Metropolitan Area

METROPOLITAN AREA OF SAN JUAN

The Metropolitan Area, better known as the Metro Area, is the most populated and busiest urban center on the whole island. San Juan, the country’s capital and second oldest city in the American continent, is located in this area.

 

  1. Old San Juan
  2. Condado & Santurce
  3. San Juan, Río Piedras & Hato Rey
  4. Otras áreas importantes

It is a walled city that has preserved its historical essence, its colonial architecture and its imposing fortifications, such as San Cristóbal y San Felipe del Morro. These monuments display the Spanish heritage and were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. In Old San Juan, you will find some of the best museums, restaurants, shops and leisure spots on the island, in addition to many attractions to suit all tastes

Old San Juan is located on an islet that connects with the Condado area through the Dos Hermanos Bridge.

In this area, you can study at the Carlos Albizu University, the School of Plastic Arts of Puerto Rico, or the Center for Advanced Studies on Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Just imagine sitting in colonial lecture rooms with impressive views to the forts and the wonderful San Juan Bay


PLACES OF INTEREST

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Simply known as “El Morro”, this is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Puerto Rico. It was built by the Spanish in the 16th century in order to protect the San Juan Bay from the enemies arriving by sea. Visit its impressive tunnels, artillery guns, walls, lighthouses and learn about its stories.

El Castillo de San Cristóbal

It is also one of the best known antique buildings in Old San Juan. It is the biggest defensive fort built by the Spanish in the American continent. It has secret tunnels, dungeons for prisoners, coastal artillery guns, spiral stairs that interconnect floors and fortifications.

Cuartel de Ballajá

This is another of the antique buildings constructed between 1854 and 1864. It was the last architectonic military construction of monumental character built under the Spanish rule in America. Until 1898, the Cuartel de Ballajá was used as infantry barracks for Spanish army soldiers and their families. It had rooms for the officers, soldiers and their families, storage rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, dungeons, and horse stables. The ascending gothic vault ceilings above the main staircase are unique in the country. Built for the military, with the passing of time it has become a cultural center and monumental heritage of Puerto Rico and the world. Today it houses various cultural institutions such as dance and music schools, the Museum of the Americas, the Puerto Rican Academy of the Spanish Language, and the Puerto Rican Academy of History.

School of Plastic Arts

This school began at the Puerto Rican Culture Institute’s art workshops and has transformed into an important university center devoted to arts and design. It is located very close to Cuartel de Ballajá and El Morro.

Bahía Urbana (Urban Bay)

This is an innovative project that envisions to modernize and rehabilitate a good part of the historical nucleus of the capital. It has a massive pedestrianized walkway that surrounds the San Juan Bay. It is ornamented with metal structures, beautiful gardens and benches from where you can watch cruises departing from and arriving to Old San Juan. Numerous recreational and cultural activities of all sorts take place in this area very often.

Galería Nacional (National Gallery)

This important Puerto Rican Culture Institute’s museum displays religious artwork, the largest José Campeche painting collection, works by Francisco Oller and his disciples, and a selection of iconic works that includes a period of more than 60 years. It also has a strong representation from the famous 50s generation. Come on in and visit this cathedral of the arts.

Parque de las Palomas (Pigeon Park)

Named after the hundreds of pigeons that get there hoping to be fed by the visitors. It has benches from where you can enjoy the beautiful view featuring the San Juan Bay. Next to the park, you will find the Capilla del Cristo (Christ Chapel).

Paseo de la Princesa

It is a historical place and another of the most visited tourist attractions. It is very close to the pier where the cruise ships dock. During your journey, you will enjoy sculptures, gardens, artisan stands, and traditional Puerto Rican food. You will be able to contemplate the beautiful view of the San Juan Bay, Isla de Cabra, el Morro Castle, and an antique Spanish prison, currently the Tourism Company of Puerto Rico headquarters.

Barrachina

In this restaurant in Old San Juan, Mr. Ramón Portas Mignot invented the famous Piña Colada in 1963. Taste his original recipe, along with excellent creative Puerto Rican cookery and international cuisine that are prepared there.

Calle San Sebastián

This street is the venue of the famous Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, a very crowded and famous activity on the island that ends the Christmas season. It is celebrated during the third weekend of January from Thursday to Sunday. During the festivities, you will enjoy live music, dances, parades and artisan markets. This is one of the activities that attracts the highest concentration of young people on the whole island. You cannot miss it! The rest of the year, this is a vibrant street full of bars and restaurants.

Here you will find numerous beaches, international hotels, casinos, dance clubs, restaurants and boutiques. There are lodging options and services to suit all tastes and budgets.


PLACES OF INTEREST

Laguna del Condado National Park

Naturally surrounded by water and vegetation, it is an ideal place for walking, jogging, sailing or kayaking. Many athletes from the Puerto Rico Canoe and Kayak Federation practice there. Every weekend, there are kayak and paddle board classes in which you can enroll to learn these sports.

Condado and Ocean Park

These are the main hotel districts in the beaches of the Metro Area. El Escambrón beach (to the West of Condado) has the Blue Flag Bandera Azul distinction. This beach along with Ocean Park attracts thousands of sun and sea lovers every weekend. Since there are sport shops in this area, you will be able to practice kitesurfing, windsurfing, diving or any water sport.

Plaza Ventana del Mar

It is situated in the heart of Condado. There you can enjoy a spectacular view, while you rest sitting on its modern benches. Also, you can take a dip, take a walk around the sea shore or enjoy a sunny day. In the surrounding area, you will find restaurants, renowned boutiques, and a tremendous night life. You can attend the music festivals that take place there the last Sunday of each month or visit the Urban Market during the weekends.

Santurce

This neighborhood of San Juan is the most populated in Puerto Rico. This is a very dynamic, touristic, and commercial area with lots of cultural life, where many people of different nationalities live, besides Puerto Ricans. There you will be able to visit a great variety of restaurants, art galleries, cinemas, theatres, bars, dance clubs, and all kinds of shops. Do not forget to visit the Centro de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Center), La Placita, the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Loíza Street. All of them are emblematic places. Among the popular events celebrated there are the Festival Los Muros Hablan (where the streets are transformed into outdoor museums) the Fiestas de la Calle Loíza or Santurce es Ley. Here you will find the University of the Sacred Heart, institution that specializes in social sciences and humanities, and the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music.

Museum of Art of Puerto Rico

The MAPR is one of the main artistic centers on the island. Located in Santurce, in the municipality of San Juan, it exhibits countless masterpieces by famous national and foreign artists. Inaugurated in 2000, this impressive architectonic structure displays art from the 17th century to the present day. In addition, the Museum is the home of numerous itinerant exhibitions all-year-round, and has an outstanding interactive exhibition for children.

Museum of Contemporary Art

The MCA is located in the historical Rafael Labra building, and has a great variety of modern art expressions, from painting and sculpture to videos and mixed techniques.

Fine Arts Cinema

It has two locations, one in Miramar, Santurce, and another one in Popular Center, Hato Rey. It is a very good option for independent and foreign film lovers. Its movie listings include Latin American, European and independent American productions in their original language.

Río Piedras has been part of San Juan since 1951. It is mainly a residential and student area with lots of college life. Very close to the square in downtown, there is the biggest market (Plaza de Mercado) on the island, where you will find a great variety of locally-produced fruits, vegetables and herbs. Here the main campus of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) is located (with its emblematic tower built in the 1930s). Near the campus, you will be able to visit the Botanical Garden and the Experimental Station, both part of the UPR.

Besides the University of Puerto Rico and the Medical Sciences Campus, in Río Piedras you will find the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, and the Metropolitan University of Puerto Rico, which belongs to the Ana G. Méndez University System. EDP University is located in Hato Rey as well as the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, the San Juan University College, the Institute for Banking and Commerce, the Art and Technology Lyceum, and the Inter American University Law School.


PLACES OF INTEREST

Botanical Garden

Located in the heart of the Metropolitan Area, the Botanical Garden of Río Piedras is an oasis of peace in the middle of the active city life. It was created to study the tropical flora, and has a very complete library in botany. Some people use it to exercise, meditate or simply enjoy nature. Some of its most important areas are: the Monet’s garden, the Garden of Heliconias, the palm area, and El Almendro Park. Admission is free of charge and it is open to the public every day.

Museum of History, Anhtropology and Art (UPR)

This museum is ascribed to the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, and was the first museum officially established on the island. It offers expositions, courses, conferences, publications and workshops. Since its beginnings, it has represented the first encounter many visitors have with the cultural richness and patrimony of the country.

Luis Muñoz Marín Park (Reopening on 2016)

This is a park with beautiful green areas found in the heart of the Metropolitan Area of San Juan. There you can bike, walk, spend a peaceful day surrounded by nature, or go to some of the varied cultural activities that take place there. It has a funicular that offers an incredible aerial view of the park and the Metropolitan Area, in addition to a small artificial lake where you can sail using a pedal board

Plaza Las Américas

This shopping mall is located just 15 minutes form Old San Juan and is the largest in the whole Caribbean. It has more than 300 stores where the world’s most prestigious brands can be found.

These areas include San Juan neighboring towns such as Bayamón, Carolina, Cataño, Guaynabo and Trujillo Alto. These are municipalities with their own history and unique features that have become part of the Metropolitan Area of San Juan as a consequence of their growth and development. This is also the area where the largest number of universities and higher-education institutions are found, such as the University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón and Carolina campuses, Inter American University, Bayamón Campus, National University College, Caribbean University, Bayamón Central University, Central University of the Caribbean, Atlantic University, American University, Cambridge College, University of Phoenix, and many more.


PLACES OF INTEREST

Municipality of Guaynabo

Many interesting events happen here, such as the San Juan CinemaFest that takes place every year in the movie theatres at San Patricio Plaza shopping mall, showing more than 100 movies from around the world. The Fine Arts Center in Guaynabo offers a variety of plays, concerts and other cultural activities. The San Patricio Urban Forest is perfect for those who love nature. Fifteen minutes from downtown Guaynabo you will find La Marquesa Forest Park, a novel eco-touristic park that can be toured by trolley, cable railway, or walking. There, you can visit the butterfly zoo, the Forest Park Café, try the zip line, or go up to the observation tower, where you will enjoy a spectacular view. You will surely find entertainment for all ages. In this municipality you can study at Atlantic University, an institution that specializes in graphic design, 3D animation and much more.

Municipality of Carolina

Currently, Carolina is a very important part of the Metropolitan Area. Many notable Puerto Rican personalities were born there, such as Julia de Burgos, the most important poet of her time, Jesús T. Piñero, the first Puerto Rican governor under United States rule, and Roberto Clemente, world famous baseball player and philanthropist. Also, the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and the tourist area of Isla Verde are located there, where you will find a great variety of hotels, restaurants and beautiful beaches to practice volleyball, kitesurfing, paddle surfing or kayaking. The Isla Verde beach area connects to the tourist areas of Ocean Park and Condado. The municipality offers trolley service to the main areas of interest in the city. In this town you can find the University of Puerto Rico, Carolina Campus, Eastern University (Ana G. Méndez University System), Caribbean University and other educational centers.

Municipality of Cataño

It is one of the most recently incorporated towns on the island. It is mainly an industrial area and home of the Bacardí Rum Distillery. Make space in your calendar for a guided tour and you will be able to taste one of our major national products of international quality and recognition.

Contact Information

State Department of Puerto Rico
P.O. Box 9023271
San Juan, PR 00902-3271
1 (787) 722-2121 ext. 4292, 4295, 4350
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