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Is San Juan Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

Is San Juan Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

Historic San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico and a significant tourist destination. In this city, you can explore hundreds of years of history, experience magnificent restaurants, enjoy loads of shopping, and immerse yourself in culture.

The area’s natural wonders are unparalleled, and you won’t find more beautiful beaches in the world than Puerto Rico has to offer. Miles of white sand and crisp blue waters are enticing, calling many adventurers to dive under the waves or go surfing.

With all of these things in mind, it’s no wonder you’re considering a vacation in Puerto Rico. However, panoramic images will only tell you part of the story. Like every cautious and well-prepared traveler, you’re probably asking, is San Juan safe?

To provide you with a definitive answer on San Juan’s safety, we’ve compiled all the need-to-know information and tips to make this vacation the best and safest one yet.

Is San Juan Safe to Visit?

Overall, San Juan is a safe place for tourists to explore. Petty crimes are most prevalent, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching. Occasional violent crimes and harassment of women can also occur.

Notably, San Juan has a lower crime rate than other cities of comparable size. On the other hand, San Juan can sometimes be a risky place to travel due to hurricanes and earthquakes. Various travel authorities advise checking whether or not you’re visiting during hurricane season.

Crime in San Juan

Thief stealing the wallet of a girl at a train station for a piece titled Is San Juan Safe


Puerto Rico, in general, is much safer than some other places, with a crime rate of 39.5 lower than the national median. However, crime in San Juan is higher than in other cities on the island. Still, it’s a reasonably safe place to visit.

Tourists are primarily at risk of crimes of opportunity. This issue can be seen by the highest reported crime being larceny, followed by burglary in Puerto Rico. These crimes occur when tourists wander off the beaten track and put themselves in potentially dangerous situations.

In the case of San Juan, a neighborhood like La Perla would not be exceptionally safe to visit. Typical advice encourages tourists to avoid La Perla because of its history with violence and drugs.

While attempts are underway to reduce crime in the neighborhood and revitalize it with restaurants and shops, you should only visit during the day and stick to public areas. And always practice situational awareness.


San Juan is a large, populous city with a ton of cultural history and breathtaking beauty. These facts make it a top tourist attraction. And where there are tourists, new to their surroundings, other people look to take advantage.

Larceny, more than anything else, is problematic in San Juan. In Puerto Rico, this activity accounts for 54% of crime. The capital city has an increased crime rate overall, so incidents such as robbery occur at about 74%.

For the most part, these are crimes of opportunity. Purse snatching, stealing wallets, grabbing valuables, and other forms of robbery when you aren’t paying attention. Tourists should practice situational awareness in new areas and stay vigilant of the people hanging around them.

It helps to stay in areas that cater to tourists, and Old San Juan is an excellent location for visitors. There’s a healthy police presence in this area, and it’s pretty populated. Similar neighborhoods include Condado, Hato Rey, Miramar, and Ocean Park.

Avoid flashing your money, phone, or any other expensive and valuable items that you may own. It’s in your best interests to dress down, especially if you plan on visiting some of the more adventurous areas of San Juan.


The next most common crime is burglary; the rate is approximately 19% across Puerto Rico. While San Juan is reported to have higher crime rates than other areas of the Commonwealth, it falls below average for the rest of the United States in terms of property damage.

Its rating puts it as safer than Pittsburgh, Portland, and Sacramento, which all have similar population numbers. You can avoid burglary in San Juan by staying in safer neighborhoods such as the well-known Old San Juan or Condado areas.

If a booking deal is too good to be true, it may be. Avoid booking lodgings in neighborhoods that are generally lower to the middle class and may have higher crime rates, such as Puerta de Tierra and La Perla.

How to Avoid Bad Areas

Electrical lines in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria to help answer Is San Juan Safe


The more commonly trafficked areas by tourists are safe for visitors to San Juan, but there are a few neighborhoods that you should treat with healthy caution.

The best way is to stick to areas frequently traveled by other tourists and with a robust police presence. It’s also much safer to visit locations during daylight hours than at night.

Puerta de Tierra

Puerta de Tierra has some hotels and a nice beach area, but it can be rough, and tourists should practice situational awareness while there. If you book a hotel there or travel through the area, there are some things to keep in mind.

Cars and taxis are a reliable way to get around the area. But public transportation by bus is also popular. If staying in Puerta de Tierra, you’ll see signs for the bus stops marked near the hotels with the word “Parada” on those signs.

When you’re using buses, avoid the ME line. This bus line is considered an express and will take you right by all of the hotels and local shops. You’ll also want to avoid lines A5 and B8. These go through the south side of Puerta de Tierra and can expose you to some bad areas. If you get on the wrong bus, try speaking with the bus driver. They will likely get you back on the right track.

While there are some interesting places in Puerta de Tierra, the area has run-down locations and could be better for foot travel. However, you can take a long walk down the beach and use it as a route to Old San Juan. It’s populated during the day and considered to be safe enough.

Transportation will often travel down Ave. Fernandez Juncos is a major road that crosses through the southern side of Puerta de Tierra to access Condado. It’s OK to take this road if you are on a bus, or in a car or taxi. But you should not explore on foot. The area isn’t well taken care of and is a location for drug trafficking.

It likely goes without saying, but you shouldn’t travel to these areas to purchase recreational drugs.

La Perla

La Perla has experienced an urban renaissance over the last ten years, with local communities putting a lot of time and effort into revitalizing tourism in the area. You can witness these endeavors in the new shops and restaurants that have sprung up.

Despite these efforts, locals and others familiar with the area recommend sticking to the neighborhood during the day. It’s suggested that you shouldn’t take out your phone or take pictures while you’re there, as locals might construe this negatively. They may view it as a stranger being nosy or potentially collecting evidence for the police.

Malecón is a cement boardwalk that runs along the beach; you can walk during the day to see various sights in the neighborhood, such as El Bowl and Castillo San Cristóbal. Otherwise, you should avoid wandering off into neighborhoods or alleys and be respectful of the people there.

Treat the residents of La Perla as you would like to be treated if they came to visit you in your own home.


Like so many other San Juan areas, Piñones is best suited to visiting during the day. At night it doesn’t have quite the foot traffic that Old San Juan has, so it’s more likely that you might be the victim of a robbery or other crime.

If you’re planning to visit somewhere like a club or restaurant, arrive there in a car or taxi, enjoy your time and then leave the same way. Avoid walking back in the dark.

Other Areas

El Parque de las Palomas is a popular location to visit during the day, but it should be skipped at night when possible. The big draw is feeding the pigeons, anyway! And they’re sleeping at night.

Tourists should also avoid a well-known housing complex, Louis Lloren Torres. This area is known in San Juan for being a hotbed of criminal activity, including murder, drug trafficking, gang activity, and other violent crimes. There is no reason for a tourist to stay in this area, so keep away.

Things To Consider

San Juan is a generally safe area, but there are still some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Tourist areas like Old San Juan and Condado are safe.
  • Stay out of residential areas at night, and don’t wander.
  • Keep your belongings on you.
  • Practice situational awareness and caution with strangers.
  • Double-check weather conditions for your trip.
  • Check advisory warnings for crime, weather, and health concerns.
  • Covid is still an issue, so take the necessary health precautions.

FAQs About Safety in San Juan

For a piece on Is San Juan Safe, a summer street pictured at night in old town

Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock

To learn more about safety in San Juan, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic:

Is San Juan dangerous for tourists?

For the most part, San Juan is a safe city for tourists. Old San Juan and Condado are good areas to visit; there’s a healthy police presence, and the nightlife is exciting. Remember to stay aware of your surroundings, as you would in any unknown place. Travel with friends and enjoy your time in this historical city.

What parts of San Juan should be avoided?

While much of San Juan is safe for tourists, there are a few places that visitors should avoid. Puerta de Tierra, La Perla, Piñones, and El Parque de las Palomas are all areas in the city that you may want to avoid or visit only during daylight hours.

The housing complex, Louis Lloren Torres, should be avoided entirely. This residential area is known for various violent crimes and gang activity and is not a tourist destination. If you were considering visiting this area to purchase recreational drugs, you shouldn’t do so.

In addition, stay clear of alleys or residential areas at night. Exercise common sense, and stick to where other people are.

Can I drink the water in San Juan, Puerto Rico?

Yes, you can drink the water in San Juan. The water is potable and follows all guidelines by the Environmental Protection Agency for safe drinking water.

Is it safe to walk around San Juan at night?

In areas like Old San Juan and Condado, where there is a fuller police presence and more tourists, it’s reasonably safe. You would still want to practice the kind of caution you would exhibit in any crowded area, but you’re unlikely to come to harm while on vacation and simply walking to a restaurant from our hotel.

However, there are neighborhoods and less populated areas where you should not attempt walking alone at night. Try to stay away from residential areas, and do not attempt to seek out recreational drugs while you’re in San Juan. These actions can lead you into dangerous situations.

Is San Juan safe for solo travelers?

While you can travel to San Juan alone, you should do so with another person. It will always be safer to travel with a partner than by yourself. This advice isn’t necessarily specific to San Juan but is a common-sense recommendation for traveling anywhere.

It is generally recommended that women, in particular, avoid traveling alone in San Juan. This concern is due to the increased rates of crime against women. However, these incidents occur primarily in domestic partnerships.

So, Is San Juan Safe to Visit?

Safe travels! San Juan is a large city, and certain risks are always inherent in more populated tourist destinations. However, San Juan, and Puerto Rico at large, are safe for tourists. You just need to exercise common sense with the places you visit, check advisories, and stay alert.