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What travellers are saying
- this is a new place in an old area
beautiful and modern hotel (Sheraton)
restaurants, bars, music, great walking areaWritten 11 October 2021This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
- My wife was happy to find Spanish literature in her birth language. Iylt has big selection, recomemdedWritten 6 April 2018This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
- My wife and I are veteran DIY (do-it-yourself) travellers who like to mix advanced planning with on-site recommendations and surprises. In cities, we focus on historical and cultural attractions rather than entertainment and nightlife.
We recently spent three days in Old San Juan, and want to share some disappointments and successes, so that others don't repeat our mistakes.
We had identified a list of cultural and historical attractions to see in San Juan, using various guidebooks published between 2009-2016. Our list for Old San Juan included: cultural attractions like the Museo Pablo Casals, the exhibitions in the Instituto de Cultura Puertoriquena, the cathedral and the Casa del Libro, and historical attractions including the fortresses, and either the Casa Blanca or the Fortaleza. We had read a number of newspaper columns suggesting that major tourism destinations in Puerto RIco had recovered from Maria's initial effects, and were open for business.
In hindsight, our major blunder was in NOT stopping at the TI (Tourist Information) located in the Plaza de Armas on arrival, and inquiring about the attractions on our list. As a result, we spent our first day looking for attractions that no longer existed: Museo Pablo Casals is permanently closed; there are no longer any exhibits in the Instituto de Cultura Puertoriquena (only offices), and the Museo de San Juan was also closed at the time of our visit. The Casa de Libro collection can only be seen with an advance appointment, which was not possible by the time we learned this. The San Jose church is currently closed for renovation, but the cathedral is open.
On the other hand, the historic structures in Old San Juan run by the National Park Service and local government were all open, and we enthusiastically recommend visiting as many as you can, for this glimpse into the early history of the Americas. The visits are well curated (bilingual), and the staff extremely helpful.
Of course, attractions like these are not all that Old San Juan has to offer. Every time you turn the corner here, you are presented with another great photo opportunity. The local cuisine is tasty and different, and there are plenty of places serving it. Lively music spills out of stores, bars, and homes. There is sunshine galore, ocean views and lovely sunsets. On our visit, it even seemed the city could easily absorb the cruise ship crowds (we never saw more than one ship in harbor).
So, GO to Old San Juan, and you will be glad you did. But if museums and other cultural attractions are part of your itinerary, do NOT rely and guidebooks, and be sure to inquire on arrival about what is actually open.Written 15 March 2019This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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