A day spent exploring Old San Juan, is a day well spent. With an incredibly rich history dating back all the way to 1521, wether you’re into architecture, photography, fitness (cause you’re gonna do a lot of walking) or food, this is the place to be.!
We’ll admit, before we took off on our Puerto Rican road trip, we didn’t know much about the small Island that is kinda sorta a part of the US, but not really, other than they make a lot of rum, speak Spanish, and we didn’t need an updated passport to get there! But starting our visit wandering around the streets, and alleyways of the island’s oldest city was the perfect way to get to know Puerto Rico.
It seemed to us, no matter where we went in Old San Juan, we were constantly rounding the corner on something new and beautiful.
We started our day as all days should be started, with an incredible breakfast and even better coffee at Caficultura. We had it on good authority that this was the best place in town for breakfast bites and it did not disappoint!
Fueled by some of the best coffee we’ve ever sipped on, we kicked our exploring into high gear- conveniently located just down the block from Caficultura is Castillo San Cristobal, one of two of Old San Juan’s incredibly impressive forts. When it was finished in 1783 it was the largest fortification built by the Spanish in the New World, and still stands as an impressive feat of ingenuity and engineering today.
A stroll along La Paseo De La Princessa led us up and down quite a few hills (we definitely burned off our breakfast pastries) and rewarded our hard work with incredible views of La Muralla- the city wall which dates back to the 1500’s. This wall literally surrounds the old city and there are tons of unique and interesting views that if you’re snap happy, will eat up your day- cause you know us, we just have to know whats over there! There’s just so much to see! Including the Raices Fountain, the city’s many many Garitas ( guard towers- some are awesome and some smell like public restrooms, cause they kinda are) and gorgeous views of the bay.
Garitas are located all along the city wall, and they are as incredible as they look!
We eventually made our way to the incredibly impressive El Morro. Its hard to describe the sheer awesomeness of this structure. Even the lawn leading up to the fortification will make you go, “wow”- a sprawling lawn now used by locals as the a kite flying field -this is a big time local political divider- as often the waste from these kites blow directly into the sea-controversial, yes. Beautiful too? Yes.
El Morro by the Sea
We probably easily spent an hour or more wandering around this incredibly impressive fortification complete with a lighthouse, and stunning views of the Caribbean Sea.
By the time we had finished exploring El Morro, we were slightly sunburnt ( sunscreen is a must in Old San Juan) and overdue for lunch. We browsed some of the local offerings close to the fort ( we didn’t want to wander too far, as we still had plans to see the cemetery) and when nothing jumped out at us we do what we always do and looked for the longest line. That just happened to be in front of a Helado (Gelato) vendor who by chance and fate had pushed his magical cart full of goodness right into our path. Ice cream for lunch? Yes. Why are we even discussing this?
We took our um, lunch on the go and wandered around the local cemetery. This probably seems strange, but you can learn a lot about a culture from their sacred places.
As the day wound down, we wandered back along the city wall, Paseo del Morro, stood in amazement of the beauty of the Cathedral San Juan Bautista, caught an amazing sunset over the bay, and fed our tired bones with an incredible meal of Mofongo at Cafe Puerto Rico. It was an absolutely perfect day and the perfect way to start off our Puerto Rican road trip! The next day we packed up and head out on the road, with the city in our rearview and eyes and hearts set on the seeing the rainforest in El Yunque.
Day one of our Puerto Rican Road Trip was one to remember! If you’re interested in planning your own adventure we’ve got loads of posts to get you started, and more on the way!
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