San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a vibrant and culturally rich city that offers a variety of neighborhoods to suit many different preferences and lifestyles. Whether you're looking for historical charm, trendy vibes, upscale amenities, or beachside living, San Juan has it all and more. There’s a reason that nearly five million tourists flock to the island every year on average to explore the amenities of San Juan and beyond. Many visitors end up staying, especially in recent years, causing a real estate boom on the island.
Let’s take a closer look at the best neighborhoods in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and what they have to offer for potential future residents.
Old San Juan
Things to do in Old San Juan
Explore Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Commonly known as “El Morro,” Castillo San Felipe del Morro is one of the most scenic locations in the Caribbean. Breathtaking views of the Atlantic from the walls of the old fort make it a popular place for photographers.
Take a stroll at Paseo de la Princesa
The best-known promenade in Puerto Rico, Paseo de la Princesa, dates back to 1853. Here, you will find street vendors, artisan stalls, and typical Puerto Rican food carts to enjoy along the way, adding to the walkway's popularity with locals and tourists.
Amazing dining spots in Old San Juan
El Patio De Sam
For over 50 years, El Patio De Sam has specialized in local Puerto Rican dishes like churrasco and mofongo. Great food and a relaxed environment entice diners to this Old San Juan staple. Plus, this top dining destination offers a vast selection of beers and wines to round off your meal.
Puerta de Tierra
What to do in Puerta de Tierra
Snorkel at Balneario El Escambrón
One of the best-known beaches in San Juan, Balneario El Escambrón, is protected by coral reefs and offers experiences like snorkeling with sea turtles, scuba diving, and sunset walks. The beach is only five minutes away from restaurants and food stands, making it a popular weekend choice.
Feel inspired at Walter Otero Contemporary Art
For those looking for a cultural experience, the Walter Otero Contemporary Art Gallery is dedicated to the next generation of artists. A rooftop garden offers magnificent views of San Juan Bay alongside unique outdoor exhibits.
Fantastic food in Puerta de Tierra
Seafood lovers should look no further than Melao Bistro. Dishes like lobster ravioli and fresh ceviche are just a few to enjoy overlooking the nearby waterfront park in a refined and upscale setting.
Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse
Specializing more in the “turf” part of surf-and-turf, Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse offers a high-end steakhouse experience you won’t soon forget. This internationally-renowned restaurant is sure to “meat” every expectation.
Adventures in Santurce
Enjoy the nightlife at Esquina Watusi
As a significant part of San Juan’s vibrant nightlife scene, Esquina Watusi is a beloved hangout location offering live music on the weekends. Indulge in the local flavor and enjoy the packed dance floor.
Catch a show at Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré
Open since 1981, Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré is one of Puerto Rico’s most important and well-known cultural centers. It hosts concerts, operas, theater, ballet performances, and traveling shows like Hamilton.
Check out the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico (MAC)
To get a dose of inspiration, head to MAC, where you’ll find an array of amazing exhibits showcasing incredible talents. The MAC also hosts workshops and classes to enrich and educate the mind.
Top restaurants in Santurce
Offering new and exciting takes on culinary experiences, Dulcesalado is one of the trendiest places to visit in all of San Juan. Dishes like watermelon sushi and the calamari and jalapeno roll are just a few new experiences this restaurant/beer garden/coffee and pastry shop concept has to offer. Don’t skip it!
Another novel take on culinary concepts, Espacio 18 is the lunch hot spot for young professionals in the area. It serves signature dishes like empanada de pollo with risotto and other high-end offerings at affordable prices.
Shop at Ashford Avenue
Offering upscale shopping by day and trendy nightlife at night, Ashford Avenue is the seat of luxury in San Juan. Lined by high-end boutiques, the area offers world-famous brands like Cartier, Louis Vuitton, and Ferragamo and local designers like Nono Maldonado.
Swim or lounge at Condado Beach
As the epitome of the Caribbean beach resort experience, Condado Beach is popular among tourists visiting the island. The nearby Playita del Condado, or Small Condado Beach, offers calm waters with shallow spots perfect for small children and families.
Dining destinations in Condado
La Bodeguita de Manolo Condado
Hidden behind what looks like a walk-in freezer door, La Bodeguita de Manolo Condado offers luxurious, high-end international cuisine in an intimate setting. Their extensive drinks menu provides the extra flair to complete the speakeasy feel of this hidden gem.
While Cocina Abierta, or “Open Kitchen” in English, may give a different vibe from the name, the quality is just as top-notch. Offering tasting menus, wine pairings, and cocktails that explore the island’s local cuisine, this is the perfect spot for foodies looking for an authentic experience.
Finding the neighborhood that suits you
Maria del Mar Ortiz of We Got This Realty has spent years cultivating strong relationships and contacts to make the transition to life in Puerto Rico as smooth as possible. If you are moving to Puerto Rico, contact Maria today to explore which services match your needs and which neighborhood is the best fit to become your new home.
*Header photo courtesy of Maria Del Mar Ortiz