Travel to san juan puerto rico: The Island of Puerto Rico

The Complete Guide For Visiting San Juan Puerto Rico

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Thinking of visiting San Juan Puerto Rico? If you are looking for an island getaway but don’t want to wait around for your friends’ two-week vacation? Why not just set out on a solo adventure! San Juan is a perfect place to visit on your own with safe vibes, easy-to-get-around transportation, and plenty to keep you busy. If you’re into sunny weather and captivating culture, look no further than Puerto Rico. After all, they don’t call it the “Isle of Enchantment” for nothing.

Founded in 1521 by Juan Ponce de León, San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico with rich Spanish and French traditions. The city is divided into different sections, including Old San Juan, Tourist Beach Area, and outlying communities (Rio Piedras, Hato Rey, Puerta de Tierra, and Santurce). When planning your trip, you’ll be looking to mostly visit Old San Juan and the Beach Area.

After a major category 5 hurricane devastated the island in 2017, Puerto Rico as a country has been steadily recovering. Fortunately, the City of San Juan bounced back quickly and is fully open for business with a healthy appetite for tourism!

Top Things To Do When Visiting San Juan Puerto Rico

San Juan is jam-packed with things for you to do when planning one day in San Juan . Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, salsa dance the night away, or stuff your face with Caribbean food, San Juan is the place for you.

Visit San Juan Beaches

It’s no secret that San Juan is famous for its beaches. And some of the best beaches in San Juan, Puerto Rico are right in the heart of San Juan, including Condado Beach, Ocean Park, and Isla Verde.

Condado has a Miami Beach vibe with plenty of parties and beautiful people. Head a little east of Condado Beach along the coast, and you’ll find Ocean Park which is a bit quieter. Ocean Park is the place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon to watch the kite surfers with a beer in hand.

Keep heading east of Condado and Ocean Park to find Isla Verde, which was named by USA Today as a “Best Urban Beach. ” It’s just a few minutes drive from the airport with a family vibe and lined with plenty of walkable hotels, restaurants, and shops.

Wander Around Old San Juan

Head to historic Old San Juan to immerse yourself in Puerto Rican culture. You can easily get lost walking along the cobblestone streets with cocktail bars, restaurants, shady plazas, and brightly colored houses dating back to the 16th century.

Old San Juan makes for a perfect day trip to visit San Felipe del Morro and Cristóbal fortresses (if you’re into history). On most sunny days, you can find families sitting on the giant lawn in front of San Felipe del Morro flying kites and enjoying the ocean view.

At night, you’ll find live music on nearly every street, dance floors dedicated to salsa, and rooftop wine bars where you can sip a glass and people watch below.

Visit La Perla

La Perla is a shanty down town located along the northern historic wall of Old San Juan, about 650 yards long. It’s filled with brightly colored houses down the slope from Calle Norzagaray. It’s been known in the past as a dangerous neighborhood; however, the area is experiencing a revival with new restaurants and shops starting to pop up. While I wouldn’t recommend walking the streets at night, La Perla is perfectly safe to visit during the day.

You might recognize La Perla which was made famous as the on-site location of Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” video. It’s become more of a tourist attraction since the video, but it’s still worth visiting to take a walk along the rocky coast. My must-eat recommendation for La Perla is a restaurant called La Garita which boasts expansive ocean views while you eat your lunch of fresh ceviche and mofongo (mashed plantains).

Check out the Street Art

In an effort to revitalize the Santurce area of San Juan, a street art movement has taken place to support the revival. The area is home to the Santurce Es Ley (“Santurce is Law”) Project, which has now turned into an international festival with visiting artists. Put on your walking shoes, and head to Calle Cerra where you can take a self-guided walking tour taking in impressive street murals on nearly every wall and corner.

Snorkeling Day Trip to Culebra

No trip to Puerto Rico would be complete without spending some time out on the water. Just east of San Juan, you’ll find a small island of its own: Culebra.

Every one of the San Juan day tours to Culebra will take you to stunning Flamenco Beach. You’ll be able to get out into the water, walk along the beach on a sheltered horseshoe-shaped bay, and snorkel one of the most beautiful reefs in the Caribbean. It’s no wonder Flamenco Beach is consistently ranked as one of the “World’s Best Beaches.”

To book your day trip, I recommend checking out East Island Excursions which is one of the most reputable tour companies on the island.

El Yunque Rainforest

If you’re up for an adventure, about an hour’s drive away from San Juan you’ll find El Yunque Rainforest, the only national rainforest located in the United States. Yunque is one of the smallest known rainforests, but it’s incredibly diverse with hundreds of animal and plant species. It’s well worth the drive to set out on a trail and explore the lush rainforest and massive waterfalls.

Nightlife in San Juan

Once you’ve taken a nap from your day of exploring, it’s time to experience the abundant nightlife in San Juan. My favorite nightlife spot to visit is La Factoria found in Old San Juan. La Factoria was recently named one of the “Best 50 Bars in the World” where you can find live salsa dancing on several nights a week.

Another great nightlight spot is right in the center of the city: La Placita. This area is a big open-air square packed with bars, live music, restaurants, food trucks, and people dancing in the streets. You can almost always find a lively party here on most nights of the week.

If you love rum cocktails and are looking to learn a bit more about San Juan culture, check out Spoon Food Tours’ “Sip & Savor Cocktail Tour.” This tour lasts a couple of hours beginning at 5:30 pm where your guide leads a group bar crawl around Old San Juan, explaining more about the city’s history while you sip rum cocktails along the way.

Transportation in San Juan

San Juan has a great public transportation system with an active bus line that can take you around all of the mains parts of the city, including getting from the center of the city to Old San Juan and back.

One of the best ways to get around San Juan is by using Uber. The app is very active in San Juan and actually quite cheap. Be aware that the city currently has a rule that does not allow Uber to pick you up at the airport. You CAN be dropped off at the airport through Uber; however, you will need to get a local taxi or rent a car to leave the airport once you land.

The Best Area To Stay In San Juan Puerto Rico

You’ll find no shortage of places to stay around San Juan for all types of budgets. When planning your trip, I recommend looking in the following areas as they are the safest, most walkable, and you will find the most things to do: Old San Juan, Condado, Ocean Park, and Isla Verde.

Outsite (Low-Mid, Old San Juan)

This is a 13-bedroom, fully renovated mansion-like house located on quiet street in Old San Juan directly across from the ocean. Outsite is a co-living space where other solo travelers and digital nomads stay for a few nights up to a few weeks. The house has a shared kitchen, courtyard, and co-working space if you need to hop on a laptop and get some work done.

Intercontinental Hotel (Mid, Isla Verde)

Only a 1.2-mile drive from the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, you’ll find the Intercontinental Hotel located in Isla Verde. You can walk just steps from your room to the beach where you can enjoy the hotel’s beach amenities. The Intercontinental also has plenty of on-site restaurants and a full-service spa to enjoy.

El Convento (High, Old San Juan)

f you’re looking to spoil yourself for a few nights, this is the hotel to stay. El Convento is located in Old San Juan just steps away from historic landmarks and nightlife. It was the first “Small Luxury Hotel of the World” located in Puerto Rico and also the oldest member of the “Historic Hotels of America.”

The hotel has a relationship with the Courtyard Marriott in the Isla Verde Beach Area, so you can take advantage of their umbrellas and chairs when you’re ready to hit the beach.

La Concha Renaissance Hotel (High, Condado)

Located right on Condado Beach, La Concha is a well-known luxury hotel within walking distance to everything San Juan has to offer. It’s an architectural landmark that’s been renovated for the 21st century. Anyone down to sip a cocktail in the infinity pool overlooking the ocean while watching a sunset? Yes, please!

Safety Tips For San Juan

Most areas of San Juan are very safe for solo travelers to visit. You’ll find plenty of solo travelers enjoying the beaches, visiting the museums, and sightseeing around San Juan.

If you decide to head out at night solo, be sure to exercise caution, just as you would in any major city. When walking at night, I would recommend staying near the more touristy areas that are closer to the water (Old San Juan, Condado, Ocean Park). Crime is definitely existent in San Juan; however, you’ll find that the majority of locals are friendly and helpful.

Tips for Solo Travelers in San Juan

If you’ve decided to set out on an adventure as a solo traveler, congrats! Many are too nervous to take the plunge, but I highly recommend it. Here are a few tips to consider during your solo trip:

-Look into booking a group tour through a local tour company or the Airbnb Experiences app. Taking a group tour is a great way to meet other travelers.

-Consider booking a hostel or co-living space, like Outsite in Old San Juan. These accommodations host travelers who tend to be traveling alone and have the same “solo travel” mindset as you.

-Talk to people! Even if you’re just in a coffee shop waiting in line, strike up a conversation with the baristas or others waiting for their coffee. This is a great way to find “insider info” on the best areas to visit in a new city and breaks down the barrier of feeling like you’re “alone” while you travel.

–Learn at least a little bit of the language. Puerto Rico’s official languages are both English and Spanish; however, every Puerto Rican will appreciate your effort in trying to use your Spanish skills. Speaking more of the local language is a sure way to make better connections with locals.

Final Thoughts

Traveling solo lets you explore at your own pace and discover a new city through a pair of fresh eyes.
San Juan is the perfect place to visit when you’re ready to head out on an adventure or weekend getaway as a solo traveler.

You’ll find that most of the tourist areas of San Juan are walkable, safe to visit, and will entice you with its mix of charm and authentic Caribbean culture. So, what are you waiting for?

Author Bio

Wes is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about travel and the digital nomad life on his blog Wes Meets World. When he’s not traveling, he enjoys spending time at home in Kentucky with his chihuahua, Auggie, and drinking copious amounts of espresso.

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What to Know Before Visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico— Weather and More

What to Know Before Visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico— Weather and More

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Visiting San Juan is ideal from December and April, as hurricane season lasts from July to October in Puerto Rico.

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  • Here’s what you should know if you’re planning a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from a local.  

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  • Most places in town have a casual dress code, but be sure to book restaurant reservations well in advance.
  • Visit Insider’s hub for travel guides, tips, and recommendations

Puerto Rico had one of the strictest COVID protocols in the country until early 2022. Thankfully, restrictions have loosened and travel between Puerto Rico and the mainland US is as easy as ever. Here’s what you should know before planning your trip to Puerto Rico, including the latest COVID rules, weather advisories, and local-etiquette tips.


US citizens and permanent residents do not need to show proof of a negative COVID test or vaccination to enter the island anymore. International travelers still need to be vaccinated, though the local government does not require a negative COVID test.

There are lingering limitations throughout the island. Grocery stores, performance venues, and pharmacies still require you to wear a mask to enter. Certain restaurants still also require proof of vaccination.


Hurricane season lasts from July to October. This means that while merchants reduce their prices, there’s a high probability of activities being rained out. It’s also possible to lose power, though most hotels have backup generators. Because of this, I typically recommend that guests aim to visit between December and April, when the days are mostly sunny without being overbearingly hot. 

You will need bug spray and sunscreen, even on rainy and overcast days. If you’re going to be in the ocean, make sure you buy a reef-safe variety for both. It’s best to have shoes with grip on them for all nature activities and hiking excursions, otherwise sandals and sundresses are my go-to attire. Most places have a casual dress code.

Tipping is standard throughout San Juan, including at hotel bars like the Numero Uno Beach House Hotel and Restaurant in Ocean Park.

Erika P. Rodríguez for Insider

Reservations and tipping

Restaurant reservations can be notoriously difficult to get, and some of the best places are only open from Thursday to Sunday. Smaller restaurants sometimes also decide to close early, even on days they’re supposed to be open. Make sure to double-check any hours on Google by calling the establishment first. Most businesses will have a Facebook page in lieu of an official website, and take reservations through third-party sites like Resy. 

It’s customary to say «buen provecho» when you see someone eating — it’s the Spanish equivalent of «bon appétit.» Tipping is encouraged in the same way as the US, and while many merchants accept credit cards, it’s good to carry cash just in case. If you’re driving, I recommend using Waze or Google Maps instead of Apple Maps, as it’s not uncommon for Apple Maps to take you to the wrong location.

View Insider’s comprehensive guide to visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Hello! My name is Andrew. I’m on the right in the photo, of course. I live in the glorious city of Boston — the center of the history and culture of the United States of America.

Today I want to tell you how I spent January 29, 2013, when my wife schurshik (Yulia) and my friends: welker (Oleg) and elibom_suxel (Anton) and my wife Natasha covered 2700 kilometers of air the space of the western hemisphere of the planet Earth, traveling from the harsh winter New England (Boston) covered with February snow to the desired warm lands, to the sunny and evergreen Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.

Under the cut 70 photos. To fix the chronology of the day, some photo annotations have the exact time the photo was taken.

1. In normal life, I would never get up at 4:55 in the morning. But nothing can be done. We need to get to the airport before the main Boston highways get stuck in dead morning traffic.

2. [ 4:57 ] With a creak in my back, I get out of bed and walk into the living room. It’s dark outside. The city is still asleep.

3. [ 4:58 ] At the exit, clothes are prepared from the evening.

4. [ 5:21 ] I quickly take a shower and get dressed. Last check of suitcases. Everything seems to have been taken.

5. [ 5:45 ] The taxi that will take us to the airport should arrive at 6:00 am. We agreed that our friend Oleg will come to us 10 minutes before the taxi arrives, park in our guest parking lot and the three of us will go to the airport. In the guest parking lot, I scored a place for Oleg by putting Yulia’s car there. Oleg calls, says that he will be in five minutes. I’m taking the elevator down to re-park our Volkswagen.

6. [ 5:53 ] I find that the car is completely covered with snow. I clean it up at a fast pace. It’s cold and disgusting outside. And I haven’t really woken up yet.

7. We park Oleg’s Lexus in my place, and I put our Foltz in the covered garage.

8. [ 6:02 ] Taxi driver calls. He says that he has already brought the car to the front door. Amazing accuracy. Our suitcases are packed and we leave the apartment.

9. [ 6:06 ] Get in a taxi.

10. [ 6:14 ] Fifteen minutes later we are speeding down the gloomy morning of I-90 to Logan Airport.

11. [ 6:44 ] We land at the American Airlines terminal, which looks completely empty in the morning.

12. Baggage checked in and Yulia and Oleg and I are heading to the boarding gates through security control.

13. We pass by souvenir shops. Here they sell caps of our long-suffering Red Sox baseball team

14. and T-shirts of our former championship basketball team Boston Celtics

15. [ 6:57 ] Passed security control without any problems. We are waiting for Anton and Natasha. We drink coffee. Meanwhile, our Boeing 757 is being driven to the air bridge.

16. On the other side, the control tower of Logan Airport is visible through the glass wall of the terminal.

17. Our aircraft is either defrosted or coated with some kind of compound.

18. [ 7:26 ] Finally, Natasha and Anton arrive. The whole company is together.

19. [ 8:53 ] Get on the plane. We occupied the whole row. The flight promises to be fun. Anton takes pictures of me with Yulia.

20. I also take pictures of my friends. Despite the fact that Anton and Natasha hate to fly, they are still cheerful. True, both had already thoroughly refueled with sedative pills even before landing. The plane is due to take off in 10 minutes.

21. Well, we have finally taken off and are heading for Miami, where we must transfer to a plane that will take us to the capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan. Flight attendants hand out drinks.

22. Yulia kills time clicking jams on her iPad.

23. So modestly I took a jar of tomato juice.

24. Anton’s sedative pills have run out and he urgently needs alcohol to get back to normal. All Jim Beam’s probes, which he managed to carry on board, he and Oleg finished off during the first hour of the flight. Anton tried to order Jack Daniels from the stewardess, to which she shrugged her shoulders and said that they don’t serve Jack on morning flights (hinting that decent people don’t drink strong alcohol in the early morning), but there is absolute vodka for cocktails. Anton had to work with what he had. While Anton was ordering strong drinks, Oleg was looking through the poster of Playboy magazine with interest. When the stewardess turned her head in our direction, she, smiling embarrassedly, made such round eyes and nodded her head in the direction of Oleg and Anton, as if she wanted to say: “Just look at what these sexist alcoholics are doing!”

25. Then this magazine appeared on my table. By the way, the magazine turned out to be quite interesting not only for viewing, but also for reading. I especially liked the «party jokes» section. I even remember one joke. An approximate translation is as follows: “Winter. A blonde calls her husband on a mobile phone. She says that the windows are frozen and do not open. The husband says that they say they pour warm water on them. The blonde calls back five minutes later and reports that the computer has finally been covered after that!” )

26. Then we played the fool. And Oleg and I lost all the time. I’ve been fooled five times in a row. Look at my surprised face. As it turned out later, we were all victims of a petty card cheat. Just take a look at this sly look. It will immediately become clear who the sharper is.

27. I also got Jim Beam’s sampler from Anton, but I credited it at the end of our flight, when there was simply nothing to do.

28. Finally, under the silvery wing, Florida sparkled with sunny colors of eternal summer. The plane flies up to Miami and begins to descend for landing.

29. [ 12:26 ] Arrived in Miami. We move along the ladder from the plane to the airport.

30. We pass souvenir shops selling clothes with Florida symbols.

31. [ 12:34 ] We approach the timetable board to find out the time of our next flight. The plane to San Juan leaves at 13:50. We have about one hour at our disposal.

32. I am heading to exit D16 with our cheerful company. Miami International Airport seems to be infinitely long. Yulia and I are driving along the travelator.

33. Under the ceiling is an advertisement for the city of Miami and its beaches. But we know that in Puerto Rico the beaches are a hundred times better!

34. Cheerful mood. Everyone is having a lot of fun. I take pictures of Yulia and Anton, who climbed onto a pink passenger carrier.

35. We decided that we would wait for our flight to the Jose Guervo tequilerie.

36. This is how this place invites visitors to its place: «like, drink tequila until you die.»

37. Anton takes a picture of me and Yulia.

38. I order beer and some very suspicious soup while Oleg indulges in margaritas. At the end of the meal, we run to the landing.

39. [ 13:48 ] The plane leaves the terminal and taxis to the runway.

40. [ 14:10 ] We’re taking off. Goodbye Miami!

41. This time we are sitting separately. I am sitting with Oleg and Yulia. Anton and Natasha are sitting somewhere in the back. Like last time, we play cards, only this time we don’t let Yulia cheat.

42. [ 15:55 ] Time has passed very quickly, and below us we can already see San Juan, the capital of the sunny island of Puerto Rico.

43. [ 16:12 ] My first picture in Puerto Rico with my wife.

44. I’m following the boys to get my luggage.

45. Hooray! Our suitcases arrived safe and sound.

46. [ 16:27 ] Now all that’s left is to rent a car and we can move in the direction of our villa. We sit on the shuttle of the company from which we reserved the car.

47. The good-natured Puerto Rican driver put our suitcases on the shelf. Now let’s go pick up our car

48. [ 16:43 ] Arrived at the office. Oleg and I unloaded our suitcases from the shuttle.

49. The manager of the company in the background draws up all the necessary paperwork. As it turned out, he loves Russians very much. He said that his girlfriend is Russian and her name is Masha. They met when he was her Latin dance instructor.

50. [ 18:00 ] And here is our tank, the Ford Explorer.

51. There is no other name for this monster.

52. Being the most sober and responsible, I get behind the wheel and …. oh baby, this is Puerto Rico! We did it!

53. [ 7:20 ] We shot the arrow with the owner of the villa, Franklin, at the Rio del Mar hotel. As it turned out, he was waiting for us there at six, but did not wait and went home to San Juan. Most likely, he simply scammed us, and it is unlikely that he appeared here at all. After that, according to the good old LJ tradition, Natasha christened him simply as «Frank the goat.»

54. Time passed, but Frank did not appear. We called him a couple of times, but he told us that it was stuck in a traffic jam on the exit from San Juan. We wandered around the hotel, from time to time buying different drinks at the bar.

55. I was already very hungry. We sent Frank to hell and booked a table at a Japanese restaurant for 21:20.

56. After that I went shopping with the girls, and Oleg and Anton went to play in the casino.

57. My help in choosing ladies’ summer hats was very helpful.

58. [ 21:09 ] Frank finally showed up. We actually thought he was German. Probably because his wife’s name was Gretchen and because of her accent. We imagined him as some kind of old SS or Gestapo man who hid on the island from retribution. And then a two-meter black basketball player appeared in front of us. A white-toothed smile on his face, all so relaxed. He handed us the keys to the villa, explained where everything was and left.

59. [ 21:20 ]  We decided to look around the villa after dinner, and after all the business with Frank was over, we immediately rushed to a Japanese restaurant, where we first ordered a large bottle of sake.

60. I ordered a miso soup for myself

61. We ordered a sushi apetizer for everyone. And the main dish I had was Mongolian beef, but I no longer had the strength and desire to photograph it.

62. [ 22:51 ] We sat in the restaurant for a very long time. And not because we chewed food for a long time with tired jaws, but because the service in Puerto Rico is very slow. 10 times slower than in Boston. The waiter first brought us drinks for 30 minutes, then it took him 30 minutes to bring us food, and it took another 40 minutes to calculate us. In the beginning, it infuriated me, but after a few glasses of sake, I completely relaxed, threw out of my head this unnecessary Boston crazy rhythm and set myself up for the carefree Puerto Rican frequency of life. Happiness after that came very quickly somehow by itself.

63. After dinner, we returned to our residence and began to inspect it. This is what the living room looks like.

64. Our bedroom.

65. Kitchen

66. Oleg’s room. Anton and Natasha had about the same room, with only one bed. Julia is slowly passing out.

67. Balcony.

68. Our monster is parked under the balcony. In the warm night air you can hear the sounds of crickets, frogs, chirping birds. The temperature is about 28 degrees. The full feeling of a warm tropical night.

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