Places to Stay and Things to do and see in San Juan, Puerto Rico

The island paradise of Puerto Rico is a holiday destination that ticks all the boxes for both Americans and those traveling from further afield.

What to see in San Juan, Puerto Rico
What to see in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Visitors arriving for the first time will usually fly into San Juan, and while there are plenty of other treasures to be discovered later, there is more than enough in the capital to keep the first timer busy.


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Here, we take a look at some of the highlights that you really shouldn’t miss.

The Ritz-Carlton

Although, there are many places to stay in San Juan for luxury travellers there is only one place to stay and the Ritz Carlton.

The Ritz-Carlton in San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Ritz-Carlton in San Juan, Puerto Rico

The flagship Ritz Carlton resort hotel dominates the scene, standing on a two-mile stretch of golden beach.

The Ritz has something for everyone:

Relax in the Spa – The SPA as the Ritz is a total pleasure fest, you can indulge in Melter Ritual, which is a salt based treatment that helps regenerate tired skin. You can also try their Sea Shell therapy or maybe Café Con Leche Body Polish.

Dining – For foodies, you won’t be disappointed. There is a host of restaurants that cater for tastes of all kinds be you a lover of steak, fish or chef cuisine.

Activities – Although, San Juan, has a lot to offer, if you don’t feel like venturing outside the Ritz has activities for all the family both young and old.

The Ritz Casino – Online casino sites are very popular because they offer 24 hours access. Well, at the Ritz they have an excellent casino that is open 24/7, for those who like the thrill of dice or card games or slot machines, they also have Roulette. Black Jack and even Bingo. If casino is your thing, or you just want something different then kicking back in the Ritz casino is good fun. But, not for the kids!

Outside of the Ritz, your journey really begins.

What to see

For many, the thought of long days lazing on the beach and being pampered in the spa followed by fine dining and an evening in the casino sounds like heaven, and they barely leave the hotel for an entire week. The approach is understandable, but there are a few must-see experiences that you should really find time to squeeze in while you are in this unique city:

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

1) The Old Town

Ask most people to list the “must sees” of San Juan and the Old Town will be at or near the top of the list. The streets of 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial buildings transport you back to another age, but it is not all history and photo opportunities.

Old San Juan is also packed with shops, bars and nightclubs, meaning there is something for anyone, at any time of the day or night.

Most of the historic buildings are on or around Cristo Street, so start from there and make your way out.

2) Castillo del Morro

Fuerte San Felipe del Morro
Fuerte San Felipe del Morro Photo credit: Sean Munson via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

This former military fort was initially constructed by the Spanish in the 1530s. Officially Fuerte San Felipe del Morro, it takes its name from King Philip II of Spain. It remained in use as an operational US Army post till the 1960s, at which point it was decided to preserve it as a National Park. It was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1983.

3) San Juan Cemetery

Santa Maria Magdalena De Pazzis Cemetery
Santa Maria Magdalena De Pazzis Cemetery

The Old Town and the fort might be on everyone’s list, but for something a little left field, find time to visit San Juan’s Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery. Situated just outside the Old Town, it must be one of the most beautiful places on the planet to spend eternity. It was built overlooking the Atlantic Ocean to represent the spirit’s journey from this life to the next and is the final resting place of some of Puerto Rico’s most famous poets, composers, and politicians.

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