Old San Juan is one place visitors ought to be on the top places to visit while in Puerto Rico. Old San is the most popular cruise port in the Caribbean, thousands of visitors head to the forts and the colorful streets experience the wonders of this magical city. Once you get here you’ll understand why Old San Juan is such a popular and beloved place. In order to understand its charm, visitors are encouraged to put on comfortable walking shoes and walk the cobblestone streets and alley ways. Before you begin exploring the Old San Juan, please take a few minutes to read through the following tips, so you’re better prepared and have a more enjoyable visit.
- Cost of visiting Old San Juan: You don’t have to spend much to enjoy Old San Juan, part of the magic is simply observing the architecture and most historical buildings are free to enter. Entry the forts is just $5 for ages 15 and older, you can see both for a little extra. There are plenty of restaurants for every budget. Food trucks along Princesa offer great food at great prices. Some museums charge a small fee to enter.
Foot wear: Wear comfortable shoes or sandals, no high heels. You’ll be walking in five century old cobblestone on the most beautiful streets, with uneven surface and areas with broken stones.
Topography of Old San Juan: From south to north, the historic town runs uphill. – Visitors with average physical fitness will walk comfortably. If you have limited mobility or prefer to have an easier walk, simply take the trolley up to the forts and then walk the streets down from the north side.
Staying healthy – you’re in Puerto Rico with tropical warm weather all year round, hotter and more humid in the summer. You’ll be walking most of the time, it is very important to do the following to stay healthy during your visit:
- Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water often throughout the day, even when you think you don’t need it. There are various pharmacies where you can buy cold water, as well as street vendors every few other blocks. We love the …..flask, pays for itself fast, keeps water very cold and environmentally friendly.
- Protect your skin: Avoid sunburn and sun poisoning, by wearing sunscreen often throughout the day.
- Tip: Having a backpack makes travels much easier when walking the city. (links to water bottle, wipes, etc.)
Staying safe: Old San Juan is a safe residential and tourist area, the police presence is very strong, more than any other tourist destination in Puerto Rico. Police presence is strong primarily because Old San Juan is home to La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion / residence as well as governmental offices; second, it is the most visited tourist destination in Puerto Rico and police is there to keep visitors comfortable. Policemen are friendly and specifically trained to help tourists in the Old San Juan area, they’re happy to answer any questions and direct you if you need to find a particular place. Don’t hesitate to ask for help in a medical or personal emergency.
Getting around: Old San Juan is best enjoyed by foot. If you prefer to do less walking, hop on the free trolley, offering 3 routes.
- Time needed to explore Old San Juan: it depends on what type of traveler / tourist you are… If you’re a history buff, a foodie, or love shopping, you can easily spend a week in the city. The average visitor will need about two days to visit the top attractions and one day to see San Juan National Historic Site, eat and find a scenic spot to relax.
- Walking Tours: You may start your tour at the Tourist office, they have a number of pamphlets and maps to help you plan your visit. You can explore Old San juan on your own with our self-guided tour guide (coming soon). You may also book a number of walking tours, the tour guides do an excellent job, you will visit places, hear stories and historical details you would miss with a self guided tour.
- Crowds: Old San Juan is the most popular cruise stop in the Caribbean, during cruise days, there are many people walking around the city, it becomes more vibrant due to the special events that the Puerto Rico Touristm Company holds to welcome and entertain visitors. Somehow, Old San Juan does not lose it’s magic, streets are busier with people, yet it feels relaxed. Along Paseo Princesa, more artisans showcase their crafts, there’s live music and great food, so don’t stay away when it’s crowded.
- Old San Juan at Night: Old San Juan is wonderful at night, elegant lanterns light up the city to a golden glow. Romantic restaurants light up, music plays at the squares on special nights and dance clubs lure people in with the sounds of salsa. Visitors can feel safe walking the streets, police presence remains strong at night.
- Events: Old San Juan is the cultural hub of Puerto Rico, celebrating many events throughout the year both residents and visitors can enjoy. Check the tourist office when you arrive for a calendar of events.