Let me start out by saying that spending a day in San Juan does not really do justice to the city. There are so many things to do there that you could easily spend days and days there and still not see everything. I was there recently with my husband and some friends and didn’t even scratch the surface when it came to exploring. If you go there off a cruise like we did you’ll have limited time and some tips for “how to spend a day in San Juan” might come in handy.
We started our day off the ship wandering around the blue-glazed cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. There are plenty of shops selling absolutely anything you might want to buy. We spent quite a bit of time at the Butterfly People Art Gallery (located at 257 Calle Dr La Cruz in Old San Juan). The gallery features one-of-a-kind butterfly art that is really incredible and unique.
Shopping took up a lot of our time in San Juan but we did save time to go by Barrachina’s, home of the Piña Colada (located at 104 Fortaleza St. in Old San Juan). It’s definitely worth a stop. I have always avoided Piña Coladas because I don’t really like coconut but it turns out they are awesome! Especially at Barrachina’s where they use an amazing dark rum. Yum! We also had a nice lunch there (though it was crowded because there were a couple of cruise ships in port that day).
After a long lunch we shopped a bit more and then headed back to our ship. It was a fun, relaxing day with beautiful weather. I think it helped that we didn’t try to do too much with our limited time. With that being said here are my tips for planning a quick day in San Juan:
Tip #1 – Plan ahead
If you only have one day to spend in San Juan you really will want to think about a plan ahead of time for how you want to spend your day. It will be worth spending a little time before your trip researching what the city has to offer and just what you might be interested in.
Tip #2 – Book an excursion
Cruise ships spend a lot of time and money picking and arranging excursions for their passengers so they know what they’re doing. If you have a specific interest such as seeing the El Yunque Rain Forest, then going on a pre-arranged excursion may just be the best and quickest way to see what you want to see in a limited amount of time.
Tip #3 – Don’t overbook your time
San Juan has lots of historic sites like the San Cristobal Fortress that are large and would take several hours to really explore. Be realistic about how long it will take to explore what you want to see. Don’t forget you are on vacation and enjoy your day.
If you are planning a longer stay in San Juan you can check out my post on my previous trip here. I definitely plan to go back. The weather in the winter is great and it’s easy to fly in and out of there on Southwest Airlines. Let me know if you have a favorite thing to do there!