If you plan an exotic trip, you should check out our list of things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The busy capital is located on the northern side of the Atlantic Ocean. It is also a significant tourist attraction for history and sun-loving tourists.
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Additionally, San Juan is relatively inexpensive to visit by college students and families who enjoy their vacation using the following travel guide:
1. Bar hopping
You have reached your dream vacation destination but are unsure where to begin? Tourists highly recommend starting the trip by visiting Calle Loiza. It has been entirely transformed in the previous ten years. The entire region had a downtrodden reputation of violence that transformed into a public hanging spot visited by local celebrities and tourists.
Once there, dance salsa at Piso Viejo. You can drink at the local bar called Tantalo. If you don’t feel like being inside, have a drink in the outdoor setting at Tresbe, a modern restaurant constructed in a shipping container. Calle Loiza offers causal and fancy restaurants for tourists to enjoy.
2. Visit breweries
Visiting breweries is one of the most recommended things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico. You must experience the local brewery while you are vacationing. The local drinking culture is diverse and celebratory, and you will absolutely love it. Puerta Rico has been home to Medalla Light production for decades. Still, currently, many local brewers are significantly contributing to the competition.
The favorite local brewers include Ocean Lab Brewing Company. Their slogan is “born on the beach” at the famous Isla Verde. While you are visiting the Ocean Lab Brewery, you will feel whole. The environment is very inviting and homey by offering exclusive tours.
3. Have a delicious breakfast
Of course, you will not survive the entire vacation on drinking. It’s time to munch on some delicious food at Bistro Café. The restaurant is situated at Isla Verde and is primarily known for its large plates and diverse eating menu. It is the most delicious place to eat at.
They offer many kinds of pancakes, omelets, waffles, coffees, and juices. Everything on their menu is a chef’s kiss. Therefore, you will always find it busy. Visit the establishment early to avoid the crowd, especially in an ongoing pandemic. The restaurant offers a waitlist if you wish to make a reservation on the phone.
You are visiting a Caribbean country that is surrounded by blue oceans. Tourists cannot escape the heat and humidity, so they might as well enjoy it. Whether you are experiencing the warm weather or not, experience the local delicacy known as piraguas. You will find them on carts labeled with the same name. Stop by and purchase one from the vendor.
Piraguas are crushed balls of ice. Once they have been formed into balls, they are topped with local fruit juices or fruit bites to amplify the flavor. Flavors include cherries, passion fruit, tamarind, lemon, and coconut. Piraguas provide the perfect escape from the heat and the local restaurant foods you have been eating.
5. Kiosks food and mingle
Next on the list of things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico, visit the Lote 23. The spot offers an eating experience with numerous kiosks, including new food, live music, and game stalls. Sometimes they also install a giant green screen so the spectators can enjoy the meat, eat, and just have a merry time.
During the day, Lote 23 offers activities for the kids and families. These include swings, face painting, and finger food for the younglings to enjoy. A local craft market where parents can purchase décor for the house created by local handmade industries. Lote 23 shifts at night to shape a drinking environment of cocktails, fast food, and criollo dishes.
6. La Fortaleza
You must be curious about the federal buildings and Puerto Rico’s residents. It is time to add visiting the public facilities to the things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico. You will not be granted access, but you can still admire them from the entrance if that counts for anything. Visit during the day to take pictures or admire the architecture in the beaming sun.
The public official builds are inspired by Spanish architecture and arches. They have held up impressively throughout the years due to regular maintenance. Being an attraction to visiting tourists is a significant contributor as well. The former first lady decorated the front of the gate, which changes every season accordingly.
7. Eat a dream sandwich
The food adventures continue by eating delicious street food called Tripleta. Puerto Rico is extremely rich in quick, on-the-go food around every corner. So when you are visiting San Juan, these street foods are a must-try. You will not be disappointed. The food trucks have slowly replaced vendors and kiosks since they are much easier to manage. The food stays warm and is priced at a reasonable rate.
The most common dish you will find on Puerto Rican food trucks is called Tripleta. The term means triple in English. The sandwich with Cuban grilled steak, ham, or chicken and served on warm potato bread with mayonnaise, ketchup, and French fries.
8. Visit a secret speakeasy bar
Assuming you are an extrovert and craving social interactions, if you are the life of the party, visit the La Factoria. It is exactly what you are looking for. An odd fact about this place, the establishment does not have a sign like every business. It is more of a “presence” with its submerged mind of like-minded people coming together to have a good time.
La Factoria is located at the same spot of Hijos de Borinquen. You can enter through the back door, which is hidden. It has four group settings: the dance floor, wine bar, food and drinking, and a bar with a wine cellar feel. Each floor has individual music and environment.
9. Ashford Avenue
This street is the Caribbean version of the Miami architecture, cafes facing the beaches, and hotels to accommodate tourists. The atmosphere of the street avenue is full of life and vibrant. There is tons of foot traffic, and conversation is ever-present. It is the perfect location to stop, take a break, and enjoy the Ventana al Mar Park beach views.
Ashford Avenue is very friendly to tourists since most hotels offer unforgivable staying deals for visitors to benefit from. It is an architectural landmark. While visiting, add La Concha Resort to the list of things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
10. Shop till you drop
San Juan is saturated with shopping centers and little shopping markets for tourists. The busiest of these shopping centers is called the Plazas Las Americas. It is the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean. Not in size but also in the number of brands present inside. The shops range from high-end brands to local stores.
The shopping mall also has tech stores, so if you want to buy a new phone on your vacation, Plazas Las Americas is the place to go. Assuming you become hungry after shopping hours, the shopping mall hosts restaurants and fast food to satisfy you.
11. Dancing and experiencing a hangover
As the locals call it, the little market or the La Placita is a busy hangout spot on the weekend after working long hours during the day. It is active on Friday and Saturday nights, so if you wish to experience how the Puerto Ricans blow off steam, visit La Placita. It is a collective business spot.
In reality, La Placita is a produce market that closes in the afternoons after the restaurants or food trucks have purchased from them. The market is ready for the buyers in the early hours of the morning.
12. Sunbathe at the beach
If you visit San Juan but do not visit the beaches, you commit high treason. The islands are most stunning out of the vicinity of the city. Just imagine sunbathing on the shores of the Vieques and Culebra islands. You can undoubtedly enjoy your vacation while visiting some of the best beaches on the planet.
Other beaches worth visiting include Pine Grove beach, Condado Beach, Hobbie Beach. Surf the small waves at Pine Grove Beach if you are an adrenaline seeker.
13. Chocolate dipped everything
The Puerto Ricans are known to have a sweet truth. They are particularly fond of chocolates. One, in particular, is called Chocolate Cortes. It was initially founded in the Dominican Republic a century ago. However, it is now presented as a dessert or hot chocolate.
Chocobar Cortes is recently introduced as the bakery to the same business. They have appetizers, entrees, and desserts made out of their famous chocolate. Since everyone is a fan of eating chocolates, the industry has created an entire brand on Puerto Rican land at various price rates.
14. Drink Pina Coladas
If you have been curious about who invented the Pina Colada drink, today is your lucky day. The Puerto Ricans created this refreshing drink and termed it their national beverage. Stories date back to the 19th century when the locals would drink straight pineapples and coconuts. Some would mix in rum for a buzzed feeling.
If Pina Colada is your favorite drink, Robert Cofresi is the man you wish to thank. He is responsible for introducing it to the world. Sadly, however, upon his death in 1825, the original recipe died. Puerto Ricans drink different variations of Pina Coladas at every celebration.
15. Visit a historical cemetery
The Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis is an ancient cemetery. It is the final resting place of Pedro Albizu Campos, Jose de Diego, and other well-known figures. The cemetery is situated in the center of El Morro and La Perla. The cemetery’s location is not ideal since it is not clearly visible.
The historic cemetery is situated between El Morro and La Perla. The cemetery’s history is as old as 1863 when its construction started. Back then, it was under the supervision of the Carmelite nuns.
Condado Lagoon is the perfect spot to kayak in the Caribbean. The water currents are extremely accommodating and cooperative with the rider. They are not so harsh or weak that you appear as a sitting duck. You can paddle in the lagoon, kayak under Lagoon Bridge, or underneath the stars. It can be a memorable full-circle moment to finish the trip.
The kayaks are made to glow at night using the LED lights installed so you can clearly admire the marine life when you kayak. The waters are filled with lobsters, stingrays, orange catfish, and much more.
Kayaking is a fantastic opportunity to vacation with a different perspective.
17. La Perla
The quaint town was found in the 19th century. It was initially discovered to house slaves and homeless colored servants for the elite. The serving class of people was not allowed to reside inside the city walls. Since then, La Perla has endured a bad reputation for centuries because of the dented perception.
However, that has changed in the previous decades. It was home to the filming location of the Despacito music video. The song reached recorded downloading streaming heights which significantly boosted the Puerto Rican landscape and culture. The famous La 39 bar is also present in the city of La Perla. However, it faced severe damages from the hurricane and is still recovering.
Yes, you heard it right. Praying could be one of the most unique things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Capilla del Cristo was built in 1753 at the hanging end of a wall cliff. It is a miracle that it has stayed erected since then with minimum damage and architectural decay. Because of the construction miracle, many visit the chapel to pray so their dreams can come to fruition. The chapel is accessible to the public on Saturdays and Sundays.
The town dates back to 1752 by a San Juan Bautista. He was a participant in conventional horse racing. The race tragically ended when the horse got out of control and fell off the roof. The Spanish secretary cried out for help. While the ride survived, the horse did not.
19. More praying…
The spiritual journey to San Juan continues with visiting the oldest cathedral in Puerto Rico. The San Juan Bautista cathedral may appear simple from its exterior. However, the inside architecture is filled with the history and importance of the practicing Faith.
The cathedral is the everlasting home to Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer. He made it his aim to discover the fountain of youth so he may live eternally. The oldest cathedral hosts many shrines and continues to attract spiritual explorers.
20. Feed pigeons
San Juan is diverse in aquatic species, but the aviation sceneries are the most mesmerizing you will ever experience. Toward the end of San Juan, a small park continuously hosts a large number of pigeons. It is called Parque de las Palomas. It means Pigeon Park when translated into English.
As you enter the park, it is completely covered with pigeons. Tourists feed the hungry birds with usual corn and bird foods which you can purchase from local shops for only a dollar. These pigeons are very human-friendly. They will come to you and land on your head, arms, and shoulders, requesting to be fed. It is the perfect place to visit with your family.
21. Be the captain of your own boat
While traveling to San Juan, you can rent a boat or a small water vessel for a solace ride on the pristine blue waters. The small ships make for a memorable adventure that is perfect if you have ever dreamed of being your boat captain. Do not pass on the adventurous things to do in San Juan.
These small vessels can only accommodate four people, so choose your crew wisely. The size of the ships promotes family getaways and romantic rides over the Caribbean. During the boat ride, the members will see captivating San Juan landscapes. In contrast, the thrill of riding a powerboat is unmatched.
22. Sunset sail
The boating adventure continues with chasing the sun. When you hop abroad the 81 topsails seven sail vessel, you can view the city from water views. The boating vessel is an exact replica of the American sailing ships that once landed on Puerto Rican lands before the colonization.
While you are on blue see-through Caribbean waters, you will be served delicious appetizers. A music-filled ambiance on the boat and the mesmerizing views of the culturally diverse city of San Juan. The boat trip concludes with a beautiful sunset trip. The sailing is the perfect opportunity to mingle with the locales and learn their language and culture.
Final thoughts on the best things to do in San Juan, Puero Rico
The things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico, are incredibly diverse. It includes dancing, eating, and adventurous activities. Moreover, Puerto Rico has strategically fought the pandemic, given its limited medical resources. However, a friendly reminder, contact your travel insurance company for theft, injuries, and travel coverage.
For more information about this exotic destination, check out their official website.
Not sure what to choose between solo and group travel? Check out our article about why tour groups are a good choice.