For a tropical feel that’s only a stone’s throw away from the United States mainland, San Juan, Puerto Rico is a must-visit. It’s a low-maintenance trip that makes a great solo trip, and for those living in the United States, you don’t have to worry about bringing your passport, being fluent in a different language, or even swapping out your cash for this destination. I recently had the opportunity to travel solo to San Juan for the first time and can confirm it’s easy to navigate and is rich in history, so much so that I learned so many new things about the island during my time there even though I’ve been to San Juan in a group plenty of times before.
Here’s what you should know about making hotel reservations and putting together your itinerary if you’re planning a solo trip to San Juan any time soon.
Where To Stay In San Juan For A Solo Trip
I was invited to stay at the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, a property that’s been around since 1958 and is a short five-minute trip from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. The hotel itself has a rich history — it’s the only place in Puerto Rico Celia Cruz ever performed, for one — and the look inside of the space speaks to its vintage allure. Upon entering, you’re greeted by a massive over-the-top chandelier, gilded decorations around the lobby, and several bars before you even step foot into your room. I stayed in a Banyan Villa Room, a block of rooms on the property that offer poolside views apart from the main hotel. Each room in this string of villas includes a daybed and a private outdoor area overlooking one of the hotel’s three pools and the Well&Being fitness center. There are plenty of room options depending on your preference, with rates starting at $299 per night, plus resort fees & taxes
The Fairmont El San Juan Hotel is located in a spot ideal for people looking for easy access to tourist attractions like Old San Juan and Castillo San Felipe del Morro but is also a great option for travelers that want a resort-like experience. The 388-room property includes the Well&Being Spa, Chico Cabaret, Foxwoods El San Juan Casino, and Club BRAVA for you to enjoy. If you want to travel outside of the hotel to explore San Juan for a drink at a bar or a night of dancing, Calle de San Sebastián, a popular nightlife street, is a quick 20-minute (and cheap — less than $20!) Uber ride away.
Where To Eat In San Juan, Puerto Rico
Food is a huge part of any vacation, and Puerto Rico offers many flavors and dishes to choose from. That’s all due to the cultural influences of Spain, Africa, and indigenous Taino natives that appear in the flavor and ingredients of traditional Puerto Rican cuisine.
For A Dive Bar Feel For Easy Mingling…
If you want to hit up some local spots, try La Taberna Lúpulo for craft beer and bar bites like a Cubano sandwich with ham, cheese, pork slow-cooked in-house, pickles, and mustard, and a boozy drink made with passion fruit Don Q rum, passion fruit juice, and a locally crafted beer — think a mimosa, but even sweeter.
For Traditional Puerto Rican Food...
Deaverdura is another must-hit San Juan spot that serves a variety of proteins with rice and beans, fried plantain tostones, and cocktails. Fair warning: Deaverdura is so popular amongst locals and tourists alike so prepare to wait in line on busy days.
For A Sweet End To Your Day...
What To Do On A Solo Vacation To San Juan
While hotels offer concierge services to help book excursions, there are some must-see sites for first-time travelers to San Juan. Old San Juan, which is home to the iconic colorful building fronts you’ve likely seen on Instagram, offers tons of restaurants, bars, and local shops for you to buy handmade souvenirs and art. You can book walking tour experiences through sites like Trip Advisor or you can schedule a food tour from The Spoon Experience around Old San Juan that will include restaurant stops and history as you explore the streets.
For other activities around the island, you can get around via car (ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft are available and hotels often offer shuttle services to some sites). Check out El Yunque National Rainforest or a ziplining tour so you can see the island from a whole new perspective. El Yunque is located in the Sierra de Luquillo mountains and features trails to waterfalls and different swimming areas. Don’t forget your walking shoes and your bug spray if you put El Yunque on your agenda, and be sure to check out Luquillo Beach right next to El Yunque, which offers clear water and local food kiosks for a quick bite. Toro Verde is another activity you can plan, which features a ziplining tour that can be as intense or as chill as you prefer — from a two-mile-long zipline to a simple ropes course.
Tips For Traveling To San Juan Solo
When planning your vacation, consider that many airports in the United States offer direct or easy-to-navigate routes into San Juan and there is no passport needed for U.S. travelers into Puerto Rico. Although Puerto Rico uses the same currency as the United States, it’s always smart to keep some cash on hand since some local businesses or street vendors might not accept credit cards. While many people on the island speak English as well as Spanish, it’s always nice to brush up on some common phrases or questions before visiting a new place just in case.
Make it a relaxing vacation by doing the legwork ahead of time as far as reserving hotel accommodations and tables at local restaurants to ensure you get the most out of your experience. That way, you can travel solo with ease and peace of mind all while supporting local businesses during your stay. Before making your way to San Juan, I always recommend searching up hashtags like #SanJuan and #PuertoRico on your favorite apps — particularly Instagram and TikTok so you can see first-person experiences on the island and actual photos of the food and attractions.