“El Viejo (Old) San Juan”
Old San Juan is one of my favorite places in all of Puerto Rico. It has no beaches, no resort hotels, and not a whole lot of natural beauty. What it does have is over 500 years of history, beautiful colonial architecture liberally splashed with tropical colors, and a timeless magic that makes it one of the most enchanting destinations in the Caribbean. You can spend many happy hours just walking around the walled city. The history, tropical pastel hues, colonial architecture and incredible cultural offerings are simply incomparable, not just in Puerto Rico but most of the region. And it’s all the more remarkable considering how small this city is, just seven square blocks partially encircled by an ancient wall. Comfortable shoes are a requirement to enjoy this city. There’s lots of walking , there’s the uphill trek from Castillo San Cristobál to El Morro and then there are the adoquines, those beautiful blue-tinged cobblestone streets.
Visiting The Forts
Perhaps nothing captures the history of Puerto Rico more than Old San Juan’s massive fortresses. El Morro and La Fortaleza are among the most visited attractions on the island for good reason. Their cannons, ramparts and layered defenses have guarded the walled city for centuries. Even the governor’s mansion, La Fortaleza, is called “The Fortress” because it was one of the settlement’s early bases.
La Fortaleza (Governor’s Residence)
Shopping in Old San Juan
Shopping in Old San Juan is diverse, with retailers scattered among many narrow streets. Stores include many fine jewelers, arts, crafts and mercantile shops, two drug stores, and a few branded “outlets”, e.g., Coach: genuine with good prices, but discontinued styles. You’ll also find numerous cafes and a few fine restaurants.
Puerto Rican Cigars
The island still produces some of the finest hand-rolled Puros (cigars) found anywhere in the Caribbean. *Contact Us for information on Adding the Cigar Roller service to your party.
Puerto Rican Coffee
In the 19th century Puerto Rico was one of the world’s leading coffee origins. In 1896, for example, the island was the sixth largest coffee producer in the world. But in the 20th century coffee apparently became lost in the complex political and economic shuffle that marked Puerto Rico’s passage from agricultural economy and Spanish colony to developing American commonwealth. In the late 1980s, however, a consortium of farmers led by Harvard-educated marketing expert Jaime Fortuno revived Puerto Rico as a specialty coffee origin. Puerto Rico offers a great variety of coffees. Take some back with you. It is the perfect gift.
Spicy Caribee Store
Located in 154 Cristo St, Old San Juan
BOTELLO Art Gallery
208 Cristo St, Old San Juan
BOTELLO Art Gallery
208 Cristo St, Old San Juan
Galeria Botello is an oasis of cool, a haven for art-lovers, and a showcases of some of the the finest and most recognized artists you’ll find on the island. In a beautiful interior, Galería Botello displays paintings, sculptures, ceramics and a fantastic collection of antique carved Santos, or hand-carved wooden figurines of saints. distinctive bronze sculptures of Angel Botello can be found all over the island. Botello was dubbed the “Caribbean Gauguin.”
Recommendations while in Old San Juan:
- Visit the Capitol building, City wall (Door of San Juan), Casa España, El Convento, Cathedral of San Juan, Parque de las palomas
- Kite Flying in The Morro Fort (kites included)
- Eat a Piragua (Snow cones) & Eat a Mallorca (pastry)
- Bar: La Factoria : Named one Of The World’s 50th Best Bars 2015
- Stop by The Birthplace of The Famous Piña Colada (Barrachina Restaurant)
- Restaurants recommended: Marmalade, El Picoteo, Aguaviva, El Patio de Sam, El Jibarito, St Germain Bistro & cafe, Cafe Puerto Rico & The Hard Rock Cafe in Old San Juan
- Dessert: Señor Paleta specializes in the creation of lollypops made with a variety of fresh natural fruits and nuts, made of gelato and sorbet.
- Restaurants in Condado: Oceano, Casa Lola, 1919 in Vanderbilt or Cocina Abierta.
Old San Juan Tour Summary
5 hour duration Visit San Cristobal Fort, breathing views from San Juan Bay and El Morro Fort & Museum (Includes entrance) 1 hour for shopping The tour will drive you through the streets of Old San Juan where the cobblestones from the Old Spain colonies are amazingly preserved
Old San Juan Tour Rates (5 Hours)
1-11 Guests, $95 Per Person 12+ Guests, $75 Per Person
Old San Juan Tour + Old San Juan Sailing Tour (1.5 Hours)
1-11 Guests, $175 Per Person 12+ Guests, $155 Per Person
Old San Juan Tour + Bacardi Tour (2 Hours)
1-11 Guests, $170 Per Person 12+ Guests, $150 Per Person
Photographer for the Day $375.00
If you have any questions or would like special accommodations for your upcoming trip to “La Isla de Encanto” please do not hesitate to fill-out the contact form to the right, call, or email us. My name is Diana Norniella-Burke and I love to help!