San Juan, Puerto Rico (2022 Guide) – All You Need To Know

San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico.

Founded in 1521, it is the oldest city in the United States territory. 

I have visited San Juan for many years with my family, and it really does have something for everyone.

In this article, I will cover all you need to know about San Juan, Puerto Rico:

What is San Juan?
Where is San Juan located?
What is San Juan best known for?
What is special about San Juan, Puerto Rico?
What is the best way to get to San Juan as a tourist?
Can you walk around San Juan?
Is San Juan worth visiting?

 

What is San Juan?

San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico.

It is the largest metropolitan area in Puerto Rico.

327,000 people live in San Juan, and close to 5 million tourists visit each year.

It features Puerto Rico’s largest beachfront resort strip in Isla Verde, which is known for its bars and nightlife.

image of a beachfront in Condado
Image showing the skyline in Condado, which is an upscale part of San Juan.

Other neighborhoods include Old San Juan, Ocean Park, Puerta de Tierra, Miramar, Condado, Hato Rey & Rio Piedras.

image of narrow street in old san juan with tall trees
Picture of Old San Juan. This is the historical part of San Juan, originally built by the Spanish in the 16th Century.

If you are visiting San Juan, it’s likely you will pass through some of the suburban areas that surround the city, such as Cataño, where the Bacardi Rum Tours take place.

Other popular areas in the metro include Carolina, Bayamón, and Guaynabo.

Below is a video showing San Juan:

 

Where is San Juan located?

San Juan is located on the northern shore of the island, along the Atlantic Ocean.

The location of San Juan, Puerto Rico on the map.

It extends quite far, all the way to the airport in Carolina and down past Trujillo Alto.

Here is a Google Map showing how large this area is:

 

What is San Juan best known for?

San Juan is best known for its food, nightlife, resorts, and history.

There is so much food to choose from in San Juan, from authentic Puerto Rican Street Food to your favorites like American, Mediterranean, Italian, and Asian. 

There is food for all budgets; food trucks and kiosks are abundant as well as fine dining experiences.

image of a mural in San Juan
Mural in San Juan.

The history and political climate of San Juan are all over the city, in larger than life murals made by local artists and in its architecture. 

Bars are almost everywhere you turn, especially by the beaches and resorts.

Make sure you read up on the rules and regulations for alcoholic drinks (called Blue Laws) in the article: Is San Juan Safe?

Resorts are also extremely popular in San Juan, and for good reason! 

el-san-juan-pool
Pool at El San Juan Hotel.

Lavish pools, private restaurants, and bars, as well as oceanfront suites, make a trip to San Juan extremely special.

Many people also visit Old San Juan, which is the oldest city in Puerto Rico, which is also the Western Hemisphere’s second oldest city.

Check out this walking tour of Miramar’s Food Truck Park in San Juan:

 

What is special about San Juan, Puerto Rico?

If you have visited other metropolitan areas in the United States like Washington DC or NYC, you know how special a vacation to the city can be.

Everything you need is close by, and you can still use amenities that you can back at home like Uber and food delivery services.

image of Condado Beach, Puerto Rico
Condado Beach.

You are also more likely to meet people and create lasting memories with them, as San Juan gets visitors all year round.

What is really so special about San Juan as opposed to other cities is that there are beaches!

You can get the best of both worlds, by spending the day at the beach and then experiencing all the nightlife that San Juan has to offer.

 

What is the best way to get to San Juan as a tourist?

There is an airport right in San Juan called the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, or the SJU for short.

It is located in Carolina, right next to all that San Juan has to offer in places like Isla Verde.

image of San Juan, Puerto Rico's aerial view
Flying to San Juan.

You can easily take a cab or an Uber from the airport, and if you’re staying in Carolina or in central San Juan, like Santurce, you will be at your place in minutes.

There are also car rental services right outside the exit of the airport.

image of the cruise ships in San Juan
Cruise ships in San Juan.

I should also mention that you can get to San Juan on a cruise ship, as there are ports in Old San Juan. 

As for the best way to get to San Juan, it depends on where you are looking to spend most of your time on your vacation; on a boat or on land.

Below is a Google Map that shows the location of Luis Munoz Marin International Airport:

 

Can you walk around San Juan?

Yes!

San Juan is extremely walkable, so if you’re planning on only staying in the area, you won’t really need to take a cab depending on where you’re staying and the places you want to visit. 

image of street in San Juan
Old San Juan.

Restaurants, fast food, bars, clubs, casinos, hospitals, and pharmacies are within walking distance in Carolina and central San Juan. 

When you get further away from the coast you can still walk around, but you might need to take public transit or a cab to see the sights.

Watch this video of a tourist walking through San Juan:

 

Is San Juan worth visiting?

Absolutely! 

There is plenty to see and do in San Juan, for all types of people and for all budgets.

image of a beachfront in San Juan, PR
Condado, San Juan.

It’s great for young people, backpackers, digital nomads, and anyone else that loves the city!

 

 

FAQ section

Do you need a passport to go to San Juan?

Nope! Puerto Rico is considered a domestic flight, unless you are traveling from outside of the United States.

Is San Juan the main city in Puerto Rico?

Yes, and it is the capital of Puerto Rico. There are plenty of other cities and municipalities in Puerto Rico, but the biggest is San Juan.

Is San Juan Dangerous?

San Juan is no more dangerous than any other metropolitan city. If you’re not seeking out recreational drugs or other trouble, you will be just fine.

 

Final thoughts

Almost all tourists that visit Puerto Rico visit San Juan because the main airport is located there.

San Juan has so much to offer, that you should consider spending at least a few days there during your vacation. Condado and Old San Juan are the two most popular spots for tourists, as they are packed with restaurants, shops, hotels and activities. 

Puerto Rico is famous for its bioluminescent bays. There are three bio bays in PR, some of which are only a couple hours drive from San Juan. Check out our article about Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays to learn more!

You may also enjoy our article about the 45 best things to do in Puerto Rico.

Article by

Jenny Diaz

Writer at PuertoRico.com. Growing up in New York and spending my summers in Puerto Rico, I have always loved writing, travel, and animals. I began my career as a travel writer, and after many different jobs in media, I have settled back into what I love most. I enjoy the beach, exploring the island with my family, and coffee!

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