Perched on the coast of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a 16th-century fort. Built by the Spanish, construction of Castillo San Felipe del Morro commenced in 1539. Its purpose was to protect the city of San Juan from attacks coming from the sea. Throughout its long history, El Morro has been used for many different purposes, including as a US military base during both world wars. Today, paired with Castillo San Cristóbal, this impressive structure makes up a US National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
El Morro is located at 501 Calle Norzagaray in San Juan. No parking is available directly at the fort but a parking garage is located within walking distance. Once you leave the garage, head northwest. You will see the fort shortly after exiting the garage making it fairly easy to get to.
What To Do
Admission to Castillo San Felipe del Morro is $5 per person and includes entrance to Castillo San Cristóbal, as well. Once inside, you can choose between a guided tour or to just explore the fort on your own. You should plan to spend at least 45 minutes at the fort; more if you’re like us with little kids that like to take their time. We spent around an hour inside the fort and another hour walking around outside.
Informational placards located throughout the fort share the story of this historic structure. After reading up on the history, head down the stairs to check out the dungeons. Keep in mind that the lower level is not accessible with strollers so if you’re coming with young kids you might want to consider wearing babies and having toddlers walk. Once you’ve had your fill pretending to be prisoners, head back up to the top for some amazing views of Old San Juan and the ocean. If you’re lucky like we were, you can catch a short military demonstration with men dressed up like colonial-era soldiers.
After exploring the inside of El Morro, take a little time to walk around the outside. There you can see an ancient cemetery set right on the coast and take in more spectacular views. The large grassy field outside the fort serves as a great place to let the kids run around and get their wiggles out. Just watch out for kites. Due to the wind, the field is a popular place for flying kites. There were several while we were there.