Top 5 Things to See in San Juan, Puerto Rico
I went to Puerto Rico on a whim - I found cheap tickets and had booked them and a place to stay within an hour. It didn't take long after arrival, though, for me to realize that Puerto Rico is a place that I wouldn't mind visiting again and again.
I've been to the Caribbean before, but Puerto Rico sticks out to me as unique from the other islands I've visited and it's a destination that I wouldn't mind visiting again and again.
Every day I spent there was full of amazing food, beautiful scenery and extremely friendly people. I don't hear people talk about Puerto Rico often, but there are several reasons that it should be immediately added to your list!
Here are 5 fantastic things to see and do while visiting the diverse, tropical island of Puerto Rico!
Castillo San Felipe Del Morro
It's difficult to miss this 16th century fort that overlooks the entrance to the San Juan Bay. The huge walls that are a thick as a house hold hundreds of years of history. The fort has seen several battles and been the home of thousands of soldiers over the centuries.
Today, Del Morro is a part of the National Parks system, and visitors can get a look into what life at the fort was like in the past and how its evolved over the years.
Plan a few hours to take your time exploring the different lookouts and tunnels. And don't forget a lot of cold water, sunscreen and possibly a fan since there's no air conditioning and the majority of the areas to explore are in the sun.
El Yunque National Rain forest
There's only one rain forest in the National Parks system, and it's El Yunque.
It's about 40 or so minute drive from San Juan, but El Yunque shouldn't be missed. Rent a car for a day to get out to this amazing area.
Puerto Rico is incredible in the fact that you can go from some of the most beautiful beaches in the world (we'll get to that later) to one of the lushest parts of the world in less than an hour. El Yunque is home to a jungle-like setting that feels like something you'd only see in an adventure movie or survival TV show. It's lush, thick and full of the type of sounds you'll only hear in a tropical rain forest: Birds, waterfalls and rivers.
There are several things to see and do just in El Yunque. Climb to the top of the Yokahu Tower to see the expanse of green around you. Stop by La Coca waterfall on the side of the road or take the longer (but not difficult) hike to La Mina waterfall. Hike to the highest peak and get a view of everything from the top. Whatever you do, you'll find that there's nothing quite like being surrounded by the pure, natural wildness of the rain forest.
Puerto Rico is home to some of the most popular and beautiful beaches in the world. If you're staying just in San Juan, Playita del Condado is a great place to go.
Condado is a popular area in San Juan, mostly because of it's beautiful beach-side location. Hotels and apartments line the streets and there's plenty of nightlife to enjoy. The area is a great central hub to stay since it's also full of restaurants and shopping, but the beautiful beach that looks out over the Caribbean is definitely the best reason to visit.
Lay out a beach towel, prop up some chairs and umbrella (or rent them for a cheap daily price from one of the many vendors) and enjoy a day full of sunshine and the occasional tropical treat while enjoying one of the nicest views the world can offer.
Castillo San Cristobal
You might think, "Another fortress? Why would I need to see that?" Well, San Cristobal certainly has a lot of similarities with Del Morro, but it's also got its own personality and history.
Finished in 1783, the fort was built by Spain to protect San Juan. There are a few more buildings, a bit more to see an an interesting history that spans all the way to WWII when the giant cisterns were used as bomb shelters.
It's possible to visit both Del Morro and San Cristobal in one day since they aren't too far apart from each other (about a 20 minutes walk or a free shuttle ride), but just remember to set aside a good couple hours for each if you plan to see everything they have to offer!
Old San Juan
Look up pictures of San Juan and you're sure to see plenty of pictures of this colorful, picturesque part of the city. It's just as vibrant as it looks in the pictures and it's easy to get lost among the weaving streets and colorful walls for hours.
Old San Juan is the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico, and the history is evident through the layout of the streets and the ancient trees that cover the pathways and buildings. Today, it's also a National Historic Landmark District and is full of history at every corner.
The area has undergone extensive renovations and restoration after being allowed to fall into disrepair by the 1940s. Today, visitors can take a look at the original gate tot he city, the old cemetery and the first cathedral in the United States and the second oldest in the Americas. Take some time to wander around, try some great food and make sure to snap some colorful pictures!
Have you been to San Juan? What were some of your favorite things to see? I'm hoping to go back soon and find even more great things to see.
Interested in finding more to do in Puerto Rico? Check out other posts from my time there!
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