San Juan, Puerto Rico — Viejo San Juan truly vibrates with the pulse of the Caribbean. Pedestrians and traffic fill the streets and sidewalks at almost all hours. Music and the smells of food waft through the air. Spanish Colonial homes painted in vibrant colors, narrow cobblestone streets, shops, cafés, bars, restaurants, people, traffic — overwhelming and strikingly beautiful at the same time, a feast for all the senses.

The 7-square block Old City on the edge of San Juan Harbor was settled in 1521, the second oldest European-founded city in the Americas.  Many of Old San Juan’s narrow streets are paved with adoquines, blue-glazed brick brought over on Spanish galleons as ballast. Walls and stone fortresses protected the city from invaders: San Felipe del Morro was completed in 1589, and Castillo de San Cristóbal was completed in 1771.

You’ll find an endless variety of food and drink in Old San Juan. A couple places I recommend: Café Puerto Rico has great Mojitos and food — I had chicken with rice (Arroz con Pollo) on one visit, and fried pork chunks with rice and onions on another. And at Restaurante Raíces, I had Mofongo (mashed green plantains) stuffed with Churrasco steak. To drink, a tamarind frappe (kind of like a Slurpee, but with tamarind fruit) with rum. Incredible!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Adoquines – paving brick from Spanish galleons

Cafe Puerto Rico

Arroz con Pollo at Cafe Puerto Rico

Mofongo stuffed with churrasco steak – Restaurante Raices

Restaurante Raices

About Glen Abbott
Glen Abbott is a Florida-based travel writer & photographer specializing in motorcycle touring and travel. He is regular contributor to Harley-Davidson's HOG Magazine, and his travel features appear regularly in motorcycle magazines and other publications.

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25 Comments
  1. Dave VV

    August 15, 2015

    Was at the El Batey bar looking at the blue brick streets when I googled this site. Love old San Juan and recommend it to all. Thanks for the pictures and info on the bricks.

  2. Dave VV

    August 15, 2015

    Was at the El Batey bar looking at the blue brick streets when I googled this site. Love old San Juan and recommend it to all. Thanks for the pictures and info on the bricks.

  3. Diva

    August 14, 2013

    We we’re just there for my granddaughters all three graduation this we’re nice to take them since there never been there,and optimise the trip,well let me tell u they loved it.

  4. Ali

    August 14, 2013

    Thanks for doing my hometown justice. Great pics! <3

    • Glen Abbott

      August 15, 2013

      Hey Ali, glad you liked the post. Just a question, where did you find the link? I had a lot of traffic to this post yesterday and I’m wondering why; or who posted the link on their FB page.
      Thanks!
      glen

  5. Federico

    May 2, 2011

    Old San Juan reminds me a lot like Cartagena de Indias in Colombia. It doesn’t appear to be too crowded though , is this the case?
    Federico recently posted..Photo of the Week- Wax Palms in Valle del Cocora- Colombia

    • Travelin' Gringo

      May 2, 2011

      Actually, Federico, Old San Juan is VERY crowded. I took most of these pictures on a Sunday morning when it was fairly quiet. Normally, there is lots of traffic and lots of people in the streets!

  6. Wow! Another scrumptious dessert for my eyes! My favorite picture is the paving brick you took. And I’m not telling why i love it the most. hehe

    • Travelin' Gringo

      May 1, 2011

      Well, you’ve got me curious why the paving brick is your favorite pic!?

  7. Elle

    April 30, 2011

    I was extremely bummed when PR was taken off the itinerary for my upcoming cruise. I was really looking forward to checking out Old San Juan and the Bio Bay.
    Elle recently posted..Fantasy Friday- Akureyri- Iceland

  8. leo

    April 22, 2011

    All pics are so grreat!
    http://www.hellojersey.us

  9. adventureswithben

    April 20, 2011

    I was in Old San Juan a few years back and loved all the colors!

  10. Lisa

    April 20, 2011

    This looks so cool. Great photos! The rum drink with Tamarind sounds interesting!
    Lisa recently posted..The Baltic Sea A Leisure Destination

  11. Grace

    April 20, 2011

    Looks like an awesome way to spend your birthday!
    Grace recently posted..The Philosophy behind Solo Travel

  12. I love the vibrant colors that the buildings are painted… and that food looks nomalicious! 😛
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Confessions of a Dog Who Hates the RV Lifestyle

  13. Adam

    April 19, 2011

    AHHH, I can’t believe we were both in San Juan at the same time and had no idea each other were there. You got some incredible pictures here. Great job! This was my first trip to Puerto Rico, and I have to say that I was absolutely blown away. I was there on a press trip, and I’m seriously contemplating trying to get back this summer to bring my wife. Amazing place, and you did a great job capturing Old San Juan.
    Adam recently posted..Were not on Khao San Road anymore- Toto

    • Travelin' Gringo

      April 19, 2011

      Hey Adam, it’s pretty amazing we were both there at the same time and didn’t know it. I love Old San Juan, this is the second time I’ve been there with my wife, and we’ll go again.

  14. Migrationology

    April 19, 2011

    Wow, the picture that really caught my eye is the one with mofongo and steak stuffed into a cup, that looks scrumptious!
    Migrationology recently posted..Water- Pork- Party- Music- Family- Fun- This is Thai New Years!

  15. David @ MalaysiaAsia

    April 19, 2011

    Old San Juan looks like my kind of place to just spend a good week there. The blues in the sky look amazing while the food looks very interesting. Put on my bucket list now.
    David @ MalaysiaAsia recently posted..Staghorn Fern Platycerium Picture

  16. Jan Ross

    April 18, 2011

    I was just there a couple weeks ago but your photos really make it come to life. Beautiful!
    Jan Ross recently posted..It’s called SoBe But Only If You Are In The Know

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