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Top Areas To Stay In San Juan Puerto Rico (2024)

Finding the best places to stay during your vacation is sometimes the hardest part. Because how you feel about your accommodations can make or break your vacation. Trust me, I know. In this blog post we”ll discuss the logistics on where to stay in San Juan, Puerto Rico. So you can find the perfect place and location for your vacation!

A view of Old San Juan Puerto Rico from El Morro

A little geography about Puerto Rico

San Juan, a unique historic city, is the capital of Puerto Rico. It is located on the north shore and Atlantic Ocean side of the island.  San Juan is also part of the Metro District. Which includes the neighborhoods of Old San Juan, Condado, Ocean Park and Isla Verde Beach. 

All of these neighborhoods are located on or walking distance to the water or the beach. They all have many accommodations options including luxurious resorts, beachfront hotels, stylish boutique hotels, and a variety of vacation rentals. These neighborhoods are all located in the San Juan area. And are among the best places to stay when visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Luiz Munoz International Airport is also located in the Metro area. And therefore staying in any of these great neighborhoods is convenient and easy with or without a rental car. 

Transportation in the Metro Area 

One of the best parts about staying in the Metro Area is that you don’t have to rent a car. There are many options for transportation including public transportation (which can sometimes be unreliable) taxis and Uber. And because city parking is at a premium, sometimes it makes for a better experience to just get a ride. And then you don’t have to worry about finding a place to park. 

Nonetheless, car rental locations can be found through out the Metro Area. So if you didn’t rent a car at the airport, you can usually still find one in town if you need it. 

You will however want to rent a car if you plan to visit El Yunque Rainforest on your own. Or if you want to explore the west side of the island like Isabela or Rincon. So, if you plan to explore beyond the city, you can rent a car for a day or two.

Where to stay in San Juan Puerto Rico 

There are a variety of Puerto Rico hotels to stay within the Metro Area. Each neighborhood has its own vibe, and with that comes pros and cons. In this guide, we’ll talk about each neighborhood, suggest places to stay and give suggestions as to the type of vacation you might experience. That way, you can select the best area for you.

Old San Juan

For the ultimate city experience, nothing beats staying in historic Old San Juan. The Old San Juan district is a small 7 square block radius located in the western portion of the San Juan Islet. 

In Old San Juan you’ll find blue cobblestone streets lined with bright colored building. All filled with fine dining restaurants, bars, parks, shopping and hidden hotels and courtyards. It’s a really unique part of the city. And in the heart of San Juan you’ll also be walking distance to many popular points of interest including El Morro, La Perla, Forteleza Street, Puerta de San Juan and Parque de las Palomas. 

where to stay in San Juan Puerto Rico
The Narrow House in Old San Juan

Old San Juan also offers the best nightlife. So staying in Old San Juan is the best option if you want more of the city vacation and experience, rater than the beach. Because even though Old San Juan is technically on a little island, it doesn’t offer direct beach access. 

where to stay in San Juan Puerto Rico
Ocean side of Escambron Beach in San Juan

Therefore the one real drawback to staying in Old San Juan is the lack of a beach. The closet beach to Old San Juan is Escambron Beach. This small beach has a calm bay which is good for snorkeling and swimming. It is a short Uber or taxi ride away from OSJ, but not really walkable.

Hotels in Old San Juan

The Hotel El Convento is a historic hotel that was built 1646. It offers old world charm with modern elegance, where you can enjoy a rooftop outdoor pool, hot tub and terrace with stunning views.

The Villa Herencia Hotel is a Spanish Colonial style meets new world historic bed and breakfast. This hotel is found in the oldest parts of San Juan. And is one of the most romantic hotel options in the district with only 8 rooms. 

The Sheraton Old San Juan is a modern hotel in the district. Great for those who want to accumulate Marriott Bonvoy Points, are traveling with children or want to be close to the cruise port. 

TRAVEL TIP: The only area in Old San Juan that I would NOT recommend for accommodations is La Perla, and I’m not even sure there are any there. 

Condado Beach

Just east of  Old San Juan is Condado, which is part of the Santurce neighborhood. The Condado area starts just beyond the Caribe Hilton Hotel (where piƱa coladas where invented) at the Condado Lagoon and continues down Ashford Avenue to Ocean Park.

where to stay in San Juan Puerto Rico
View of Condado

This part of town is very busy and is one of the islands top tourists destinations. Condado is sometimes considered the Manhattan of Puerto Rico because the area is associated with wealth and status. As it offers many high end hotels, fine dining restaurants and plenty of shopping. 

Condado is a top tourist choice for many reasons. First, the area is very walkable with a friendly and safe feel. It has many options for both tourists friendly dining and nightlife. Offers beachfront hotels and is just a short ride into Old San Juan. 

Lastly, the Condado Lagoon offers outdoor activities such as kayaking and paddle boards. Really, the only drawback to Condado is the beach, its just not as nice as Isla Verde. The water can be rough, so its not really safe to swim at times and it has smaller sandy beach area. 

Condado Lagoon where you can kayak and stand up paddle board

Nonetheless, Condado is the best overall choice for both restaurant, activities and ocean views. Condado is however expensive and busy especially on weekends.  

Condado Hotels 

The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel originally opened in i914 and was Puerto Rico’s first luxury hotel. This longstanding luxury hotel offers exceptional accommodations with stunning views. Along with an outdoor pool, spa and wellness center,  it is only steps away from the Condado Lagoon.

The Condado Ocean Club is an adults only boutique hotel. With modern beach house style and stunning lagoon and ocean views. The hotels offers a nice blend of activities, amenities and location.

La Concha Resort is part of Marriott Autograph Collection with a fun cheerful vibe. Located in the heart of Condado district, this hotel offers a variety of activites for both day and night. Guest rooms include options for rooms or suites.

The Olive Boutique Hotel in Condado is a romantic hotel. The hotels offers many unique experiences such as the beachfront and floating dinner. The hotel is ideal for couples and special occasions. 

Ocean Park 

Further down from Condado is Ocean Park. It offers a quiet laid back feel because it’s nestled into a residential neighborhood. Here you’ll find small stylish boutique hotels and privately owned vacation rentals instead of large hotels. There are restaurants nearby, just not right outside your door. Condado, however is only a mile walk or Uber ride away. 

where to stay in San Juan Puerto Rico
Beachside drinks at Numero Uno Beach House

Ocean Park is also known for being a great kite boarding spot, so you’ll be sure to see kites in the air and on the beach. Numero Uno Beach House is a popular spot for kiters and beach goers.  They offer beachside accommodation, kite boarding lessons and have a beach front restaurant. It’s one of the few places where you can dine on the beach in Ocean Park.

Another adventurous thing to do in Ocean Park is dine in the sky at FlyDining Puerto Rico.  

Isla Verde Beach

Just down from Ocean Park is Isla Verde Beach. Of all the areas, Isla Verde Beach is the closest to the airport and only 15 minutes from Old San Juan.

where to stay in San Juan Puerto Rico
Rooftop view from Kumo Restaurant at the WBC Hotel on Isla Verde Beach

And while Isla Verde may not have the most activities and number of restaurants, it has the areas most beautiful beaches. Isla Verde Beach is a mix of high rise condos and hotels, so there are variety of options all with easy access to the beach. It is however still expensive, just not as much as Condado.

Like Condado, Isla Verde offers tourists a walkable, friendly and safe feel. And if you want the areas best beaches, then Isla Verde is the best place. Just keep in mind, all the north coast beaches can be rough in the winter. So always check the water conditions before entering the water. 

Isla Verde has a nice selection of restaurants, just not as many as Condado. And there are 2 nearby grocery stores and a huge CVS, where you can pick up everything you need. There are also a handful of nightlife options like the casino at the El San Juan Hotel and the rooftop restaurants Kumo at the WBC Hotel

Isla Verde is the top choice if you are looking for the best beaches in the Metro Area. 

Pet friendly beaches in Puerto Rico | Isla Verde Beach

Isla Verde Hotels

The Fairmont El San Juan Hotel is a 1958 restored hotel and one of Puerto Rico’s most authentic. With a stunning grand entrance, the hotel lobby is the heart of the hotels live entertainment and entrance to the hotel casino. The hotel is located on the beach with a pool, fitness center and tennis courts.

The Royal Sonesta San Juan is also located on the beach. It is a family friendly and pet frendly hotel with a lagoon style pool and fitness center. Guest rooms have the option of ocean, city or garden views. And it is centrally located in the Isla Verde area.

The San Juan Water and Beach Club Hotel is a boutique style hotel  just steps from the  ocean. The hotel is part of the Aire de Olive hotel group with other hotel options  around the island. The guest rooms were recently renovated, with beautiful decor and they are also adding a second pool. 

The Verdanza Hotel is located just a short walk from the beach. This hotel is currently being renovated so the guest rooms will get an upgrade in 2024. The hotel has a nice pool with a fantastic onsite Italian restaurant. 

Best time to visit San Juan Puerto Rico

The weather is always warm in Puerto Rico. So that makes it an ideal winter getaway except that winter comes with the highest prices. So from December to April, you can expect to pay the highest rates. However, you will experience the islands best weather.

The opposite is true in the summer months. From June through September and even into October you can find the lowest prices. With that being said, this is also hurricane season. So if you are traveling during this weather dependent time, you may want to consider travel insurance.

What is the best place to stay in San Juan Puerto Rico?

With each location offering something different, they all make a great place to stay. So you need to determine what is best for you. We have stayed in both Ocean Park and Isla Verde, because the beach is our top priority. However we love spending time in both Old San Juan and Condado. Either way, I think you will love Puerto Rico, I know we do!

To wrap up the blog post, below is a brief summary of each area:

Old San Juan offers a unique historic experience with culture and adult activities. It’s not really a beach vacation, its a city vacation with a nearby beach. 

Condado is an upscale city experience with the beach suited for both adults and families with many things to do. The best option if beach is not the top priority. 

Ocean Park is a laid back feel. Being less touristy, it feels more like living like a local.

Isla Verde is a beach vacation however with less restaurants and nightlife options. Its the best option if the beach is your top priority.

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