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"Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour" Top 5 Page for this destination Old San Juan Tip by starship

Old San Juan, San Juan: 56 reviews and 131 photos

by starship
  • - San Juan
  • - San Juan
  • Corner near Plaza de Armas - San Juan
      Corner near Plaza de Armas
    by starship
  • - San Juan
  • - San Juan

The top attractions of Old San Juan can easily be seen on foot for the most part. While Old San Juan could include the far outer edges of El Morro, Fort San Felipe to the west and Castillo San Cristobal to the east, Old San Juan is usually considered to be the 7 or 8 square blocks (mostly established in a grid pattern) that encompass the historic heart of the town. Begin by obtaining a good map of the Old San Juan area at a local information kiosk, at San Juan City Hall, or print one from those available online.

Old San Juan will delight you with its Spanish architectural influence borne out in the details of buildings, churches, shops, restaurants, museums, and military forts. Things to look for are the Spanish-style, lacy wrought-iron balconies overhanging the streets, beautiful jewel-colored painted facades, ornamental lighting, shade-covered plazas, blue ballast stone cobbled streets, music, and the aroma of delicious food. Calle Fortaleza is a street favored by many tourists because of its attractive restaurants, shops and local life.

Many people enjoy the ocean-front walk to Fort San Felipe, El Morro then exploring its many points of interest. The Plaza de Armas is one of the main squares in Old Town with a center fountain graced by four marble statues representing "The Four Seasons." People gather here, enjoy a coffee or lunch, or just pass the time of day. The Casa de Ayuntamiento (city hall) also faces this plaza (look for local maps and info. here). Going east you will find the park-like setting of Plaza de Colon whose main feature is a beautiful fountain with a statue of Christopher Columbus atop a column. The plaza is surrounded by large shade trees which also make a lovely spot to rest. Close by is Castillo San Cristobal, the Old Casino, the interesting Casa Blanca Hotel, and several other buildings of note.

Since the old town is bordered by San Juan Bay, a walk along the waterfront can be a pleasant way to start or end your walking tours or enjoy a respite while taking in the great vistas it has to offer. Since we last visited, a beautiful promenade has been built along the water front going east from the cruise ship piers.

Walking through the grid of streets in Old San Juan, it would be difficult to become lost if you use as a starting point the cruise ship piers on the southerly side of the island. With a map, locate the sites that are of interest to you remembering that San Juan can be quite hot and humid so be prepared and perhaps plan rest stops or take breaks.

There is more to see than can be mentioned here, so I would recommend at least 2 - 3 days or so to see it thoroughly and to take advantage of the beaches in the relatively close by Condado area.

A good place to begin your self-guided tour of Old San Juan is the Plaza de Armas.

Phone: 787

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 20, 2016
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Comments (2)

  • hopang's Profile Photo
    Apr 14, 2016 at 11:23 AM

    It seems to us that there are lots of lovely architectual buildings in Old San Juan. ~ho & pang

  • davidjo's Profile Photo
    Jan 20, 2016 at 5:15 PM

    I prefer a self-guided walk rather than one with a guide and a crowd, but of course you learn much more with a guide

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Jan 20, 2016 at 5:39 PM

      I know what you mean but a guide makes a huge difference in many cases.


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