Exploring Castillo San Felipe del Morro Fort in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

The first time I saw Castillo San Felipe del Morro Fort in Old San Juan was by cruise ship approaching the port of San Juan. The approaching view is spectacular by land or sea. Visiting El Morro Fort is my number one cannot miss recommendation for old San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Arrival by Sea in 2012
View of El Morro by Sea in 2012

The perfect place to begin any walking tour of Old San Juan is along the North coast. With good sun protection and sturdy shoes, the walk between Castillo San Cristóbal and La Perla is stunning, if you have the time and energy. History buffs will want to visit both Castillo San Cristóbal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro forts in Old San Juan, but if you are not feeling that ambitious or tight on time then El Morro is the better tour.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro Fort is the larger of the two forts located in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Castillo de San Cristobal is located 1.6 kilometers to the East (on the other side of La Perla) and can easily be walked in about 20 minutes.

Our family name is Morrow, so we jokingly refer to El Morro as the Family Fort!  My Dad was excited to point out our namesake on the sign.

My Awesome Parents visiting the Family Fort!
My Awesome Parents visiting El Morro Fort

Notice the hats and sunglasses?  The sun is brutal, and there is not much shade exploring Old San Juan and the Forts.  Remember sunblock, you will thank me later.

El Morro Castle, complete with Moat!

Admission Details

There is a $5 entrance fee (same day visits) for both fortifications, Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristobal, so if you have the time be sure to visit both!

As part of the National Park Service, Annual Pass Holders get free admission to both forts.

El Morro is open 9am to 5pm, seven days a week to visitors.

Sunday is usually the most crowded due to weekend visitors and cruise ship passengers docked in the port of old San Juan. You can check the cruise docking schedule for old San Juan at Cruise Timetables or Cruise Mapper.

Parking is limited, with the majority of parking garages closer to the port to the south. I recommend taking an Island Taxi or Uber directly to the entrance and walk down down to the old city gate. From there you can walk around the fort towards Paseo del Morro and Paseo de La Princessa.

Bilingual Signs

The National Park Service has strategically placed information signs throughout the park.  Signs and employees are bilingual (English and Spanish).


The views are spectacular over the Atlantic Ocean and Old San Juan.


Gorgeous views from every angle.

View of Atlantic Ocean from the Fort

How Much Time Do I Need at El Morro?

We spent a couple hours exploring El Morro fort.  If time is tight, you could easily explore everything in about an hour, missing out of the history exhibit if you are short on time.

San Cristobal can easily be explored in an hour, and it is well worth the (same day free) visit.


There is a free trolley that runs during the day, hop on and off to explore Old San Juan.


One of the distinctive features of El Morro is the six level tower at 140 feet high. There are several exhibits located in the tunnels and underground chambers. These tunnels were used to store supplies, ammunition, and weapons, and to move troops and supplies throughout the fort without being detected by the enemy. There are some really interesting exhibits to learn about the complex system, history, architecture, and design of the fort.

View of the Cemetery and Old San Juan
View of the Cemetery and Old San Juan

El Morro Fort is a not-to-miss attraction for anyone visiting Puerto Rico!

40 thoughts on “Exploring Castillo San Felipe del Morro Fort in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico”

  1. Pingback: Rainy Day San Juan
  2. I just love old forts. I’ve been to several in the Southeast (like Florida and Georgia) but this looks really cool too! I love the history you can learn about by visits like these! Cheers!

  3. Is this an all day activity or something you can accomplish in a few hours with time to sit around the shoot the breeze? When we come to visit, I expect to see Casa de Morrow restaurant set up next to this place. It will become a historical landmark in no time. People will be confused about which Morro(w) came first. But seriously, if you do decide to erect a restaurant, I’d like free drinks for life.

    1. The fort can be toured in a few hours. I really need to work on the themed restaurant, at least a nice bar for a cool beverage!

  4. I love old forts and I’ve been fortunate to find so many good ones around the world. This looks like another one. There’s something really special about the ones on the ocean and they are normally on such amazing rock formations, rock ledges, outcrops etc that just add to the atmosphere. Good tip for others about the sunscreen. As Australians, we don’t travel anywhere without sunscreen, hats and sunglasses so we are always well prepared but I know many who don’t.

  5. One of my best friends from college was from Puerto Rico and l got to visit his family a few times. I remember visiting this fort many, many years ago. Still as beautiful as ever. Nice that you live there full time now.

  6. I love the idea of a trolley whisking you through there! Also these old fortifications are amazing. My favorite is in Essaouira, Morocco. By far not as big but the canons remind me of this.

    1. The beaches are amazing! There is just so much more to this little island than just beaches; architecture, history, art, nature, rain forest, mountains and hiking, just to name some of my favorites!

  7. Great Post! I was supposed to come to San Juan last year but it overlapped with another trip! Will def have to make time for it in the future and I will be sure not to miss the fort when I am there 🙂

    – Brit

    1. PR is awesome! I cannot imagine living in San Juan – tourists and traffic! I live in a small beach community, far away from San Juan. There is so much more to Puerto Rico beyond San Juan.

  8. Hahaha your dad is so cute pointing to the sign! I love the view of it, it is definitely worth the $5 to explore the fort. I’d do it in a heartbeat #takemymoney

    1. Thanks! My Mom and Dad goofed around the entire trip – it was a blast! Best $5 (each) that we spent on the island!

  9. You’re so lucky to call Puerto Rico home now.. what gorgeous views… even if the sun is strong and harsh. That fort definitely looks like something I’d be interested in on a trip there.

    1. Yes, we have so many iguanas! My dog chased an iguana out of the yard yesterday, in his defense, he just wanted to play.

  10. The fort was so impressive that I still remember it from when my family visited when I was 12 (and believe me, that was a long time ago). After reading this, I really want to return to your family fort now as an adult and spend some time really learning about the history of the place. Plus, the views are too incredible not to return to again and again. 🙂

  11. This brings back memories for me of when I visited Puerto Rico and the fort with my mother at 15. You’ve made me want to go back. How handy to have the free shuttle. You parents are cute with their family fort!

  12. Visiting this fort was definitely one of the highlights of our visit to Puerto Rico. Your post just reminded me though of how hot that day was for us too. Lots of sunscreen is a must for sure as there is basically no shade when visiting the fort.

  13. This is such a cool fort! Even better because it’s your family fort haha, your dad is so cute in that pic. Does it get a lot of visitors? Looks like you guys had the entire place to yourselves!

    1. It is a really popular tourist attraction. The cruise ship days, it gets really packed, especially on Sundays. We went on a non-cruise ship day and there were very few people. We had the Family Fort all to ourselves, you know, ’cause we are kinda a big deal. haha!

  14. Puerto Rico certainly looks like the place to be for sun worshippers! Sounds like you had a great family visit, it was your family castle after all! 😛
    Lily Kate x

  15. I love the fact that you have returned to Puerto Rico to live having been so taken by it on the first visit. I also love the pic of your folks visiting and the anecdote about El Morro becoming your ‘family fort’. So cute. The fort looks really interesting too, if a little hot!!

  16. How I’ve managed to never visit Puerto Rico is beyond me. I love the mix of history and gorgeous views. That’s a win-win in my book.

  17. Hahaha, love the photo of your family cheesin’ it up at the family fort. But man, that must have been scorching without any real shade. How hot does it get there this time of year?

    1. It was mid-80’s when we went. My parents live in Phoenix, Arizona so it was 30 degrees cooler in Puerto Rico for them!

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