Welcome to San Juan, Puerto Rico!
A lush tropical island with stunning beaches and breathtaking mountain vistas, Puerto Rico is a small island brimming with natural beauty. The capital city, San Juan, is steeped with Spanish colonial history that can be seen in the form of beautiful architecture and a distinct culture that worldwide locals can delve into. San Juan serves as a gateway for exploration to the island but is much more than a stop-over. Discover San Juan’s hidden gems with this insider’s guide to Puerto Rico’s capital city.
Begin at Rio Piedras Botanical Garden
Every time you step out of your San Juan hotel, you’ll find a stimulating city with incredible sights and fascinating sounds--which might leave you wanting a serene escape. In the heart of the bustling city, the Rio Piedras Botanical Garden is the perfect respite from a throbbing city. Filled with a diverse range of colorful native flora and charming walkways surrounded by lush greenery, it is a tropical paradise among the concrete roads. The park is also teeming with local wildlife including rare species of birds and fish. Lace up your walking shoes and embark on a compelling journey around the city’s richest natural spots.
Worldwide Local Tip: San Juan’s residents aren’t limited to just its people, the city also has a local cat community that is looked after by a non-profit organization. The Save a Gato charity is designed to pick up stray felines to provide medical care and food to keep them healthy. You can contact the organization and volunteer to take your part in saving the local feline community by feeding or catching strays in a team of cat lovers. You can explore the city while making a difference!
Historical Things to Do in San Juan, Puerto Rico
An imposing Spanish-built fort designed to protect the island from invaders and pirates, Castillo de San Cristobal is the lesser known brother of El Morro. While considered to be the largest Spanish fort in the western hemisphere, it has an off-the-beaten-path feel with locals sitting around its grounds, watching the sunset, socializing, and talking about how their day went. Join a guided tour and learn about the island’s steep history of colonialism and walk through the narrow passageways of the old fort, which ends in an engrossing museum filled with pieces of Puerto Rico’s rich history.
Worldwide Local Tip: The neighborhood of Santurce is an up-and-coming area that has a vibrant nightlife where the artsy and fashionable locals gather on a Saturday night. Make conversation and grab a drink with the locals around La Placita de Santurce, where you can see the square fill up early in the evening into the early hours of the morning. Santurce is also home to restaurants with innovative cuisine; from vegan options to fusion gastronomy, you won’t run out of dining options here. If you’re looking for a more classic experience, explore the traditional buildings and cobblestone streets of Old San Juan.
For the Rum Enthusiast
Bacardi may not be local, but you can take a tour of the king of rum’s distillery in San Juan. Casa Bacardi delves deep into the history of the world renowned drink and gives an exclusive insight into the intricacies of perfecting every bottle. Leave with a unique souvenir and bottle your own special reserve rum straight from the aged barrel.
Worldwide Local Tip: The warm San Juan weather may tempt you to wear loose summer clothing or beach attire as you wander through the city. Many restaurants in the city require a certain dress code for guests. You can check the dress code by calling ahead or checking their website to avoid being turned away.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Take an enriching trip to San Juan’s cobblestone streets, jam-packed with history, and explore the undiscovered parts of Puerto Rico. This gorgeous capital city is much more than just a gateway to the rest of the island, wandering through its vibrant streets as a worldwide local will immerse you deep in the bustling local vibe.