Get your history facts right by visiting El Morro Fort, or officially Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, stands guard at the entrance to San Juan harbour as a reminder of a by-gone era when invading countries would attempt sea attacks to take this prized city and harbour.
This beautiful 6-level fort was named in honour of Spain’s King Philip II. The Fort wasn’t initially built as the huge structure that you see today. It has gone through many enlargements and modifications, from the time it was first constructed by Spain through the time that it was occupied by the US Army.
The National Park Service supplies you with a map when you pay your entrance fee. You can use that map, and the descriptions of the different parts of the fort, to do a self-guided tour of sorts.
When you visit El Morro, you can sit and watch a short movie about the battles and construction of the forts. It runs continuously all day and is shown in English on the hour and ½ hour, and Spanish on the ¼ and ¾ hour.
3- San Juan National historic free trolley tour
This free trolley tour is a genius way to oversee the hidden gems of Old San Juan!
It goes all the way around town, with a local driver that can give you some insights about the city, monuments, landscape and more.
There are 4 Trolley routes you can take and all of them are free. Just to mention there are not tours so there is no tour guide to explain what you see along the way, but if you are tired and need to sit for a while they are a good place to get where you are going. Just know they will not get you there quickly. Also, there is no set schedule of pickup times. Most trolley stops are just a few steps from the most popular monuments, sightseeing location, museums…
4- Rum tasting tour at Casa Bacardi
Come explore the new Bacardí Visitor Center. Learn about the past, present and future of the world’s most awarded rum and Spirit. Relive the history and see how Bacardí evolved from being a small rum manufacturer to becoming the Untamable Spirit that it is today.
You will be able to learn in Rum tasting class about the attributes of the finest rums within the Bacardí portfolio. In their mixology class, you will learn how to prepare their legendary cocktails. Visit their gift shop and find an array of Bacardí Rums, souvenirs and collectables. Enjoy the view of Old San Juan from a pavilion that’s shaped like a bat, or just sit back and relax within the lounge and savour their new culinary delights. You will find out why travellers have made Bacardí a must see when they visit Puerto Rico.
5- San Juan snorkel and picnic cruise
Not in the mood for any walking tours, jump off to this catamaran experience in the city!
Get a taste of the island life during this full-day catamaran cruise and snorkelling trip to a nearby nature reserve, where you’ll explore the tropical isle of Icacos. Pretend you’re Jacques Cousteau as you snorkel among the area’s fantastic marine life, then stroll the deserted beaches of a protected island for some shell hunting and sunbathing. Along the way enjoy a buffet lunch, with included rum punch or piña coladas, plus optional hotel pickup and drop-off from select properties in San Juan.
6- Flavors of San Juan, food tour in Puerto Rico
Calling all foodies lovers, this one is just right for you! Become a foodie insider with flavours of San Juan Food & Culture Tours in Puerto Rico’s original food and cultural tour of Old San Juan. Flavors of San Juan will take you on a progressive walk and eat our way through the city!
You’ll sample up to 10 sips and bites at multiple tasting spots while you see the real Old San Juan and learn about the “Fortress City’s” personality, rich history and interesting local tales. Indulge yourself and savour Puerto Rican “must eat” cuisine, like local single origin coffee, artisanal paletas, rich chocolate, fresh ceviche and even make your own signature Puerto Rican dish: Mofongo. Skip the lines and dine for the “in” on “do not miss” restaurants and foodie scenes in and around the city. By the end, I’ll guarantee you’ll know the best places to dine in Old San Juan.
Bilingual tour guides available, tours depart in the morning and afternoon.
7 – Arch tours PR
While in Old San Juan, enjoy a fun cultural activity enriched with amazing and entertaining information. Discover unknown facts and hidden places that you will not find with any self-guidebook or tour guide in Puerto Rico. Experience an exclusive tour where Arch Tours PR will share with you his 20-plus years of experience as a historical architect and preservation expert working on the study, conservation and protection of this city and its fortifications.
It doesn’t matter if you are a first time visitor, coming to Puerto Rico for business or pleasure, or a local resident, looking for an original and fascinating experience for yourself, for an out-of-town friend or a client. Share a walking tour with Arch Tours PR and you will never see Old San Juan the same way again!
8- Taste of Mofongo at Raices, traditional restaurant
Mofongo is an Afro-Puerto Rican dish with fried plantains as its main ingredient. Plantains are picked green and fried then mashed with salt, garlic and oil in a wooden pilón, a kitchen device also known as mortar and pestle. We strongly suggest you try Mofongo in one of the most traditional decors and atmosphere at Raices.It is everything you want and more in authentic Puerto Rican food. Great service, great price and great food. They have a fun theme of the original “jibaro” of Puerto Rico.
Make sure you make a booking beforehand as it can be very busy at times.
9- La Terraza de Bonanza, Avenida Eduardo Condo, Santurce, San Juan
On a night out, go Enjoy Puerto Ricantorican live music!
I’d give it 5 stars for authenticPuerto Rican street bar ambiance. It is a must go on Monday night, yes on Monday!
Have fun with locals and dance the night away on bomba rhythms and cheap food and drinks, no cover, what else to ask?
10- Fortaleza street by night
Fortaleza street starts in front of La Fortaleza, governor’s house, full of shops and restaurant. You can find any type of food. Visit Barrachina where the Piña Colada was invented. The area is vibrant with many bars and restaurants. A great place to for food or drink or even a stroll.
I love walking down Fortaleza and seeing the Christmas decorations. This is a place where the lights reflect the Spanish character of the town.Tags:Puerto Rico, San Juan, travel