Experience tropical San Juan: its history, island views, beaches, and more!

Enjoy a tropical beach vacation in San Juan and explore the many historic sites in one of the oldest cities in the Americas.

The oldest part of the city, known as Old San Juan (El Viejo San Juan), is a small island connected to the mainland by bridges. Here, you’ll find many of the city’s most popular attractions, historic buildings, restaurants and shops.

Visit the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, which has a wide range of exhibits, regular cultural events and a beautiful botanical garden. Just a short walk away is the Catedral de San Juan where you can attend a Spanish mass or view the final resting place of Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer and the first Governor of Puerto Rico.

No trip to the area is complete without a visit to the San Juan National Historic Site. This massive complex is World Heritage listed and includes many of the city’s defensive walls and fortresses. Plan to spend several hours here as you can explore dungeons and tunnels, and climb towers for 140-feet-(42-meter) high views of the city.

San Juan is well known for its excellent shopping, so make the time to wander along the Calle del Cristo, Old San Juan’s popular shopping street. You’ll find famous international boutiques alongside merchants selling local goods.

Those looking to relax on the beach should head east of Old San Juan to Isla Verde. This beach is close to the main attractions, but far enough away to be a good place for some peace and quiet. For those with children, Luquillo Beach, where coral reefs protect a lagoon, is a great option.

Despite severe traffic congestion, residents and visitors to San Juan primarily travel by car, although a free tourist trolley runs in Old San Juan. Some areas offer a metro system and public buses, but the best option for visitors is usually either walking the shorter distances or taking advantage of a local trolley or taxi service.

Known for

Beaches, Historical Buildings and Excursions

Explore map

Where to stay in San Juan

Old San Juan
Image for Old San Juan

Old San Juan

Historical Buildings, Islands, Tropical

The fascinating museums and captivating waterfront views are top of the list for many visitors to Old San Juan. A stop by San Juan Cathedral or Castillo de San Cristobal might round out your trip.

San Juan Antiguo
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San Juan Antiguo

Historical Buildings, Beaches, Islands

4.5/5 (1,125 Ratings)

Walk down picturesque cobbled streets lined with centuries old buildings and some of the most popular historical attractions in Puerto Rico. 

Ocean Park
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Ocean Park

Beaches, Sea, Dining

4.5/5 (171 Ratings)

This cosmopolitan area of San Juan is a great place to experience the relaxed, contemporary culture of Puerto Rico.

Río Piedras
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Río Piedras

3.5/5 (5 Ratings)

While you're in Río Piedras, take in top sights like Jardin Botanico or Luis Munoz Marin Foundation, and hop on the metro to see more the city at Rio Piedras Station or Universidad Station.

Marina
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Marina

While visiting Marina, you might make a stop by sights like La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina and Port of San Juan.

San Mateo
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San Mateo

4.5/5 (35 Ratings)

Though San Mateo might not have many top sights, you can venture to the surrounding area to see attractions like Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum and Condado Beach.

Top Hotels in San Juan

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for Best Western Plus Condado Palm Inn & Suites
Best Western Plus Condado Palm Inn & Suites
3 out of 5
55 Condado Avenue, San Juan
$114/night
Sep 4 - Sep 5
4.1/5Very Good! (1,999 reviews)

This family-friendly San Juan hotel is located near the airport, within a 15-minute walk of Parque La Ventana al Mar and Plaza del Mercado. Condado Beach and ...

4.1/5Very Good! (1,999 reviews)

"There is a nice pool and amazing huge hot tub. The beds were a bit hard and the property is old, but clean. The breakfast was just breads.. like bagels, toast and cereal. Very plain. They should put out muffins instead."…"

Reviewed on Aug 19, 2019

Best Western Plus Condado Palm Inn & Suites
Image for CIQALA Luxury Suites
CIQALA Luxury Suites
4 out of 5
752 Manuel Fernandez Juncos Ave, San Juan
$130/night
Aug 26 - Aug 27
4.3/5Excellent! (1,801 reviews)

Situated in the historical district, this condo building is within a 15-minute walk of Nuestra Senora de Lourdes Chapel and Puerto Rico Convention Center. Condado ...

4.3/5Excellent! (1,801 reviews)

"Service was excellent. Staff was really welcoming. Hotel had an espectacular view from the rooftop"…"

Reviewed on Aug 21, 2019

CIQALA Luxury Suites
Image for Condado Vanderbilt Hotel
Condado Vanderbilt Hotel
5 out of 5
1055 Ashford Avenue, San Juan
$239/night
Sep 2 - Sep 3
4.7/5Exceptional! (2,403 reviews)

Located in San Juan, this beachfront hotel is in the city center and within a 10-minute walk of Parque La Ventana al Mar and Condado Beach. Puerto Rico Convention ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (2,403 reviews)

"The property was beautiful you wont even want to leave the hotel.The people are so knowledgable about everything on the Island.They make you feel welcomed and always have smiling faces.My family was so impressed with the amenities there as well.Thank you for making my family feel so Welcomed.I will ..."…"

Reviewed on Aug 20, 2019

Condado Vanderbilt Hotel

Popular things to do in San Juan

San Juan Gate
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San Juan Gate

4.5/5 (1,028 Ratings)

Enter San Juan through the last remaining gateway from the city’s walls and discover the military history of its atmospheric Old Town. 

San Juan Cathedral
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San Juan Cathedral

4.5/5 (801 Ratings)

Discover the curious relics and gorgeous stained-glass windows of Old San Juan’s religious treasure, a 16th-century cathedral with a colorful history.

La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina
Image for La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina

La Fortaleza - Palacio de Santa Catalina

4.5/5 (821 Ratings)

The official residence of the governor of Puerto Rico is a vast mansion and fortress that is open to the public on guided tours.

Castillo de San Cristobal
Image for Castillo de San Cristobal

Castillo de San Cristobal

4.5/5 (904 Ratings)

Marvel at a Spanish fortification on the edge of Old San Juan, a place full of haunting myths, fascinating history and stunning photography spots.

Condado Beach
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Condado Beach

4.5/5 (1,180 Ratings)

This beach within the bustling city of San Juan is the perfect place to relax for a few hours.

Escambron Beach
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Escambron Beach

4.5/5 (178 Ratings)

Swim in calm waters among colorful fish at a picturesque beach that is regularly voted one of the best in Puerto Rico. 

Top activities in San Juan

Bioluminescent Bay Night Kayaking Experience -Fajardo
Image for Bioluminescent Bay Night Kayaking Experience -Fajardo

Bioluminescent Bay Night Kayaking Experience -Fajardo

$43

Join our Night Kayaking Adventure and experience Bioluminescence! Paddle through the mystical Mangrove Forest Nature Reserve on your way to the unique Laguna Grande in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Our experienced and knowledgeable local tour guides will host you all the way.

El Yunque Rainforest Guided Hiking with Waterfall Tour
Image for El Yunque Rainforest Guided Hiking with Waterfall Tour

El Yunque Rainforest Guided Hiking with Waterfall Tour

$88

Come visit El Yunque Rainforest, the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System and a must-stop for all visitors of Puerto Rico! The Forest covers over 28,000 contiguous acres, with peaks, escarpments, myriad steams and waterfalls, and lush green vegetation housing various forest types.

Old San Juan Food & History Tour with Tastings
Image for Old San Juan Food & History Tour with Tastings

Old San Juan Food & History Tour with Tastings

$108

Become a foodie insider on a tour to 5 locally loved haunts in Old San Juan. With a local leading the way, stroll between mom-and-pop shops to sample some of Puerto Rico's most mouthwatering food and drinks such as artisan coffee, fresh ceviche, fried plantains, and iconic rum punch.

El Yunque National Forest Half Day Tour
Image for El Yunque National Forest Half Day Tour

El Yunque National Forest Half Day Tour

$65

Take time to escape to heaven on Earth in this half day tour and let the natural beauty of El Yunque Rainforest captivate you with its lush green vegetation, amazing flora, huge boulders, cascading rivers and scenic views.

Catamaran Sail & Snorkeling in the Caribbean with Lunch
Image for Catamaran Sail & Snorkeling in the Caribbean with Lunch

Catamaran Sail & Snorkeling in the Caribbean with Lunch

$112

An awe-inspiring array of sea creatures await beneath the turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea. Sail to a secluded island for an unforgettable beach day. Bask in the sun, collect seashells, snorkel in the warm water, and savor a scrumptious lunch before sailing back to San Juan.

Hike, Swim and Drink in Mangrove National Forest
Image for Hike, Swim and Drink in Mangrove National Forest

Hike, Swim and Drink in Mangrove National Forest

$41

Once you have booked a day before departure, your driver will contact you and design the route and complimentary hotel pick-up. Pick-up time will be before 9am. Walk at your own pace; the tour will then head through a path of Mangrove Forest, a mile long until you will reach the beach.

Reviews of San Juan

4.5

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
1776
4 - Good
817
3 - Okay
164
2 - Disappointing
17
1 - Terrible
8

5/5 - Excellent

S.

Aug 21, 2019

Very clean. Nice shops and restaurants

5/5 - Excellent

Bruce

Aug 21, 2019

Parts are still recovering from the hurricane. Still visible building damage & bad street lights However, the beaches and Old San Juan, most of my favorite restaurants, the roads are fine. Have been there before 2017 and planning a return soon.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Aug 21, 2019

Great city with so much colonial charm and hip experiences. The beaches are just sublime.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Aug 21, 2019

Beautiful place to visit, has everything you are looking for

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Aug 21, 2019

Great place so much to do

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Aug 20, 2019

Overall it was pleasing. A nice vacation.