View of the author and a house painted with the Puerto Rico flag on her background

Where to Stay in Puerto Rico in 2022, by an Area Local

If you’re planning to visit Puerto Rico, then you’re probably wondering where to stay on the island. Choosing the right place to stay could very well make the difference between a great vacation and a forgettable one.

Never worry, though, because I’m a Puerto Rico local who is here to help you map out your trip!

Because I know it’s hard to decide between staying in the capital city and other municipalities around the island, I’ve put together this complete guide of where to stay in Puerto Rico to help you choose the perfect stay for your vacation.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support my work by purchasing through the affiliate links on this page, which may earn a commission for this site. Thank you!

Best Places to Stay in Puerto Rico

Panoramic view of hotel buildings from the Condado Lagoon
O:Live Boutique Hotel and Condado Vanderbilt from the Condado lagoon

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Puerto Rico? Here are my top picks: 

Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best areas and neighborhoods in Puerto Rico: 

11 Best Places to Stay in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an archipelago divided into 78 municipalities with San Juan as the capital city as you can see on this map. San Juan sports many  Puerto Rico hotels and accommodation options but it isn’t the best place to stay if you’re looking for breath-taking beaches or colorful sunsets. Let’s look into the best spots to stay around the island.

Old San Juan

View of three people sitting on a grass and the San Cristobal Castle from afar
San Cristobal Castle in Old San Juan

👉 Best Area For Sightseeing  | ✨ Best Old San Juan Hotels: El ConventoSheraton Old San JuanCasaBlanca Hotel

Old San Juan is the most popular destination in Puerto Rico and the perfect place to stay in the city of San Juan if you want to enjoy historical landmarks, good food, and Puerto Rico’s local culture all within a short walk. San Juan is home to famous attractions like El Morro, Paseo de la Princesa, and the door of San Juan. The capital city also sports plenty of bars and nightclubs that invite visitors to party until sunrise.

Pros of Staying in Old San Juan:

  • Attractions within walking distance
  • Lots of restaurants and bars
  • Great nightlife

Cons of Staying in Old San Juan:

  • Gets crowded
  • Things can be pricey

📚 Old San Juan Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for On-foot Sightseeing
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsEl ConventoSheraton Old San Juan Hotel  • CasaBlanca Hotel
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Ladi’s Restaurant ($$), Marmalade ($$), The Mezzanine ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – La O, La Factoria
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Fort San Felipe del Morro, Paseo de la Princesa

Rio Grande

View of El Yunque National Rainforest in Puerto Rico
El Yunque National Rainforest

👉 Best Area For Adventure Lovers | ✨ Best Rio Grande Hotels: Wyndham Grand RioSt. Regis Bahia Beach ResortMargaritaville Vacation Club

Rio Grande is home to El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest in the entire United States and one of the most popular attractions in Puerto Rico

Rio Grande offers adventure travelers many outdoor activities like hiking difficult trails, sliding down natural waterfalls, and ziplining.  This city also sports the most luxurious hotel in Puerto Rico, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, and is close to Luquillo and Fajardo, two great cities with beautiful beaches.

Pros of Staying in Rio Grande:

  • Close to El Yunque
  • Outdoor activities
  • Close the Luquillo Beach

Cons of Staying in Rio Grande:

  • Far from San Juan’s main attractions
  • Rains frequently

📚 Rio Grande Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Adventure Lovers
Google Map

Condado

View of people having fun in kayaking on Condado Lagoon

👉 Best Area For Families | ✨ Best Condado Hotels: Condado VanderbiltLa Concha Renaissance ResortCondado Ocean Club

Condado is a central area with beachfront resorts, fine dining restaurants, and a lagoon. This district is one of the top choices for families wondering where to stay in Puerto Rico. 

Condado sports multiple accommodation options with an outdoor terrace, swimming pool, dining area, comfy beds, outdoor pool, an in-house casino, and is home to Ford’s four-star hotel, Condado Vanderbilt. 

Pros of Staying in Condado:

  • Family entertainment
  • Lots of restaurants and bars
  • Close to Old San Juan

Cons of Staying in Condado:

  • Restaurants and hotels can be pricey
  • Bad traffic

📚 Condado Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Families
Google Map

Isla Verde

Panoramic view of the blue water in Isla Verde

👉 Best Area For Couples and Honeymooners | ✨ Best Isla Verde Hotels: Hampton Inn & SuitesEmbassy Suites by HiltonTRYP by Windham

Isla Verde is a luxurious resort area that offers visitors a taste of the Caribbean while staying close to San Juan Airport and Old San Juan’s attractions. Isla Verde is a great location to stay in Puerto Rico for honeymooners and couples. The area sports many restaurants with Puerto Rican cuisine and vibrant nightlife. Isla Verde is also next to Piñones, where you can enjoy the best Puerto Rican delicacies.

Pros of Staying in Isla Verde:

  • Close to airport
  • Lots of restaurants and bars
  • Thriving nightlife

Cons of Staying in Isla Verde:

  • Gets crowded
  • Hotels and restaurants can be pricey

📚 Isla Verde Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Couples and Honeymooners
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsHampton Inn & SuitesEmbassy Suites by HiltonTRYP by Windham
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Caña by Juliana Gonzalez ($$),Sirena Oceanfront ($$), Bistro Café($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Patio de las Flores, Alambique Beach Lounge
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Isla Verde Beach, Calle Loíza

Fajardo

View of the Seven Sea Beach in Fajardo and a clear blue sky

👉 Best Area For Clear Beaches | ✨ Best Fajardo Hotel: El Conquistador Resort 

If you want to stay close to some of the clearest waters of Puerto Rico, book your stay in Fajardo. Fajardo is located on the east side of the island and it sports one of the best hotels in Puerto Rico, El Conquistador Beach Resort, with a breath-taking view of the coast and a new waterpark for kids. Fajardo is also home to a bioluminescent lagoon and to Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve. 

Pros of Staying in Fajardo:

  • Clearwater and sandy beaches
  • Good location to visit Vieques and Culebra
  • Lots of restaurants

Cons of Staying in Fajardo:

  • Far from San Juan
  • Few attractions

👉 Local Tip: If you stay in Fajardo, make sure to make a day trip to Icacos cay, where you’ll find the clearest waters of Puerto Rico. For more San Juan day trips, see my complete guide to the 15 top day trips near San Juan.

📚 Fajardo Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Clear Beaches
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsEl Conquistador Resort 
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – La Estación ($$), Ahumado a Leña ($$), Sal y Pimienta ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – El Chinchorro de J, Bar Dos Marinas
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Seven Seas Beach, Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve

Ponce

View of a little boy watching the water fountain in Ponce

👉 Best Area For History Lovers | ✨ Best Ponce Hotels: Hilton Ponce Golf and Casino Resort Aloft PonceBoutique Hotel Bélgica

Ponce is located on the south coast facing the Caribbean Sea and it’s the perfect place to stay for people looking for a similar place to Old San Juan. Ponce sports multiple buildings and landmarks with a rich history dating back to the Spanish colonial era that will transport every visitor to the island’s past lifestyle.

Pros of Staying in Ponce:

  • Lots of restaurants
  • Central location to visit cities in the south
  • Many attractions for history lovers

Cons of Staying in Ponce:

  • Far from San Juan
  • Food can be pricey

📚 Ponce Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for History Lovers
Google Map

Isabela

View of the author enjoying the view in Montones Beach
Montones Beach in Isabela

👉 Best Area For Experiencing Local Culture | ✨ Best Isabela Hotels: Parador Villas del Mar HauRoyal IsabelaVilla Montaña Beach Resort

If you want to stay in a city that’s tourist-friendly but not touristy enough to ruin the local culture experience, then head over to Isabela. Isabela is a coastal city with a prime location between the north and northwest attractions. 

Besides the beautiful Jobos Beach, Isabela is home to the Guajataca Forest, Cueva de las Golondrinas, Montones Beach, and some of the best restaurants to eat seafood in Puerto Rico. Isabela is close to other cities like Camuy, Aguadilla and Arecibo.

Pros of Staying in Isabela:

  • Lots of restaurants and bars
  • Prime location 
  • Great beaches

Cons of Staying in Isabela:

  • Far from San Juan
  • Beaches can be dangerous

📚 Isabela Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Experiencing Local Culture
Google Map

Cabo Rojo

View of a sunset in Cabo Rojo

👉 Best Area For Youngsters | ✨ Best Cabo Rojo Hotels: Combate Beach ResortDouglas Highway Inn HotelBOHO Beach Club

Cabo Rojo is home to beautiful sunsets, paradisiacal beaches, and landmarks filled with natural beauty. Located in the west of Puerto Rico, Cabo Rojo is the ideal getaway for youngsters traveling in groups and wanting to experience the culture and beauty of Puerto Rico. 

Cabo Rojo offers a few of the best landmarks in Puerto Rico, like Los Morrillos Lighthouse in Cabo Rojo’s National Wildlife Refuge, Boqueron Beach, the Pink Salt Likes, and Joyuda.

Pros of Staying in Cabo Rojo:

Cons of Staying in Cabo Rojo:

  • Far from the metro area
  • Gets crowded

📚 Cabo Rojo Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Youngsters
Google Map

Rincón

View of a man going in to the beach

👉 Best Area For Surfers and Beach Bummers | ✨ Best Rincon Hotels: Villa CofresiCasa Verde HotelRincon Beach Resort

Rincón is a beach town on the west coast that is home to the best beaches in Puerto Rico for surfers. It’s the ideal place to stay in Puerto Rico for people who want a vacation full of gorgeous beaches, surfing, and small-town peaceful vibes. It makes for an affordable base if you’re doing Puerto Rico as a budget traveler.

Rincon’s town center sports restaurants, souvenirs shops, bakeries, and art galleries, plus small colorful houses that make for a great photo background. Rincon is also the best town in Puerto Rico for whale watching during the winter and spring.

Pros of Staying in Rincon:

  • Beaches for surfing
  • Experience local culture
  • Budget-friendly hotels

Cons of Staying in Rincon:

  • Far from San Juan
  • Hard to move around without a car

📚 Rincon Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Surfers and Beach Bummers
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsVilla CofresiCasa Verde HotelRincon Beach Resort
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Rincon Smoke Shack ($$), The Beach House ($$), Red Flamboyan ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – The H.U.B., La Barca Snack Bar
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Domes Beach, Rincon Beach

Culebra Island

View of a sailing boat in Culebra

👉 Best Area for Relaxation | ✨ Best Culebra Hotels: Club Seabourne HotelPalmetto Guest HouseEl Navegante de Culebra

Culebra is one of the smaller islands that belong to Puerto Rico, and it’s the perfect destination to relax and disconnect from the daily rush. The island’s main attractions are its paradisiacal blue turquoise beaches like Flamenco Beach and Tamarindo Beach. Culebra Island is also one of the places in Puerto Rico where you can swim with sea turtles while scuba diving or find their nests on the sandy beach.

Pros of Staying in Culebra:

  • Uncrowded beaches
  • Relaxing getaway
  • Easy access to Culebrita and Vieques

Con of Staying in Culebra:

  • Difficult to get there
  • Mostly natural attractions

👉 Local Tip: While Flamenco is probably the most famous beach of Puerto Rico, the island sports many beautiful beaches with easier accessibility.

📚 Culebra Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Relaxation
Google Map

Vieques Island

View of two horses walking with palm trees around them

👉 Best Area For Nature Lovers | ✨ Best Vieques Hotels: Bravo Beach HotelEl Blok Blue Horizon Boutique Resort

Nature-lovers should definitely include Vieques in their list of where to stay in Puerto Rico. Vieques island is a small island located to the east of Puerto Rico and it’s an Eden where you can walk along with wild horses on a black sand beach or kayak in Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world.

Pros of Staying in Vieques Island :

  • Close to Culebra
  • Lots of restaurants and bars
  • Natural breathtaking landscapes

Cons of Staying in Vieques Island:

  • Need to exit the main island
  • Ferry gets canceled frequently

📚 Vieques Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Nature Lovers
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsBravo Beach HotelEl Blok Blue Horizon Boutique Resort
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Biekes Bistro ($$), Coqui Fire Cafe ($$), El Resuelve de Carmen ($)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Saint Voodoo’s, El Sombrero Viejo
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Mosquito Bay, Vieques National Wildlife Refuge

Tips for Staying in Puerto Rico

Choose the Right Location

To get the most out of your trip to Puerto Rico, you must choose where to stay according to your goal vacation. While Old San Juan is central, it won’t fit every traveler’s taste. Puerto Rico offers different accommodation options for surfers, history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and beach bummers so visitors can find the ideal place to stay.

Bring your COVID Vaccine Card

The COVID vaccine isn’t required to enter Puerto Rico, but restaurants, concert halls, and theaters ask for proof of vaccination to access the facilities. A valid negative PCR test is also accepted in some places.

Rent a Car

Old San Juan is a great city for walking on foot without the need to rent a car or take a taxi, but travelers who are thinking about visiting other parts of the island should rent a car since public transportation is mostly limited to Puerto Rico’s metro area. Be sure to read up on Puerto Rico’s driving rules, and use Discover Cars to find the best prices for car rentals.

Go Outside the Touristic Zone

While Old San Juan, Isla Verde, and Condado are great places to stay in Puerto Rico, they don’t do justice to Puerto Rico’s culture and beauty. Some of the island’s greatest destinations are in non-touristy municipalities like Utuado, Arecibo, Isabela, and Orocovis. If you don’t dare to go on your own, hire a local guide that takes you to Puerto Rico’s best-hidden gems.

Travel Off-Season

Puerto Rico can be an expensive destination, especially during the high season. Visiting the island off-season can save you money on hotels, tours, rental cars, and even restaurants. Puerto Rico sports nice weather all year round and you can visit the beaches in other seasons besides summer.

FAQs About Staying in Puerto Rico

What is the best area of Puerto Rico to stay in?

The best areas to stay in Puerto Rico include Old San Juan for sightseeing, Rio Grande for adventure lovers, Rincon and Cabo Rojo to surf and find the best sunsets, Vieques to see the bioluminescent bay, and Culebra to relax on the beach.

Where should you not stay in Puerto Rico?

In Puerto Rico, visitors shouldn’t stay in any caserio or La Perla, as they aren’t areas for tourists. People who want to stay close to the beach or who don’t drive well on curvy roads shouldn’t stay in the central area of Puerto Rico.

What side of the Island is best in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico’s west coast is best for beach bummers, surfers, and nature lovers. Puerto Rico’s north coast is best for people who like the buzz of the metro area but also natural escapes. The east side is best to find luxurious hotels and clear beaches.

What is the most beautiful part of Puerto Rico?

The most beautiful parts of Puerto Rico include Old San Juan, Ponce, and Arecibo for history lovers. Cities like Manatí, Isabela, Aguadilla, Rincón, Cabo Rojo, Vieques, and Culebra sport the most beautiful natural landscapes and beaches.

Which is better, Condado or Isla Verde?

Isla Verde is better for visitors who want to stay close to the airport, but they still want to enjoy the beach and the local cuisine. Condado is better for people who want to stay away from the crowd of Isla  Verde, but still want to be close to the landmarks of Old San Juan and the beach. Condado is also a more family-friendly destination.

Is it better to stay in Old San Juan or Condado?

Old San Juan is a better location for visitors that want to be close to Puerto Rico’s top landmarks within walking distance. Condado is better for families that want to enjoy the beach,  but still want to be close enough to Old San Juan’s landmarks.

***

🛑 BEFORE YOU GO – Don’t miss my complete guide to the 49 Best Things to do in Puerto Rico.

That’s the complete guide to the best neighborhoods and cities where to stay in Puerto Rico. I hope this helps you find the best place to stay for your Puerto Rico vacation!

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