Souvenir Shopping, San Juan

Souvenir Shopping (Self Guided), San Juan

The arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493 and the ensuing Spanish colonization brought into Puerto Rico a number of new crafts. Over the next few centuries, having mixed up with local traditions, they have flourished on the new turf, producing an array of colorful products that today are sought after by tourists visiting the island. While in San Juan, it would be a pity to leave town without exploring its specialty shops and finding something original to bring home.

One popular spot for souvenir shopping is the Puerto Rican Art and Crafts store, offering a wide variety of handmade items, including beautiful ceramics, colorful textiles, and intricate woodwork.

Mi Pequeno San Juan is another must-visit location for souvenir hunters. This boutique store specializes in locally crafted jewelry and accessories, featuring designs inspired by the beauty of San Juan and its surroundings.

If you're looking for a one-stop shopping destination, head to La Calle Shopping Mall. Here, you'll find a diverse range of stores offering everything from clothing and jewelry to Puerto Rican souvenirs and gifts.

El Galpon is an excellent choice for those interested in eco-friendly and sustainable souvenirs made from recycled materials.

For a taste of the Caribbean, visit Spicy Caribbee, where you can purchase delicious spices, hot sauces, and Caribbean-inspired cooking ingredients to recreate the island's flavors in your kitchen.

If you're interested in traditional products, Cuatro Sombras is the place to go. This charming coffee shop is known for its excellent Puerto Rican coffee.

Being Caribbean, the country also has a long history of hand-rolled cigar manufacturing, stemming from the Puerto Rico Tobacco Cooperation founded in 1503. Don Collins Cigars offers an opportunity to indulge in a classic Puerto Rican tradition. Here, you can buy high-quality cigars made from locally grown tobacco, making for a memorable and authentic souvenir.

Souvenir shopping in San Juan, Puerto Rico is an exciting experience that offers a delightful range of options for travelers seeking unique mementos of their trip. So, don't miss the chance to explore these locations and bring home a piece of Puerto Rico. Enjoy your shopping!
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Souvenir Shopping Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping
Guide Location: Puerto Rico » San Juan (See other walking tours in San Juan)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.6 Km or 0.4 Miles
Author: Daniel
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Cuatro Sombras
  • Puerto Rican Art and Crafts
  • Mi Pequeno San Juan
  • La Calle Shopping Mall
  • El Galpon
  • Spicy Caribbee
  • Don Collins Cigars
Cuatro Sombras

1) Cuatro Sombras

In San Juan, ordering up a cup of coffee or a “cafecito” is a part of just about everyone’s day. People gather at almost any hour at one of the old city’s outdoor plazas sipping a coffee engaged in lively conversation with friends. Coffee was once one of Puerto Rico’s top exports until a decline in production forced most of the smaller coffee plantations to close. Recently, there has been a resurgence of small family farms producing coffee and a handful of micro-roasteries and coffeehouses have opened, serving single-origin coffee grown in the island’s interior mountains.

One of the newest to open in San Juan’s historical old city is Cuatro Sombras – which means Four Shades (or shadows) and refers to the four different trees that provide shade to their coffee beans while they grow. The Santa Clara coffee farm had closed its doors like many others in Puerto Rico in the mid 1950’s. Fortunately, descendants of the original family decided to dedicate themselves to reviving the farm. As a result, Cuatro Sombras, certified for making specialty coffee, now offers their crisp, clean tasting coffee to local coffee lovers and visitors alike.

An 8-ounce latte costs $2.09. Price: 8 oz. bag of coffee beans $11.77 including tax.

What to buy here: Puerto Rican Coffee.
Image Courtesy of Stacey Hocheiser.
Puerto Rican Art and Crafts

2) Puerto Rican Art and Crafts

Art is everywhere in San Juan and art and crafts shops can be found throughout the narrow, winding cobblestone streets of the old city. Many of the artists have been schooled at one of the local art institutes while some are simply self-taught.

Ceramics are one specialty that you will see in many different shops and galleries but at Puerto Rico Art & Crafts artisans have a unique opportunity to show off their creations. The store allows artists to have their own shelf or wall to display their work. Located in the heart of Old San Juan, Puerto Rican Arts and Crafts will surprise you with its outstanding collection of oil and acrylic paintings, great watercolors, beautiful sculptures, fine ceramics, traditional hand-carved figures, handmade jewelry and other excellent items.

The ceramics really stand out here with larger items like colorful plates and bowls to smaller objects such as cups and vases. The shop is located in a restored Spanish colonial building in the heart of Old San Juan and artists from around the island are featured here at different times during the year. Price: $6-$900.

The Butterfly People Gallery located on the premises is dedicated to magnificent butterfly artwork and a wonderful place to shop. Visitors can admire the art collection and buy exotic butterflies encased in acrylic, which is an excellent and inventive gift for any occasion.

When you first walk into The Butterfly People shop in San Juan’s old city, you feel as if you just walked into an exotic butterfly garden. You are surrounded by Lucite encasements of butterflies of a variety of different species and in every color you can imagine. The shop has a beautiful garden in the back and the light makes everything in the store sparkle. The butterflies glow and shine through their plexiglass boxes which are small enough to fit in your bag or large enough to cover a wall. The butterflies look as though they might fly right out at you.

Of course, they won’t, they’re not alive, but they are preserved carefully in artful settings by Resat Revan and his wife Cirene, who buy butterflies from native sellers in tropical locations around the world. On top of their shop is their studio where Resat designs and produces these beautiful and vivid displays. A piece of butterfly art features anywhere from two to one hundred butterflies. Price: $30-$3,000.

What to buy here: Puerto Rican Ceramics, Butterfly Art.
Image Courtesy of Stacey Hocheiser.
Mi Pequeno San Juan

3) Mi Pequeno San Juan

Music is definitely a key part of Puerto Rican culture and the island is known for several instruments and their unique musical sounds. Today, Puerto Rico is often associated with its popular reggaeton and also salsa. But the island’s more traditional music includes Bomba, Plena and Danza, all very distinct musical styles that have evolved to some degree, but have long histories. Bomba and Plena come from West African musical traditions, and often tell a story through words and the music.

One of the instruments you will most likely find accompanying Bomba or a Plena or any Puerto Rican folk music for that matter is the Guiro. The Guiro is believed to have originated with the indigenous Taino Indians. This percussion instrument is made from a hollowed-out gourd with parallel grooves carved into its surface and makes a rasping sound when stroked up and down with a scraper.

The straighter and more consistent the grooves of the Guiro, the better the quality of the instrument. The Guiro, often played by a singer, comes in several different sizes. Price: $8-$16.

What to buy here: Guiro.
Image Courtesy of Stacey Hocheiser.
La Calle Shopping Mall

4) La Calle Shopping Mall

Hammock weaving has long been a specialty in the Puerto Rican town of San Sebastian, located in northwest corner of the island. The town even hosts a hammock festival in July. Legend has it that hammock weaving, like so many of the arts and craft making in Puerto Rico, has been handed down from the Taino Indians. Even the word “hammock” was most likely derived from the Taino word for this comfortable lounging chair, “hamaca.”

While most hammocks are designed and made in small towns across the island by individual craftspeople, you can find these authentic and durable hammocks being sold in a handful of places in the city of San Juan. The hammocks are made from cotton and cord and are sometimes dyed in bright colors. They come in a variety of sizes, like a chair for one person, or a double for two people. Some hammocks can even hold up to 450 pounds. Price: $50-$200.

What to buy here: Puerto Rican Hammocks.
Image Courtesy of Stacey Hocheiser.
El Galpon

5) El Galpon

The festival of the Three Kings is probably more celebrated in Puerto Rico than even Christmas. In almost every crafts store in San Juan, you will find shelves of wood carved saints or “santos” in all sizes and styles, most often representative of the Three Kings. Historically, these wood images of saints were used as objects for prayer.

Today, the saints represent an important part of Puerto Rican culture. When the Spanish arrived on the island in the late 1400’s, these representations of saints were used to help in efforts to convert to Catholicism the indigenous people of the island – at first the Taino Indians and later the slaves from Western Africa. Saint carvings eventually evolved to become more a part of the art culture leaving behind much of the religious attachments.

These statuettes can be simple or ornately painted and can be hung on the wall or can stand on their own. You can find these wood carvings of saints at many shops throughout San Juan but El Galpon located in a little alley right off one of the main shopping streets, has a special collection displayed along the wall and the shop’s owner will give you a history about the saints and their origins. Price: $45-$1,000.00

What to buy here: Wood Carvings of Saints.
Image Courtesy of Stacey Hocheiser.
Spicy Caribbee

6) Spicy Caribbee

Puerto Rican cooking often uses cilantro, a lime sort of flavor that can be found in a lot of different Latin American cooking. But even more popular than cilantro in Puerto Rico, is recao, a more aromatic, jagged edged long leaf kind of cilantro. Some of the other favorite flavors of the island include orange, lime, mango and a variety of peppers, depending on what’s in season.

If you want to taste some of the different seasonings of Puerto Rican cooking, stop into Spicy Caribbee, a quaint little shop located in one of Old San Juan’s precious alleyways which offers tastings of their spices, jams and sauces. All the seasonings were inspired by the owner’s travels throughout the Caribbean and her wish to create Puerto Rico’s best herb combinations. The spices come in attractive gift size jars and bottles that can easily be packed.

The owner of the shop, Nereida Williams, created the spice recipes herself and they are almost all made with local ingredients. Some of the biggest sellers are the “Herbed Sea Salt,” an all-around seasoning that is great with pork, chicken or fish, the “Steak Seasoning” made with the local recao leaf and the “Lime, Orange, Pepper” which is salt free. So if you want to bring home a little taste of Puerto Rico you can pick up a jar or two and savor the flavors of the island long after your trip. Price: $5-$10 per jar.

What to buy here: Caribbean Spices.
Image Courtesy of Stacey Hocheiser.
Don Collins Cigars

7) Don Collins Cigars

The Spanish brought them back to Spain from Puerto Rico and called them “cigarillos.” Cigar making is still considered an art form in Puerto Rico. Until the late 1950’s, Puerto Rico was among the world’s largest tobacco exporters but the industry has since declined.

There is a variety of Puerto Rican made cigars, but one of the oldest and most well-known brands from the island is Don Collins. Don Collins cigars are handmade in the oldest surviving cigar factory in the Caribbean. The factory, which dates back to 1506, is available for tours. But you don’t have to go to the factory to take in the aroma of the famed tobacco, just walk into any one of the tobacco shops in San Juan or you can head straight to the Don Collins shop.

Don Collins cigars use 13 different kinds of Puerto Rican grown tobacco produced by independent farmers on the island. A Lonsdale bundle will run you about $140.00 while a bundle of Puros Indios costs $225.00. But if you want to try a few different ones, sample packs are available ranging in price from about $40 - $70 depending on how many cigars per pack. Price: $2-$17 per cigar.

What to buy here: Puerto Rican Cigars.
Image Courtesy of Stacey Hocheiser.

Walking Tours in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Create Your Own Walk in San Juan

Create Your Own Walk in San Juan

Creating your own self-guided walk in San Juan is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
San Juan Historical Buildings

San Juan Historical Buildings

One of the oldest capital cities on the American continent, San Juan, Puerto Rico, boasts an old town that is filled to the brim with heritage colonial architecture.

Chief among its historical buildings, La Fortaleza, or The Fortress, is the official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico and the longest-standing executive mansion in continuous use in America. At the same time, the Cathedral...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Old San Juan Walking Tour

Old San Juan Walking Tour

Founded by Spanish colonists in 1509, at a site then known as "Puerto Rico" (which means Rich Port in Spanish), San Juan is the third oldest capital in the Americas established by Europeans. In 1521, the words "San Juan" were added to its official name, thus making it "San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico". This was in keeping with the custom of christening the town with...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Old San Juan Squares

Old San Juan Squares

A distinctive feature of Old San Juan is the multitude of quaint picturesque squares, many of them adorned with beautiful fountains and spectacular monuments. Each square has a unique character and historical significance, making them integral to the city's identity.

Plaza Colon, also known as Columbus Square, pays homage to Christopher Columbus and his exploration of the New World. It...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

13 Distinctively Puerto Rican Goods to Bring Home from San Juan

13 Distinctively Puerto Rican Goods to Bring Home from San Juan

The uniqueness of Puerto Rico is partially associated with its political status - part of the United States yet with a Latin twist. Other than their widely-acknowledged musical talents, e.g. Carlos Santana and Ricky Martin, Puerto Rico is just as rich in many other good things. When you're in...