San Juan is a decent place to pick up general souvenirs, but it also attracts serious collectors looking for contemporary Puerto Rican art. The best streets for browsing in Old San Juan are Calle del Cristo and Calle de La Fortaleza, while for a more conventional experience, Plaza Las Américas (wwww.plazalasamericas.com), on the western edge of Hato Rey, is the largest mall in the Caribbean, with JC Penney, Macy’s and Sears department stores, as well as all the other major US chains.
Antiques, arts and crafts
The narrow streets of Old San Juan offer the best opportunities for browsing for crafts and antiques. You’ll find everything from high-quality gifts, prints and carvings, particularly santos, to colourful vejigante masks and the usual line-up of tacky T-shirts and souvenirs. Unless stated otherwise, shops tend to open daily from 10am to 6pm.
In recent years San Juan’s contemporary art scene has really taken off, with a strong base of talented local artists and growing international interest. Many of the cutting-edge galleries are in Santurce, but there are plenty of showrooms in Old San Juan. For any galleries in the former, it’s important to call in advance, as opening times tend to be irregular.
Young Puerto Rican designers are making quite a name for themselves and San Juan is the best place to get a taster of the latest trends. For more information check out wwww.sanjuanfashion.com, or attend San Juan Fashion Week, which usually runs twice a year, in March and September.