San Juan is the perfect destination for your summer vacationthis year.
Puerto Rico has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. While the island may be struggling financially in the aftermath of hurricane Maria, it doesn’t fail to deliver on excellent vacation experiences. San Juan, the capital and biggest city, is in the midst of a cultural shift. The city is seeing a rebirth of the arts and music scene, along with a culinary revolution. With the beach, good food, an interesting past and a bright artistic future, San Juan is the perfect destination for your summer vacation.
Spanish Colonial ruins dot the entire island of Puerto Rico, but nowhere more so than San Juan. A bit outside the new city centre sits Old San Juan. This is a catch-all term for a very large barrio (neighbourhood) since Old San Juan covers a gigantic area from urban zones bustling with food, and commerce, to the peaceful beach nearby.
All trips through Old San Juan should begin on the beautifully restored seaside pedestrian passage, Paseo de La Princesa. From there, explore the neighbourhood’s narrow cobblestone streets that you will remind visitors of many European capitals. These are wonderfully contrasted by the freshly painted facades of the colonial-style houses. Within Old San Juan, there are some of Puerto Rico’s oldest attractions, such as the massive remains of Castillo de San Cristobal. This awe-i inspiring Spanish fortress is the biggest in the new world, with some of its ramparts rising to over 100 feet above the close by cliffs. San Juan’s old windy streets can be confusing, so consider hiring a local guide for your day touring its attractions.
Castillo de San Cristobal
Old San Juan isn’t the only place to find tradition. There is also the San Juan National Historic site which shows off the incredible Castillo San Felipe del Morro. These sprawling seaside fortifications used to protect San Juan Harbor; today walking along its walls provides some of the best views of the city and the sea. Also, the imbedded military cemetery is an off-putting, yet historically significant addition. San Juan Cemetery is the final home of some of Puerto Rico’s most famous people, and well worth a quick visit.
San Juan Cemetery
For those more interested in the present than the past, San Juan’s cultural scene is booming due to the low cost of entry. The lovely Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, is a recently converted former hospital, which gives the works of famous Puerto Rican artists, Victor Vazquez, and Jorge Zeno an eerily aesthetic setting. Just outside, sits a sublime sculpture garden surrounding a relaxing reflecting pool. While Puerto Rico’s artists may not be worldwide names, they have the skill and the building puts them in an exceptional atmosphere.
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico
Near the museum lies the vibrant Condado district. A home of nightlife, and counterculture, the neighbourhood houses San Juan’s best bars, multiple casinos, and hip restaurants. About as close to the ocean as you can get, Condado is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon shopping, drinking, and eating. For a delicious, bite in an upscale setting try Agarrate Catalina. This traditional Argentinian style eatery will wow you with delicious food and value portions of the island’s best barbecue. While familiarising yourself with the local cuisine, you will notice how plantain is such an important constituent as an accompaniment to almost every dish; do make it a point to have a go at the traditional dish of Asapao that can be cooked in various ways with different ingredients.
San Juan. Condado Beach. Puerto Rico
Afterwards, the nearby El Bar Bero offers classy cocktails in an unassuming venue. The name itself is a bit of a pun, as the bar resides behind an operating barbershop. This example of the ingenuity constantly on display in Condado will make you feel like you’re back in college with a lively vibe and an infectious youthful exuberance.
For a truly one of a kind experience, there is the Perla. Built to resemble a seashell, and perched directly on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean, Perla’s ambiance is unmatched. The encompassing infinity pool gives diners unbelievable views of the night sky and surrounding sea. At around, $40 per plate, you’ll pay for the privilege, but it’s one you’ll never forget.
The historic “shell”
Puerto Rico is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. For evidence, look no farther than the idyllic Palomino Island. Here you can relax on the private beach, or spend the day in the sea snorkelling or swimming. Kayaking, boating, and jet skiing are popular for more active visitors.
Don’t feel like taking the ferry? Head to San Juan’s most visited beach. Ocean Park beach is a long stretch of white sand backed by tropical palms. It’s popular for families and also young people looking to have a little fun in the sun. So whether you want to take a dip in the crystal water or take in the local culture, Ocean Park is the place to be.
Ocean Park Beach
About The Author: Noor Luthra is a Travel Specialist at www.tourhq.com. She firmly believes in the wealth of travel in changing one’s life, one experience at a time.”
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