San Juan, officially Municipio de la Ciudad Capital San Juan Bautista (Municipality of the Capital City, Saint John the Baptist), is the capital of and largest city in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. With a population of 395,326 (2010 census), it is the 46th-largest city under the jurisdiction of the United States. It is also the oldest city under U.S. jurisdiction, having been founded by the Spanish colonists in 1521. This tropical city is located northeast of the island of Puerto Rico, and features prominent century-old architecture, such as Spanish military forts built from the 1540s to 1800s, an active harbour, and a very active economic area in the Hato Rey district.
What to see & do
San Juan’s Latin American heritage and culture reflect much on the city and how it presents itself to the world. Its Spanish-based culture is mixed with African traditions, Taíno culture, and an American influence. A festive atmosphere is to be expected, with bars and discotheques all over the city, from Old San Juan to even the southern part of the city, that stay open to 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. Some of the notable attractions that you can visit here include El Castillo San Felipe del Morro "El Morro", a 16th-century citadel that lies on the north-westernmost point of the islet of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The citadel is part of San Juan National Historic Site and was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1983. There’s also the Spanish fort, El Castillo de San Cristóbal; and Palacio de Santa Catalina "La Fortaleza”, which serves as the official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico, the head of the government. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the oldest executive mansion in the New World.
How to get around within San Juan
There are several ways to navigate around San Juan. A highly convenient option is to rent a car. Road signs here are in Spanish, but it won’t be very difficult as you’ll get familiarised with it as you go along. The city’s bus system is cheap, but make sure you always carry quarters with you as buses only accept coins on board. However, buses here almost always do not follow schedule, so you might have to wait on bus stops. Also, it’s an advisable option if you’re planning to cover many tourist spots as most of them are not included in the bus routes. Driving or taking the taxi is more recommended. Taxis can be found hanging around hotels and the east end of Calle de la Fortaleza in Old San Juan. There’s also a public ferry that serves Old San Juan and Cataño, the Cataño Ferry (La Lancha de Cataño), which crosses San Juan Bay every 15-30 minutes. The most modern means of public transport in San Juan is by train, via a rapid transit rail line called "Tren Urbano" (Urban Train), which connects San Juan to the towns of Guaynabo and Bayamón. However, like the bus, it avoids points of interest like Old San Juan, Condado, Isla Verde, and the airport, so tourists won’t find it as useful.
How to get there
San Juan has one airport: Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, a large international hub located approximately 14km away from the city of Carolina. It serves as one of the most important hubs in the Caribbean, alongside Miami and Panama City. The airport is linked to various destinations on the mainland via all major U.S. airlines, along with seasonal air charters that also operate additional routes. Air Flamenco, Cape Air, and Vieques Air Link offer scheduled services within Puerto Rico while several airlines including Air Canada, Air France, Avianca, Iberia, JetBlue Airways, Mexicana, Southwest, and Virgin Atlantic fly to and from numerous destinations like Toronto, Madrid, Mexico City, Houston, and London, among others. The other way to get in is by ferry, via an overnight ride aboard Ferries del Caribe, which operates an international passenger and vehicle service from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
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