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Cultural Treasures

Puerto Rico’s capital of San Juan is one of the most historic and culturally significant cities in the Caribbean. In fact, colonized in 1521 by the Spanish, it’s one of the oldest cities established by Europeans in the Americas. From cobblestone streets to fantastic ruins, you see remnants of its history all over the neighborhood surrounding The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan, which also sits next to one of the city’s dreamiest plots of beach.

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Day

1

Morning
  • Wander the Old City.

    Grab an expertly made latte at The Walk along the Georgetown waterfront, part of the Georgetown Historic District that hugs the natural curve of the Potomac River and provides a clear view of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Ritz-Carlton, San Juan’s Mares and explore vibrant Old San Juan. This historic, colonial section of the capital is the oldest in the country. Start your walk on Paseo de la Princesa, which has beautiful views of the coast.

  • Explore a Gracefully Designed Cathedral.

    One of the oldest churches in the Americas, the medieval Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of Saint John the Baptist was originally built in 1521 and contains a bounty of relics, including the tomb of Juan Ponce de Leon.

MIDDAY
  • Stroll Through Luis Muñoz Rivera Park.

    It’s a bit different than your average green sprawl. There are old historic military structures, charming gazebos, an arboretum, and art installations peppered through this 27-acre U.S. National Park on the eastern end of the city.  

  • Enjoy Fish Tacos Feet Away from a Fish Market.

    There’s a simple reason why Que Pezcao has such remarkably fresh fish. Pedro Soto, the owner, runs a fish market right next door. Go straight for the golden, beer-battered tacos and add generous douses of the house-made hot sauce.

AFTERNOON
  • Unwind with a Personally Tailored Wellness Treatment.

    From nerve-melting craniosacral work to deep, intentional Swedish-style glides, the intuitive therapists at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, San Juan can access your individual needs and create a treatment that’s just right for you.  

EVENING
  • Imbibe in Style.

    Complete with tropical plants and an airy, outdoor bar, Jungle Bird is a callback to the tiki-style bars that flooded the Caribbean in the 1950s. You can’t go wrong with a dark rum piña colada in San Juan, the cocktail’s birthplace.

Day

2

MORNING
  • The Best Part of Waking Up.

    Locals are very serious about coffee, and the family that runs Café Cuatro Sombras grows and hand selects their own beans on a cool-climate mountain. It’s so smooth you don’t even need to add sugar.  

  • Admire a Centuries-Old Wall.

    El Morro Fort includes a 42-feet-tall wall of sandstone that protected the city from Dutch, American and English explorers as well as pirates. Slaves began building it in 1630, and today what’s left of the structure has an eerie, imposing feel.  

MIDDAY
  • Explore One of the World’s Most Gorgeous Cemeteries.

    The elegant Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery is perched on a hill above the ocean with views of El Morro wall. Many prominent Puerto Ricans, including abolitionist José Julián Acosta and poet José de Diego, are buried there under elaborate marble headstones.  

  • Experience a New Take on Puerto Rican Cuisine.

    With wooden deck bars and bundles of fruit hanging from the wall, La Jaquita Baya could be a charming spot in the countryside, but the menu serves Puerto Rican classics with a modern touch. Don’t miss the pork belly with plantains and sugarcane-sweetened sangria.  

AFTERNOON
  • Wander a Treasure Trove of Local Art.

    The modern Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico offers 130,000 square feet of works by Puerto Rican artists from 1600 to today, including the energetic paintings of Olga Albizu, a pioneer of the island’s abstract expressionist movement. Before leaving, visit the koi pond, which features three waterfalls and is home to native birds.  

EVENING
  • Test Your Luck at the Craps Tables.

    San Juan has a variety of casinos, none more sophisticated than the one at The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan. With a mix of classic games, including baccarat, black jack and luxury bingo, the casino hosts nightly live music and keeps its doors open until 4 a.m.

Day

3

MORNING
  • Recharge with a Tropical Shake.

    Smoothie options abound in San Juan and none are more satisfying than the batida fruit shakes at Cafeteria Rodríguez, which has been running for 15 years strong. Try the papaya-banana combo — it’s spiked with local vanilla and honey.

  • Explore a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Built in the late 1700s, the 27-acre Fort San Cristóbal protected the city of San Juan from land attacks. Explore the tunnels, dungeons and courtyards of the centuries-old complex on one of the hourly English-speaking tours.  

MIDDAY
  • Enjoy Lunch with an Ocean Breeze.

    The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan’s Ocean Bar and Grill serves island-inspired fare, including jerk chicken with yucca, catch-of-the-day ceviches and Caribbean-style paella. All seating is alfresco and within earshot of crashing waves.  

AFTERNOON
  • Reflect in a Serene, White-Walled Sanctuary.

    The San José Church is a beautifully simple representation of 16th century Spanish Gothic architecture. Every detail of the carefully preserved structure from the entrance to vaulted ceilings is washed white.  

  • Take Home a Handmade Souvenir.

    Along with luxury boutiques like Coach and Ralph Lauren, Old San Juan has plenty of shopping for handmade souvenirs. Walk down Fortaleza and Cristo streets, stopping for carved masks, wooden sculptures and guayaberas, a traditional men’s shirt woven of lightweight, warm-weather-friendly linen.  

EVENING
  • Dine in a Chic Tropical Garden.

    Decorated with lush palms and green curtains, the grounds of Santaella feel like a lush paradise. The talented chef, who trained under legends like Eric Ripert and Ferran Adrià, delights guest with sophisticated takes on comfort foods like quesadillas filled with goat cheese and truffle oil and fragrant basil ice cream.