Souvenir Shopping, San Juan (Self Guided)

It would be a pity to leave San Juan without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to San Juan, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
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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: 13
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
Author: Daniel
Cuatro Sombras

1) Cuatro Sombras

What to buy here: Puerto Rican Coffee.

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.

Monday – Sunday: 8 am - 6 pm
Haitian Gallery

2) Haitian Gallery

The Haitian Gallery is the perfect place to find fine souvenirs, excellent gifts and original collectibles. This pleasant two-story shop offers hundreds of items, including handmade chess sets, beautiful ceramic dolls, decorated photo albums, wooden chests and paintings.

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday: 10 am - 6 pm
Hecho a Mano

3) Hecho a Mano

If you are looking for island goods and ethnic clothing, this popular clothing shop is the perfect place. Hecho a Mano sells straw and leather sandals, batik print dresses, hand-woven bags, handmade jewelry, original wooden masks and much more.

4) Concalma

What to buy here: Concalma Handbags.

Climbing up and down some of the hills of Old San Juan can really tire you out, especially if you’re carrying a heavy bag or backpack. A local bag designer has made a splash with her lightweight and fashionable cotton bags that can be worn cross body, over the shoulder or even around your waste but have room for all of the essentials. These bags are also convenient if you’re riding a bike because of their lightness. The store’s owner and designer sacrifices nothing in style while insisting upon the bags practicality. The exterior is made out of cotton but lined with nylon. The different fabrics all come from Puerto Rican suppliers and there are always 15 different designs in the store on any given day. You can choose from totes, clutches or messenger style bags all in a variety of color combinations. The bags are utilitarian yet trendy and are all manufactured in a co-op in Puerto Rico’s beautiful mountain town of Utuado and are only sold in San Juan. Price: $40-$75

Operation hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm; Sunday: 10 am - 4 pm
Puerto Rican Art & Crafts

5) Puerto Rican Art & Crafts

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.

What to buy here: Puerto Rican Ceramics.

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. 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.

Operation hours: Monday - Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm; Sunday: 12 pm - 5 pm
The Butterfly People

6) The Butterfly People

The Butterfly People Gallery, dedicated to magnificent butterfly artwork, is 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.

What to buy here: Butterfly Art.

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.

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday: 11 am - 6 pm
Mi Pequeno San Juan

7) Mi Pequeno San Juan

What to buy here: Guiro.

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.

Daily 10am-6pm
La Calle Shopping Mall

8) La Calle Shopping Mall

What to buy here: Puerto Rican Hammocks.

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.

Operation hours: Monday - Saturday: 9 am - 9 pm; Sunday: 10 am - 7 pm

9) Olé

This wonderful shop sells a wide assortment of local and Latin American items, including beautiful hand-beaten Chilean silver, original Peruvian Christmas ornaments, lovely Puerto Rican santos and many other interesting things.

Operation hours: Monday - Saturday: 10:30 am - 6:30 pm; Sunday: 10 am - 6 pm

10) Boveda

Bóveda is a pleasant boutique that offers a wide assortment of beautiful jewelry, excellent artwork and fine quality clothing.

What to buy here: Puerto Rican Jewelry.

When a cruise ship docks in Old San Juan, many passengers head straight for the one of the many jewelry stores that line the streets of Old San Juan, selling primarily silver and gold. But if you look a little further, you can find uniquely designed earrings, bracelets and necklaces, which make use of the island’s local materials like seeds, sea glass and coconuts. These creative pieces are both earthy and chic and some give the impression that similar styles might have been worn by the indigenous Taino Indians that once inhabited the island. Boveda, located on the long and shop lined Calle Cristo offers jewelry from a host of international designers, but the locally designed pieces have distinct colors and style. Just up the street from Boveda is one of San Juan’s most beautiful home goods shops. The store certainly offers local and some internationally designed home wares, but there, you can also find a very special kind of jewelry not often seen anymore. Your grandmother might remember the lost art of jewelry making called tadding, if not, Sema, the store’s owner will tell you all about it. She designs and makes all of her own jewelry and taddings, which is a lacing technique that was practiced years ago. On display, you will find Sema’s delicate.

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday: 10 am - 6 pm
El Galpon

11) El Galpon

What to buy here: Wood Carvings of Saints.

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

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday: 11 am - 5 pm
Spicy Caribbee

12) Spicy Caribbee

What to buy here: Caribbean Spices.

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.

Operation hours: Monday – Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm; Sunday: 11 am - 5 pm
Don Collins Cigars

13) Don Collins Cigars

What to buy here: Puerto Rican 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.

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday: 9 am - 8 pm

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 Art Museums And Galleries Walking Tour

San Juan Art Museums And Galleries Walking Tour

San Juan is a great place to learn more about American, Caribbean, Latin American and Puerto Rican art. It has a vast range of interesting museums and excellent galleries, featuring fine works by talented international and local artists. Check out San Juan’s most popular and outstanding art museums and galleries in this walking tour!

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 km
East San Juan Walking Tour

East San Juan Walking Tour

East San Juan contains many great attractions, including San Gerónimo Fort, Parque Luis Muñoz Rivera, beautiful statues and the best art galleries and museums. Take the following tour to discover the most interesting places in San Juan's east end!

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.8 km
San Juan Historic Buildings Self-Guided Tour

San Juan Historic Buildings Self-Guided Tour

San Juan proudly features the country’s oldest quarters and historic buildings. In addition to containing the oldest occupied residence in the Western Hemisphere, visitors can also admire the old City Hall, the Cristo Chapel, Convento de los Dominicos, historic El Arsenal and many other fascinating attractions. Take the following tour to see the most popular and famous historic buildings in San...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 km
Old San Juan Orientation Walk

Old San Juan Orientation Walk

San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, is a lovely historic city with a wealth of colorful Spanish colonial architecture. The most notable landmarks include 16th-century El Morro and La Fortaleza fortresses, rising above the ocean, and the Paseo de la Princesa bayside promenade. To explore San Juan's most prominent sights, follow this orientation walk.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 km
Old San Juan Squares Self-Guided Tour

Old San Juan Squares Self-Guided Tour

Old San Juan is packed with historical places, among which are the city’s old squares. Many of them house beautiful fountains, prominent monuments and wonderful sculptures which depict the rich history of this amazing city. Check out San Juan’s most popular historical squares in the next self-guided tour!

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
East Old San Juan Walking Tour

East Old San Juan Walking Tour

East Old San Juan is a popular tourist area that is home to several interesting historical sites, including Castillo de San Cristóbal, El Capitolio, Casa De España and Monumento de la Recordación Take the following tour to discover the fascinating attractions located in Old San Juan’s east end!

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

15 Distinctively Puerto Rican Goods to Bring Home from San Juan

15 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...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in San Juan for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best San Juan has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as San Juan, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.