Are you heading to San Juan, Puerto Rico? Cruising from Puerto Rico and not sure how to spend a weekend or 1 day in San Juan and what are the best things to do in San Juan? Look no further, in this post I will tell you what to do in San Juan on a cruise trip or a weekend trip.
I had almost no expectations from San Juan – none of my friends ever went, nor did my favourite photographers and Instagrammers (and not much publicity about the city in general), but I liked the architecture in the Old San Juan – the city centre is very impressive. In fact, out of 6 destinations of my cruise from San Juan (San Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados and St. Maarten), San Juan probably was the most beautiful city (competing with Philipsburg in St. Maarten).
In the meantime, if you’re interested in photography and looking for the best photography spots in San Juan, Puerto Rico, here’s my Instagram guide to San Juan (read it here).
Where to stay in San Juan? Affordable accommodation in San Juan, Puerto Rico before your cruise starts
I spent about two weeks looking for affordable accommodation in San Juan before finding a place to stay. First, I was looking at the hotels, and the good ones were already sold out (make sure to book your hotel in advance). In case you’re booking in advance and money isn’t an issue, I recommend staying in La Concha Renaissance, Casa Blanca Hotel or Villa Herencia.
San Juan gets extremely busy during the high season of cruising, so make sure to book accommodation at least 3-4 months in advance or even earlier if you know when will your cruise depart, if you’re leaving from San Juan.
If the above options are sold out or you’re looking for cheap accommodation in San Juan, it makes sense to use Airbnb. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, you can sign up via my link and get up to $30 credit for your next booking. We booked a private room in a flat in Santurce Art District (it’s a very hipster place, a bit dodgy, but really cool as well) for about $70 per night.
Where to leave your baggage in San Juan? Baggage lockers in San Juan
My main concern about Airbnb was the fact that I wouldn’t be able to leave my suitcase anywhere for a day, as my cruise started at night. Don’t worry. In Old San Juan, there’s a restaurant called Barrachina, and there you can leave your bags for a day if you’re going to a cruise or coming from a cruise and your flight is late at night. It would cost you around $5 to leave the bags (that’s the tip for the porter), so it’s really almost nothing. In order to get to Barrachina to leave your baggage, you can use Uber.
Uber, however, doesn’t operate from the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. You need to exit the airport and walk for about 800 meters to be able to ask for an Uber, or you can manually change your pin location and put it outside the airport and then call your driver and tell him where you are. There’s always a huge queue for the taxis, and I found taxi drivers to be quite rude in San Juan (besides they didn’t know about most of the locations we wanted to visit, so we had to guide them via MY OWN GPS, which kind of doesn’t make much sense), so I definitely recommend Uber!
Things to do in San Juan in a day on a cruise or during a weekend
Now when you found your hotel and left your bags (or skipped this part of the post in case it’s not relevant for you), you can think of some amazing things to do in San Juan!
What to do in San Juan in a day (if you came by cruise or you’re waiting for your cruise)?
Go exploring the Old San Juan
The first thing that comes to my mind is to go exploring the Old San Juan! As I already said before, I had zero expectations of San Juan, but it turned out to be really beautiful, so I recommend you to wander around the Old Town and take some really nice photos!
The Old San Juan is not huge, so you can totally walk all of it just in 2-3 hours.
Visit Castillo San Felipe Del Morro
In case you have a great interest in history, you can go inside the Castillo San Felipe Del Morro, however, you might as well admire it from the outside!
Take a photo in the famous umbrella street in San Juan
A great spot that all the tourists visit is the famous umbrella street in San Juan – you can read about it and more photogenic places in San Juan in my Instagram guide to San Juan (here).
Have lunch in one of the traditional Puerto Rican restaurants
Puerto Rican food is great – their avocados are absolutely amazing (the biggest avocados I have ever seen). If you’re looking for a great place to eat for lunch, you can check out Princesa Gastrobar, Marmalade Restaurant and Wine Bar and Verde Mesa.
Go swimming & visit some of the best beaches in San Juan
Puerto Rico is a big island, so getting to a remote beach AFTER visiting all the places above and getting back to your cruise is nearly impossible, so you might consider going to a beach that is close to the cruise port and where you can get by taxi / Uber.
Some of the nice beaches in San Juan near the cruise port to consider: Escambron Beach, Isla Verde Beach, Condado Beach and Punta Las Marias. There are so many beaches near the airport, so you can definitely pick one for yourself (and it’s like a 15-min drive from the cruise ship).
That’s probably all that you can do in San Juan during 1 day on a cruise, unless you’re going to run everywhere. You can also take one of the tours offered by the cruise line, however, in my option, it’s better to explore San Juan by yourself and if you have mobile data, you can get everywhere by Uber.
Things to do during a weekend in Puerto Rico
In case you have more than 1 day in Puerto Rico, you can explore more places and even experience the amazing nightlife in San Juan! Moreover, you can get one of the tours to get out of San Juan and explore Puerto Rico a little bit more.
If you think what to do in Puerto Rico in 2 days, I would definitely add to the list above Santurce Art District, which is an amazing place for going out in the afternoon and also enjoying the impressive street art (one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen, even more impressive than Bristol in the UK).
For going out in Puerto Rico, I would consider Old San Juan – there are so many nice bars and dancing spots, and the overall atmosphere is really fun and cheerful. One of the best cocktail spots in Old San Juan is La Factoria, but if you’re looking for a more authentic place – try Callejon de La Tanca or El Batey!
Finally, you can take a day trip or a half a day trip from San Juan and pick one of these great tours below.
Best day trips and tours from San Juan:
You can consider one of these two great tours from San Juan:
El Yunque Rainforest 1/2 day tour where you can see the best of the nature in Puerto Rico
Finally, if you still have some time left, you can go to the beach again. Here’s a list of the best beaches in Puerto Rico after the hurricane Maria.
I hope you liked this post about the things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1 day or 2 days (during a weekend in Puerto Rico). Social Media shares are, as always, appreciated.