25 Best Things To Do in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico (Plus Travel Tips)

25 Best Things To Do In Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has easily become one of our favorite Caribbean destinations. During your trip to Puerto Rico, Old San Juan is a must on any travel itinerary! From charming streets, ocean views, history, and more, Old San Juan has a lot to offer. In this Puerto Rico travel guide, find some of the best things to do in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico! 

Side of El Morro fort in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Side of El Morro fort in Old San Juan

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1. Castillo San Felipe del Morro El Morro Fort 

El Morro Fort is easily one of the best things to do in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. This San Juan National Historic Site was built between the 16th and 18th centuries. Founded by Spanish settlers, these fortress walls were designed to help protect Old San Juan from intruders, including pirates! 

In 1898 Puerto Rico was taken over by the United States after the Spanish American War. El Morro was then actively used by the military during World War I and II. 

Finally, in 1961, El Morro Fort was retired and turned into a National Park and Museum that we get to enjoy today.

During your visit, enjoy sweeping views of the ocean while exploring the history of the Fort. You can even enjoy a picnic on the giant front lawn like many locals.  This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Admission: $10 USD and is valid for 24-hours to access both fortifications. Children (15-years and younger): Free

Address: 501 Calle Norzagaray, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Castillo San Felipe del Morro Puerto Rico
View from El Morro Fort in Old San Juan

2. Castillo San Cristóbal

Located on the opposite end is Castillo San Cristóbal. Both Castillo San Cristóbal and El Morro worked in conjunction to keep enemies out by cross-firing intruding ships. This fort was named after the Saint patron of land travelers, Saint Christopher, Castillo San Cristobal.

It was considered the largest fortress built in the Americas at the time and is another one of the best things to do in Old San Juan!

Admission for El Morro or Castillo San Cristóbal will give you entry into both forts, so you only need to pay one admission fee.

3. Fortaleza Street (Famous Photographed Street in Old San Juan)

One of the most photographed streets in Old San Juan is Fortaleza Street. The decorations change, but this is where they have hung the umbrellas, kites, and now giant Puerto Rican Flag. 

Leading to the gates of the Governor’s house, La Fortaleza, you get to see both in one shot! It is also one of the most Instagrammable places in Puerto Rico.

Address: C. de la Fortaleza, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Fortaleza Street Old San Juan
Fortaleza Street Old San Juan where umbrellas used to be hung

4. The Black Puerto Rican Flag Mural

If you love murals, visiting The Black Puerto Rican Flag Mural is another one of the best things to do in Old San Juan. The flag is painted on the door of an old abandoned building. The mural imagery stands for Puerto Rico’s fight against the collapse of the educational system, healthcare workforce, and more!

Address: Found on Calle De San Jose between Calle De Sol and Calle De Sebastian.

Old San Juan Puerto Rico Black Flag
Old San Juan has tons of fun things to do in Puerto Rico

5. Try A Piña Colada in Old San Juan

Did you know that Old San Juan is said to be the birthplace of the Pina Colada? That’s right, and you can have one at the restaurant that is said to have invented it, Barrachina!

The Pina Colada is actually the Offical Drink of Puerto Rico, so if you want to get your drink on, add visiting Barrachina to your things to do in Old San Juan!

Address: 104 Calle de la Fortaleza, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Having a Pina Colada at Barrachina is one of the best things to do in Old San Juan

6. Walk Around the Streets in Old San Juan

The most charming streets in Puerto Rico can be found in Old San Juan. From the metallic cobblestone streets to the brightly colored homes, you can get lost just walking around!

If you love pastel Caribbean homes with Spanish influence, it is another one of the best things to do in Old San Juan!

In general, Old San Juan is extremely walkable, so you don’t need a car. Actually, I would recommend against having a car in Old San Juan since the streets are narrow and parking is almost impossible.

If you do need a ride somewhere, Uber has a good presence in Old San Juan and the cost is affordable. 

Some of my favorite streets around Old San Juan include:

  • The Caficultura (restaurant) side Street has a really pretty cobblestone alley with lots of colorful buildings on either side. The restaurant is also very good! Address: San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
  • Street of Calle de la Luna Cross Section Calle De San Jose is another really pretty area. It is close to the Black Flag Mural and has new colorful buildings on one side and older buildings on the other. It makes for a very cool contrast.
  • Caleta de las Monjas street looks down at the ocean with beautiful colored buildings on either side.
Explore Colorful streets in Old San Juan Puerto Rico.
Colorful street in Old San Juan by Caficultura
Street of Calle de la Luna & Calle De San Jose in Old San Juan is one of the best colorful streets to see.
Street of Calle de la Luna & Calle De San Jose in Old San Juan

7. Plazuela La Rogativa

Down your way from Caleta de Las Monjas Street, find Palzuela La Rogativa. This small plaza offers a sweeping viewpoint of Old San Juan.

From Palzuela La Rogativa, you can see the ocean right below you, as well as the back of La Fortaleza, and even the El Yunque Rainforest from a distance.

I think it is an underrated spot for nice views in Old San Juan. This is a great place to also enjoy San Juan sunsets.

You will also see the sculpture that commemorates a women-led religious procession that took place in 1797. 

Address: Caleta de las Monjas, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Plazuela La Rogativa photo-worthy view point in Old San Juan
Plazuela La Rogativa Viewpoint

8. Visit Plaza Del Quinto Centenario 

The Plaza Del Quinto Centenario is a charming plaza near El Morro Fort. It was built in 1992 to honor Columbus’ first voyage.

In the middle of the plaza, you will find a tall clay monument known as an El Tótem Telúrico. It is made to symbolize the origin of a new world. There is also a splash area that comes in handy from the high humidity in Old San Juan if you are looking to cool down!

Address: Calle del Cristo, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico

Plaza Del Quinto Centenario in Old San Juan Puerto Rico is another one of the best things to do
Plaza Del Quinto Centenario

9. Save a Gato in Old San Juan

 Do you love cats? Find a cat rescue at Save a Gato, where they take care of the stray cats of Old San Juan! As you start getting closer, you will see an abundance of cats in the area. 

We knew we were getting close when walking down Caleta de las Monjas Street. Additionally, the area also provides views of the ocean and La Fortaleza (the official residence of the Puertorican Governor). So if you want to cuddle cute kitties, definitely consider adding Save a Gato to your list of things to do in Old San Juan!

Address: Ballajá, San Juan, Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Save a Gato in Old San Juan Puerto Rico is one of the best things to do

10. Visit Hotel El Convento

Even if you are not staying at the luxurious Hotel El Convento, it is worth a visit. This hotel is known as one of the most Instagrammable hotels in Old San Juan, and they are also known for its great dining options.

The surrounding areas of the hotel are also known as a top photography spot with pastel buildings and an alley full of plants!

Add wandering through Old San Juan streets as one of the things to do in Puerto Rico
Colorful alley in Old San Juan by Hotel El Convento

11. Visit Callejon de la Puerta Bandera Painted Puerto Rican Flag Door

Another cool mural in Old San Juan is the Callejon de la Puerta Bandera Painted Puerto Rican Flag Door. As you might have already noticed, Puerto Rico loves showing their flag off! So here, you will find a large Puerto Rican Flag Mural on a door.

Address: Calle Imperial, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

12. Go on a Food Tour in San Juan

Puerto Rico is known to have an incredible culinary scene. Therefore, doing an Old San Juan food tour is a great opportunity to experience some of the best authentic Puerto Rican food.

If you’re not into trying food, you can even consider doing a walking tour around Old San Juan since the city is so walkable and has tons of history. Both activities are easily some of the best things to do in Old San Juan if you want a local and more authentic experience.

Waffle-era Tea Room alias La Waflera in Old San Juan
Waffle-era Tea Room alias La Waflera

13. Visit La Perla

La Perla may be one of the most colorful neighborhoods in Puerto Rico and may have got its claim to fame after Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee filmed Despasito.

This neighborhood was not always safe to visit, however, a lot has changed over the years. While you should still use precautions and be respectful of the locals, tourists have been welcomed to the area. It is still not recommended to visit at night and going with a tour guide will give you the best opportunity to learn about the culture here.

14. Experience Casa Bacardi Rum Distillery

Ok, so Casa Bacardi might not be directly in Old San Juan, but it is close enough! Did you know Bacardi Rum is still a family-owned business? On top of that, Casa Bacardi is the largest Rum Distillery in the World and it’s right in Puerto Rico!

Even if you are not a big drinker, I could still recommend Casa Bacardi. You get to learn about the history of the company along with learning the process of how rum is distilled. 

We scheduled a historical tour on Bacardi’s website and it lasted about 45 minutes, so you will still have time to do other things in Old San Juan! 

Inside Casa Bacardi Puerto Rico is another one of the best things to do in Old San Juan

15. Cool Off With Popsicles at Señor Paleta

If you love Instagrammable and tasty places to visit, add Senor Paleta to your list of things to do in Old San Juan. They make their popsicles with tons of fresh fruit in all different flavors, so it will be hard to pick just one!

Popsicle at Senor Paleta in Old Saan Juan Puerto Rico

16. Explore the Beaches in Old San Juan

You can’t talk about the best things to do in Puerto Rico without mentioning the beautiful San Juan beaches! In Old San Juan, the most popular beach to visit is Condado Beach and Escambron Beach.

One of the best things to do in Old San Juan is visit Isla Verde beach

17. Visit The Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery

Known as one of the most beautiful Cemeteries in Puerto Rico is the Santa María Magdalena de Pazzi Cemetery. This is another one of the top Old San Juan attractions to add to your itinerary. The cemetery has some of the most prominent people of Puerto Rico buried there and, overall just known to be very pretty (even for a cemetery). 

You can even see it from El Morro Fort if you don’t feel like going all the way to it! So if cemeteries don’t creep you out, it’s another one of the popular things to do in Old San Juan.

Address: Calle Cementerio, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico

18. Go Shopping Around Old San Juan

Old San Juan has tons of shops all around the City. We personally like to get a painting from every place we visit since its small, easy to pack and makes good decoration in our home. 

Discover Old San Juan with 4 days in Puerto Rico
Colorful streets in Old San Juan

19. Visit the Capitol Building in Old San Juan (El Capitolio de Puerto Rico)

Like many capitols in the USA, you can also tour inside the Capitol Building, which is just at the entrance of Old San Juan. This historic building has a lot of history to offer, although you do have to make some arrangements in order to visit.

To reserve your free guided tour, you need to either call 787-721-5200, ext.301, or email solicitud.turismo@oslpr.org. These tours are done in both Spanish and English. Moreover, you can also do a self-guided tour.

Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:30 AM – 5 PM

Address: FV8V+PJF, San Juan, 00902, Puerto Rico

20. Day Trip to the Isla Verde Beaches

If you don’t mind going a little outside of Old San Juan, I can highly recommend Isla Verde Beach in Carolina. There are tons of restaurants, big hotel chains, and a large public beach! You can even consider doing a Jet Ski Tour to Isla Verde.

A local told us that even the locals prefer visiting the beaches in Isla Verde more.

Isla Verde Beach in Carolina Puerto Rico
Isla Verde Beach in Carolina, Puerto Rico

21. Swimming and Snorkeling Tour with Turtles

While we are discussing beaches, you can also consider doing a snorkeling tour that concentrates on seeing turtles. This gives you an opportunity to experience beautiful marine life off the coast of Puerto Rico, and this particular snorkeling tour is highly-rated.

22. Take A Day Trip to El Yunque

So, technically this is not in Old San Juan, but it is an incredibly popular day trip for those staying in Old San Juan, so I wanted to include it if you didn’t have El Yunque National Forest on your radar yet.

El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the United States and has beautiful landscapes and waterfalls. You need a reservation to visit El Yunque and can find out more about getting your El Yunque tickets here.

Add a bathingsuit to your Puerto Rico packing list

23. Enjoy the Night at La Placita

Also just outside of Old San Juan, but a must-experience while in Puerto Rico is visiting La Placita. This is a farmers market by day, and a party at night during the weekend.

Find cheap drinks, music, nightclubs, and people dancing (and salsa) the night away in the streets.

Address: La Placita de Santurce, 1348 C. Jose M. Raffucci, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

24. Sunset Harbor Boat Ride in San Juan

For something a little more romantic to do while in Old San Juan, consider getting out on the water for a sunset cruise down the San Juan Harbor. This will allow you to see the city from a different perspective while enjoying those Caribbean sunsets.

25. DISTRITO T-Mobile

The new and exciting DISTRITO T-Mobile is a new tourist hot spot just outside of Old San Juan. While here you will find tons of shops, restaurants, events, festivals, and additional entertainment including Zipline. This is particularly a great place to go with family.


Old San Juan Travel Tips

Now that you know some of the best places to visit in Old San Juan, here are some additional travel tips. 

One of the big questions I get asked is Old San Juan and Puerto Rico safe? Puerto Rico felt very safe in Old San Juan wandering the streets. Old San Juan is a huge tourist destination. I would practice normal safety measures. 

As mentioned before, you do not need a car while traveling around Old San Juan. If you do plan on exploring more of Puerto Rico, I would then suggest renting a car. 

If you are not renting a car, you can take a taxi from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU). It is about 25 minutes away from Old San Juan. 

Another Old San Juan travel tip would be to explore outside Old San Juan. Puerto Rico has so much to offer! Plan of spending 4-5 days in Puerto Rico? Check out this detailed Puerto Rico Itinerary!

Additionally, some of my favorite places to eat in Old San Juan are Señor Paleta (fruit popsicles), Waffle-era Tea Room alias La Waflera (great breakfast), and Caficultura (another great breakfast or brunch spot in Old San Juan)! 

Caficultura Banana rum pancakes in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
 Caficultura

Where to Stay in Old San Juan

There are a plethora of great places to stay in Old San Juan! Here are some of the best Old San Juan hotels in the area to consider staying in. 

If you are visiting during the high season, I recommend booking in advance as prices and rooms go up quickly.

Caribe Hilton (High-end)

This property includes a private beachfront on 17 acres of tropical gardens. Its unique location is perfect for beach lovers! Check Prices

Hotel El Convento (Mid-High)

Known as one of the most photo-worthy hotels, Hotel El Convento is located right in Old San Juan. Here you are within walking distance to everything in the Old City and 15 minutes from the airport. 

Check Prices

Decanter Hotel ( Mid-High)

Another beautiful property right in the heart of Old San Juan with beautiful details and interior. Check Prices 

The Condado Plaza Hilton (Moderate)

The Condado overlooks both the lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean with 4 onsite swimming pools. Considered a high-end 4 Star hotel. Check Prices

The Dreamcatcher ( Low Moderate) 

The Dreamcature is San Juan’s only vegetarian hotel. This is the perfect place for someone looking for a unique boutique hotel stay that puts a lot of thought and care into the environment and their guests! Check prices here!

Additionally, if you are interested in staying in an airbnb, here are some of the best airbnbs in Puerto Rico.


Wrap-up: Best Things to do in Old San Juan

As you can see, there are tons of things to do in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. I hope this guide has inspired your trip to Old San Juan! 

Have any questions about this guide on the best things to do in Old San Juan? Let me know in the comments below.

Love these best things to do in Old San Juan Guide? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

Best things to see in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Photo of author

Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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