33 Best Things to Do in San Juan, PR (By a Local) – Travel Lemming

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“33 Best Things to Do in San Juan, PR (By a Local) – Travel Lemming”

Looking for things to do in San Juan? Fortunately, the city offers some truly epic attractions for every type of visitor. And, as a San Juan local, I know them all well!

Most tourists stick with the top attractions in Old San Juan, but as an island local I know there is a LOT more to discover in other areas like Santurce, Condado, Ocean Park, and Hato Rey.

San Juan is home to many of my favorite things to do in Puerto Rico, so I know how hard it is to choose between all the amazing attractions in San Juan. To help you out, I compiled this local’s list of the 33 absolute best activities to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico – so you don’t miss out on any of the city’s fun!

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Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

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Best things to do in san juan, Puerto Rico

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Old San Juan

Walk the colorful streets of the capital’s old town

The author walking along the colorful streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Old San Juan Walking Tours on Viator 

Old San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico, and one of the most popular places to visit on the island. The city has multiple historical buildings in San Juan’s historic site that date back to the 16th century, when Puerto Rico was under the Spanish Empire’s control. 

Old San Juan is home to beautiful colorful Spanish-style houses and national landmarks like El Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal. Don’t forget to visit main streets like Calle Fortaleza, Calle del Cristo, and Calle San Sebastian.

🛎️ Need a hotel? If you’re wondering about the best hotels and areas in Old San Juan, check out my guide to where to stay in San Juanto find the place that best suits your needs.

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Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Explore one of Puerto Rico’s most famous landmarks

View of the entrance to Castillo San Felipe del Morro

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 729-6970 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm daily | Entrance: $10, adults, Free under 15 | 👉 Book El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal Tour on Viator

Castillo San Felipe del Morro is easily the most famous landmark in Puerto Rico. The fort built by the Spaniards in the 16th century protected the north coast of the island from any sea attacks. 

El Morro, as it’s popularly known, features multiple floors with barracks, kitchens, storages, an inner courtyard, and fantastic views of the city walls. The lowest level of El Morro gives a great view of the sea.

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Castillo San Cristobal

Stand on top of this UNESCO World Heritage Site

View from the top of Castillo San Cristobal

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 449-4049 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm daily | Entrance: $10 | 👉 Book El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal Tour in Viator

Castillo San Cristóbal is another historical landmark a history buff can’t miss in Old San Juan. Like the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, the castle is within the Unesco World Heritage Site. Built in 1634, the Castillo San Cristobal is the largest Spanish fort in the American continent and its purpose was to protect the old city from land attacks.

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San Juan Food Tour

Sample some of San Juan’s best delicacies

View of a traditional mofongo in a bowl The traditional mofongo

Puerto Rican cuisine is something you can’t miss in Puerto Rico. San Juan is home to some of the best restaurants on the island with both local and international flavors.

A visit to Puerto Rico isn’t complete without trying the traditional mofongo, and arroz con habichuelas. Some popular eating spots in San Juan include Old San Juan, Condado, Miramar, Santurce, Calle Loíza, and Piñones.

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👉Are you a foodie? If you would love to try everything there is to Puerto Rican food, book this Old San Juan food tour to enjoy the best of the local cuisine.

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San Juan Bay

Sail through this beautiful bay

Aerial view of boats in a pier in San Juan, Puerto Rico

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Top San Juan Bay Cruises on Viator

Instead of walking, enjoy the beautiful scenery of San Juan while navigating through San Juan Bay on a boat. While many commercial ships and cruises enter and exit the bay, small boats also take tourists around the San Juan bay while listening to lively music and eating good food.

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San Juan’s Beaches

Sunbathe on some of the best beaches in Puerto Rico

View of the Condado Beach in a sunny day

Beach lovers don’t have to go outside of San Juan to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico. San Juan’s beaches are some of the best on the island. Condado Beach, Ocean Park, and Escambron Beach are great options to spend the day with family. 

Playa Peña is a private beach right in front of El Capitolio and is ideal for a romantic San Juan sunset walk. It’s a great couple activity in Puerto Rico. Isla Verde, although a bit farther, is another great beach option close to San Juan.

👉Local Tip: The beaches in San Juan are mostly urban beaches and, honestly, can get crowded during the high season. Check out my guide to the best beaches in Puerto Ricoto learn about other beaches on the island you can visit, many of which are less crowded!

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Salsa Class

Take a salsa class and level up your dancing skills

View of people's silhouette dancing during sunset

👉 Browse San Juan Salsa Classes on Viator

When you think of salsa, you probably think of the Caribbean and Puerto Rico! That’s why one of the Best things to do in san juan is to take a salsa class with your partner. Not only will you be learning to dance, but you’ll know more about the local culture and you’ll make new friends. 

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San Juan’s Iconic Plazas

Hop between the capital’s multiple plazas and see what makes each of them tick

A fountain in front of Plaza de Armas in San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan is home to multiple public plazas filled with the city’s history and culture. Plaza de Armas is one of the most popular plazas in San Juan and is home to frequent activities with local food and Bomba and Plena music ideal for the people that want to blend in with the locals. 

👉 Love History?  Check out this great San Juan walking tour to visit the most important plazas in Old San Juan, learn about their fascinating history, and finish the day by watching the sunset in El Morro, one of the must see attractions in Old San Juan.

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Festivals

Dive deeper into Puerto Rican culture by experiencing one of San Juan’s best festivals

View of the author joining a local festival in San Juan Me participating in a festival in San Juan

Old San Juan is home to some of the best concerts, exhibitions, and festivals in Puerto Rico. The most famous festival is Las Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, also called “San Se”, which is a four-day festival with local artists, music, dancing, and food that party lovers can’t miss.

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La Fortaleza

Take a tour of this historical government building

View of the La Fortaleza from afar

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 721-7000 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 5 pm Mon- Fri, Closed Sat-Sun

La Fortaleza is the official residence of the governor of Puerto Rico and is another structure that belongs to San Juan National Historic Site, but not everyone knows that you can take a tour to see it inside. Besides its medieval-looking appearance, La Fortaleza sports a breathtaking interior decoration and a surrounding garden.

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Botanical Garden 

Relax and connect with nature at this stunning garden

View of a butterfly on a plant

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 474-0402 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 4 pm daily 

The Botanical Garden of the University of Puerto Rico is one of the hidden gems of San Juan. This Garden sports a Japanese garden, a sculpture garden, and an artificial waterfall.

The Botanical Garden is the ideal place for people who want to step out of the crowds of San Juan and want to connect with nature instead. Due to the pandemic, you have to make a reservation to enter.

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Sites & Attractions

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San Juan Cathedral

Visit the historical site

View of the San Juan Cathedral from the outside

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 722-0861 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm Mon-Fri, 8 am 1 pm Sun, Closed on Saturday 

History lovers shouldn’t miss the San Juan Cathedral, one of the best historical things to do in San Juan Puerto Rico.

The beautiful structure, built in 1521, forms part of the San Juan National Historic Site. Besides its historic value, the Cathedral keeps the remains of Juan Ponce de León, the first governor of Puerto Rico. 

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Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis

Check out this gorgeous cemetery

View of Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis and a couple of sculptures

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 480-4617 | Hours: 7 am – 3 pm daily 

Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis is more a piece of art than a cemetery. You can see the dozens of beautiful sculptures depicting Christian scenes while listening to waves down splashing outside the cemetery. It also contains the tombs of various famous Puerto Rican figures.

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Paseo de La Princesa and Paseo del Morro

Stroll down these historic streets to get a great view of the city walls

View of the coast at Paseo de la Princesa

📍 Google Maps

If you take a stroll down Paseo de La Princesa, not only will you be able to appreciate the Old San Juan city walls better, but you’ll reach the Puerta de San Juan or San Juan Gate.

This iconic door is the only entrance that stands today from the four doors that originally gave path to the city. If you continue down El Paseo del Morro, you will reach El Morro too.

👉 Love History? If you want to learn about the history behind Paseo de La Princesa, Paseo del Morro, and the famous San Juan Gate, book this awesome walking tour to know how Old San Juan came to be.

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Museums & Culture

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Museum of Contemporary Art

Check out one of the best museums in Puerto Rico

View of the Museum of Contemporary Art and some palm trees on it

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 977-4030 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Fri-Sun, Closed from Monday to Thursday | Entrance: $5, free for seniors

The Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico is a great stop for people that enjoy contemporary and abstract art. It’s one of the top museums in Puerto Rico and it organizes family events and movie nights almost every weekend. You can find the activity calendar on their social media.

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Santurce

Find the street art at this eclectic festival

View of an eagle and skull art wall in Santurce

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Every year Santurce hosts a festival called Santurce es Ley and receives dozens of international muralists that create art in different corners of San Juan. It’s a great arty thing to do in San Juan.

Art lovers can’t miss the astonishing murals that stand between common buildings and businesses. While you’re in Santurce, you can also enjoy something to eat at some of the local restaurants.

👉 Local Tip: Although Santurce is safe for visitors, some tourists might feel intimidated walking around the area. If you would rather have a guide take you to see the murals, book this street art in Santurce tour to visit Santurce worry-free. 

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Museo Las Americas

A museum where even the building itself is loaded with history

View of the historic El Museo Las Americas

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 724-5052 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm Wed-Fri, 11 am – 4 pm Sat-Sun, Closed Monday and Tuesday | Entrance: $6, adults, $4 under 12

El Museo Las Americas is a museum with history itself. The structure was once the military barracks of the Spanish military and later it was a hospital during the Second World War. Today the museum hosts collections about the history and mixed culture of the American continent.

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El Velorio

Find the hidden tokens in the painting

View of the clocktower in University of Puerto Rico Find El Velorio in the University of Puerto Rico

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 763-3939 | Website | Hours: Sun, M, Th, Fr 9 am – 4:30 pm, W 9:00 am – 8:35 pm, Closed Saturdays

El Velorio is a painting by Puerto Rican painter Francisco Oller. The huge painting is famous for its hidden tokens and meanings. El Velorio translates as The Funeral and it depicts how people celebrated a child’s funeral in the countryside during the XIX century.

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Family-Friendly Things

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San Juan’s Chorritos

Refresh yourself after a long day of sightseeing

View of people playing in the water fountain in Plaza del Centenario

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In Plaza del Centenario in San Juan, you will find a water fountain, locally called chorritos, where you can refresh yourself after a hot day of sightseeing. Locals take their children there frequently too. Just remember to bring an extra change of clothes.

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Bike

Rent a set of wheels to get around San Juan with

View of a bike track sign in San Juan

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 554-2453 | Website | Hours: Sun, M, Th, Fr 7 am – 6 pm Closed Sundays 

If you´re looking to explore San Juan and Condado with your family in a different way, you can rent a bike or a scooter to ride through the streets with your family. Condado even sports a bicycle lane so you can ride safely with your loved ones.

👉 Is Puerto Rico Safe for Travel Right Now? It’s a good question. See my full Puerto Rico safety guide to find out!

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San Juan Shops

Shop til you drop at the independent stores and malls

View of cars parked outside a mall in San Juan

The capital city is a paradise for shopaholics. You will find numerous independent shops, art galleries, souvenir shops, and brand stores within walking distance in Old San Juan. If you’re looking for bigger malls, then head over to Plaza Las Americas or The Mall of San Juan. 

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Food & Drink

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Bacardi Factory

Take a tour or tasting at this iconic factory

View of the entrance to the Bacardi Factory

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 788-8400 | Website | Hours: 10:30 am – 4:30 pm Thu-Sun, Closed from Monday to Wednesday 

Although not exactly in San Juan, the Bacardi Factory is only 25 minutes away from San Juan and it’s worth your time if you’re into tastings. The Bacardi factory offers visitors rum tasting tours, mixology classes, and facility tours so you learn about Bacardi rum history and the process behind making it.

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Coffee Shops

Sample some of San Juan’s best coffee shops and cafes

View of two cup of coffee on a table

If you’re a coffee lover you will love Puerto Rico’s strong and pure coffee. You will find multiple shops within Old San Juan, Santurce, Condado, and Miramar. Try out Cuatro Sombras, Café Colao, and Barista Squared.

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Bar Hopping

Check out some of San Juan’s best nightlife locations and watering holes

View of a hall in a bar in San Juan

You won’t have to search too much to notice there are a lot of bars and taverns in Old San Juan. Bars in Puerto Rico are a mix of drinks, loud music, and a lot of dancing. You can start bar-hopping in Calle San Sebastian in Old San Juan, where you’ll find different themed bars.

👉 Love a Good Shot? If you’re into bar hopping, but you rather go with someone, book this cocktail walk tour in San Juan to enjoy the best bars in San Juan while in good company.

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Food Truck Park

Sample many Puerto Rican cuisines in one convenient location

View of the Lote 23 signage in Santurce

You don’t necessarily have to take a food tour to enjoy a sample of the different options San Juan offers. You can choose to visit one of San Juan’s food truck parks. Lote 23 in Santurce stays open until late and Miramar Food Truck Park sports foods from different nationalities. 

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Outdoor Activities

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Surfing

Take classes or hit the waves in this epic surfing destination

View of man surfing in the Caribbean

👉 Browse Top Surfing Lessons in San Juan on Viator

Puerto Rico is the top destination for surfing in the Caribbean. If you’re looking for fun things to do in San Juan, and you’re an enthusiast that wants to learn how to surf, then book a class with one of the many surfing schools in San Juan. 

Snorkeling

Check out the fishes and other sea life

View of fishes under the Escambron Beach

While Flamenco Beach and Icacos are top destinations to snorkel in Puerto Rico, San Juan also sports great beaches for snorkeling in Puerto Rico. Escambron Beach in the entrance of Old San Juan is both a beach for swimmers and for water sports lovers who want to do scuba diving or snorkeling.

👉Afraid to snorkel alone? Try this San Juan snorkeling guided tour to have professionals teach you how to snorkel and guide you through the best coast views of San Juan.

Kayaking or Paddleboarding

Get out on the San Juan lagoon by renting a kayak or paddleboard

View of the skyline while kayaking in San Juan

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Top Tours to Condado Lagoon Kayak on Viator

Only a ten-minute ride from Old San Juan, visitors can encounter the Condado Lagoon. If you’re looking for something more active than beach bumming, but you still want to enjoy the sun and the saltwater, you should try paddle boarding or kayaking in the Condado Lagoon. You’ll enjoy the Condado and Miramar skyline and you might even see manatees.

Kiteboarding

Ocean Park Beach has perfect winds for kiteboarding

Aerial view of people kiteboarding in Ocean Park Beach

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 644-1239 | Website 

If you’re an adventure-seeker then you’ll love to know you can go kiteboarding in Ocean Park in San Juan. This urban beach sports strong winds and good conditions to do the sport. You can also learn other water sports like wing boarding or book an e-foil hydrofoil experience.

Cheap & Free Things to Do in San Juan

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T-Mobile District

Chill with the locals at this contemporary plaza

View of the Coca Cola Music Hall entrance and people sitting outside it

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 936-2142 | Website | Hours: 12:00 pm – 11 pm Sun-Wed, 12:00pm – 12:00 am Tue-Sat 

The T-Mobile District is one of the newest attractions in San Juan and it’s a great option to meet local people. The modern plaza seeks to bring people together with a variety of free concerts, activities, and restaurants. 

Adventure lovers who want to zipline but can’t visit El Yunque National Forest or The Toro Verde Adventure Park in Orocovis, can experience urban ziplining in the T-Mobile District.

Watch the Sunset

Experience San Juan’s epic golden hour

Scenic view of a sunset from El Morro Sunset from El Morro

 👉 Book a San Juan’s Sunset Walking Tour on Viator

Whether you’re traveling alone or with a partner, you can’t miss the sunsets in San Juan. When the time of the golden hour arrives, the historic city and the cobblestone streets acquire a beautiful orange glow perfect to take pictures. The best spot to see the sunset is El Morro’s esplanade.

La Placita

Dance all night long and hang with the locals

View of the Santurce Market entrance and some vendors sitting to take a rest (photo: Mark Zhu / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 307-1364 | Hours: 24 hours daily 

If you’re looking to experience the lively Puerto Rican culture and hang out with locals, you can’t leave San Juan without visiting La Placita in Santurce. This is both a local market during the day and a nightlife reunion spot at night with live music, dancing, and food kiosks.

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Thanks for reading the 33 Best things to do in san juan for history buffs, foodies, families, and adventure travelers. Be sure to bookmark my mega list of the 49 Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico.

Have fun experiencing the best San Juan activities!



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