How to Tackle San Juan as a First Timer
With a rich history and culture, celebrated cuisine, and natural beauty spanning picturesque beaches and tropical rainforests, there’s plenty to see and do in San Juan. Here’s our list of must-dos and must-sees for first-timers.
Discover Old San Juan
There’s a reason Old San Juan is one of the most popular places to visit in Puerto Rico. With a history dating back to the 16th century, the area is full of colonial Spanish architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, vibrant colors, and plenty of charming shops and restaurants. Don't miss highlights such as Castillo de San Cristobal, El Morro, and Paseo de la Princessa.
Hit the Beaches and Islands
For a fun day the sun, don't miss one of the many beaches and islands around San Juan. Popular beaches included Condado Beach and Escambron Beach, while popular islands include Culebra and Vieques. Relax on a beautiful beach, catch some waves, or go snorkeling or scuba dive at the nearby coral reefs.
Try a Taste of Local Flavors
San Juan is home to a rich mix of flavors, thanks to its Spanish, African, and indigenous Taino influences. Try popular dishes like mofongo and tostones on a food tour or on your own. And don't forget to try the local beverages while in San Juan: Try a piña colada where it was invented or take a tour of the Bacardi factory. Alternatively, learn to salsa dance.
Explore a Tropical Rainforest
El Yunque is the only rainforest in the US, and it's home to more than 1,000 species of flora and fauna. In addition to its rich biodiversity, there’s plenty to do and see in El Yunque, with miles of hiking trails, treetop walkways, waterfalls, and scenic vistas all around. Explore on your own or opt for a guided tour.
Experience the Magic Bioluminescent Bays
There are only a few places in the world where bioluminescent plankton can be found consistently, and there are three close to San Juan: Fajardo, Mosquito Bay, and La Parguera. Experience the magic of setting the water aglow as you swim, snorkel, or kayak through the plankton in the bays at night.
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