Old San Juan

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San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan  - A place to cool down
Old San Juan  - Residence of the governor
Old San Juan  - Cobble stone streets
Old San Juan  - The old city gate of Old San Juan
Old San Juan  - Map, so you don't get lost ;)
Old San Juan  - Looking towards San Cristobal
Old San Juan  - Along the old wall in Old San Juan.

Old San Juan Reviews

braveheart89 bravehea…
1 reviews
A few usuful information on Old San Juan Apr 12, 2011
I visited Puerto Rico during the Christmas break. It was a short trip but I came back with many great memories. Would recommend to anybody to go check out the island.

Things to see:

* San Juan National Historic Site, 501 Norzagaray Street, (787) 729-6960, [1]. Open 9AM-5PM June through November, and 9AM-6PM December through May. The park consists of multiple sites. Castillo San Cristóbal is one of the largest Spanish fortresses in the new world, and has a National Park Service visitor center off of Avenida Luis Muñoz Rivera. The center offers English and Spanish versions of an introductory film to the Historic Site, exhibits, and a bookshop. Castillo San Felipe del Morro (or el Morro) is a citadel with a commanding view of the entrance to San Juan Harbor, located at the end of Calle Norzagaray. The extensive esplanade between the citadel and the town is popular for kite flying. A single entrance fee to both forts is $5/week (children under 12 are free). Allow at least an hour to explore each fort. The park also includes most of the historic city walls, and tiny Fortín San Juan de la Cruz (or el Cañuelo) located across the harbor on Isla de Cabras.

1. Alcadia - San Juan's City hall, built in 1602.

2. The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture

3. Casa Blanca, western end of Calle San Sebastián, (787) 721-7000, ext. 2358. Ancestral home of the Ponce de Leon family, now a museum.

4. La Fortaleza, western end of Calle Fortaleza, (787) 724-1454.- Oldest governor's mansion in continuous use in the New World.

5. San Jose Church - (1532) Second oldest church in continuous use in the New World.

6. San Juan Cathedral, 153 Calle Cristo. (1540) Burial site of Ponce de Leon.

7. San Juan Gate - Traditional entrance to San Juan.

8. Ballaja Barracks - Museum of Americas highlights colorful folk art.

9. La Casa del Libro - Museum of the art and history books through five centuries.


By taxi

It is $20 to go within Old San Juan by taxi, and this option may be best if you are not practically dressed or not in comfortable walking shoes, or traveling as someone or with someone who cannot walk long distances easily.

[edit] By public transportation

Buses do not actually go into Old San Juan, and one walk across the cobblestone roads will show you why. However, they do serve a major bus station on the harbor side of the area, near one of the major cruise ship piers. There is a free, often-running trolley that takes people around the forts, museums, and the center of Old San Juan. Trolley stops are marked with yellow banners that show an illustration of a trolley and a number that indicates which stop it is. You can get on or off at any designated stop, and the trolley driver will help you find your stop if you aren't sure. If you're feeling a bit warm in the midday heat, hop on a white trolley which is open on the sides to catch a nice breeze while speeding to your destination. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, when cruise ships bring in hundreds of tourists, the trolley is often completely full and does not pick up new passengers. Try to go early.

[edit] On foot

The attractions of Old San Juan are technically within walking distance of each other, although the climate and topography can make this untrue in practice. Even if the locals wear nice shoes or sandals, you should wear comfortable walking shoes, as you will scale a few hills and a lot of cobblestone while getting around. Even within the pedestrian metropolis that is Old San Juan, cars will speed through intersections, so use the same amount of caution as you do in other parts of San Juan and wait for cars to stop for you. Do not try to stop traffic unless it is urgent that you cross the street, and if you must then make sure you have made eye contact with the driver and there is no possibility that the car behind it can bypass him from the side and proceed across the intersection. Sidewalks are very narrow and sometimes may have grooves or tripping hazards, so be careful.

While definitely part of Old San Juan's charm, the identical-looking architecture of Old San Juan's buildings can be a nuisance to tourists trying to use landmarks or memory to find something. Don't wait to get to Old San Juan to get a map, get one beforehand and study it so you know what streets take you to your destination and what streets don't. Don't try to use landmarks until you are used to navigating the city, especially since the heat and tiredness from walking can wear you out more quickly than you think. If you get lost or confused, find a bench and pull out your map, which should be readily available to you. Locals will also try to respond to simple requests for help. Don't try to walk yourself back into familiar territory. If you are trying to find a specific museum or restaurant that is not one of the major ones, memorize the address and street. If you know exactly where you are and where you are going, you should find navigating Old San Juan on foot very easy and enjoyable.


Do NOT enter La Perla; this is one of the most dangerous (if not the most dangerous part) parts of Puerto Rico. Drug trafficking and lawlessness are rampant in this neighborhood. La Perla is a hot spot for criminals and drug lords. Risks of getting robbed, seriously injured, or murdered are high. Police will usually not be able to assist you if you find yourself in trouble in this area. Under no circumstance should you approach or enter this area.
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xeakon xeakon
2 reviews
Old San Juan Jul 04, 2011
Old San Juan is a must see in Puerto Rico. Yes, it's touristy. Yes, it's crowded with cruise-goers. But old San Juan has some of the best architecture in the Caribbean, and the buildings still retain their authenticity. Avoid the casino, and enjoy the small streets and the open squares.
aravindc aravindc
2 reviews
Nice islands May 11, 2011
This is a group of beautiful islands offering good amount of outdoor activities to do. You can take your car and catch the ferry from anacorits to go there, take a bicycle as well to enjoy scenic trails.
HuBison HuBison
417 reviews
Other info May 09, 2010
I was trying to think of what additional info I could add about Old San Juan instead of all the great info that was already posted, but it's hard.

If you have a good street map, it's a great place to wander with it's narrow cobble-stone streets and colorful homes. Some homes are abandoned, but that seems to add character to the street.

As you walk from El Morro along the coast to San Cristobal, there's a shanty looking neighborhood adjunct to the coast. I imagine that if you didn't walk down the steep road that led to the neighborhood or didn't wander around there at night, you'd be fine. Old San Juan is like any major metropolitan city in that you should always have your wits about you-if you're a woman traveling the streets solo, don't go down the narrowest and darkest street at night, etc...

At any given day, there could be a festival, or a new restaurant, or a new kite flying high above El Morro-enjoy your time in Old San Juan. There are variety of street vendors and goods to be bought or you could have a relaxing time. If you came in from Isla Verde or other parts of the island by bus, be sure to know what time public service back to your neighborhood ends-it could be as early as 9pm.

If you have to be back at your cruise ship by a certain time, start heading back a little earlier as you may pass the governor's mansion and may want to stop and take pictures; you might stop at a few vendors or grab a snack at a cafe-there are lots of things to snag your interest.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
trixieSpot914 trixieSp…
6 reviews
Relics of the Past & images of the Present Sep 09, 2008
walking along narrow cobbled streets & alleyways & finding small shops selling merchandise or restaurants offering a selection of international food or refreshment, locals offering their handicrafts of fancy jewelry made of colored stones & silver wires, hand rolled cigars, magical potions & amulets & voodoo dools makes this part of the trip more interesting.. my grandson pointed out a young man riding on a board rolling at fast speed down a long road full of cars & trucks & expertly weaving himself through traffic -- it was a nervy sight for me but exciting for the kids.. they waved to the young man & ask him to pose & do his thing for them as they took pictures as he smilingly oblidged! we just saw the Fort from the outside with it's massive walls & fortress-like architecture but couldn't go inside as all the kids were protesting.. but this place is something a tourist should visit better alone or with another adult but not with children as they won't like the walking & looking at old buildings, lolz.. i will definitely visit this place again & will then write my personal experience but for now, the other travel blogs will give you a better picture of this amazing tourist spot!:)
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
missandrea81 missandr…
147 reviews
One place combining lots of sights in one May 23, 2008
Old San Juan to me is the number one thing to see in San Juan. The rest of the city is very spread out and mostly residence to the island's people.

Old San Juan can be walked without need of a tourist bus or taxi. How you get here depends on where you are staying. Most of the hotels are located near by anyways, on Isla Verde or Contado.

Old San Juan is home of the two fortresses El Morro and San Cristobal. The cobble stone streets of this part of town really reflect how aged this place really is. Most of the streets are very narrow and just much easier to go through on foot. There are restaurants, bars, shops and gift opportunities lining the streets. A couple of old churches, museums and little plazas are also found here.

If you got here on a cruise ship your pretty much right next to Old San Juan. If you walk down Paseo de la Princessa you can access Old San Juan through the old city gate or walk around the fortress wall first and then explore the city. All you really need to see is right here!! So if you don't have much time on land I highly recommend to check it out!
The old city gate of Old San Juan
Looking towards San Cristobal
Residence of the governor
A place to cool down
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
missandrea81 says:
hahaha... yes, I know, but there might still be someone out there that doesn't know how great it is!!
Posted on: Jun 21, 2008
Sunflower300 says:
You don't need to convince me. :)
Posted on: Jun 20, 2008
fran2011 fran2011
24 reviews
Jun 10, 2007
San Juan is just one of the many places to visit in Puerto Rico. As I have lived all my life here, I've been to most parts of the island.

The metropolitan area of San Juan can be divided into different areas, like Old San Juan, Condado, Hato Rey, Guaynabo, Carolina, Bayamon, and Rio Piedras. The most popular areas include Old San Juan and Condado. But, there is so much more to see than just the old city and the most known monuments and museums. It is also impossible to list all the attractions in San Juan, because they are endless.

Let's start out with Old San Juan. This is a culturally rich area of San Juan, as it evidently shows remnants of its Spanish past. El Morro is, I think, THE most popular tourist attraction in Old San Juan. Its location at the tip of the bay's entrance served as a strategic fort, protecting the city from foreign invasions. The location also gives you amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean. In front of El Morro is a big expanse of green grass where winds from the ocean make the place ideal for flying kites. Keep and eye out for the cart vendors nearby who sell sno-cones, (in Spanish called "piraguas"). Apart from El Morro, there is also a major fort near the entrance to the old city, (where Plaza Colon is). The fort's abbreviated name is San Cristobal, and was built to protect the entrance of the city from enemies. This fort is bigger than El Morro and is not as visited, so it makes a good tourist attraction. Nearby is Plaza Colon, which is a square dedicated to Christopher Columbus. In the middle of it there is a large column, and on the top stands Columbus. There is also a theater, called "El Teatro Tapia", facing the square. Farther out from the old city is "El Capitolio", or the Capitol building of San Juan.

Condado is located next to (separated by a bay) Old San Juan, and is an area of many hotels, restaurants, and highrises. Here there are plenty of beaches, and time to relax. There is also a big variety of restaurants, serving delicious food.
Along the old wall in Old San Juan.
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
vances says:
Francisco - thanks for the smile and I wish I had known you a couple weeks ago! I found very little about Puerto Rico and even posted a request that received zero replies. Let me know if I made any mistakes in my blog and I'll be in touch when we return to your splendid island!
Posted on: Jun 18, 2007
fran2011 fran2011
24 reviews
Jun 26, 2007
Old San Juan is one of the best areas in PR, if not the best, for nightlife . In fact, many locals and travelers alike enjoy its many bars, lounges, and restaurants. There are special restaurants like "Tantras", a mix or "fusion" of Indian and Hispanic cuisines, and "Al dente", a very good Italian joint. Apart from the amazing restaurants, there are plenty of local bars, but better yet are the lounges. There is a type lounge/bar called "SeNor Frogs", which serves up great alcoholic beverages, and is pretty popular in PR and abroad. "Tantras" has a good lounge area, so I would recommend anyone looking for nightlife here to visit it. In the "Calle de Cristo" many good bars await you, some with nice, Latino music. Overall, Old San Juan serves up the best time you could ever have at night in PR, maybe in the world!
One of the many nice restaurants i…
Wannaseethebigworld says:
This is a great review and just may convince my friend to go with me :-) Thank you!
Posted on: Dec 05, 2009
gregisco says:
sounds like an awesome place
Posted on: Jan 01, 2009
wmier2 says:
Thanks Fran! That was very helpful and very informative!!
Posted on: Jul 05, 2007

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