San Juan houses cultural attractions such as the stunning Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, the state-of-the-art Coliseo de Puerto Rico that has welcomed major superstars and athletes, and a multimillion-dollar convention-center facility—the largest in the Caribbean. Historic neighborhoods offer sophisticated restaurants that combine Latin, Caribbean and Asian flavors. Its beaches are also stunning.
Sights—The forts of El Morro and San Cristobal, which were built in the 1500s; San Juan Cathedral for its beautiful stained-glass windows; the Bacardi distillery; the pristine beaches of Isla Verde, Condado and Ocean Park; the lush vegetation of El Yunque National Forest in nearby Rio Grande.
Walks—Explore Old San Juan on foot; catch a breath of air while passing by the oceanfront at La Ventana al Mar in Condado; take in the fresh ocean breeze on a stroll through the Luis Munoz Rivera park at the entrance of Old San Juan (opposite side of Escambron beach area); a walk along the Paseo Pinones Recreation Trail in nearby Loiza; the pleasant surroundings of the Rio Piedras Botanical Garden.
Especially for Kids—Interactive exhibits and puppet shows at El Museo del Nino; a petting zoo at Villa Campestre; a bike ride at the Luis Munoz Rivera park in Hato Rey; the planetarium at Luis A. Ferre Science Park; miniature golf, ice skating and other attractions at the Museo Historico de la Biblia; in-line skating and skateboarding at Moisty Skate Park and Family Park.
The port of San Juan is the center of cruise-ship traffic in the Caribbean—in addition to being a popular port of call, it is home base for dozens of luxury liners. More than 1 million cruise passengers sail in or out of San Juan annually, and those figures continue to grow as increasing numbers of megaships visit the island.
Several piers sit right on bustling Calle Marina. When you get off your ship, you can walk straight into Old San Juan. There's tourist information at La Casita, which is near Pier 1 on Calle Marina. The newer cruise-ship piers are Pier 3 and Pier 4, which are directly south of Pier 1 and lead up toward the Pan American Pier, at the far south end of Old San Juan on Calle Lindbergh in the Isla Grande area—it's a little farther from the main tourist attractions. For the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, phone 787-729-8724 or 787-723-2260.
Although you won't find restaurants on piers 1, 3 or 4 or the Pan American premises, restaurants are plentiful in Old San Juan. Options range from chain eateries to local-cuisine restaurants and cafes. Pier 4 has a duty-free store. And the ferry terminal, marked Pier 2 Acuaexpreso, offers a variety of eateries such as the terminal cafeteria, Subway, an ice cream shop and a coffeehouse.
Most hotels provide Internet access; Cafe Berlin in front of Plaza Colon also has Wi-Fi for patrons. The nearest Internet cafe is CyberNet Cafe in Condado. Phone 787-724-4033. http://www.cybernetcafepr.com.
Transportation is readily available at the port, but the rental car options are limited with the nearest pickup point in the Condado neighbourhood, approximately a US$15 cab ride from the port. An alternative is transportation by a car rental agency such as Charlie Car Rental (phone 787-721-6525) and Target (phone 787-728-1447). And if you're flying into San Juan to catch a ship, know that most cruise lines provide transportation from the airport to the pier; otherwise, a taxi ride to the port will cost about US$20.