When I was planning my latest trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico, I made a point to leave a few afternoons free so I could take advantage of some of the on-site hotel amenities and free rentals. My hotel was located in new San Juan, about a thirty-minute bike ride or short cab ride away from the historic district., as I was told by a hotel clerk. Given that I always eat way too much on any vacation, I convinced my fiancé that a short bike ride to the city would be a great way to keep off unwanted holiday weight. 

Navigating the busy streets weren’t that difficult, as it is pretty much a straight shot to the Old town. I was happy I decided to wear my helmet, not that I crashed, but a few drivers didn’t really care about the bike lane. While it seemed a little longer than 30 minutes, once we arrived in the historic district, the bike ride was totally worth it. 

Open windows in the colorful buildings flooded the streets with music

The glistening blue cobblestone streets, dating back to the 16th century, were small and bikers were usually given right of way through the alleys. It was easy to navigate around the entire area fairly quickly and after no time at all, you had a sense of the area.

The buildings are bright and colorful and as we stopped to take a few photos, a train of bicycles rode past us with an old school boom box music player attached to the last bike. Playing upbeat music with a female Spanish singer, we couldn’t help but groove to the music. It seemed like a scene out of a movie and in this movie, it was taking us back to Old San Juan. 

Open windows in the colorful buildings flooded the streets with more music and it was hard to be anything but happy. It was as if the streets were alive with energy and we made the most of our afternoon there. 

If you go: Take time to visit the Fort San Felipe del Morro and the Palace where Ponce de Leon’s family lived. Explore the little alleys, old churches and keep an eye out for a cat or 100 cats. These friendly felines are protected by the government and roam amongst the streets wild and free. On Sundays, residents come to the National Park’s large grassy lawn to fly kites and have picnics. If I were to go back to Old San Juan, I would make sure to pack my own picnic and kite to join in the fun. 

Tip for biking to Old San Juan: Be aware that the five-mile path from New to Old San Juan is very commercial and heavily populated by cars, buses and motorcycles. While there is a bike lane, you have to be very careful of traffic. To say it was an adventure would be an understatement.  Luckily, once you do arrive in Old San Juan, you are greeted with the lively atmosphere of the historic city.