San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Cruising to San Juan, Puerto Rico

Welcome to the New World

While it may have been overtaken in terms of size and significance by the likes of New York, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City, San Juan was once the most important settlement in the Americas, and was one of the first New World cities to be founded by European colonialists. Today, the Puerto Rican capital is a living history book, telling the story of the various cultures and civilisations that have clashed and fused throughout the American continent over the past 500 years.

Although technically falling under the jurisdiction of the US, the self-governing commonwealth of Puerto Rico has a distinctly Latino vibe, making this the perfect destination for visitors who want to experience a little of North and South America in one place. The city's modern skyline is dotted with ancient Hispanic forts, colourful markets and raucous salsa bars, and as you navigate through the streets of San Juan you'll feel as though you're continually teleporting between New York and Bogota.

The best place to start your exploration of this multi-faceted city is at the beginning, with the El Morro fort being the oldest Spanish fort in the Americas. Originally built way back in 1539 to protect the city from invaders, pirates and other enemies, today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most fascinating buildings in the New World.

From here, fast-forward several centuries as you make your way to the upmarket Condado neighbourhood, which is home to an array of swanky bars, restaurants and hotels, while also acting as the city's main beach resort. Grab a cocktail and chill out on the sand, or take a dip in the turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea if you'd prefer.

The history of the Americas is also written into the cuisine of Puerto Rico, which draws on a combination of North American, Latino, African and Native American influences. Ingredients like fried plantain with beans and rice, with an array of different meats common here, whilst drinks like horchata and pina colada always go down well beneath the blazing Caribbean sunshine.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

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