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San Juan | © Jirka Matousek/ Flickr
San Juan | © Jirka Matousek/ Flickr
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11 Reasons Why You Should Visit San Juan in 2017

Picture of Mariela Santos
Updated: 17 February 2017
San Juan is Puerto Rico’s capital, an island in the Caribbean known as the Isla del Encanto – or Enchanted Island. The heart of the busy and popular metropolitan area, in San Juan there are numerous attractions to see, activities to participate in, and history to learn about. This is why it’s definitely a location to bookmark for travel this year.

The year-round great weather

The climate can be an important factor when choosing where to travel, and San Juan enjoys tropical weather in abundance. Warm or hot for most of the year, the temperature drops during the winter months but never becomes cold; the coldest area on the island is the mountainous center, which may drop to approximately 50F (10C). The nice weather makes it easy to be outdoors, go to the beach most of the year, and explore all of the things that San Juan has to offer.

San Juan's temperate climate makes sunsets like this a common sight | © Eddie Clark/Flickr
San Juan’s temperate climate makes beautiful sunsets a common sight | © Eddie Clark/Flickr

Easy travel

International travel stops at the San Juan International Airport, where large and small airline companies have a presence: American Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest and Delta, to name a few. Named after former Puerto Rican Governor Luis Muñoz Marín, the airport includes duty free and souvenir shops, and a hotel.

San Juan Airport runway | © nathanmac87/ Flickr
San Juan Airport runway | © nathanmac87/ Flickr

Familiar currency

As a United States territory, the currency used in Puerto Rico is the U.S. dollar, so U.S. citizens shouldn’t have any confusion over the currency. For visitors from outside the U.S., the utilization of the U.S. dollar may also be convenient, since it’s often an internationally recognized form of currency.

The shopping

San Juan has so many shopping options that visitors could spend days searching for the perfect clothing, souvenir, or any other objects. The two biggest malls in the area are Plaza Las Americas and The Mall of San Juan, which are both a short drive from San Juan International Airport. Plaza Las Americas has been a premier shopping location for decades and includes stores for different budgets: department stores like Macy’s and JCPenney, name brands like Carolina Herrera and BCBG Max Azria, local stores like Hecho a Mano, and sports-stores such as Adidas and Oakley. Eating options are also varied, and a movie theater is on the second level. The Mall of San Juan’s stores are primarily luxury and include Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Saks Fifth Avenue and H&M. Opened a handful of years ago, there’s also an eating area in this mall.

In addition, there are local and international stand-alone stores and boutiques throughout the city and in the historic district. Ralph Lauren and numerous jewelry stores are just some of the shopping options within the walkable historic district.

Major musical events

The Coliseo José Miguel Agrelot, commonly called “El Choliseo”, is one of the most impressive concert venues in the Caribbean. In the first half of 2017, many international artists such as Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, Sting and J. Balvin will be performing here, in addition to Puerto Rican acts like Ednita Nazario, and Arcángel & De la Ghetto. If traveling with kids, Disney on Ice is also set to perform this year.

Another, though smaller, location is the Centro de Bellas Artes, which has multiple halls for musical performances. Located in Santurce, San Juan, recent concerts feature the Festival Casals de Puerto Rico – the Symphonic Orchestra of Puerto Rico – and various plays.

Coliseo Jose Miguel Agrelot | © Gabriel Rodriguez/ Flickr
Coliseo José Miguel Agrelot | © Gabriel Rodriguez/ Flickr

Beautiful beaches

Puerto Rico is a fortunate country when it comes to its many notable beaches, and San Juan’s beaches are not to be missed. It’s not necessary to travel far to be able to find scenic locations to bathe in the sun, have a nice meal or practice water sports.

A hub for cruises

Cruises begin their journeys at Old San Juan and also make stops there so that their passengers can disembark and explore the capital or continue their trip elsewhere. Sometimes multiple ships from different cruise lines are at port and routes include trips in the Caribbean.

Travel back in time at the historic district

Old San Juan is now home to restaurants, shops, centuries-old buildings and castles, providing an interesting mix of surroundings. Walkable and accessible, cobble-stoned streets are part of the historic atmosphere that also includes a handful of plazas or squares, and churches.

Old San Juan street | © due_mele/ Flickr
Old San Juan street | © due_mele/ Flickr

Take a peek at the Governor’s residence

Within the Old San Juan district, visitors can walk up to the gates of the Governor’s residence. The Governor of Puerto Rico is the highest public official on the island, and, as such, his residence is an important place that he or she moves into once they take office.

Museums filled with Puerto Rican art

There are many museums in San Juan that showcase notable pieces by Puerto Rican artists, three of which are the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican Museum of Art), Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican Contemporary Museum of Art), and the Museo de las Américas (Museum of the Americas) located inside of the Cuartel de Ballajá. Names of Puerto Rican artists that you should know before you head there are Francisco Oller, Lorenzo Homar, and José Campeche.

Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico Interior | © Chu Aponte/ Flickr
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico interior | © Chu Aponte/ Flickr

Delicious food

There’s nothing quite like trying authentic local food, and traveling to San Juan can provide a gastronomic introduction to Puerto Rican dishes. Restaurants, coffee shops, and kiosks offer a variety of food including Puerto Rican classics like mofongo and asopao. Drinking options are also varied and visitors can go to the place where the piña colada was thought to have been invented.