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Travel – San juan, the largest city of Puerto Rico




San Juan is the largest city of Puerto Rico, it is also the capital and has an approximate population of 442,000. It is the oldest city and located in the north-east of Puerto Rico. San Juan has magnificent beaches, hotels, plazas, historic sites, museums, etc. The total land area is about 122 sq km and a water area of 29.11 sq miles. The best harbors of the Caribbean are housed in San Juan. San Juan is a Latin American city and has a Spanish based culture.
San Juan is a Latin American city with Spanish-based culture, mixed with African traditions and Taíno culture. The citizens of San Juan (called Sanjuaneros) are very festive, as on the rest of the island of Puerto Rico. San Juan has bars and discotheques all-around the city, from Old San Juan to even the southern part of the city that stay open to 3:00-4:00 AM. San Juan has become very modernized as of late, with its first Metro line (called Tren Urbano) and buses. Like most large cities, however, there is a small population of vagrants and beggars lining the streets.
San Juan is also the financial capital of Puerto Rico. There are facilities for petroleum and sugar refining, and pharmaceuticals. The official language of this island of San Juan is Spanish and English. Spanish being the mother tongue of the native living here.

The districts of San Juan are:
• Old San Juan: This is the historic part of San Juan. The most historic attractions, galleries, museums, and tourist traps fall into this part of the district.
• Puerta de Tierra: This is in the middle of Old San Juan and Condado. This is a large residential area.
• El Condado: This is a rich residential neighborhood. It is a beach resort of the city and has many hotels and restaurants.
• Isla Verde: This city is closest to the international airport and has beautiful beaches and parks.
• International Convention Center District: This has a fountain that plays both typical and classical music and has many restaurants and shopping centers.
• Hato Rey: This is a business center and has the main banks, the Plaza las Americas (a mall with over 300 stores), the Hiram Bithor Stadium, Roberto Clemente Colosseum and Coliseo de Puerto Rico.
• Rio Piedras: This houses the main campus of the University of Puerto Rico. This is a municipality.
• Santurce: This is also one of the historical parts of Puerto Rico and is a cultural capital. It has two art museums and a performing arts center.
• Miramar: This is near El Condado and has historical houses.

Attractions of San Juan:
• El Castillo San Felipe Del Morro “El Morro”: This is a citadel that dates back to sixteenth-century. It lies to the northwestern-most point of the islet of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is part of National Historic Site and is a World Heritage Site (declared by the United Nations in 1983).
• El Castillo de San Cristóbal: This is a Spanish fort that is located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This fort was built to protect against land based attacks on the city of San Juan. It is one of the National Historic Sites. It has a height of 150 feet and is on an area of 27 acres of land.
• Palacio de Santa Catalina: It is the residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico. This was built between 1533 and 1540 to defend the San Juan harbor. It is also known as El Palacio de Santa Catalina or Palace of Santa Catalina which is also the oldest executive mansion in the New World. La Fortaleza is a World Heritage Site.
• El Catedral de San Juan Bautista: Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish explorer’s tomb lies here which was built in the 1520’s. It was rebuilt in 1540 after being destroyed by a hurricane.
• Castillo de San Jerónimo: It is a fort that is known as Condado. This was known to defend from attacks in 1595.
• Iglesia de San Jose: This is a church and Monastery that dates back to 1523.
• Ayuntamiento or Alcaldia: This is also known as the City Hall.
• The municipal cemetery of Santa María Madgalena de Pazzis: This is a cemetery that is situated just outside the city walls.
• Fuerte San Geronimo: This is a fort that built to tighten defense within the city with a small museum housed inside.
• Centro de Bellas Artes: This is a fine arts centre in the Caribbean in 1981.
• Bacardi Rum Factory: This has a trolley and guided tour inside the factory.
• There are famous beaches in Condado and Isla Verde.
• Parks in San Juan: Central Park, Garfield, Munoz Rivera Park and Parque de las Palomas.
• The Casino of Puerto Rico which is a large building and The Teatro Tapia is the oldest theatre in the Western Hemisphere.
• San Juan National Historic Site: This place has the old and colonial portion and includes three fourths of the city wall and forts San Cristóbal, San Felipe del Morro, and San Juan de la Cruz, also called El Cañuelo, plus bastions, powder houses.
• Ateneo de Puerto Rico (museum), Casa del Libro, Cuartel de Ballaja, Felisa Rincón de Gautier Museum, La Princesa (former municipal jail, now a history museum), Museo del Niño (Children’s Museum), Museo Nuestras Raíces Africanas( Our African Roots Museum, Museo de Arte ( Museum of Art), The Pablo Casals Museum are other attractions of San juan.

Things to do:
• Surfing waves, golf course, sunbathing at the beach, tennis, fishing, kayaking, scuba diving, and horseback riding, windsurfing and parasailing are the different activities that the island of Puerto Rico offers.
• Golf: This Island has 15 championship golf courses from the San Juan metropolitan area.
• Snorkel and Scuba dive: These activities are the highlights of Puerto Rico’s Caribbean coasts, especially out of Fajardo. A guided diving and snorkeling tour will take one to the best sites of the activity.
• Bioluminescent Bays: The bays of Fajardo and Vieques are bioluminescent and have microscopic organisms that glow which is really beautiful to watch. One can go for kayaking or boating especially during the new moon to enjoy a clear view of the bay. Lajas is also a Bioluminescent bay that is famous as it is also equipped with kiosks and restaurants.
• Casinos: San Juan offers luxurious hotels and casinos that are similar to Los Vegas.

Best time to visit / climate:
San Juan has a tropical marine climate and has minimal seasonal variations. The climate is mild but has abundant rainfall in the north coast. June and November are usually the seasons of Hurricane. So avoid this time. Other than these months, one can visit the island anytime and enjoy all the activities of surfing, kayaking, beach walking, sun bathing, hiking etc.

Location on Google Maps:


View Larger Map

How to get there:
US citizens do not need any visa since Puerto Rico is a US territory. A Picture ID should serve the purpose. For other citizens visa and supporting documents are required.
By plane: Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is the main airport which is in Carolina, near San Juan. Aguadilla and Ponce also connects with flights like Jet Blue, Continental and Delta. There are direct flights from US. SJU is the modern airport in the Caribbean. From airport taxi services are available.
By boat: The west coast city of Mayaguez and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic has ferry services available. From Fajardo to St. Thomas, there is a ferry. There are cruise ships that land in San Juan.

Get around:
It is best to rent a car or take a taxi as the public transport system is not very good. A público is a shared taxi service that is another option that is cheap and best to go around the island. The “main” público station is in Río Piedras that is a suburb of San Juan and which are also known as colectivos and pisicorres.
There are ferries from San Juan and Fajardo to Cataño, Vieques Island and Culebra Island along with Mayaguez ferry travels between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Tren Urbano is a fully automated transit serving San Juan, Bayamón, and Guaynabo. Tren Urbano consists of 16 stations on a single line and is the reliable public transport.

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers):

http://wikitravel.org/en/San_Juan#Eat
http://wikitravel.org/en/San_Juan#Sleep
http://www.sanjuanhotelsltd.com/
http://www.elsanjuanhotel.com/
Tripadvisor

Blogs / Sites about San Juan:

Travelpod
http://www.sanjuanislander.com/blogs.shtml
Lonely Planet
http://sanjuansafaris.com/blog/

Images and photos of San Juan:

Tripadvisor
http://www.travel-images.com/puerto-rico.html
Terragalleria
igougo.com

Videos of San Juan from youtube:

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan Sail Away

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Walking and Driving around Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico – San Juan




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