San Juan Feature
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
If You Like
San Juan has been under construction for nearly 500 years, which shows in the city's wide range of architectural styles. The Old City's colonial Spanish row houses—brick with plaster fronts painted in pastel blues, oranges, and yellows—line narrow streets and alleys paved with adoquines (blue-gray stones originally used as ballast in Spanish ships). Several churches, including the Catedral de San Juan Bautista, were built in the ornate Spanish Gothic style of the 16th century. The massive, white marble El Capitolio, home of Puerto Rico's legislature, was completed in 1929. And firmly rooted in the 20th century are the gleaming high-rise resorts along the beaches in Condado and Isla Verde and the glistening steel-and-glass towers in the business and financial district of Hato Rey.
Music is a source of Puerto Rican pride, and it seems that increasingly everyone wants to live that vida loca (crazy life) espoused by Puerto Rico's own Ricky Martin. The brash Latin sound is best characterized by the music-dance form salsa, which shares not only its name with the word "sauce" but also its zesty, hot flavor. A fusion of West African percussion, jazz (especially swing and big band), and other Latin beats (mambo, merengue, flamenco, cha-cha, rumba), salsa music is sexy and primal. Dancers are expected to let go of all inhibitions.
As befits a metropolitan capital city, San Juan has a wide variety of restaurants and bars for people with all sorts of palates and party habits. Old San Juan and Condado, in particular, are big nighttime destinations. Many of the newer establishments have set their tables on terraces, the beach, indoor patios, or streetside to take advantage of the late-night atmosphere. Many clubs and discos stay open into the wee hours of morning.
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- $427 & up -- All-Inclusive Virgin Island Yacht Club Resort Bitter End Yacht Club
- $6797 -- British Virgin Islands 8-Nt. Villa, Save $971 On the Rocks Villa
- $9000 -- Virgin Islands Family Yacht Charter, Save $2000 Amazing Charters
- $429 & up -- 5- & 6-Nt. Caribbean Cruises on Royal Caribbean American Express Travel
- Puerto Rico Active IExplore