This post was originally published at Local Guest Medium Profile.
Imagine you have a long layover in San Juan, Puerto Rico or are visiting from a cruise ship and you actually want to make the most out of your visit. We know that planning something for such a short amount of time can be a challenge and that is why at Local Guest, we got your back and decided to give you what are the best things to do in case you visit San Juan for 12 hours. You can also find a quick Google map to make your visit a lot easier.
New spots are popping up in San Juan so we’ll update this blog periodically!
Have breakfast in Dude’s Dinner
Dude’s Diner is a new local concept where you can actually have breakfast in a 50’s themed diner. Their main dishes include pancakes, waffles and breakfast combinations that you will love. We definitely think it will be a good way to start your day with something you might be familiar with, with just a twist of the Puerto Rican flavor in it.
The fact that its located in Calle Loíza, one of the trendiest neighborhood in San Juan, makes it a must visit. If you have time, don’t miss the chance to take some pictures and visit some local shops around this street.
Visit the MAC
Located in a Registered Historic Building, its architecture is of Georgian style that prevailed during the 18th century in England. The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo restoration was in charge of Puerto Rican architect Otto Reyes Casanova and started from 1995 until 2002. Their collection focuses on the Contemporary art pieces of Puerto Rican and Caribbean artists. The pieces acquired by the MAC are either donated by their own artists, collectionists or sponsors and are selected by a committee where artists, critics and arts experts are part of.
Cost of Entrance: $5
Have Lunch at la Placita
Definitely while hanging around Santurce, you need to visit La Placita and get an insight on how our farmers market are locally. Around this area, you can find different options to have lunch, including local dishes. If you want to try local dishes, we encourage you to visit El Popular which is a traditional eatery offering dishes such as rice and beans with beef steak and fried plantain. Other places you might consider are the San Juan Smokehouse for BBQ Ribs, Asere if you are looking for the Cuban Vibe, El Coco de Luis if you want to drink frappes and cocktails made with 100% natural juices, or La Alcapurria Quemá if you want to try some of our fried goodies.
Have a Señor Paleta popsicle while exploring
Señor Paleta is a creative concept that has been around San Juan since 2014. Their popsicles flavors include traditional flavors such as passion fruit, guava-cheese, strawberry among their own creations. We recommend a visit to their original store in Old San Juan.
Religious Architecture while Exploring Old San Juan
If you’re planning to make a self guided tour around Old San Juan, you can make a quick route after getting your Señor Paleta popsicle going uphill and visiting 3 major spots if you are a religious art fan: la Capilla del Cristo, The San Juan Bautista Cathedral and the San Jose Chapel, which is one of the first churches built in America. The San Jose Chapel has been under construction for a few years, but they are still guided tours inside the Church. Definitely, having a glimpse of what these chapels represent to San Juan architecture is one of the most important things to explore when it comes to get around the city.
Visit el Museo de Las Américas in Ballajá
The Museo de Las Américas, located in Ballajá, is the most important museum in the Caribbean with the history of the humanity from North to South America. This museum has different collections that help us to understand better the context of the history of Puerto Rico and the Americas. Some of their expositions are focused on the arts of Americas, the Indigenous populations, African heritage and the Spanish Colonization.
Cost of Entrance: $6
Drink coffee in Café Don Ruiz in Ballajá
Once you have finished your visit in the Museum, you can grab a Coffee right in Ballajá in Café Don Ruiz. This local coffee shop founded by the ends of 1800’s in Yauco, it serves their own coffee roasted in their farms in Yauco. In their shop, you can enjoy from a delicious espresso to a magnificent iced coffee, and paired it with fine pastries, sandwiches, or just a simple visit for great souvenirs like coffee bags, fine rums and cigars from Puerto Rico.
Visit El Morro Fort
If you have visited Puerto Rico arriving by air or seaports, you must have definitely seen El Morro right in the entrance of the bay. This is one of the largest fortifications built by the Spanish during the colonial era in the Caribbean. While visiting, you’ll be able to explore dungeons, barracks, passageways, and storerooms. El Morro is part of the National Parks Service and it is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Cost of Entrance: $7
Finish your Day at La Factoría
La Factoría is considered one of the Best 50 Bars in the World according to Drinks International magazine. Its combination of concepts combining different buildings in the perimeter, their creative cocktails, and being a bar that can cater to everyone needs, makes it not only a local favorite, but one of the bests in the World. Finishing your day in San Juan discovering why this bar is one of the best, is something that you definitely need to do.
Want to keep on track of all of our tips and know the exact locations of the places we recommend? We encourage you to download our Google Map with all these spots. As we mentioned, we will keep on updating them. We definitely hope you can make the most of your short stay in San Juan!