Parada 20 – Plaza del Mercado
This is the heart and soul of Santurce!
Also known as ‘La Placita’ or the little plaza, this is the last of the traditional markets which used to be in every neighborhood before large supermarkets arrived in the 1970s.
While you can still visit the market during the day for local fruits, vegetables, flowers plus street food and fruit shakes – the placita is now better known for the dozens of restaurants, cafés and nightclubs that surround the classic building and extend for a few blocks on either side.
There are some clubs open each night, the famous ‘Street Party’ takes place on Thursday and Friday nights when the police close off the street and thousands of locals mix with tourists for one of the best parties in the Caribbean. The party starts with the young executive crowd after work and hits its peak between 9pm and midnight.
To reach the fun, look for the large blue Sagrado Corazon Church on Ave Ponce de Leon. Across the street, you’ll see Calle Dos Hermanos. Follow the street for one long block to reach the market. If walking from Condado, take Calle Canals under the highway and up the hill to Calle Roberts where you’ll see the market to your right.
Outside of the marketplace, check out the galleries along Fernandez Juncos Avenue in the Hipodromo neighborhood – built on the site of San Juan’s first horse racing track (note the horseshoe medallion on some of the original buildings). Still emerging, the area is a little rough around the edges pending the arrival of the light rail system – but you’ll find some great graffiti, interesting local restaurants and a good hostel for the budget-minded traveler.
How to get to Stop 20:
- Condado – Walk on Ashford Avenue to Calle Cervantes (near Canario Inn and Dr. Ashford House). Walk away from the beach and past the small park to Calle Wilson. Turn left and then right on Calle Primavera which goes under the highway before changing to Calle Canals. Go up the hill past a few restaurants and look for Calle Robert on the right which leads directly to the marketplace and street party. 10-15 minute walk.
You can also take the M21 Bus in the direction to Tren Urbano and get off after the Big Blue Church on Ponce de León – but service is very infrequent, especially at night.
- Isla Verde – Take the T5 bus in the direction of Old San Juan. When you see the big blue church, pull the cord and get off in front of Café Ruben. Walk one long block on Calle Dos Hermanos (opposite the church). 15-20 minutes.
- Old San Juan – Take the M3 Metrobus or the T5 and get off in front of the Big Blue Church. Walk one long block on Calle Dos Hermanos (opposite the church). 10-12 minutes.