ViaHero · December 27, 2019
Here’s everything you need to know about the best places to stay in San Juan. Read up on the pros and cons of each neighborhood, including budgeting, nightlife, and specific recommendations. Any questions after reading? Send us a message!
Want to explore Puerto Rico differently? Have a local
Visiting San Juan is the ideal way to kick off your Puerto Rican travels—but it can be tricky to work out accommodation choices. With the pros and cons of the best places to stay in San Juan, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the spot that best suits your Puerto Rico itinerary.
Old San Juan
Old San Juan is one place you have to visit in Puerto Rico. Beautiful and romantic, Old San is packed with colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, Spanish forts, and legendary restaurants.
- Proximity to some of Puerto Rico’s most awesome attractions, like the del Morro and San Cristobal forts, La Fortaleza, and Paseo de la Princesa.
- It’s adorable and super safe—there are police everywhere.
- It’s home to some of Puerto Rico’s most amazing restaurants.
- There are plenty of lodging options, so it’s easy to create any type of travel package.
- Most residents speak English.
- It’s quite small and totally walkable. You can trek around all of Old San Juan in just a couple of hours, so no matter where you stay, you’re perfectly located.
- It can be difficult to find local life since it’s full of both tourist attractions and Puerto Rican crowds who come to see and be seen.
- The hotels can be pricier than in other neighborhoods (average $175–$300 per night).
- There’s quite a bit of traffic since the roads are quite narrow (they were made for horses, after all).
- You really need to know where you’re going (local recommendations are a must) since the food and nightlife gems are hidden amongst tourist mush.
Pro tip: No need to to stay in big-name hotels to be comfortable—Old San Juan is packed with phenomenal Airbnb and little boutique hotels, like The Gallery Inn, The Dream Catcher, and Hotel El Convento. Plus, you can always ask a local for lodging advice if you’re unsure.
Historically, Condado has been thought of as San Juan’s glitziest neighborhood (think Miami Beach). And since the whole neighborhood/beach stretch is one of Puerto Rico’s major attractions, you’ll be sure to find popping nightlife and daytime beach parties no matter what time of year you visit.
- Very centrally located; only a 15-minute walk to historic San Juan and a 10-minute walk to La Placita de Santurce (one of the city’s most popular places to visit).
- It’s full of beachfront hotels and 4- and 5-star restaurants.
- There are countless boutiques and great luxury shopping on Avenida Ashford.
- It’s one of the safer neighborhoods in the city.
- There’s less flexibility in meal and outing choices if you want to stay in the neighborhood.
- It can run $290–$500 a night for the highly-end hotels (and there are a lot of them) here.
- Aside from its beaches and shopping, there aren’t many things to do; you’ll probably be taking a lot of Ubers to go elsewhere in the city.
- Some of the hotels were damaged in the hurricane, but almost everything is back to normal. See this Puerto Rico tourism update for more info.
Pro tip: Hotel prices in Condado peak on Saturdays and Mondays, when most travelers check in and out of rooms. Local trip planners recommend making reservations on Sundays or Fridays.
Staying in Santurce means having access to some of Puerto Rico’s most hip restaurants, shops, and galleries. Plus, it’s a quick jaunt to La Placita for fresh fruit and amazing nightlife. Hands down, Santurce is one of the best places to stay in Puerto Rico if you want to soak up the island’s hipster culture (and if you’re not afraid to get a little grungy).
- The Hotels and Airbnbs (average $70–$90 a night) are considerably cheaper than in Old San Juan… or really anywhere else a traveler would want to spend time.
- It’s extremely authentic—from hipsters to families, Santurce is full of locals.
- There are tons of beautiful murals, galleries, shops, and super-trendy bars.
- La Placita de Santurce is one of the most fun nightlife hubs in the Caribbean.
- It’s a Popular area for food trucks, street food, and cheap beer.
- Santurce gets sketchy at night—you should use taxis or Uber to get around.
- Its location can make it difficult to walk to other areas of the city without passing through less-great areas.
- There aren’t many upper-end hotels in Santurce—it’s a bit more local.
- It can get really loud on the weekends.
Pro tip: If you stay in an Airbnb or hostel with a kitchen, buy groceries from Santurce’s farmers’ markets on the weekends—you can half your travel budget by eating 2 daily meals at home.
Just as its name implies, Ocean Park has sublime views of the Caribbean, tropical breezes, and clean beaches. Since it’s mostly upscale housing, Ocean Park is one of the safest places to travel right now—perfect for mingling with locals worry-free.
- There are Airbnbs available at only $35 per night, and great hotels line the beach.
- Sizeable, clean beaches unique to Ocean Park are the norm.
- The beaches are less crowded than those in Condado.
- It’s easy to rent beach chairs/equipment from local vendors (or your hotel).
- It’s a more residential area, so there are fewer restaurants and nightlife options.
- Less entertainment-oriented than Condado or Old San Juan, it’s really centered around hotels.
- You need to take Uber to most other parts of the city.
Part of San Juan’s banking district, Hato Rey is known for its baseball games, concert scenes, and gorgeous parks. It’s one of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico if you want to see the island like a local—but want to stay safe and comfy at the same time.
- There are great spots for indoor, rainy-day activities like Plaza Las Americas and the Milla de Oro, the island’s largest shopping center.
- It’s home to the Hiram Bithorn Stadium (the best places to watch a baseball game… basically every) and plenty of concerts at Coliseo de Puerto Rico.
- The neighborhood hosts the Heineken Beer Festival and similar events year-round.
- It’s mainly a business district—there are plenty of skyscrapers, but few accommodations.
- The hotels are oriented to brief business travel, not week-long vacations.
- It’s located pretty far south, so you’ll have to Uber everywhere.
- While Hato Rey itself is safe, it’s easy to accidentally wander into areas that are a little more sketchy.
Pro tip: Hato Rey’s most happening area is Roosevelt Avenue, the go-to street for shopping and dining out.
Brimming with tropical gardens and coffee shops, Rio Piedras is home base for the University of San Juan. Since not many tourists know of Rio Piedras, this barrio is ideal for travelers looking to go off-the-beaten-path in Puerto Rico.
- Low-key college town character.
- It’s a safe and residential area.
- Rio Piedras is home to Jardin Botanico, some of Puerto Rico’s most extensive botanical gardens.
- There are great farmers markets! When you have a local build your custom itinerary, make sure they have you stop here.
- It’s a 30-minute drive to Old San Juan.
- Most restaurants are what you would find in a college or upper-class residential area: chains, diners, and fast food.
- It’s also located in the southern area of San Juan, so you aren’t going to want to walk out of the neighborhood.
Pro tip: Public transportation in Puerto Rico can be spotty, but you can quickly drive to the Old San Juan ferry, which is awesome.
Right on the sea, Miramar is a great place to visit for those looking for a little adventure. Miramar is one of San Juan’s smaller barrios, but with kayak tours, sailing, and deep-sea fishing, you could easily add a few days in Miramar to a Puerto Rico itinerary.
- Location—it’s right on the sea, so it’s perfect for spending time on the waves.
- It’s full of hidden gems like the haunted Teatro Tapia and classy Casita Miramar.
- You can easily walk to Condado and Old San Juan if you know what routes to avoid.
- Aside from being kitty-corner to some of Puerto Rico’s best beaches, it’s also got great views of the Condado Lagoon and San Juan Bay.
- It’s mostly residential—there are only a few restaurants and hotels to choose from.
- There’s not much to do in the neighborhood itself as far as nightlife goes.
- You’ll probably be spending most of your time outside of the neighborhood.
Insider info: Though not technically in San Juan, Isla Verde is one of Puerto Rico’s best beach vacation spots. It’s in the neighboring city of Carolina, right next to the airport, and packed with great hotels.
We know there are a lot of options, so take the stress out of planning your trip—have a local expert do it instead! With their insider information, you’ll be able to find the perfect place to stay, plus a custom itinerary and 24/7 phone support. With a Hero taking care of the nitty-gritty details, you’ll be able to move onto the fun in a snap. Any questions? Send us a message!
And don’t forget to check out these insider tips: