El Morro Old San Juan Puerto Rico

View from ramparts at El Morro in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

El Morro, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Deciding where to stay on our first trip to Puerto Rico was hard. With so loads of beautiful things to do and see–and so little time–finding the perfect location from which to explore was critical. There are many reasons to stay in Old San Juan while visiting Puerto Rico.

Three days in Puerto Rico was not enough time to discover all the island had to offer, but the old city was a must-see. Old San Juan did not lack for hotels or choices, but we went with one of the Airbnb’s available. We love the old buildings and the architecture and wanted to feel like staying somewhere history and not just a generic hotel that can be located any place. There is something about the old-world that calls to me. Here are a few reasons we stayed in Old San Juan and why you should too:

 



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Plenty of Things to do in Old San Juan

1. Soak up the Atmosphere:

Waking up with the view of the bay and forts in the distance cannot be duplicated no matter how lovely the beaches. And I adore the beaches. Roaming the 500-year old, walled, city’s sprawling blue cobblestones streets in search of the perfect morning latte that makes you feel like you stepped back in time.

The vibrant, colorful buildings, against a blue backdrop of sea and sky, will awaken your senses.

Old San Juan El Morro

View of Old San Juan from the lawn at El Morro


The people, music, culture, architecture, and restaurants are amazing.

San Juan Architecture

We loved the architecture in the old city. This gem sat right outside the Pigeon Park.

Plaza Colon Puerto Rico Old San Juan Dancers

We were glad the cruise ships were in port and were treated to these lovely dancers in Plaza Colon.

Old San Juan colorful streets

We strolled for hours through the quaint streets gawking at the colorful buildings.

Trees! Look at these beauties.

Old San Juan colorful buildings trees and el convento

Love love love this tree outside El Convento, and look at those colorful buildings

trees in Puerto Rico

So the island may have fed my tree obsession!

Uprooted trees old san juan puerto rico

This tree was uprooted during Hurricane Maria and stood as a reminder of what the island endured. Also, a reminder of the people’s resilience.

2. Shop with the local Artisans:

Artisans in Old San Juan

One of our absolute favorite activities of our stay was shopping with the local artisans!

We were lucky enough to visit Old San Juan when the cruise ships were docked. The streets along port were lined with artisians and vendors selling handmade goods, cultural items and souvenirs. The plaza right off Calle de San Fransceco alive with music and dancers, fruity drink vendors, leather works, and pottery being made in the streets. A perfect opportunity for shopping or people watching while eating breakfast and sipping lattes.

old san juan peurto rico

Tree obsession!

leathermaking old san juan puerto rico

My little guy loved this picture of the leatherworker pounding his name onto his bracelet.

3. Be a kid again and feed the Pigeons:

Yes, I said pigeons. Stroll to Parque De Las Palomas (Pigeon Park) and walk through hundreds of birds, feed them, and you can be the crazy looking bird lady like me. The birds ate out of my hand, landed on my head, and when I went to walk away followed. (They didn’t believe I was out of bird seed.)

Parque De Las Palomas (Pigeon Park)  old san juan

Hundreds of birds sitting in the trees and walking throughout Parque De Las Palomas (Pigeon Park)

Feeding pigeons in Old San Juan

Out getting coffee when a man shoved bird seed into my hand! So much fun.

pigeons old san juan

Okay, I may have been having too much fun with the birds.

Leave me a comment and share are your favorite reasons for staying in Old San Juan while visiting the lovely island of Puerto Rico!

 

Where to Stay:

There are many places to stay in Old San Juan.  We chose a lovely Airbnb apartment.  However, airbnb is far from the only option. There are a few hotels we considered and will likely give a whirl on our return trip giving extra consideration to the few below.  I would’ve loved to have a roof-top pool or relaxation area.  These are my top choices:

El Convento: This is a beautiful hotel situated in an old convent.  It does not fall into the budget category, but has a lovely rooftop pool, fantastic restaurant (you do not need to be a hotel guest to enjoy the food and atmosphere), and includes resort priveleges at a sister site in San Juan for those days you long for sitting on the beach with frozen pina colado in hand.

La Terraza: This hotel is reasonably priced and boasts a rooftop terrance and pool.

Casablanca: We loved the location directly across from Maramalade Restaurant where we spent had our Anniversary Dinner.

There are too many options to list, but this should give you a planning start.

 

Going to San Juan and need some ideas of what to do?