Is Old San Juan Safe For Tourists In 2022? – All You Need To Know

Old San Juan is one of the safest places in Puerto Rico.

Visiting this historical area is a must for your trip. 

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and grew up visiting Old San Juan

In this article, I’ll cover everything that you need to know about safety in Old San Juan:

What is Old San Juan? 
Is it safe to go to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico?
Where should you avoid in Old San Juan?
Is Old San Juan safe at night?
Is Old San Juan safe for solo travelers?
Is Old San Juan safe to walk around?

 

What is Old San Juan? 

Old San Juan is the old part of San Juan, which is the capital of Puerto Rico.

Old San Juan is the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico. 

Built by the Spanish in the 16th century, Old San Juan served as the capital’s first line of defense against pirates and European invaders.

image of Old San Juan
Established in 1521, Old San Juan is one of the oldest settlements in the western hemisphere. 

Today, it’s a vital residential, governmental and commercial district.

To learn more about this historical area, read our article Old San Juan – All You Need To Know.

 

Is it safe to go to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico?

Old San Juan is one of the safest places on the island.

Hotels, museums, restaurants, clubs, parks, and businesses attract hundreds of visitors around the clock. So, it never gets too lonely.

image of narrow street in old san juan with tall trees
The colorful streets of Old San Juan attract visitors from around the world.

As the seat of the government, Old San Juan is highly surveilled by patrolling officers. There’s usually no need for intervention, but it’s reassuring to know they’re there. 

Most incidents are petty crimes.

To know more about safety while visiting Puerto Rico, check out our article Is Puerto Rico Safe for Travel? – All You Need To Know.

 

Where should you avoid in Old San Juan?

Entering La Perla should be avoided at all times. 

Made famous to the world by Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito,” La Perla is known to us locals as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods on the Island, infamous for its high crime rate and illicit dealings. 

image of La Perla district in Old San Juan
La Perla is a colorful neighborhood in Old San Juan that sits on the sea, but should be avoided by tourists.

If you decide to go, only visit in the daytime with a local guide and refrain from recording and taking pictures. 

 

Is Old San Juan safe at night?

Old San Juan’s vivid nightlife is safe and open to all: families, friends, couples, and singles.

image of the street in San Juan, PR at night
Old San Juan has a vibrant nightlife scene enjoyed by tourists and locals.

Since Old San Juan is foremost a residential district, shops tend to close early at night, between 5:00-7:00 PM.

Restaurants, bars, clubs, food trucks, and kiosks stay open most of the evening. 

The best areas to visit at night are El Paseo de la Princesa, Plaza de Armas, Calle de San Sebastián, and Calle de la Fortaleza. 

Below is a video showing Old San Juan at night:

 

Is Old San Juan safe for solo travelers?

Old San Juan is one of the best travel options for solo travelers.

It’s always best to avoid walking alone through the narrow alleys at night, be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables at hand.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by manu 🧗🏻 (@manoj_gopala)

Photo Credit: @manoj_gopala

 

Is Old San Juan safe to walk around?

Old San Juan is an excellent place to walk around.

Plenty of street and shop lights, clear sidewalks, walking trails, and roads generate a constant flow of people and cars. 

Start your walk in the outer perimeter and slowly make your way into the interior as the day progresses. 

image of Old San Juan's colorful street
Old San Juan is perfect for walking. Some streets have more of an incline than others, so you can pick what is most comfortable for you.

During the day, enjoy the bordering landmarks and scenery: El Morro, El Parque de las Palomas, El Paseo de la Princesa, and San Juan Bay.

At night, enjoy a stroll in the interior, where it’s safest and busiest.  

Here’s a virtual walking tour of Old San Juan:

 

 

FAQ section

Is Old San Juan safe for cruise ship passengers?

Old San Juan is the safest, most tourist friendly destination on the Island. Shop owners, residents, and locals enjoy helping and meeting passengers.

Is Old San Juan safe for LGBTQIA+ travelers?

Old San Juan is gracious to all in the LGBTQIA+ community. Puerto Rico is celebrated as the most LGBTQIA+ welcoming island in the Caribbean, and San Juan as its Mecca.

 

Final thoughts

Old San Juan is as safe as it gets when it comes to cities.

You should not leave Puerto Rico without visiting this area. Old San Juan is full of history, culture and great cuisine. 

Although tourists appear immune to danger, it’s important to stay street smart while you visit our beloved Old San Juan: avoid dark passageways, sketchy neighborhoods (i.e., La Perla), and empty parks.

After exploring Old San Juan, you can take a 15-minute drive (or walk) to Condado for another fantastic time. You can read all about it in our article Condado – All You Need To Know.

Article by

Cristina Rosa

Writer at PuertoRico.com. I was born and raised in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. I know all the ins and outs of the island. For 22 years, I’ve tasted, seen, experienced, and explored most of Puerto Rico’s gems. I still have many road trips planned for all of the things that I’ve yet to experience in Puerto Rico. 

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