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Puerto Rico, the gorgeous island located in the Caribbean sea, is a perfect destination for a weekend (or even a week-long) getaway. Blessed with an amazing weather, the island can be visited pretty much any time of the year, however the best time to visit Puerto Rico is estimated to be between mid-April and June.
I went to San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, with a good friend of mine for the 4th of July long weekend that is celebrated in the United States as the Independence Day holiday. Below you will find some pictures from our trip along with some recommendations for the things to do and see in the beautiful city of San Juan.
Old San Juan
Old San Juan is the most beautiful part of the city, which as the name implies is divided into two parts – the Old and the New. The Old part is filled with historic, narrow cobble stone streets, impressive architecture (which reminded me of Ireland, and Europe in general a lot), and is an amazing area to explore by foot.
The city is very safe so if you decide to travel here solo, you will be okay too! In addition – the Old part has an amazing nightlife and you should definitely include it as part of your experience (again, even if you come by yourself – don’t hesitate to get a drink or two in a small but cozy, local bar).
Castillo San Cristóbal
This is one of the most beautiful and main attractions in San Juan – the medieval Castle of San Cristobal (Castillo San Cristóbal). The Castle is located on top of a hill, in the middle of the city and at one point in time it served as a strategic military base from where it was easier to spot any approaching ships and therefore protect the island from intruders.
The Castle is hauntingly beautiful – stepping inside its thick, ancient walls you will not only get a chance to see San Juan from its most picturesque observation point, but also feel the layers of history revealing itself in the tiniest of details. Small hint: keep your eyes widely open to receive its message.
San Juan National Historic Site
San Juan National Historic Site covers quite a large, walkable area in the Old Sand Juan. You can spend a good half a day just walking around and discovering its many sites, including: Castillo San Felipe del Morro, the famous Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, and many other beautiful places of interest.
Beaches in San Juan
Beaches in San Juan are gorgeous, but unfortunately they are few in number and are located outside of the Old San Juan area (in case you decide to stay there).
- El Escambrom – this beautiful, rocky beach is located somewhere in the middle, between the Old and the New areas of San Juan. Most part of it is not good for swimming, and the small part of it that is – usually gets too crowded. Visit it to take some nice photos, like these below:
- Condado Beach – this beach is much more pleasant, can be a bit less crowded since it’s bigger in size, and is perfect for swimming (and sun-tanning). It reminded me a lot of Miami – definitely come here if you want to spend a day by the beach with a book or a drink in your hand. Condado beach is located in the New San Juan.
El Yunque National Rainforest
One of the must visit sites in Puerto Rico is its famous El Yunque Rainforest located on about 1 hour drive east of San Juan. This park is the largest rainforest on the island and is quite famous in the Caribbean region. You can book a tour there on a half-day trip from San Juan, and be back to the city by the lunch time. A local Puerto Rican friend of mine once told me that if you hike this rainforest you must never go off the trail as there been many cases of people disappearing without a trace… And, there are also rumors that this site was visited by… aliens. Whether you believe in the UFO or not, it’s you call, just don’t get off that trail!
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Have you been to San Juan, Puerto Rico? Share your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to submit your own story!