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A Walking Tour of Old San Juan


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San Juan is the oldest settlement within Puerto Rico and it is the historic colonial section of San Juan.
Alberto Coto/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Walking around Old San Juan is the best way to immerse yourself in its timeless beauty and charm. Even the most determined tourist can't cover all there is to see and do here in one day; among the more celebrated monuments and memorials are countless small wonders that will tempt the historian, the shopper, the diner, and the curious child in you.

This walking tour covers the major points of interest, focusing on the historic buildings that make up the character of the old city. How long the tour takes will depend on how much time you want to devote to each stop, but you should be able to cover it all in one day. If you don't want to walk, there are free trolleys that you can pick up at various points in the city that cover all of these stops. But I'd recommend hitting the streets.

Before you get going, make sure you have:

  • A hat, sun block, and water: the Caribbean sun can be merciless, especially in the summer, and you'll want to be shaded and hydrated.
  • Comfortable walking shoes: you'll be covering a lot of territory, some of it along steep inclines, much of it on cobblestone streets.
  • Your camera and plenty of batteries and film, if you use film.
  • A map: if you don't have one already, you can pick one up at the tour's starting point.

We begin our tour at the Plaza de la Dársena, at the foot of the city. Why here? Two reasons: one, if you're coming off a cruise ship, the plaza is on your left as you make your way into the city. And two, this is where you'll find the La Casita Tourism Information Center, where you can pick up maps and other useful information. From here, you'll head towards your first stop: the imposing Castillo de San Cristóbal.

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