Looking for things to do in San Juan? Fortunately, the city offers some truly epic attractions for every type of visitor. And, as a San Juan local, I know them all well!
From picturesque beaches to a UNESCO world heritage site, San Juan is a paradise where modernity clashes with history and nature.
Most tourists find the top attractions within Old San Juan, but as an island local I know there is a LOT more to discover in other areas like Santurce, Condado, Ocean Park, and Hato Rey.
San Juan is home to many of my favorite things to do in Puerto Rico, so I know how hard it is to choose from all the amazing attractions in San Juan. To help you out, I compiled this local’s list of the 33 absolute best activities to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico – so you don’t miss out on any of this city’s fun!
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Best Things to Do in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Walk the Streets of Old San Juan
Old San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico, and one of the most popular places to visit on the island. The city sports multiple historical buildings in San Juan’s historic site that date back to the 16th century, when Puerto Rico was under the Spanish Empire’s control.
Old San Juan is home to beautiful colorful Spanish-style houses and national landmarks like El Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal. Don’t forget to visit main streets like Calle Fortaleza, Calle del Cristo, and Calle San Sebastian.
🛎️ Need a hotel? If you’re wondering about the best hotels and areas in Old San Juan, check out my guide to where to stay in San Juan to find the place that best suits your needs.
Explore Castillo San Felipe del Morro
📍 Map It: 501 Bulevar del Valle, San Juan, 00901 | Phone: (787) 729-6970 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm daily | Entrance: $10, adults, Free under 15 | 👉 Book El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal Tour on Viator
Castillo San Felipe del Morro is easily the most famous landmark in Puerto Rico. The fort built by the Spaniards in the 16th century protected the north coast of the island from any sea attacks.
El Morro, as it’s popularly known, features multiple floors with barracks, kitchens, storages, an inner courtyard, and fantastic views of the city walls. The lowest level of El Morro gives a great view of the sea.
Stand on Top of Castillo San Cristobal
📍 Map It: 501 Bulevar del Valle, San Juan, 00901 | Phone: (787) 449-4049 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm daily | Entrance: $10 | 👉 Book El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal Tour in Viator
Castillo San Cristóbal is another historical landmark a history buff can’t miss in Old San Juan. Like the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, the castle is within the Unesco World Heritage Site. Built in 1634, the Castillo San Cristobal is the largest Spanish fort in the American continent and its purpose was to protect the old city from land attacks.
Take a San Juan Food Tour
Puerto Rican cuisine is something you can’t miss in Puerto Rico. San Juan is home to some of the best restaurants on the island with both local and international flavors. A visit to Puerto Rico isn’t complete without trying the traditional mofongo, and arroz con habichuelas. Some popular eating spots in San Juan include Old San Juan, Condado, Miramar, Santurce, Calle Loíza, and Piñones.
👉Are you a foodie? If you would love to try everything there is to Puerto Rican food, book this Old San Juan food tour to enjoy the best of the local cuisine.
Sail Through San Juan Bay
Instead of walking, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of San Juan while navigating through San Juan Bay on a boat. While many commercial ships and cruises enter and exit the bay, small boats also take tourists around the San Juan bay while listening to lively music and eating good food.
Sunbath at San Juan’s Beaches
Beach lovers don’t have to go outside of San Juan to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico. In San Juan alone you will find four beaches. Condado Beach, Ocean Park, and Escambron Beach are great options to spend the day with family.
Playa Peña is a private beach right in front of El Capitolio and is ideal for a romantic San Juan sunset walk. Isla Verde, although a bit farther, is another great beach option close to San Juan.
👉 Local Tip: The beaches in San Juan are mostly urban beaches and, honestly, can get crowded during the high season. Check out my guide to the best beaches in Puerto Rico to learn about other beaches on the island you can visit, many of which are less crowded!
Take a Salsa Class
When you think of salsa, you probably think of the Caribbean and Puerto Rico! That’s why one of the best things to do in San Juan is to take a salsa class with your partner. Not only will you be learning to dance, but you’ll know more about the local culture and you’ll make new friends.
Hop Between San Juan’s Iconic Plazas
San Juan is home to multiple public plazas filled with the city’s history and culture. Plaza de Armas is one of the most popular plazas in San Juan and is home to frequent activities with local food and Bomba and Plena music ideal for the people that want to blend in with the locals.
👉 Love History? Check out this great San Juan walking tour to visit the most important plazas in Old San Juan, learn about their fascinating history, and finish the day by watching the sunset in El Morro, one of the must see attractions in Old San Juan.
Catch a Local Festival
Old San Juan is home to multiple free festivals, concerts, and exhibitions that highlight the best of San Juan and Puerto Rico. The most famous festival is Las Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, also called “San Se”, which is a four-day festival with local artists, music, dancing, and food that party lovers can’t miss.
Sites & Attractions
San Juan Cathedral
History lovers shouldn’t miss the San Juan Cathedral. The beautiful structure, built in 1521, forms part of the San Juan National Historic Site. Besides its historic value, the Cathedral keeps the remains of Juan Ponce de León, the first governor of Puerto Rico.
Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis
📍 Address: C. Cementerio, San Juan, 00926 | Phone: (787) 480-4617 | Hours: 7 am – 3 pm daily
Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis is more a piece of art than a cemetery. You can see the dozens of beautiful sculptures depicting Christian scenes while listening to waves down splashing outside the cemetery. You can also find the tombs of various famous Puerto Rican figures.
Stroll down Paseo de La Princesa and Paseo del Morro
📍 Map It: San Juan, 00901
If you take a stroll down Paseo de La Princesa, not only will you be able to appreciate the Old San Juan city walls better, but you’ll reach the Puerta de San Juan or San Juan Gate. This iconic door is the only entrance that stands today from the four doors that originally gave path to the city. If you continue down El Paseo del Morro, you will reach El Morro too.
👉 Love History? If you want to learn about the history behind Paseo de La Princesa, Paseo del Morro, and the famous San Juan Gate, book this awesome walking tour to know how Old San Juan came to be.
Museums & Culture
Museum of Contemporary Art
📍 Map It: Av. Juan Ponce de León, esquina Ave. Roberto H. Todd, Parada 18, San Juan, 00910 | Phone: (787) 977-4030 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Fri-Sun, Closed from Monday to Thursday | Entrance: $5, free for seniors
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico is a great stop for people that enjoy contemporary and abstract art. The museum organizes family events and movie nights almost every weekend, and you can find the activity calendar on their social media.
Find the Street Art in Santurce
📍 Map It: 809 Calle Cerra, San Juan, 00907
Every year Santurce hosts a festival called Santurce es Ley and receives dozens of international muralists that create art in different corners of San Juan. Art lovers can’t miss the astonishing murals that stand between common buildings and businesses. While you’re in Santurce, you can also enjoy something to eat at some of the local restaurants.
👉 Local Tip: Although Santurce is safe for visitors, some tourists might feel intimidated walking around the area. If you would rather have a guide take you to see the murals, book this street art in Santurce tour to visit Santurce worry-free.
Museo Las Americas
El Museo Las Americas is a museum with history itself. The structure was once the military barracks of the Spanish military and later it was a hospital during the Second World War. Today the museum hosts collections about the history and mixed culture of the American continent.
Find the Hidden Tokens in El Velorio
📍 Map It: Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de, San Juan, 00931 | Phone: (787) 763-3939 | Website | Hours: Sun, M, Th, Fr 9 am – 4:30 pm, W 9:00 am – 8:35 pm, Closed Saturdays
El Velorio is a painting by Puerto Rican painter Francisco Oller. The huge painting is famous for its hidden tokens and meanings. El Velorio translates as The Funeral and it depicts how people celebrated a child’s funeral in the countryside during the XIX century.
Refresh Yourself in San Juan’s chorritos
📍 Map It: C. del Cristo, San Juan, 00926
In Plaza del Centenario in San Juan, you will find a water fountain, locally called chorritos, where you can refresh yourself after a hot day of sightseeing. Locals take their children there frequently too. Just remember to bring an extra change of clothes.
Rent a Bike
If you´re looking to explore San Juan and Condado with your family in a different way, you can rent a bike or a scooter to ride through the streets with your family. Condado even sports a bicycle lane so you can ride safely with your loved ones.
👉 Is Puerto Rico Safe for Travel Right Now? It’s a good question. See my full Puerto Rico safety guide to find out!
Relax at the Botanical Garden
📍 Map It: Street Address on Google Maps | Phone: (787) 474-0402 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 4 pm daily
The Botanical Garden of the University of Puerto Rico is one of the hidden gems of San Juan. This Garden sports a Japanese garden, a sculpture garden, and an artificial waterfall. The Botanical Garden is the ideal place for people who want to step out of the crowds of San Juan and want to connect with nature instead. Due to the pandemic, you have to make a reservation to enter.
Go Shopping in San Juan
The capital city is a paradise for shopaholics. You will find numerous independent shops, art galleries, souvenir shops, and brand stores within walking distance in Old San Juan. If you’re looking for bigger malls, then head over to Plaza Las Americas or The Mall of San Juan.
Food & Drink
Tour the Bacardi Factory
Although not exactly in San Juan, the Bacardi Factory is only 25 minutes away from San Juan and it’s worth your time if you’re into tastings. The Bacardi factory offers visitors rum tasting tours, mixology classes, and facility tours so you learn about Bacardi rum history and the process behind making it.
Taste a Cup of Good Coffee
If you’re a coffee lover you will love Puerto Rico’s strong and pure coffee. You will find multiple shops within Old San Juan, Santurce, Condado, and Miramar. Try out Cuatro Sombras, Café Colao, and Barista Squared.
Go Bar Hopping
You won’t have to search too much to notice there are a lot of bars and taverns in Old San Juan. Bars in Puerto Rico are a mix of drinks, loud music, and a lot of dancing. You can start bar-hopping in Calle San Sebastian in Old San Juan, where you’ll find different themed bars.
👉 Love a Good Shot? If you’re into bar hopping, but you rather go with someone, book this cocktail walk tour in San Juan to enjoy the best bars in San Juan while in good company.
Eat at a Food Truck Park
You don’t necessarily have to take a food tour to enjoy a sample of the different options San Juan offers. You can choose to visit one of San Juan’s food truck parks. Lote 23 in Santurce stays open until late and Miramar Food Truck Park sports foods from different nationalities.
Take a Surfing Class
Puerto Rico is the top destination for surfing in the Caribbean. If you’re looking for fun things to do in San Juan, and you’re an enthusiast that wants to learn how to surf, then book a class with one of the many surfing schools in San Juan.
While Flamenco Beach in Vieques and Icacos are top destinations to snorkel in Puerto Rico, San Juan also sports great beaches for snorkeling. Escambron Beach in the entrance of Old San Juan is both a beach for swimmers and for water sports lovers who want to do scuba diving or snorkeling.
👉Afraid to snorkel alone? Try this San Juan snorkeling guided tour to have professionals teach you how to snorkel and guide you through the best coast views of San Juan.
Go Kayaking or Paddleboarding
Only a ten-minute ride from Old San Juan, visitors can encounter the Condado Lagoon. If you’re looking for something more active than beach bumming, but you still want to enjoy the sun and the saltwater, you should try paddle boarding or kayaking in the Condado Lagoon. You’ll enjoy the Condado and Miramar skyline and you might even see manatees.
Kiteboard in Ocean Park Beach
If you’re an adventure-seeker then you’ll love to know you can go kiteboarding in Ocean Park in San Juan. This urban beach sports strong winds and good conditions to do the sport. You can also learn other water sports like wing boarding or book an e-foil hydrofoil experience.
Cheap & Free Things to Do in San Juan
Chill at T-Mobile District
The T-Mobile District is one of the newest attractions in San Juan and it’s a great option to meet local people. The modern plaza seeks to bring people together with a variety of free concerts, activities, and restaurants.
Adventure lovers who want to zipline but can’t visit El Yunque National Forest or The Toro Verde Adventure Park in Orocovis, can experience urban ziplining in the T-Mobile District.
Watch the Sunset at San Juan
Either if you’re traveling alone or with a partner, you can’t miss the sunsets in San Juan. When the time of the golden hour arrives, the historic city and the cobblestone streets acquire a beautiful orange glow perfect to take pictures. The best spot to see the sunset is El Morro’s esplanade.
Dance All Night in La Placita
If you’re looking to experience the lively Puerto Rican culture and hang out with locals, you can’t leave San Juan without visiting La Placita in Santurce. This is both a local market during the day and a nightlife reunion spot at night with live music, dancing, and food kiosks.
Discover La Fortaleza
La Fortaleza is the official residence of the governor of Puerto Rico and is another structure that belongs to San Juan National Historic Site, but not everyone knows that you can take a tour to see it inside. Besides its medieval-looking appearance, La Fortaleza sports a breathtaking interior decoration and a surrounding garden.
That was all to the 33 best things to do in San Juan for history buffs, foodies, families, and adventure travelers.
🛑 WAIT, before you go … be sure to bookmark my mega list of the 49 Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico. It’s filled with even more secrets and hidden gems to help you explore this island like a local!