San Juan

The capital of Puerto Rico easily keeps you entertained for a couple of days. The once very important city in the Caribbean is well maintained and makes you think back of your history classes about the conquistadores and explorers. The new city feels very American with its broad avenues and big shopping malls, whereas the old city feels very European. Visit the beautiful buildings and submerge yourself in the rich history of Puerto Rico. Definitely book an excursion out of the city, because the Puerto Rican nature is gorgeous!

The Castillo de San Felippe Del Morro. One of the major sights in San Juan.

The Castillo de San Felippe Del Morro. One of the major sights in San Juan.

  Average costs

Stay – The cost of accommodation in Puerto Rico is comparable to the cost of a place in Western Europe or the United States.
The cheapest option, a youth hostel, only costs around $15 to $30 a night. If you travel with more than one person, motels or budgethotels are probably a cheaper option. Between $40 and $55 you can already find a double room.
Would you like to get pampered a little more? Choose for a more luxurious stay! Three stars starts at $75, four stars for a little over $100.

Would you like to see all accommodations in San Juan? Click here.

Eat – The cost of food of course depends of what you will eat.
You’ll pay the least if you eat fastfood. For a meal at a chain like Mc Donalds, Burger King or Wendy’s expect to pay around $5 or $12 a person.
If you just want a quick bite, you can try out a foodtruck or pincho stand. Pincho’s is chicken or pork on a stick, put on the barbecue and presented with a BBQ sauce. For one of them, you’ll pay between $2 and $3.

Try some delicious, authentic Puerto Rican food. In a restaurant you’ll pay about $20 a person. In this price your food, your drink and the expected tip (15% to 20%) is calculated.

Transport – In San Juan there is great public transportation. If you know how to use apps like Google Maps or Apple Maps, you’ll be happy to hear that these apps also check the busroutes for you.
The price for a single ride is $0,75 (big busses) or $1 for the smaller ones.

I wouldn’t recommend taxi’s. They’re very expensive for whatever distance you do. Apps like Uber and Lyft don’t work in Puerto Rico.

The capitol of San Juan.

The capitol of San Juan.

 Saving money

Eating pinchos – Eating out every day will eventually cost you quite some money. Especially if you travel with a couple of people. Try to satisfy your hunger with a delicious pincho; barbecued chicken or pork on a stick. One costs between $2 and $3 and you can find them almost everywhere around San Juan.

Tap water – Because of the well developed American mainland, Puerto Rico is very well developed as well. The tap water is perfectly safe, since it has been purified. Just take a sturdy bottle with you and always refill it with tap water. You need to stay hydrated in this hot and humid climate!

Public transportation – The public transportation isn’t as extensive as in many other countries but it definitely is enough to discover San Juan. A bus is never more than five minutes walking away and they are dirt cheap. For $0,75 or $1 you can buy a single ticket to the old city.

From the airport there is also a bus that takes you more in the city center, for only $0,75. These are not always on time, so do plan in advance a little.

Grocery shopping in wallmart – Do you want to buy some groceries? Try to find the nearest wallmart. These big bulky stores are so much cheaper than most other supermarkets. You can find everything you’ll possibly need in one of these huge stores.

The San Felipe del Morro park in San Juan.

The San Felipe del Morro park in San Juan.


  Do’s

Visit the old city – Visiting San Juan is visiting the old city. The modern part of the city is a lot less interesting.
The old city is a tangle of old streets with colorful houses and if you’re lucky some happy musicians playing outside. Enjoy it all on one of the beautiful squares or parks and definitely don’t forget to visit the forts or castles.
They were very important during the colonial times. Believe me, visiting a medieval fort in a Caribbean setting is something you won’t forget that quickly.

Eat authentic food – Get out of your comfort zone and go done in one of the many authentic restaurants of San Juan. Try the avocado filled with chicken and fried bananas or plantanes. Delicious! Mofongo is another, typical Puerto Rican meal that needs to be tried oud. Sweet, spicy or salty. You can find something for everyone!

Excursions – To see San Juan completely, you need two or three days at least. Don’t only stay in the capital though! Also try to visit some other cities and sights. I really enjoyed the El Yunque rainforest (book in advance to avoid high prices), the bioluminescent bay, the limestone caves and the indian caves. All of these are beautiful pieces of nature that will ‘wow’ you for sure!

Entrance gate to the Castillo de San Cristobal.

Entrance gate to the Castillo de San Cristobal.

  Don’ts

Forget your ESTA – San Juan, Puerto Rico is US territory. To pay a visit to American territory you need to apply for an ESTA or visum. Without, you will not be able to get into the country.
You can apply for an ESTA online (via the website of the American government). Keep your passport and credit card nearby. After you filled out all of your data, you’ll need to pay $14.

With an ESTA you can visit the US and its territories for up to 90 days.

Holidays during rainy season – Beginning in June and ending in September is the rainy season in Puerto Rico. During this time there’s better places to visit. The rainfall can last for hours on end and is often very heavy. Not great for your mood!

Forget electric converters – In San Juan the American system of electricity is used. This means that you might need to take an adaptor or electric converter to charge your electrical items. An adaptor from type A or B should work everywhere.

The El Yunque rainforest makes a perfect day trip from San Juan.

The El Yunque rainforest makes a perfect day trip from San Juan.

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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