San Juan Travel Guide – Best Places to Visit and Eat At
No passport? No problem. For many in Upper Manhattan, the coastal city of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city, is an important getaway — a vibrant Caribbean experience rich in Hispanic, African culture. and Taino, with a veritable abundance of traditional cuisine and a vibrant nightlife scene to boot. Break a fresh coconut and explore miles of beaches before enjoying some of the best rum in the world. Call salsa.
Flamenco . Beach
Not all beaches are created equal. At least that’s certainly the case with Culebra, a small island off the coast of San Juan that can only be reached by plane or boat. With pristine turquoise waters and white sand, it’s the perfect spot for snorkeling and immersing in marine life — the island is home to giant sea turtles and brown pelicans. have ability to be extinct. Pro tip: Book a day trip on the catamaran train.
El Yunque National Forest
Up for an outdoor excursion? Look no further than El Yunque — the only tropical rainforest in the United States. A favorite of Lin-Manuel Miranda, this must-see landscape includes mile-long hikes, zip lines, and waterfalls in one of the most diverse ecosystems on the island. Be prepared, because here (unsurprisingly) it rains quite often. (It’s not called a rainforest for nothing.) El Yunque is located just 35 minutes by car from the airport, and many hotels offer day trips and guided tours. Find the rope swing, it’s a must.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro
As a New Yorker who loves to walk everywhere, I quickly fell in love with each colorful cobblestone street in Old San Juan, with its pastel-painted buildings and bustling shops, perfect for photo shoots. outfit of the day. Be sure to stop by the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a six-story fortress overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at the top of town. The views here are amazing — a 500-year-old Spanish castle perched on a hill surrounded by manicured grounds. How do they cut all that grass? Sip a piña colada and contemplate.
At Caña, having a great meal won’t be a problem; The hardest part was figuring out what to order. Whether you prefer standing on the street or dining by the ocean with stunning views, chef Juliana Gonzalez has developed a menu that uses a background of Spanish influences to serve modern cuisines. classic Puerto Rican food (think: blue crab rice and grilled shrimp). The restaurant is located inside the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, facing the Isla Verde coast — the perfect setting for a great sunset.
You must, I repeat, right, there is fish of the day. Named after Puerto Rico’s most decorated chef, the famous José Enrique is housed in a discreet building, but don’t be fooled: Inside, the charm lives on the tables. From mofongo and pork belly to beloved bacalaitos (crunchy fish flatbreads), you’ll quickly realize how much attention Enrique has garnered when he blends local ingredients into a delicious plate .
Classic and contemporary flavors combine at Santaella in the best possible way. The menu boasts traditional dishes enhanced with a distinctly tropical vibe. Indulge in staples like the rice of the day and empanadillas (Puerto Rican deep-fried dishes), and don’t say you’re missing out without trying alcapurrias (chips) —Jimmy Fallon approved during the visit his last island.
The vibes at Club Brava are simply second to none. Formerly known as Club Babylon, the high-energy lounge is a hotspot for celebrities, in addition to serving as one of the island’s most vibrant hangouts. Conveniently located inside the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, Club Brava is a great choice for a girls’ night out. We recommend dressing especially well with flashing neon lights to attract attention on the dance floor. If you’re a hotel guest, then you’re in luck, as admission is free.
Voted one of the top 50 bars in North America for 5 years in a row, La Factoría specializes in craft cocktails and has a really good time. Its signature drink, Lavender Mule, is an especially good choice for listening to salsa. When you feel the urge to dance, head to the dance floor in the back room — and bring a friend.
Pair each criollo-inspired dish with a craft cocktail crafted by San Juan’s top mixologists at this popular Caribbean restaurant. The customized pairing experience will quickly make it your favorite fine dining option on the island, not to mention a great setting to celebrate your next birthday.
Fairmont El San Juan Hotel
You’ll feel like the protagonist of your own movie in the cultural and entertainment hub of San Juan. The newly refurbished Fairmont El San Juan Hotel features 11 restaurants, a lounge, a casino and a fitness center. Translation: You can spend the whole day experiencing the amenities. Visit your spa before joining a live band at Chico Cabaret, followed by a luxurious casino experience. Try booking the newly opened Banyan Villas, complete with a private terrace and direct access to one of the property’s four swimming pools, and just steps from the beach. There’s never a dull moment here, making it very hard to leave, but if you want to explore, the Fairmont is just 15 minutes from Old San Juan.
Hotel El Convento
Since 1962, Hotel El Convento has earned a reputation as Old San Juan’s premier boutique hotel. Formerly a convent in the heart of Cathedral Square, the 16th-century El Convento sits next to some of the best shopping and nightlife in the area. After spending the day at the beach club, take a three-minute walk to La Factoría, or simply enjoy a coffee on the terrace as you soak up old-world charm.
Province of Palacio
Once Puerto Rico’s first post office, the province of Palacio has since undergone a charming, modern renovation. Primarily beautiful courtyards with al fresco dining, rooms with beamed ceilings, checkered floors, 12-meter windows and Juliet balconies, and the highlight is the rooftop infinity pool with sweeping views of San Juan Bay.