A Traveler’s Guide to Santurce, Puerto Rico

In the last decade, Santurce has transformed into one of the hottest barrios in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Barrio is a Spanish word that could translate to quarter, region, or neighborhood.

Santurce is a historic neighborhood that has emerged as a center for culture, business, and nightlife in the capital city of Puerto Rico. From casinos, museums, culinary delights, and relaxing beach days, it is the best place to stay in Puerto Rico to experience the city just like the locals do.

Santurce has a rich history, beautiful neoclassical architecture, colorful murals, and exciting nightlife that visitors will enjoy and reminisce about for years.

The following guide provides you with all the information you need to plan a trip to this vibrant neighborhood in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Why Visit Santurce, Puerto Rico

Santurce is one of the only barrios in Puerto Rico founded by free slaves around the 16th century. Santurce is also a peninsula, so water surrounds it and connects it to Carolina City in the east.

Due to its history of diversity, commerce, food, and entertainment, it is a place full of extensive artistic and culinary backgrounds.

Within Santurce, there are a few sub-barrios or sub-neighborhoods, including Calle Loíza, Miramar, Ocean Park, Condado, Isla Grande, and Sagrado Corazón, among other areas. Each of these sub-neighborhoods brings visitors a unique range of diverse and international restaurants, cultural centers, museums, theaters, parks, Spanish-style mansions with beachfront views, and more.

Santurce, Puerto Rico Travel Information

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States located in the Caribbean. US citizens do not require a tourist visa or passport to travel to Puerto Rico, only a valid government-issued ID before boarding with your chosen airline.

Language

Photo Credit: Aysezgicmeli

Spanish is the first official language of Puerto Rico followed by English. You will find that many locals at restaurants, bars, and attractions are able to communicate in English. Some may even use a combination of both languages locally known as “Spanglish”. Below are some Spanish phrases you can use during your stay:

  • Hello = Hola
  • Goodbye = Adios
  • Good morning = Buenos días
  • Good evening = Buenas noches
  • Please = Por favor
  • Thank you = Gracias
  • Yes = Si
  • No = No
  • Ruta = Route

Currency

US Dollar. In addition, many restaurants and attractions accept credit/debit cards and cash.

Power Plug and Socket

Same as the mainland US.

Fun Facts About Puerto Rico

The legal age to consume alcohol is 18 years old, and the Piña Colada is the national drink.

Best Time to Visit Santurce, Puerto Rico

Due to its location in the Caribbean, Santurce is one of the places you can visit all year round. Below we provide you with the best times of the year ideal for a visit.

December to March

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December to March are the winter months in Puerto Rico. It is also one of the busiest seasons on the island for tourists. Christmas festivities are celebrated well into mid-January.

Between February and March, it is the perfect time to visit as the Casals Festival is in full swing. It is a classical music event that pays tribute to Pablo Casals, a famous cellist, conductor, and composer with performances at the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center in Santurce.

April to June

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April to June brings mid-to-high 80-degree weather and lower chances of rain.

June is also when Puerto Ricans celebrate “Noche de San Juan” before the feast day of St. John the Baptist. The celebration happens each year before the summer solstice. Tradition dictates that at the stroke of midnight, you must take three backward plunges into the ocean to get rid of all negativity in your life. You can join the locals and head to the nearest beach to join the tradition.

July to September

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July to September are some of the hottest months in Puerto Rico, and temperatures reach the high 80s and 90s. It is also the off-season, so tourist crowds are fewer.

September is also the peak hurricane season in Puerto Rico, but the island doesn’t suffer direct contact with hurricanes every year. Higher chances of rain are common.

October to mid-December

October to mid-December brings fresh weather to Puerto Rico, but ocean tides get stronger. It brings higher chances of bad weather with fewer tourist crowds. In November, you can join the festivities at the Puerto Rico Cocktail Week.

How to Get to Santurce, Puerto Rico

The Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU) in San Juan serves Puerto Rico. It takes about 10 minutes to get from the airport to Santurce. Santurce has unique stays, including guest houses and apartments for quick access to the best things to do in the area.

Getting Around Santurce

Car rentals are available at the airport. There are taxis and buses that can take you to Santurce. Taxis are located at the arrivals through Terminals B and C. The Metropolitan Bus Authority is located in Terminals A and D at the departure level.

Uber is also available in Puerto Rico, and it can pick you up at Terminals A and B on the ground floor at the airport.

The easiest way to travel around Santurce will be by foot or with a rental car. It will provide you with the flexibility you need. It is also easy to drive in the metro area. However, early mornings and after work hours bring a lot of traffic to the metro area. We recommend you avoid driving at those times (usually between 7 am to 9 am and between 4:30 pm and 6 pm).

If you’re unable to rent a car, walking is a great way to get to know the neighborhood and stumble upon things you might have missed while driving. If you need to go further, Uber is your next option and the easiest way to move around Santurce. In addition, local Uber drivers will know the best routes to avoid traffic and will be more than happy to make recommendations.

You can also use the bus system known as the AMA or the light-rail train system (Tren Urbano). We advise that you visit the Department of Transportation site for up-to-date information about the AMA routes. It services Monday through Friday between 5 am to 9 pm and on Saturdays between 5:30 am to 8 pm.

Where to Eat in Santurce

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Santurce is a foodie’s paradise with many restaurants, bars, and cuisines. It also offers some of the best traditional Puerto Rican foods visitors must try. Below are a few places to try:

  • Lote 23 is situated in Santurce’s center and offers kiosks and food trucks with a variety of delectable food options. El Jangiri features poke bowls, Budare arepas, Berger burgers, and Hen House fried chicken. Lolo’s and El Cuchifrito serve comfort food, while El Cuchifrito serves local Puerto Rican Mofongo.
  • Abracadabra Cafe is a great place for breakfast or brunch with mimosas.
  • La Casita Blanca is a fantastic restaurant with a wide variety of seafood and local dishes.
  • Vianda serves seasonal dishes with local ingredients.
  • Calle Loíza (Loíza Street) is a trendy area with popular restaurants, bars, and boutiques. If your taste buds demand Italian food, Bocca Osteria Romana has some great pasta and divine calamari. We also recommend Acapulco for some authentic Mexican food. For desserts, try the different ice cream flavors at Funkyberry Ice Cream or the Ice Cream and Limbers place. It’s hard to describe Limbers, but these are must-try in Puerto Rico. Limbers have the same texture as popsicles. It is frozen tropical juice in plastic cups without a popsicle stick. As such, you would need to pop out the Limber from the cup by squeezing it and lapping up the juice. Some flavors include coconut, Piña Colada, tamarind, and guava – typical fruits on the island. You can also go bar hopping in Loíza street, and make sure you try the local beer – Medalla.
  • La Placita de Santurce brings you the perfect combination of culinary and nightlife in all of the Santurce area. La Placita translates to a small square, and it is a club zone at Baldorioty Street. It is the place to party and hang out on Friday and Saturday nights with the locals. There’s music, dancing, food, bars, and a great time.
  • Puttanesca Italian Restaurant has some affordable Italian dishes, burgers, and specialty pizzas.
  • Santaella for some fine-dining Spanish tapas and desserts. Perfect for date night.
  • Cafe Comunión is a hip bakery and coffee location ideal for a break from exploring Santurce and chatting with the locals.

The 7 Best Things to Do in Santurce, Puerto Rico

Take a Stroll Along Cerra Street to see Art Murals

Photo Credit: anurag_kasbe via Instagram

Calle Cerra in Santurce housed some of the most important salsa music record labels back in the day. In recent years, local entrepreneurs worked together as a community to revitalize Calle Cerra and turn abandoned buildings into artistic hubs.

The street is lined up with graffiti and art murals created by local artists, including Alexis Bousquet, Bob Snow, Celso, Vero Rivera, and La Pandilla. The “Santurce es Ley” festival takes place on this street in Santurce (usually in December). It is when local artists can create their artworks, so you may encounter some unfinished works that still add character to the area.

Enjoy a Cultural Event at the Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré

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Opened in 1981, the Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré is a cultural and performing center where visitors and locals enjoy international theater productions and symphony concerts. In 2019, it hosted the Broadway hit “Hamilton” for three weeks, and every year it hosts the Casals Festival.

You can check out the events calendar if you wish to attend a concert or cultural event during your visit. Another option is to check out the art display at the Plaza Juan Morel Campos in front of the Centro’s entrance.

It houses nine bronze sculptures by artist Annex Burgos depicting the Greek “Muses” but with a Puerto Rican woman’s feminine shape. Each one represents a manifestation of art, including dancing, singing, literature, design, music, and theater. There are other sculptures and murals in the area you can enjoy.

Appreciate the Art and the Contemporary Museums

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The Art Museum is housed in a historic building that served as a surgery hospital compound until 1966. Nowadays, the Art Museum has a permanent collection of different local and international artists within its 24 galleries. Visitors will have access to the museum and gardens. It’s open Thursday through Sunday between 11 am and 5 pm.

The Contemporary Art Museum is located in another historical school building and houses two floors of galleries with contemporary artworks. It’s a great museum to enjoy a mix of multimedia and art from the Caribbean and Latin America. The museum opens Wednesday through Sunday between 11 am and 5 pm.

Dance to Some Live Music with the Locals

There are a few places where visitors and locals can enjoy live music and dancing. We recommend you visit La Placita marketplace as it turns into a dancing party late into the night.

Another location with an amazing music scene is the Esquina Watusi. It’s a run-down spot, but don’t let it deceive you. Locals love to hang out on Thursdays and Fridays for some drinks and music in this little corner.

If you feel like dressing up for a night out in Santurce, some resorts in Condado have nightclubs perfect for dancing.

Check out the Casino Metro and Convention Center in Isla Grande

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Isla Grande is one of the sub-neighborhoods in Santurce. It houses the Casino Metro with 21 game tables for BlackJack, Mini Baccarat, Roulette, and 530 slots to try your beginner’s luck. The casino also hosts local artists for concerts and comedy shows, and on Fridays, it is Ladies’ Night.

The Casino Metro is also near the Puerto Rico Convention Center where they do expo shows, including tattoo conventions, coffee and chocolate expo, and auto expos. Make sure you check out their calendar of events during your visit in case there’s one you wouldn’t want to miss.

Go on a Water Adventure at Ocean Park and the Condado Lagoon

Photo Credit: Christian Ouellet

There is no visit to Santurce (or Puerto Rico in general) without relaxing and taking a dip in the ocean. Ocean Park and Condado are two other sub-neighborhoods in Santurce where ocean life blooms. The coastline from Ocean Park reaches Condado, so you can pick a location to relax in the sand, take a dip in the ocean, or try your hand at windsurfing.

The Condado Lagoon is a natural area perfect for paddleboarding and kayaking. There are various guided tours during the day and night to go kayaking. The night tours start at sunset hours, and visitors are equipped with LED lights or glow-in-the-dark body paint to shine brightly as the sun goes down.

Go Shopping down Ashford Avenue in Condado

Photo Credit: Gemma Fletcher

Ashford Avenue in Condado offers a series of boutiques and restaurants to explore. Many boutiques have independent designers with stylish and modern designs and accessories. You can check out Hecho a Mano, Santurce Pop, Mia Boutique, and Charmé.

If you wish to leave with a Puerto Rican souvenir, check out Puerto Rico Treasures. It is filled with affordable souvenirs, gifts, and arts and crafts to help you remember your trip.

Day Trips from Santurce

For some added fun to your vacation to Santurce, be sure to get out of the city and see what more Puerto Rico has to offer.

These are a few of our favorite day trips:

  • Go hiking in El Yunque National Forest.
  • Visit Old San Juan to see El Morro and the San Cristobal fort.
  • Take a distillery tour at Casa Bacardí.
  • Paddle at the bioluminescent lagoon in Fajardo. As you paddle, the water glows bright green.

You’re Ready for a Great Vacation to Santurce

With so much to see and do in Puerto Rico’s capital city, San Juan, a stay in the buzzing neighborhood of Santurce will put you right in the heart of it all. From there, you’ll be able to enjoy the best of San Juan while getting up close and personal to the trendiest neighborhood of them all.

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