Visitors arriving on cheap flights to San Juan are faced with a dilemma. What to do first in the capital of Puerto Rico? Outdoor enthusiasts need to choose between hiking in the rain forest or crashing through the waves on the area’s beaches. Later, as the sun sets, San Juan is transformed into one of the Caribbean’s nightlife capitals, making the choosing of the evening’s destination no easier.
Many day trips beckon but two not to be missed are the coastal town of Guánica and El Yunque, a semi-tropical rain forest. If you have the time for a third outing, head for Luquillo, one of Puerto Rico’s best-known beaches.
Old San Juan was founded in 1521 and today features many examples of well-preserved architectural gems dating back to the 16th century and built by the Spanish. The area is partially surrounded by a city wall built in 1633 and remains paved with the stones used for ballast on Spanish ships. The area retains much of its old-world charm in the tree-shaded squares, monuments, open-air cafes and shops jostling for space with private homes.
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Winter (mid-December to mid-April) is traditionally the busiest and also the most expensive time to visit.
The summer and fall see a reduction in prices across the island with many cheap flights to San Juan available at rock-bottom prices. Music fans can also look forward to the Pablo Casals Festival in early June while the Festival of Puerto Rican Music takes place in November.
Bigger hotels generally offer free shuttle buses into Old San Juan, where you can either travel by foot or take advantage of the free trolleys. Buses run in some areas, but not all. There are taxis, but you’ll have to negotiate a price with the driver based on your destination. Rental cars are available as well, but make sure you have your ID handy. Also, some streets are not as well marked as others.