San Juan Sights

San Juan's metro area stretches for 12 miles (19 km) along Puerto Rico's north coast, and defining the city is rather like assembling a puzzle. Neighborhoods are irregular and sometimes overlap—locals disagree, for example, about where Condado ends and Ocean Park begins. The areas most visited by tourists run along the coast.

Farthest west is Old San Juan, the showplace of the island's rich

history. On this peninsula you will find some of the city's finest museums and shops, as well as excellent dining and lodging options. To the east is Puerta de Tierra, a narrow strip of land sandwiched between the ocean and the bay. The area is home to a couple of famous hotels and two noteworthy parks, the Parque de Tercer Milenio and the Parque Muñoz Rivera, as well as Escambrón Beach. The rehabilitation project of the waterfront and cruise docks, Bahía Urbana, is bringing in new galleries, shops, and luxury housing developments. Beyond Puerta de Tierra is Condado, an upscale older neighborhood that is a mix of beautiful Spanish-style homes, larger apartment buildings, and resort hotels. Here you'll find designer fashions in the boutiques and on the people strolling down the main drag of Avenida Ashford. Ocean Park, to the east of Condado, is mostly residential, but the handful of inns and restaurants here are among the city's best. Don’t miss Calle Loíza, parallel to McLeary Street; it’s becoming the area's new gastronomic hub. Beyond Ocean Park is Isla Verde, a more commercial zone, and also where you'll find the biggest resorts on the best city beach.

South of Condado and Ocean Park lies Santurce, a business district with a growing artistic community, thanks to the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo. La Placita de Santurce is home to two of San Juan’s top restaurants, Santaella and José Enrique. Bordering Santurce and across the bay from Condado, the quieter, residential neighborhood of Miramar is also a great place for off-the-beaten-path dining. Hato Rey is a busy financial district, where you'll find the large Plaza las Américas Mall. The mostly residential Río Piedras area is home to the Universidad de Puerto Rico.

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San Juan Sights

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Alcaldía

  • Government Building

San Juan's city hall was built between 1602 and 1789. In 1841, extensive alterations made it resemble Madrid's city hall, with arcades,...

Arecibo Observatory

  • Observatory/Planetarium

Hidden among pine-covered hills, this observatory is home to the world's largest radar-radio telescope. Operated by the National Astronomy...

Balneario El Escambrón

  • Beach–Sight

In Puerta de Tierra, this government-run beach has a patch of honey-colored sand shaded by coconut palms. An offshore reef generally...

Balneario de Carolina

  • Beach–Sight

When people talk about a "beautiful Isla Verde beach," this is it. East of Isla Verde, this Blue Flag beach is so close to the airport...

Capilla del Cristo

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

According to legend, in 1753 a young horseman named Baltazar Montañez got carried away during festivities in honor of San Juan Bautista...

Casa Bacardí Visitor Center

  • Winery/Brewery/Distillery

Exiled from Cuba, the Bacardí family built a small rum distillery here in the 1950s. Today it's the world's largest, able to produce...

Casa Blanca

  • House/Mansion/Villa

The original structure here was a wooden house built in 1521 as a home for Ponce de León; he died in Cuba without ever living here.

Casa de Ramón Power y Giralt

  • Museum/Gallery

The restored home of 18th-century naval hero Don Ramón Power y Giralt is now the headquarters of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico.

Castillo San Cristóbal

  • Historic District/Site

This huge stone fortress, built between 1634 and 1790, guarded the city from land attacks from the east. The largest Spanish fortification...

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

  • Historic District/Site

At the northwestern tip of the Old City, El Morro ("the promontory") was built by the Spaniards between 1539 and 1786. Rising 140 feet...

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