Looking for things to do in San Juan on Christmas day? This 2024 guide will help you plan your trip!
Puerto Rico is known for one of the longest Christmas celebrations in the world!
Experience festivities firsthand when you visit during the Christmas season.
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Things to do on Christmas Day in San Juan
There are lots of fun activities to do in San Juan on Christmas Day. While some popular attractions will be closed, there is still plenty to choose from!
From a day on the beach to admiring Christmas lights, there are many options for a relaxing Christmas day.
1. Take a Christmas Lights walk
San Juan takes Christmas seriously! Experience this firsthand from the several light displays around Old San Juan and surrounding neighborhoods.
Plaza de Armas and Plaza de Colón have amazing Christmas light displays!
2. La Fortaleza
La Fortaleza, one of the most famous streets in Old San Juan, is decorated for the Christmas season as well.
La Fortaleza changes decorations every 3 months or so. Visitors flock here to see the colorful displays.
During Christmas 2023, glowing lanterns covered the entire top of the street. It was absolutely beautiful!
3. Stroll Paseo de La Princesa
San Juan’s waterfront promenade is a lovely place for a waterfront walk.
Shops and vendors along the promenade may be closed, but taking a walk along the water is beautiful any time of day!
4. Museo de las Américas
The bottom floor of Museo de las Américas is open on Christmas Day in San Juan. Stroll the beautiful plaza and admire the towering, coral architecture.
The official entrance onto other floors of the museum is closed on Christmas Day.
5. Beach Day
You can expect most beaches to be open on Christmas day. Take this opportunity to slow down your vacation and bring a picnic to the beach.
Do not expect local vendors to be selling on the beach. They deserve a break from work on Christmas day too!
Some of the closest beaches to Old San Juan are in Condado or Ocean Park.
6. Free Walking Tour
I took a free walking tour on Christmas day in 2023.
I wasn’t sure this would be an option, and our tour guide wasn’t sure it would be an option either! She chose to work on Christmas day so she could take off work during the Three Kings Holiday instead.
I enjoyed taking my free walking tour when the city was a bit quieter. Book a free walking tour here.
7. Self-Guided Walking Tour
If a free walking tour is not available during your Christmas visit, take a self-guided walking tour!
Make a list of the top architecture you want to see in Old San Juan and enjoy it at a relaxed pace in the morning when crowds won’t be around quite yet.
Some of the best exploring is just wandering the beautiful colored streets.
Tip: Stop at the Flag Wall and Capilla del Santo Cristo de la Salud.
8. Explore Outside of the Forts
The entrance to Fort El Morro and Castle San Cristóbal in Old San Juan is closed on Christmas Day. Both forts are protected through the National Park Service and follow the closure guidelines.
However, the forts can be deeply explored from the outside! There is a huge grassy field outside of Fort El Morro that visitors love to relax at.
9. Hang out at the local spots
On Christmas day, I strolled passed La Placita de Santurce. This market was bustling with locals and I was the only tourist present.
A Santa continued to cruise through the market in a motorcycle setting off sirens every time he drove past. Locals took selfies and videoed it every round he made!
By evening, two more of the bars at La Placita had opened.
Again, this was just my experience bopping around to a handful of locations on Christmas in 2023.
Your experience may be different than mine, and you may find even more businesses opened or closed.
10. Run Errands
Most large-scale chain businesses are open on Christmas day, just as they are in mainland US. If you need to stock up on snacks or stock up on essentials, CVS and Walgreens are still open.
11. Drink Coffee
And speaking of large-scale chain businesses, you can expect Starbucks to be open as well.
What is closed on Christmas Day?
National Park Service organizations are always closed on Christmas day. This includes both forts in Old San Juan and El Yunque National Forest.
Make alternative arrangements to access these destinations on a different day.
Tip: You can get pretty close to the forts without paying entrance or going inside, so this will still be an option during Christmas.
Closures on Christmas day in San Juan change from year to year, as it is entirely up to local businesses. During my visit in 2023, most local businesses in Old San Juan were closed in the morning.
However, many businesses opened later in the day as cruise ships began arriving at the port. I had mixed feelings about this because locals should be allowed to spend time with their families.
However, I am also aware that some families are done celebrating after the morning and are happy to begin making money again later in the day.
Are there any downsides to visiting Old San Juan on Christmas Day?
You may consider the closures a downside if you do not plan in advance.
You can still entirely enjoy your visit with a variety of other activities. Remain flexible!
Please be respectful about the closures. We all want to fully enjoy our travels but remember that you are visiting a local area and that locals deserve to celebrate holidays and take time off.
Consider fully enjoying your travels by learning about the local Christmas customs and traditions.
For example, don’t loudly shout, “Hooray!” if a local convenience store opens its doors for business, or let out a loud groan if the third place you have tried walking into is closed.
You also chose to not work on Christmas Day- this is why you are on vacation!
Please honor locals taking this day off as well. This is one way we can do our part to contribute to sustainable tourism.
Should I visit Old San Juan on Christmas Day?
That is entirely up to you and what you are hoping to gain from the experience.
If you don’t mind a quiet day with limited restaurant and store options, then it can be a great way to experience the town at a quieter pace!
However, if you want a consistent itinerary throughout the entire day, then visiting during this time may not be the choice for you.
It is unpredictable to know which businesses may be open in Old San Juan each year.
San Juan Planning Details
Fly into San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. It is conveniently located 12 minutes by car from Old San Juan. Nonstop flights from mainland United States are common.
Weather in San Juan
Puerto Rico sees a tropical climate year-round. This means warm weather no matter the season, but especially during Christmas!
Expect a high in the low 90s Fahrenheit and a low in the high 70s Fahrenheit during the evening when you visit San Juan during Christmas.
Sporadic, light rain drizzle throughout pockets of the day is common (and refreshing).