Home to pristine beaches, rich culture and mouth-watering food, San Juan is the Caribbean Island getaway you thought you could only dream of.

Nicknamed the ‘Isle of Enchantment’, Puerto Rico definitely lives up to its credible reputation with the island being packed with gorgeous mountains, luscious rainforests, picture-perfect beaches, and incredible history.

San Juan is a brightly coloured city that captivates travellers’ hearts and keeps them coming back year after year. Whether you want to soak up the sun at one of the pristine beaches or fill your face full of tasty Caribbean cuisine, there’s something for everyone.

Being Puerto Rico’s largest city, it can be quite overwhelming figuring out where to stay in San Juan. But never fear! I’ve created this guide on San Juan’s five best areas to stay in based on various interests and budgets.

So, let’s get into it and find which area is best for you and your travel needs.

Where to Stay in San Juan

Eager to pack your bags and begin your adventure? These are our top recommendations for places to stay in San Juan.

CDM-Beach living @ Condado with pool and parking! | Best Bed & Breakfast in San Juan

CDM-Beach living Condado with pool and parking San Juan

It’s all about location, location, location with this spacious modern Airbnb in Puerto Rico! Situated in the heart of the sought after Condado beachfront, you have excellent access to one of San Juan’s largest stretches of coastline. Guest can also enjoy a shared swimming pool, along with beautiful terrace views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Nomada Urban Beach Hostel | Best Hostel in San Juan

Nomada Urban Beach Hostel San Juan

Situated in San Juan’s Ocean Park neighborhood, Nomada Urban Beach hostel provides guests with a Caribbean style atmosphere in an excellent location. It’s perfect for solo travellers and has a social atmosphere ideal for getting to know fellow backpackers. All this, alongside the unique option of camping on the hostel’s rooftop, makes it our favourite in San Juan.

352 Guest House | Best Hotel in San Juan

352 Guest House San Juan

Love the convenience of a hotel? 352 Guest House is a chic guesthouse with a colonial edge located in the heart of San Juan’s old town. It boasts an incredible location along with spectacular views from the roof terrace, not to mention an amazing breakfast. Rooms are stylish and have all the amenities you could want for an awesome stay.

San Juan Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in San Juan

FIRST TIME IN SAN JUAN
Top-Place-to-Stay-in-Puerto-Rico
FIRST TIME IN SAN JUAN

Viejo San Juan (Old Town)

Viejo San Juan also nicknamed the ‘old town’ is our top pick to stay in San Juan if you’re visiting for the first time. Home to the city’s historic quarter, Viejo San Juan is known to have some of the most spectacular colonial architecture in the Caribbean.

FOR FAMILIES
Ocean Park San Juan Puerto Rico
FOR FAMILIES

Ocean Park

Ocean Park is one of the safest neighborhoods in San Juan, making it the perfect destination for families. Set amongst nature the area of Ocean Park also has plenty of parks and outdoor activities to keep the kids entertained.

NIGHTLIFE
Isla Verde San Juan Puerto Rico
NIGHTLIFE

Isla Verde

Isla Verde isn’t just an awesome neighborhood for its spectacular beaches, it’s also our top pick for where to stay in San Juan for nightlife due to its laid back but vibrant beach bars and parties.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
Condado Beach San Juan Puerto Rico
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Condado

Condado is hands down one of the trendiest places in San Juan, and even all of Puerto Rico. Known for its spectacular nature parks including Antonio Quiñónez along with luxury hotels, restaurants, and bars, Condado is definitely a place you want to be seen in..

FOR NATURE LOVERS
Pterocarpus Forest Puerto Rico
FOR NATURE LOVERS

Palmas del Mar

Located outside of San Juan city in the municipality of Humacao, is the beautiful area of Palmas del Mar. Known for its stunning nature parks including The Pterocarpus Forest and the Humacao Nature Reserve, Palmas del Mar is our top pick for nature lovers.

San Juan is the largest city and capital of the luscious Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. It’s one of the most unique and culturally rich places to stay in the Caribbean and is a true travel gem.

The city has a colourful, vibrant, and fun nature with the perfect combination of rich history and culture, beautiful natural landscapes, and awesome nightlife.

If you’re heading to San Juan for the first time, then you’re probably going to want to base yourself near the hotspots. This makes Viejo San Juan the perfect place to stay. A lively and bustling area in heart of the city, it offers an endless array of cultural and historic attractions. It’s also well-connected to the area’s fantastic nature parks and beaches.

Looking to party the night away but not up for heading to mega nightclubs? Isla Verde provides the perfect mixture of party and relaxation. With plenty of laid-back beach bars boasting all different types of live music, it’s an amazing place to have a few drinks without feeling it too much the next morning.

Ocean Park is the best place to stay in San Juan if you’re looking for a safe neighborhood with plenty of entertainment for the kids. It’s one of the safest areas in all of Puerto Rico and offers plenty of outdoor activities including paddle-boarding, swimming, and kayaking.

Are you looking for a swanky and vibrant atmosphere that is also filled to the brim with natural beauty? Look no further than Condado. It’s one of the most sought-after neighborhoods on the island and a dream destination for travellers.

With its immense natural beauty, Palmas del Mar should be on any outdoor lover’s bucket list. Whether you’re into your watersports, forest treks, or prefer lounging on the sand, this is the place to be.

San Juan’s 5 Best Areas to Stay in

Now you’ve had a quick overview of the best places to stay in San Juan, let’s check them out in more detail. Whether you’re looking to stay in the city for one night or one month, each area has something a little different to offer.

1. Viejo San Juan (Old Town) – Best Place to Stay in San Juan for your First Time

Top-Place-to-Stay-in-Puerto-Rico

Viejo San Juan is hands down the best neighborhood to stay in for those who want to be in heart of San Juan’s history. The district is a great contrast between old and new and today has a fascinating culture to discover.

The immaculate boardwalks and colourful streets are perfect for those looking to explore. If you get peckish, you’ll have hundreds of restaurants, cafes, and bars to choose from, many of which come with a beautiful colonial exterior.

Viejo San Juan is also the place to be if you’re looking for somewhere to stay on a budget. There’s lots of affordable accommodation and the area is easily walkable, so you won’t have to pay for transport within the Old Town.

Studio PH Apt w/ Huge Balcony & Amazing Views | Best Bed & Breakfast in Viejo San Juan

Studio PH Apt w Huge Balcony Amazing Views San Juan

Looking to spend your day full of adventure but want a comfortable place to kip at night? Then this apartment is exactly what you need. The modern but yet colonial studio offers panoramic views of the historical city and is a few steps away from Fortaleza and San Sebastian. This means that you can enjoy the benefits of being amongst the action while still having a place to relax and escape.

Fortel Hostel | Best Hostel in Viejo San Juan

Fortel Hostel San Juan

Fortel Hostel is situated in the heart of Viejo San Juan and has a modern and replenished design. Heading to San Juan on your own? Fortel is the ultimate place to stay for solo flyers, with incredible shared facilities and socially designed rooms.

352 Guest House | Best Hotel in Viejo San Juan

352 Guest House San Juan

Looking for swanky accommodation with a colonial edge? Then look no further than 352 Guest Hostel. This colonial hotel with modern facilities boasts a plush roof terrace equipped with a hot tub, sun loungers, and bar. What’s best is the spectacular views from the terrace- the perfect spot to watch the ultimate sunset.

Things to See and Do in Viejo San Juan

Viejo San Juan
Take time to wander through the colourful streets
  1. Explore the grounds of Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
  2. Spectate the breathtaking architecture of La Fortaleza.
  3. Explore art & history at Museo de las Américas.
  4. Learn history at Casa Blanca.
  5. Wander the promenade of Paseo de la Princesa.
  6. Enjoy the food scene at Plaza de Armas.
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2. Ocean Park – Best Area in San Juan for Families

Ocean Park San Juan Puerto Rico

If you’re looking to get away from the hectic pace of the more central neighborhoods, then Ocean Park is the best place to stay in San Juan. Located right on the coast between Condado and Isla Verde, the charming neighborhood is our top pick for families.

Despite its relatively quiet atmosphere, Ocean Park still has plenty of things to do which captivate children and adults of all ages. Adrenaline junkies can spend days surfing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing, while foodies will enjoy the gorgeous waterfront restaurants.

The Nook Apt 1 Ocean Park Suites Beach side | Best Bed & Breakfast in Ocean Park

The Nook Apt 1 Ocean Park Suites Beach side San Juan

This brightly decorated deluxe apartment is a stone’s throw away from some of the best beaches in San Juan, including Ocean Park and Punta Las Maria. The apartment is perfect for beach lovers who want a bit of peace and quiet, as it’s set back from the hustle and bustle in a private gated area.

Nomada Urban Beach Hostel | Best Hostel in Ocean Park

Nomada Urban Beach Hostel San Juan

Looking for a great place to stay with breathtaking views? With a modern and sleek interior style but incredibly low prices, Nomada Urban Beach Hostel is one of our favourite hostels in San Juan! It provides guests with a Latin American and Caribbean style atmosphere in a brilliant location. Choose from multiple person dorms rooms, budget-friendly private rooms and the unique option of camping on the hostel’s rooftop!

Trópica Beach Hotel | Best Hotel in Ocean Park

Tropica Beach Hotel San Juan

If you’re wondering where to stay in San Juan near the beach, then you’ll love this contemporary and sleek beachfront hotel just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean. The Tropica Beach Hotel is equipped with pristine facilities including an outdoor pool, hot tub and seafood restaurant.

Things to do and see in Ocean Park

Castillo de San Cristobal San Juan
  1. Soak up the sun at Playa Ocean Park.
  2. Enjoy the beachfront sports facilities at Parque Dr. José Celso Barbosa.
  3. Visit the largest spanish built for in the new world: Castillo de San Cristóbal.
  4. Go snorkelling off the coast of Playa Ocean Park.
  5. Dine at Numero Uno Beach Restaurant.
  6. Take part in watersports activities including surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing.

3. Isla Verde – Where to Stay in San Juan for Nightlife

Isla Verde Puerto Rico

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in San Juan with an uncrowded beach town and crystal clear waters, then look no further than Isla Verde. Located just 7 miles east of San Juan, Isla Verde draws tourists looking to soak up the sun and discover the island’s rich marine life. With an incredible selection of water-based activities including island hopping, swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving, you’ll have plenty to keep you entertained.

Not only is Island Verde home to incredible scenery and amazing water activities, it also gets our vote as the best place to stay if you’re looking to let your hair down on a night out. There is a good selection of bars dotted around the neighborhood, many of which present laid-back Caribbean vibes perfect to end your day.

CaribbeanVibes: Walk to Beach, Close to Airport #3 | Best Bed & Breakfast in Isla Verde

CaribbeanVibes Walk to Beach Close to Airport 3 San Juan

This open plan apartment provides guests with a rustic interior and with fun facilities including a hammock, a tennis court, and a basketball court. Located on a quiet street, guests can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere but also only be a short drive away from the area’s beach bars.

1802 At San Juan | Best Hostel in Isla Verde

1802 At San Juan

The 1802 hostel is located just a few miles from Isla Verde in the heart of Santurce. It’s got an extremely friendly and sociable atmosphere, offering a family-like experience and cosy rooms with a personal approach.

Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort | Best Hotel in Isla Verde

Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde Beach Resort

After a spot of luxury? This stunning beachfront resort offers beautifully decorated rooms, many of which include balconies boasting stunning ocean views. The Courtyard has a lively feel to it and provides salsa dancing lessons, live music, and exotic cocktails at the Picante Lounge bar.

Things to See and Do in Isla Verde

Isla Verde Beach San Juan
  1. Hit the waves at Pine Grove Surfing Beach.
  2. Enjoy some watersports at Isla Verde Beach West.
  3. Make a visit to Parque Acuático Infantil Aquasol.
  4. Play volleyball at Carolina Public Beach.
  5. Explore the underwater world at one of Isla Verde’s best snorkelling spots.
  6. Watch the sun go down at Mist Rooftop Bar and Kitchen.
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4. Condado – Coolest Area to Stay in San Juan

Condado Beach San Juan Puerto Rico

It’s hard not to fall in love with San Juan’s most sought-after neighborhood, Condado. Condado is by far of the coolest places to stay in San Juan, given its abundance of restaurants, cafes, and bars along with chic squares with luxurious stores. What’s best is most places are easily walkable from the beautiful white sandy beaches to the vibrant beachside bars.

Visitors also head to Condado for its spectacularly beautiful natural parks, and it certainly isn’t short of them; Antonio Quiñónez and Laguna del Condado are two of the most popular!

CDM-Beach living @ Condado with pool and parking! | Best Bed & Breakfast in Condado

CDM-Beach living Condado with pool and parking

It’s all about location with this large and modern Condado apartment! Enjoy immediate access to one of San Juan’s best and largest stretches of coastline, along with some of the area’s coolest restaurants, cafe’s and bars. The studio can sleep up to four guests and provides access to a shared swimming pool.

Mango Mansion | Best Hostel in Condado

Mango Mansion San Juan

Mango Mansion is one of the best places to be if you’re deciding where to stay in San Juan on a budget! The hotel offers multiple options including small and large dorm rooms along with a few private rooms. It’s close to some of San Juan’s best nightlife scenes and even puts on events for guests looking for a lovely social experience.

AC Hotel by Marriott San Juan Condado | Best Hotel in Condado

AC Hotel by Marriott Condado

Everyone’s heard of the popular chain Marriott; some love it, some think that it’s nothing special! However, we can assure you the AC Hotel in San Juan Condado is definitely something to rave about. With a beautiful, modern and sleek interior along with an incredible outdoor pool, this is without a doubt one of the coolest places to stay in San Juan.

Things to See and Do in Condado

Condado San Juan
  1. Wander along the waterfront at Playita del Condado.
  2. Grab your beach essentials and soak up the sun at Condado Beach.
  3. Play watersports at Laguna del Condado.
  4. Learn some history at Parroquia Stella Maris Catholic Church.
  5. Immerse yourself into nature at Antonio Quinonez.
  6. Go shopping at one of Condado’s chic squares.

5. Palmas del Mar – Where to Stay in San Juan for Nature Lovers

Pterocarpus Forest

Located just a short drive away from San Juan, in the municipality of Humacao lies the beautiful Palmas del Mar area. An ideal location for outdoor adventurers, Palmas del Mar has a sense of tranquillity while also boasting a great array of activities including snorkelling, scuba diving, and surfing. It’s surrounded by natural wonders including the endearing Pterocarpus Forest, making it the best place to stay in San Juan for outdoor adventurers.

Not only does Palmas del Mar treat visitors with a great deal of natural beauty but it also has a vast selection of great restaurants, laid-back bars, and charming apartments. It’s been considered an exclusive area in the past with its has boutique hotels and resorts, however, we’ve managed to find some hidden gems that suit a variety of budgets.

SeaCret Villa @ Palmas del Mar – Humacao | Best Bed & Breakfast in Palmas del Mar

SeaCret Villa Palmas del Mar Humacao San Juan

This beautiful Puerto Rican rental combines a traditional exterior with a modern but cosy interior. It sits a few minutes from the beach and just a short drive from many of Palmas del Mar’s spectacular nature parks. Guests can enjoy access to an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courtsn and an 18-hole golf course.

Wyndham Palmas Beach & Golf Resort | Best Hotel in Palmas del Mar

Wyndham Palmas Beach Golf Resort San Juan

Only a short drive from most of Palmas del Mar’s main attractions is the luxurious and relaxing Wyndham Palmas Beach & Golf Resort. The hotel offers guests an infinity swimming pool, a beautiful terrace, and a fitness centre, making it a great value stay.

Terrace studio in downtown Naguabo historic house | Best Budget Accommodation in Palmas del Mar

Terrace studio in downtown Naguabo historic house San Juan

Palmas del Mar isn’t home to any hostels. However, we have found some great budget accommodation in the area. This spacious studio offers a clean and colonial interior equipped with a kitchen, so you can save money by eating at home.

Things to See and Do in Palmas del Mar

Humacao Puerto Rico
  1. Soak up the sun on the exotic Palmas del Mar beach.
  2. Explore one of San Juan’s finest nature parks at Pterocarpus Forest.
  3. Explore the nature reserve of Punta Icacos.
  4. Go on an adventure to find Secret Beach.
  5. Be amongst nature at Punta Yeguas.
  6. Gorge on some of food at one of San Juan’s finest restaurants: La Pescadería.
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FAQs About Finding a Place to Stay in San Juan

Here’s what people usually ask me about the areas of San Juan and where to stay.

What To Pack For San Juan

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
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Hanging Laundry Bag

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Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
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Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in San Juan

So that’s San Juan, one of the Caribbean’s best-kept travel secrets! Best-known for its colourful colonial architecture, white sandy beaches, and rich history; San Juan is one of the coolest destinations in Puerto Rico. With so many brilliant neighborhoods all with something different to offer, San Juan has something for everyone.

If you’re still not sure where to stay in San Juan, here is a short recap of our favourite places:

If you’re looking for awesome nightlife but with a laid-back twist head to Isla Verde. Or maybe you’re looking to jam pack in all the best historical sites? Then make sure you head to Viejo San Juan. If you’re looking for a trendy destination with plenty of outdoor activities and beautiful natural scenery, then Palmas del Mar and Condado should definitely top your list.

Ocean Park is our top pick for where to stay in San Juan, offering a gorgeous and laid back area full of things to see and do!

Looking for more info on travelling to San Juan and Puerto Rico?

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!