Looking for things to do in Puerto Rico? While on a cruise through the Caribbean, I spent just a day in San Juan, Puerto Rico and while it was a great visit, it was by no means enough time. While other islands I visited in the Caribbean were very manageable to see in a day, Puerto Rico is not one of those islands. A day in Puerto Rico was a great taste to this beautiful Caribbean Isle, and it got me hooked to come back for more.
Puerto Rico has an interesting history, founded in 1521, Puerto Rico was long under rule of the Spanish. The island was considered a huge asset due to its strategic location. As the first major island in sailing path from Europe, Puerto Rico provided fresh water for ships travelling west from Europe.
Locals speak English and Spanish, but predominately Spanish.
Puerto Rico offers the perfect combination of culture, architecture, rain forests, beaches. Here is my guide to a day in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Old San Juan
Stroll through the streets of Old San Juan admiring the pastel coloured colonial buildings and cobble stone streets.
Fuerte San Cristobal
The Fuerte San Cristobal is San Juan’s second fort and covered approximately 27 acres when it was still in use, today it covers a much smaller area. We started our tour of San Juan’s forts and fortresses here.
The Fuerte San Cristobal offers amazing views of the Old Town of San Juan and out to the Atlantic Ocean (see below). The fort was constructed in 1634 as a result of Dutch invasion. The fort became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.
After seeing the Fuerte San Cristobal walk along the Atlantic coastline, admiring the view and pastel coloured heritage buildings to the El Morro.
See both the Fuerte San Cristobal and the El Morro for $5 admission.
The El Morro was was built over a span of 250 years to guard San Juan’s harbour. Positioned at the entrance of the Caribbean, the El Morro protected Puerto Rico from merchant ships for over 400 years. Similar to the Fuerte San Cristobal, the El Morro was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Free Guided tours of El Morro take place every hour.
We felt we had seen enough forts and fortresses so left of the La Fortleza. La Fortleza was the oldest fort of San Juan, however was replaced by the much larger El Morro and Fuerte San Cristobal.
Spend some time shopping in Old San Juan for many of your favourite brands such as Guess, Nike, Coach plus many, many more.
El Yunque National Forest
If we had been more organised, I would have taken a trip out to the jungle. The journey to the El Yunque National Forest should be organised in advance through your cruise line or a local tour company. Many of the local taxis do not have the required permits to entry the area and with the cost to arrange a taxi, it works out to be cheaper to go on an organised tour.
Leave sufficient time to do your jungle tour and time to explore Old San Juan. If it comes down to choosing between one of the other you will need to make that call.
If you are looking to relax by a beach while in San Juan, Isla Verde is accessible by local bus and by taxi. Isla Verde is located alongside hotels which makes it a very busy beach.
If you have just one day in San Juan, make sure you plan accordingly. There is much to see and do and you may have to decide between a few activities. If I were to do San Juan again in a day, I would arrange a jungle tour and then ensure I got to explore the Old Town, El Morro and Fuerte San Cristobal.
San Juan will be our first port on an upcoming cruise. Thank you so much for sharing your trip there. I am looking forward to it!
I’m glad I could help Becca! Enjoy San Juan it is beautiful!