San Juan

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.Far
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
San Juan's metro area stretches for 12 miles (19 km) along Puerto Rico's north coast, and defining the city is rather li

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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  • 1. 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 and...Read More

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  • 2. Castillo San Cristóbal

    Old San Juan | 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 in...Read More

  • 3. Castillo San Felipe del Morro

    Old San Juan | 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 above...Read More

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  • 4. Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

    Santurce | Museum/Gallery

    One of the Caribbean's biggest museums, this beautiful neoclassical building was once the San Juan Municipal Hospital. The collection of Puerto...Read More

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  • 5. Alcaldía

    Old San Juan | 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, towers...Read More

  • 6. 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 that...Read More

  • 7. Balneario El Escambrón

    Puerta de Tierra | 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 makes surf...Read More

  • 8. Capilla del Cristo

    Old San Juan | 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 (St...Read More

  • 9. Casa Bacardí Visitor Center

    Information Center

    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 100,000...Read More

  • 10. Casa Blanca

    Old San Juan | 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. His descendants...Read More

  • 11. Casa de Ramón Power y Giralt

    Old San Juan | 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. On-site...Read More

  • 12. Catedral de San Juan Bautista

    Old San Juan | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The Catholic shrine of Puerto Rico had humble beginnings in the early 1520s as a thatch-roof, wooden structure. After a hurricane destroyed...Read More

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  • 13. Cementerio Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis

    Old San Juan | Cemetery

    One of Old San Juan's best-kept secrets, this remarkable cemetery provides a peaceful respite from the bustle of the city. Sandwiched between...Read More

  • 14. El Capitolio

    Puerta de Tierra | Government Building

    The white-marble Capitol, a fine example of Italian Renaissance style, dates from 1929. The grand rotunda, which can be seen from all over San...Read More

  • 15. Fundación Nacional Para la Cultura Popular

    Old San Juan | Museum/Gallery

    This nonprofit foundation serves many functions: museum, performance space, dance and music school, and archive dedicated to preserving the...Read More

  • 16. Jardín Botánico

    Garden/Arboretum

    This 75-acre forest of more than 200 species of tropical and subtropical vegetation is the Universidad de Puerto Rico's main attraction. Gravel...Read More

  • 17. La Fortaleza

    Old San Juan | Government Building

    Sitting atop the fortified city walls overlooking the harbor, La Fortaleza was built between 1533 and 1540 as a fortress, but it proved insufficient...Read More

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  • 18. Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

    Santurce | Museum/Gallery

    This Georgian-style structure, once a public school, displays a dynamic range of works by established and up-and-coming Latin American artists...Read More

  • 19. Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte

    Museum/Gallery

    The Universidad de Puerto Rico's small Museum of History, Anthropology and Art offers rotating exhibitions in three areas. Its archaeological...Read More

  • 20. Museo de las Américas

    Old San Juan | Museum/Gallery

    On the second floor of the imposing former military barracks, Cuartel de Ballajá, this museum houses four permanent exhibits: Folk Arts, African...Read More

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