Many visitors to Puerto Rico never venture farther than the capital city of San Juan. Although they miss the spectacular natural beauty and tranquil small towns to be found in the rest of the island, they can be forgiven. San Juan boasts enough attractions and activities to captivate anyone for many days and nights.
The question arises, where should one stay while in this city? The answer depends on where your interests lie.
If you’re coming for the beaches (and the beach parties), you definitely need to book a room on hotel row, the string of glitzy beach resorts stretching from the airport to the bridges that connect the mainland to the island of Old San Juan.
The beach strip is also the place to stay if you want to try your hand at the gambling tables, for this is where the main casinos are situated. Condado is the glitziest neighborhood along the strand, but Isla Verde and Ocean Park have plenty of resort excitement to offer as well.
If your taste runs more to historic sights, you should try to book a room in Old San Juan itself. There are some great hotels in the old quarter that are themselves historic gems, brimming with charm and old-world atmosphere.
If you can’t find a suitable place in the old town proper, due to budget constraints or the fact that everything is booked up, a great alternative is the Miramar neighborhood.
While not on the beach, Miramar is about as close to Old San Juan as you can get without being in the old town itself. The hotels here are, on average, less pricey than those on the beach strip or in the old city proper. From Miramar you can take a convenient bus into the historic district for 75 cents.
Wherever you decide to lodge in San Juan, you will enjoy your stay more if you attempt to speak some Spanish with the taxi drivers, hotel staff and restaurant employees that you meet. Although most locals working in the service industry speak excellent English, making an effort to interact with them in Spanish will mark you as a gracious guest.