A barred gate covers the entrace to Capilla del Cristo chapel in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Historic Churches in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Jan is the cultural center of Puerto Rico. Many of the island’s must-see sights are in Old San Juan; among them are these beautiful and beloved old churches. One is the second-oldest in the western hemisphere, another has two origin stories, both a tragic and triumphant version, and one is a truly excellent example of 16th-century Spanish Gothic architecture.

Playa Sardinera in Hatillo. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Planning Your Time on Puerto Rico’s North Coast

The north coast of Puerto Rico is a wild expanse of rocky coastline and gorgeous ocean views, hilly karst country, and green farmland. It’s also thick with industrial plants, shopping centers, fast-food restaurants, road construction, and traffic. Despite the urban sprawl, though, the north coast has a lot going for it.

La Muralla, a nearly 400-year-old wall that surrounds Old San Juan. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Puerto Rico’s Iconic City Wall: La Muralla

The most enduring symbol of Puerto Rico is La Muralla. Nearly 400 years old, the city wall is composed of rock, rubble, and mortar that wraps around Old San Juan from the cruise-ship piers on San Juan Harbor to the capitol on the Atlantic Ocean. Its iconic sentry boxes serve as a symbol of the island’s Spanish heritage and resilience in an ever-changing world.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Old San Juan’s Two Historic Castillos

History buffs and especially those interested in military history should take time to explore Old San Juan’s two historic forts, Castillo San Felipe del Morro dating from 1539 and Castillo de San Cristóbal dating from 1634.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Where to Go in Puerto Rico

Though relatively small, there’s no shortage of places to explore and things to experience in Puerto Rico. Here are the highlights by region, from San Juan to each coast to the central mountain region and the offshore islands.

cover Moon San Juan Vieques and Culebra 2ed.

Moon San Juan, Vieques & Culebra

This full-color guide includes vibrant photos and easy-to-use maps to help with trip planning. Travel journalist Suzanne Van Atten covers the best of San Juan, Vieques, and Culebra—from the historic charm of Old San Juan to the electric-blue waters of Mosquito Bay. Van Atten also includes creative suggested itineraries for travelers of all kinds, including […]

The San Juan, Puerto Rico, skyline at night.

Discover San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico, is arguably the most cosmopolitan city in the Caribbean, yet so full of history as well. Discover all that San Juan has to offer, learn about the city’s heritage, and brush up on how to plan your time in the city.

Moon Puerto Rico, 4th ed.

Moon Puerto Rico

This full-color guide includes vibrant photos and easy-to-use maps to help with trip planning. Travel journalist Suzanne Van Atten covers the best of Puerto Rico—from its spectacular beaches and classic golf courses to its rich Spanish culture. Van Atten also includes creative travel ideas for a variety of travelers, including “Puerto Rico for Thrill-Seekers,” “Romantic […]

A black and white photograph of a group of African Americans celebrating at a Fourth of July picnic.

Celebrating America’s Melting Pot

To celebrate Independence Day, here are some vibrant, living destinations from sea to shining sea where you can experience firsthand the diversity of America’s melting pot.

View from inside a limestone cavern with vegetation outside.

Puerto Rico, the “Island of Enchantment”

Puerto Rico’s nickname, Island of Enchantment, is a fitting sobriquet. Sandy beaches, palm trees, and tropical breezes make it a favorite getaway for the sun and surf crowd. Rugged mountains and a verdant rain forest attract adventure travelers, and lavish hotels with ocean-side golf courses embrace vacationers who crave luxury.