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Discover San Juan: The Ultimate San Juan Travel Guide

Planning a quick getaway to escape the day-to-day? San Juan has beauty, culture, and unique vibes may be the perfect destination for you. Come explore San Juan’s must-see attractions, hot spots, and activities that make it this Ultimate San Juan Travel Guide.

Getting Around San Juan

While it’s certainly easy to rent-a-car and drive on the island of Puerto Rico, I wouldn’t recommend if it’s your first time. We opted to use Uber as we mostly traveled locally and it was cheaper than renting a car.

Getting to San Juan

As a United States citizen, a passport is not required to travel to Puerto Rico. This makes Puerto Rico the perfect tropical destination if you or your little ones do not yet have a passport.

You’ll want to fly into SJU (Juan Santamaría International Airport). Southwest has many direct and connecting flights to SJU at really affordable prices!

The Best Hotels and Accommodations in San Juan

1. Royal Sonesta

The Royal Sonesta San Juan is an oceanfront hotel in Puerto Rico that offers a luxurious and timeless experience to its guests. With its idyllic location overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea, the Royal Sonesta San Juan offers a unique opportunity to experience the island’s natural beauty and culture. From its modern chic rooms, to its internationally awarded restaurants, to its top-notch spa services, the Royal Sonesta San Juan strives to provide its clients with a one-of-a-kind experience. We personally stayed at the Royal Sonesta and it was an absolute dream.

2. Fairmont El San Juan

At Fairmont El San Juan, you can enjoy a luxurious stay that combines modern elegance and tropical serenity. From the hotel’s iconic lobby fountain to the private balconies of our beautifully appointed guest rooms, you’ll find a unique blend of city sophistication and Caribbean charm. The resort boasts two magnificent oceanfront pools, two exquisite restaurants, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. For those looking for a memorable experience, Fairmont El San Juan is the perfect destination. With a stunning location, impeccable service, and stunning amenities, you’ll find everything you need to relax, recharge and reconnect.

Pool area and view of the ocean from the Fairmont El San Juan hotel

3. Caribe Hilton

The Caribe Hilton is an iconic hotel located in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a reputation for hospitality and luxury. It has been a top destination for travelers from around the world for decades.

Exterior of Caribe Hilton in San Juan Puerto Rico

4. El Conquistador

El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa in Puerto Rico is a luxurious resort and spa designed to provide a holistic and restorative experience for guests. Located in the foothills of El Yunque National Forest, the resort features five star amenities, spectacular views, and access to a world-class golf course, tennis courts, and a private beach. Guests can enjoy the suite-style accommodations, a variety of restaurants, bars and lounges, and a wide variety of activities and entertainment.

Exterior of the hotel El Conquistador in Puerto Rico featuring the caribbean ocean, large boats, and aqua waters

4 Must-See Attractions

1. Old San Juan

Old San Juan is a vibrant, culturally-rich city located in Puerto Rico. With a combination of classic Spanish colonial architecture, colorful plazas, and cobblestone streets, it offers a unique experience for visitors. This city is a reflection of the past and a gateway to the Caribbean, and its rich culture offers a unique blend of Spanish and Afro-Caribbean traditions. Here, visitors can explore historic forts, colorful plazas, and traditional cafes. There are also beautiful beaches and lush tropical gardens to explore. From charming shops and galleries to hip bars and nightclubs, Old San Juan offers something for everyone. With its vibrant atmosphere and rich culture, it’s an exceptional place to explore and experience.

2. El Yunque National Forest

El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the United States, located in Puerto Rico. It is a natural paradise, home to flora and fauna that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s a breath of fresh air, with its lush forests and many hiking trails. Visitors can explore the unique ecosystem and take part in activities like zip-lining or rappelling. And given its location, it has access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. The perfect getaway for nature lovers, El Yunque has something for everyone to enjoy.

waterfall overflowing into pool of water in el yunque national forest

3. Snorkel from Farjado

Snorkeling is one of our favorite activities anytime we visit somewhere tropical. Snorkeling in Puerto Rico is the perfect way to explore the island’s tropical waters. With some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the Caribbean, you’ll have unparalleled access to a vibrant and diverse array of marine life, from vibrant schools of fish to majestic sea turtles. Plus, with the crystal-clear blue sea, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced snorkeler, Puerto Rico is the perfect place to see the wonders of the ocean up close.

male and female posing for image on catamaran on ocean

4. Fort Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Fort Castillo San Felipe del Morro stands proudly as a reminder of Puerto Rico’s storied past. Built in 1540, it is one of the oldest Spanish fortresses in the New World. Its strategic location and formidable walls protected the city of San Juan from multiple invasions throughout its history. Its thick walls and towering architecture now draw visitors from all over the world, giving them a unique glimpse into a bygone era. With its rich history and stunning views over the San Juan Bay, Fort Castillo San Felipe del Morro is an experience that can never be forgotten.

arial view of fort castillo san felipe del morro in san juna, puerto rico

Top 5 Must-Try Restaurants

1. La Casita de Rones

This was one of our favorite places we ate during our stay in San Juan. La Casita de Rones is located in Old San Juan near the cruise port. Because of this, the restaurant can be very busy if a cruise ship is docked. We ordered the skirt steak tacos and they were 10/10! We loved them so much, we ordered more! Don’t forget to order a frozen Piña Colada too!

2. Luisa

Luisa is the newest restaurant in Old San Juan. Located in the heart of the city, it offers a modern take on traditional Puerto Rican cuisine. The intimate atmosphere and stylish décor offer the perfect spot for a romantic date or a night out with friends. The menu is filled with classic favorites, including the mofongo a la plancha, the roast pork, and the pasteles. High quality ingredients and the freshest flavors are the hallmarks of the dishes served.

interior view of restaurant Luisa in Old San Juan featuring plants and modern table scapes

3. Don Tako Old San Juan

At Don Tako, you’ll find the most authentic Mexican cuisine, combining traditional ingredients with a touch of Latin flavor. The menu features all your favorite dishes, including tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and more, all prepared fresh with the finest ingredients. We really enjoyed the outdoor seating area.

4. Pirilo Pizza Rustica

Pirilo Pizza Rustica in San Juan is the perfect spot for those who love authentic Italian food. With a menu full of flavors straight from Italy, you can experience the taste of Italy right here in Puerto Rico. Enjoy classic dishes like Margherita pizza, or opt for one of their unique creations like the Hawaiian pizza. Their specialty is the “Pizza Rustica,” a unique combination of Italian cheeses and meats baked to perfection in a light and fluffy crust.

pizza layout from pizza rustica in san juan puerto rico

5. La Casita Blanca

The Casita Blanca Restaurant in San Juan is the perfect place to experience the local flavor of Puerto Rico. Located just off the main square in Old San Juan, it offers a range of traditional Puerto Rican dishes that have been passed down through generations. The restaurant has a charming mix of old and new, with tables and chairs set on a terrace overlooking the colorful streets below.

Exterior of La Casita Blanca in San Juan Puerto Rico

San Juan provides something for everyone, from the beauty of it’s well-preserved historical sites to the unique flavors in their food, culture and entertainment. Come explore San Juan and its magical landscape for the perfect balance of relaxation, exploration and adventure.

Looking for help with your itinerary? Check out this post here.

Comment below and share your favorite travel experiences in San Juan or let us know of any not-to-miss attractions.

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Discover San Juan an easy travel guide to exploring San Juan

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The Comments

  • Rhonda
    March 25, 2023

    I’ve heard that Puerto Rico is beautiful and your photos around San Juan sure do show this. I am also a fan of Latin food so I think I’d be quite happy in San Juan.

    • Brittney
      → Rhonda
      March 25, 2023

      Yes, Puerto Rico is so beautiful! My mouth is drooling just thinking about to food. So good!

  • Lisa | Waves and Cobblestones
    March 25, 2023

    I love Old San Juan! Such a great historic location and easy to spend a day just walking along the coastal promenade or the cobblestone streets, lined with colorful houses!

    • Brittney
      → Lisa | Waves and Cobblestones
      March 25, 2023

      I couldn’t believe how much walking we did in Old San Juan. So many beautiful colors and buildings!