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San Juan, Puerto Rico is one of the Caribbean’s most popular ports. Cruise ships flock to dock in this beautiful Spanish Colonial city for good reason. The cobblestone streets of Old San Juan are easy to explore on a cruise day trip and most day excursions are fully back in business after the destruction from Hurricane Maria. Here are the top things to see on a port day in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

RELATED: 3 perfect days in San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan Port Day - GetingStamped.com -2

Wander the beautiful streets of Old San Juan | Photo by GettingStamped.com

Get lost in the colorful streets of Old San Juan
It’s easy to get hooked on the vibrant colors of Old San Juan. Everywhere you look are pastel yellows, pinks and blues covering the city’s classic Spanish Colonial architecture and revealing an assortment of restaurants, cafes and (let’s be honest) souvenir shops. If nothing else, the postcard-perfect buildings alone are worth the stop.

Sample your way through the Casa Bacardi rum tasting
Puerto Rico is home to one of the world’s largest rum brands and they are proud of their sugarcane-based spirit. At Casa Bacardi in Cataño (adjacent to San Juan), you’ll sample sugar cane rums that have been aging to golden brown perfection for years and years. Casa Bacardi is the perfect place to slow down for an afternoon and get a taste of how rum shaped the Caribbean and became an integral ingredient in many of your favorite cocktails.

RELATED: Places to celebrate National Rum Day

Feed the pigeons at Parque Las Palomas
One quirky stop you shouldn’t miss in Old San Juan is Pigeon Park, located about halfway up the hill to the Castillo on the western edge of town. With a fist full of bird feed you’ll make quick friends with the hundreds of Pigeons who call this park home. Pose with them on your arms, or simply have fun feeding the birds; either way, it promises to be a memorable time in Old San Juan.

San Juan Port Day - Mofongo - Flickr

You can’t leave San Juan without trying Mofongo | Photo by Eugene Kim – Flickr cc

Learn to cook mofongo
A trip to Puerto Rico wouldn’t be complete without tasting mofongo, a staple dish. It’s available everywhere, but the best way to appreciate it is to help make it. Mofongo is made from plantain, which looks like a banana, but is denser and used as a starch in the Caribbean. The plantain is used as the base of the dish, almost as a small bowl to hold the rest of the yummy ingredients. You need to see the love that goes into the dish to truly grasp the affection locals have for mofongo and the best way to do this is via cooking classes hosted by operators like Flavors of San Juan.

Have a piña colada in the place where it was born
Did you know that the piña colada was actually invented right here in Old San Juan? Well, it was, somewhere in Puerto Rico. As is the case with most world-famous drinks, there is a debate over who created it first. Taste it at one of the bars that surely had a hand in its invention, the Barrachina located right in Old San Juan.

Don’t miss the Castillo while in San Juan | Photo by GettingStamped.com

Visit the Castillo San Cristóbal—at sunset
One of your last stops on a perfect port day in San Juan should be the Castillo at the top of Old San Juan. (Most cruise ships stay in San Juan until later in the evening.) If you’re lucky enough to have a late sailing from Puerto Rico, make sure to take advantage and see the old fort and battlements carved into the hillside at sunset. The westward facing fortress makes for the perfect foreground image against pink and orange skies. Even if you leave San Juan before the sun has had a chance to set, a trip to the Castillo is still a must.

San Juan Port Day - GetingStamped

Always take the opportunity to go chase waterfalls! – Photo by GettingStamped.com

Chase waterfalls in El Yunque National Forest
Nature lovers will fall for the rugged beauty of El Yunque, located about an hour outside of Old San Juan. Well kept hiking trails lead to a collection of stunning waterfalls, making El Yunque the perfect place to spend your port day immersed in natural beauty. The main attraction is La Mina Falls, but a short walk down a hidden path will lead you to a quieter, yet just as magnificent waterfall.

Note: Due to damages wrought by hurricanes Irma and Maria, El Yunque National Forest only recently re-opened to the public (mid-February). Many areas may still be undergoing clean-up efforts.

Tagged: Caribbean, Puerto Rico

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Hannah & Adam | Getting Stamped Bloggers
Hannah & Adam are travel writers & photographers who have called the road home since 2013. Their passion for adventurous travel has brought them to 60 countries and counting. They blog about their adventures on their travel blog GettingStamped.com.

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