Less than 24 Hours in San Juan

We didn’t have a lot of time to spend in Puerto Rico’s capital city but we tried to enjoy as much as we could. In less than a day, we visited 3 neighborhoods, saw some sights, and sampled the local cuisine. Here are some ideas of how you can spend less than 24 hours in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Luquillo Kioskos

Kiosk at Luquillo San Juan Puerto Rico
Kiosk #20

They aren’t in San Juan, but the kiosks are close enough that you should go if you have a car. Located right off the highway and adjacent to Luquillo Beach are more than 50 restaurant kiosks with all different kinds of food. Italian, Mexican, pizza, burgers, seafood and Puerto Rican food are only some of the options here. This is the perfect place because you will always find something you want.

We parked and walked around for a bit before making our selection. Our choice was a restaurant that looked nice, had a lot of customers who seemed to be locals, and served traditional Puerto Rican dishes, including pork and mofongo, must try Puerto Rican food.

El Terruño Kiosk #20 was perfect and the food, crispy rabbit churrasco, roast pork and a mofongo was great!

Pork at the kiosks near San Juan
Pork from El Terruño

If you go to El Yunque, the kiosks are on the way back to San Juan, so don’t miss them!

Old San Juan

Beautiful Old San Juan is a world heritage district for a reason. Gorgeous churches and lovely cobblestone streets are interspersed with surprising sculpture filled squares. This is a very charming Latin America city.

We arrived in the city late afternoon, so didn’t have time to visit the forts or other tourist attractions. If we had more time, instead of less than 24 hours in San Juan, a self-guided walking tour of the forts and other sites is a must. Instead, we walked around the old streets and got a feel for the city while stopping in at interesting shops and bars.

La Factoria
La Factoria is one of the world's best bars
Brian and Traci in La Factoria

Our favorite bar of those we visited is also one of the world’s best bars. La Factoria is a very unassuming looking joint. We would have kept right on walking if I hadn’t read about it in advance. The cool thing about La Factoria is that it is not just one bar, but several bars. If the red light is on behind the first bar, walk through that door into another world. Seriously. There are three other rooms behind the first one. One is a cocktail bar, another is a music venue, and then a restaurant. We hung out in the cocktail bar and enjoyed some excellent cocktails for half the price of what we’d pay at home. On my list of world’s best bars for sure.

La Taberna Lúpulo

This was Brian’s choice and it was a good one because we got some of the best beer we’ve had in Puerto Rico. A typical hipster craft beer bar, Taberna Lúpelo would go over well in Florida, Toronto or New York. Except most of the beers were from Puerto Rico. We had a couple of beers here and kept moving.

Spicy Caribbee

I am not much of a shopper these days. Souvenirs and the like don’t fit on our boat, so when I shop it’s generally for food or boat supplies. I make an exception for hot sauce, plus it counts as food for Sava.

Spicy Caribbee is a great stop in the heart of Old San Juan, especially if you like spicy local foods. We picked up a hot sauce and a jerk seasoning and they are spicing up our boat cooking for about $7 each.

Hot sauce
Spicy Caribbee San Juan
Umbrella Sky Project, Fortaleza Street

We happened upon this whimsical colorful art installation in Old San Juan and had to stop for photos.

Umbrella Sky Project San Juan
Brian and I posing at the Umbrella Sky Project Old San Juan

Apparently The Umbrella Sky Project was installed on Fortaleza Street last summer and it attracts tourists to the street and nearby shops. It’s the latest in a series in cities around the world. I have never seen one before and we were immediately drawn to it.

We got lucky in the timing of our visit to Old San Juan. I don’t think there were any cruise ships docked when we were there, so the streets and bars weren’t crowded with other tourists. Most of the places we went had customers, a mix of tourists and locals, but nothing was too packed.


This up-and-coming neighborhood was brought to life by artists similar to Wynwood in Miami. As soon as we heard a description of Santurce, we knew we had to go. Cool street art and hipster bars? Yes please.

Lote 23

We first stopped at Lote 23, a collective of food vendors in Airstreams and kiosks.

Les than 24 hours in San Juan Lote 23
One of the vendors at Lote 23

At one of the kiosks, we ordered croquettes with a variety of fillings as we enjoyed the entertainment.

In addition to the food and drink vendors, Lote 23 was hosting a Spanish movie night. A family friendly Spanish ballet movie was on the big screen as bartenders poured Spanish wine samples in the background. Free cava for us!

Then, after the movie, a troupe of young musicians performed in traditional costume.

Band playing trad music at Lote 23

I can’t guarantee you will get so lucky, but Lote 23 is a hotspot for events and food so you should visit.

El Local
El Local a hip bar in Santurce
Some of the interior decor in El Local, Santurce

We found a dive bar in Santurce with cool graffiti, playing a Bjork concert on the big screen, and fun retro games. We felt right at home at El Local, even though we are decidedly not locals.

Gustos Coffee

The next day it was all about shopping. Traci got her flight home, and we had to provision the boat.

But first, coffee! Gustos serves amazing coffee and breakfast, and it’s not a secret: it had a long line of office workers the entire time we were there. We even got some coffee for the boat it was so good and it’s an added value that it’s brewed and roasted in Puerto Rico.

Gustos Coffee in San Juan
Inside Gustos Coffee

Less Than 24 Hours in San Juan is Not Enough

I would love to return to San Juan. Less than a day was not enough. I want to explore the forts and museums and everything else. But we didn’t do too bad for less than 24 hours in San Juan.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

9 thoughts on “Less than 24 Hours in San Juan”

  1. What a great way to spend 24 hours in San Juan Puerto Rico! I would love to try that hidden bar, as I’m always on the lookout for great cocktails when I travel.

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