Old San Juan City Guide

old san juan travel guide

If you ask me what three things I love most about Puerto Rico I would tell you, in no particular order: the food, the culture and our beautiful sights everywhere you go. That's why I've had in my to-do's to create an Old San Juan City Guide for all of you who haven't visited Puerto Rico yet. And of course, these are all local recommendations. You're so welcome! 

Before I begin with this list, let me tell you how hard to choose the best places to visit in Old San Juan was. It's such a magical city filled with joy, culture, cool people and most importantly, great coffee! If you consider yourself a creative person, there's no way you won't feel inspired after visiting this colonial city in just the first hour.

So here you go! The best places to shop, eat and entertain in Old San Juan:

Shopping

El Galpón

el galpón hats old san juan
el galpón old san juan

I'm a huge believer in buying souvenirs that you can actually wear or at least take some use out of them. It's hard for me to understand why people buy useless things as travel gifts when they could actually make it a point to look for something that has a meaning tied to each place they visit. Something that when they see or wear, reminds them of all the fun memories in that place.

So I don't know about you, but investing in an authentic handmade Panama hat from El Galpón in Old San Juan sounds pretty legendary to me! These hats are not only handmade, but designed by the store owner, Gustavo Lerner. El Galpón's attention to detail and personalized customer service will make your experience a memorable one. I can assure you will not leave the store without the perfect hat for your lifestyle! 

And if you're looking for a fancier take on your favorite hats, you can always check out their high-end brand, Galpon.co online or in their store. 

More information:

  • Address: 154 Cristo St. San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Contact: 787-725-3945
  • Business Hours:
    • Monday-Saturday 10:00AM-6:00PM
    • Sunday 11:00AM-5:00PM
 

Collective Request

collective request old san juan

Collective Request started out as one of the best online stores in Puerto Rico and evolved into boutiques in Old San Juan and Guaynabo. As I said in my previous Old San Juan Shopping Guide, this is the perfect store for capsule wardrobe staples! 

Plus, it doesn't hurt the beautiful aesthetics of this Old San Juan boutique, which will help you experience true Puerto Rican design in all aspects.

More information:

  • Address: 159 Calle de la Luna, Old San Juan, PR.
  • Contact: 787-977-7707
  • Business Hours:
    • Monday-Sunday 10:00AM-7:00PM

*You can enjoy 1 hour of free parking at La Cochera. 

 

LUCA

luca viejo san juan

I talked a little bit about Luca in my old post about local shopping in Old San Juan as well. If you really want to know the best place for modern and super stylish pieces of jewelry and clothing, look no further! They also have beautiful minimal stationary, which would be a perfect souvenir for the writer in your life. 

More information:

  • Address: 255 Calle de La Cruz San Juan Puerto Rico 00901.
  • Contact: 787-725-3512
  • Business Hours:
    • Monday-Friday 10:00AM-6:00PM
    • Saturday 11:00AM-6:00PM
    • Sunday CLOSED
 

Pure Soul

pure soul viejo san juan
pure soul old san juan

This place is always in my visit list whenever I'm in Old San Juan. It's the perfect place for Anthropology and Urban Outfitters lovers. The only difference is you'll find items created by local designers. The perfect unique gift shop!

More information:

  • Address: #258 San Justo St. San Juan, PR 00901
  • Contact: 787-723-2800
  • Business Hours: Pending confirmation*

Food & Coffee

Waffle-Era

wafflera old san juan
wafflera old san juan
wafflera caneloide

If you love waffles of any kind, this place will be your HEAVEN. My favorite kind to order in Waffl-era (also known as "La Wafflera" by locals) is the Caneloide. It is the perfect combination of pecans, cinnamon, cream cheese and sugar. Can't miss this one! Also, this is a great place for tea lovers! 

More information:

  • Address: 252 Calle San Jose Street San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Contact: 787-721-1512
  • Business Hours: 
    • Monday 8:30AM-3:00PM
    • Tuesday 9:00AM-5:00PM
    • Wednesday-Friday 8:30AM-3:00PM
    • Saturday-Sunday 9:00AM-3:00PM

St. Germain & El Mezzanine

Picture via

Picture via

Picture via

Picture via

In this building you will find everything you need: Booze, coffee and food! Love good food and coffee? St. Germain has a great lunch and brunch menu! Love fancy cocktails and rooftops at night? El Mezzanine has some of the best cocktails in town. Plus, it has some beautiful interiors so you can enjoy your tapas while you appreciate this colonial city. 

More information:

  • Address: 156 Calle Sol, San Juan, 00901
  • Contact: 787- 725-5830
  • Business Hours:
    • Monday - 10:00AM-4:00PM/ 6:00PM-11:00PM
    • Tuesday-Friday - 11:30AM-4:00PM/ 6:00PM-11:00PM
    • Saturday - 11:30AM-11:00PM
    • Sunday - 10:00AM-3:00PM/ 6:00PM-11:00PM

Casa Cortés Chocobar

casa cortes chocobar old san juan

Chocolate lovers rejoice! This is the best place to indulge your sweet tooth with their signature hot chocolate (local's favorite) and their creative dishes. 

Love art? I would suggest checking out their gallery upstairs. 

More information:

  • Address: 210 San Francisco Street, San Juan, P.R. 00901
  • Contact:  787-722-0499
  • Business Hours:
    • Monday-Sunday: 8AM-8PM

Caficultura

Pic via Coastal Living

If you ask me my favorite place to have brunch in Old San Juan, Caficultura would be it! But I must warn you, because of it's location right in the entrance of the city, it can be full of tourists. Nevertheless, I can assure you it will still be amazing and their coffee is to die for! 

More information:

  • Address: 401 San Francisco St. San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Contact:  787-723-7731
  • Business Hours:
    • Monday 7:30AM-4:00PM
    • Tuesday-Sunday 7:30PM-6PM

Cuatro Sombras

Pic via Facebook

Pic via Facebook

Hands down, my favorite Puerto Rican coffee ever! It is a beautiful place to enjoy your coffee after a hard day of shopping.  

More information:

  • Contact: 787-724-9955
  • Address: 259 calle recinto sur, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Business Hours: 
    • Monday-Thursday 7:00AM-8:00PM
    • Friday-Sunday 7:00AM-9:00PM

 

Sightseeing

Castillo San Felipe del Morro (aka El Morro)

Picture via Expedia

Picture via Expedia

Definetely can't visit Puerto Rico without touring El Morro! You will learn all about out Spanish heritage while you enjoy one of the most beautiful views in the Island. 

Locals' tip: Bring your kite and picnic for a great afternoon under the sun. Just don't forget your sunblock please! 

Paseo la Princesa

Picture via La Capitana

Picture via La Capitana

If you are coming to Puerto Rico with your significant other, you can't miss one of the most romantic spots in Old San Juan! It's in my opinion, the best spot for a marriage proposal in the Island. 

Paseo Puerta de Tierra

Picture via

Picture via

If you love to exercise outdoors, you'll love this new place right by the shore and outskirts of Old San Juan. 

Bahía Urbana

Picture taken by Skylens Media

Picture taken by Skylens Media

How could I leave Bahía Urbana out when I have such amazing pictures in this place?! This is also a relatively new place to visit, but it's a great place to chill and catch beautiful views of la Bahía de San Juan and the Bacardi Factory in Cataño. 

Locals' tip: If you happen to be in San Juan for the last Sunday of any given month, you can't miss the Heineken Ventana al JazzFest. Bring a beach chair, some snacks and your favorite bottle of wine and you'll enjoy the most relaxing afternoon in the city! 


I know there are so many other places to visit in Old San Juan that are just as good (like La Bombonera, Señor Paleta or La Factoría), but I chose to feature the ones that I have had the most experiences at. Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments bellow. 

Hope you enjoyed this post. Until next time, 

María Elena