Budget Travel – A Walking Tour of San Juan Puerto Rico

If you like to visit the Caribbean on a budget you will find that Puerto Rico offers visitors the chance to indulge in all of the perks of a Caribbean getaway for a fraction of the price without having to worry about international travel. Home to numerous all-inclusive resorts, beautiful sandy beaches, and plenty of seafood to satisfy your appetite, this American commonwealth is an excellent destination for bargain-hunters looking to lie in the lap of luxury. An exploration of San Juan is a must even if you are just visiting to enjoy the beaches and azure waters of Puerto Rico’s capital. A walking tour is especially recommended. All you have to do is follow the city’s major thoroughfares to old San Juan and you will soon enjoy the historic buildings, cobblestone streets and charming old houses reminiscent of its almost 500 years of history. If you are unsure of where to go, you can always get a map of the area. The best place to start your survey of the 16th to 17th century treasures of San Juan is at Plaza de Armas. It is the first main city square and has continued to serve as a social gathering venue for both locals and tourists alike to this day. The plazas or squares are not just a popular meeting place but also an ideal base to catch a glimpse of various historic buildings surrounding them. Other plazas worth checking out in the area are Plaza del Quinto Centario where you’ll find a towering 40 feet totemic sculpture and Plaza de San Jose where a bronze statue of Ponce de Leon stands proudly. If you want to check out the oldest standing structures in San Juan, proceed to La Fortaleza or the Palacio di Santa Catalina. Built in 1540, it was originally intended as a fortress to protect the city from intruders. It was later converted into the Governor?s Residence and considered to be the oldest of its kind on the continent. Another noteworthy piece of architecture is the Alcadia or the City Hall dating back to 1602 but not completed until 1789! If you are a fan of old churches, there are quite a few of them in San Juan. The oldest of the bunch is Catedral de San Juan whose history dates back to 1521 but since it has seen a series of renovation due to hurricanes and looting incidents. The structure is said to represent the New World’s version of medieval architecture. Another 16th century church worth seeing is the Spanish Gothic inspired Iglesia de San Jose. If entertainment is what you are looking for, there are several venues in the city where you can catch interesting and exciting cultural performances. Teatro Tapia is a historical theater that still hosts ballets, concerts and plays to this day. If you want a more modern atmosphere, then Centro de Bellas Artes or the Fine Arts Center is ideal for you. It also offers a variety of performances that range from opera to arts exhibition. After you get tired of your historical survey of old San Juan, you can always go back to the beach & resort area located just outside of the historic section of the city. You can just laze by the beach or you can go clubbing and bar-hopping. There are also plenty of fancy boutiques where you can go shopping and a wide range of restaurants for dining. Besides, you can just visit one of the casinos and woo lady luck into giving you a lucky strike for the night.