San Juan started out as a walled city, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe! The realistic tourist should know that San Juan's crime rate is comprable to New Orleans and Detroit, a little more than 9 times that of New York City and 7 times the rate in L.A.. Caution is important, but paranoia is overdoing it.

Metropolitan areas like Rio Piedras and Santurce tend to have higher crime rates than the smaller districts. Old San Juan, Isla Verde and Condado are generally considered to be almost crime-free. Note that these safe areas have always been among the most heavily visited by tourists: crime in San Juan, unlike in many Caribbean tourist cities, isn’t directed towards foreigners in particular. Walking alone at night in any district is unwise, but if you must, try to stay in residential areas near streetlights and other people.

Although the drinking age in Puerto Rico is 18, be careful not to drink alcohol on the street in Old San Juan, for public alcohol consumption is illegal in this historic district. It is, however, extremely important for travelers to drink lots of water. Visitors unused to Puerto Rico’s tropical heat can quickly become dehydrated, and actually, heatstroke and sunburn are bigger problems for tourists than crime is.