+ Castillo San Felipe del Morro
This 6-level fort is magical both inside and out and is the most popular fort in San Juan. Again, make sure to bring your camera while exploring all levels of the fort. The “El Morro” exterior grounds are some of the most beautiful and beloved attractions in Puerto Rico and home to many cultural events, excellent kite-flying in the trade winds.
+ Castillo San Cristobal
Covering 27 acres, this is the largest Spanish fort in the New World and an architectural masterpiece, allowing you to travel back 500 years, it is a must-see during your visit to Old San Juan. Whether you’re a history buff or not, you’ll want to spend a few hours inside. Make sure to bring your camera for breathtaking photo opportunities. Group tours with friendly park rangers are available, or you may walk on your own.
+ Paseo de la Princesa
La Fortaleza / The Governor’s Mansion
+ La Fortaleza / Palacio Santa Catalina
Cathedral San Juan Bautista
+ Cathedral San Juan Bautista
This Cathedral is one of the most important religious landmarks in Puerto Rico, the oldest church under the US Flag and the second oldest church in the Americas. The San Juan Cathedral was also the first school in Puerto Rico and the first under the U.S. Flag. The remains of Juan Ponce de Leon rest inside the church. The cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Puerto Rico. Catedral San Juan Bautista dates back to 1521. The Spanish sailors walked into the city through the San Juan Gate and had the tradition of stopping at this church to thank God for a safe voyage. Famous celebrities choose the San Juan Cathedral to say “I do”. If you happen to be here at Christmas, be sure to get here early to enjoy one of the most beautiful Christmas services on the island. A tomb with the remains of Ponce de Leon and a mummified body of St. Pio are at the Cathedral. Cathedral is open daily from 8 am – 4 pm and Sundays from 8 am – 2 pm.
Location: Calle del Cristo, across from El Convento Hotel. See the map below.
+ Casa Blanca
Visit the first fortification in San Juan, built as the home of Juan Ponce de Leon, the first governor of Puerto Rico. Enjoy a self-guided tour of beautiful gardens, living spaces of the family’s mansion, and a small museum with exhibits of 16th and 17th-century artifacts. + Casa Blanca – San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Ballajá Barracks
+ Museo de Las Americas
After touring the magnificent Fortress of El Morro, walk across to Cuartel de Ballaja, built between 1854 y 1864 to house Spanish soldiers and their families. Today Cuartel Ballaja is a cultural center housing Museo de Las Americas, a coffee shop, restaurant, dance school, and some offices. As soon as you walk into the courtyard, your eyes will wander admiring the elegant architecture. Head to Cafe Don Ruiz for a great cup of Cafe con Leche or have lunch at one of the restaurants by the courtyard. Then head to the second floor to visit Museo de la Americas, where you can visit a number of exhibits showcasing aspects of the history of Puerto Rico and the Americas. Works by renowned artists of Latin America, the United States, and Puerto Rico are featured throughout the year. During crowded cruise days in Old San Juan, Cuartel de Ballaja tends to be quiet and relaxed.
+ Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery
Most people don’t connect visiting a cemetery with a Caribbean vacation, but it is definitely worth visiting this Puerto Rican landmark. The cemetery sits outside the 20-foot walls of fort El Morro – overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Many notable Puerto Ricans are buried here. Puerto Ricans consider this cemetery the ultimate location as a final resting place… families paying top dollar for a spot. Walk through unique ornate marble thumbs, some depicting stories of love and family.
Among notable Puerto Ricans buried at Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery: Jose Celso Barbosa, Pedro Albizu Campos, Jose de Diego, and the infamous real pirate of the Caribbean Roberto Cofresi. If you don’t have the time to visit, you can take a peek from the grounds of El Morro Fort.