San Juan vs. Miami: Which Is Better for a Vacation?


San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Miami, Florida, may seem like two entirely different American cities, yet each shares a common atmosphere and cultural diversity. San Juan is the capital and largest city of Puerto Rico and by far its most popular vacation destination. Miami is the economic center of Latin America and one of the contiguous United States’ most influential cities, but which of these two tropical powerhouses is better for a vacation?

In terms of things to do, sights to see, and open spaces, Miami, Florida, is usually the most popular destination in the tropics. San Juan is certainly an important and influential city in Puerto Rico, yet there are fewer attractions and things to do overall. Miami provides a better vacation. 

San Juan vs. Miami
CategorySan JuanMiami
Cost Per Person (One Week)$1,764$1,876
Main AttractionsEl Morro, Old San Juan, Fort San Cristobal, San Juan Cemetery, Condado and Ocean Park Beach, La Fortaleza, San Jose Church South Beach, Miami Beach, Art Deco Historic District, Everglades National Park, National Hurricane Center, Bayside Marketplace 
FoodThe cuisine of San Juan incorporates many authentic Latin dishes with a strong influence of seafood in the region.The cuisine of Miami is a mixture of quintessential American dishes with a strong representation of authentic Latin American cuisine.
WeatherSan Juan is in the tropics, which means that heat and humidity characterize the weather of the region throughout the year.Miami is in the tropics, which means that heat and humidity characterize the weather of the region throughout the year.
SafetySan Juan is considered to be a generally safe city to visit with moderate criminal activity; however, vacationers are typically immune from this.Miami is a generally safe city, with most of the areas popular with vacationers, including main attractions, being overall safe; residential areas should be avoided.
TransportationWalking and bicycling are popular; free trolleys; taxis, public buses, and ride-sharing apps are also available.Miami-Dade Transit offers many types of public transportation; car rentals and taxis are also popular; walking and bicycling are popular on Miami Beach and South Beach.
CustomsIf traveling from the continental U.S., you will not need a passport to vacation in San Juan; however, a valid I.D. will be needed.To enter the United States, you will need a valid passport and a visa.

Both San Juan and Miami are popular cities in what is known as Latin America, with Miami being one of the most popular and influential cities in the entire United States. You will likely get a great vacation experience from either destination; however, San Juan may be the better option if you want a truly tropical experience. This article will explore each of these popular cities through a range of categories to determine which is the better choice for a vacation. 

San Juan vs. Miami

Cost of Stay

San Juan and Miami are about even when it comes to the total cost of a standard, one-week trip. In San Juan, one-week will typically cost about $1,764. San Juan is one of the most popular destinations in Puerto Rico; therefore, the costs associated will be somewhat substantial but not overwhelming. Consider staying at an affordable hotel (more below) to bring down the cost of your trip. 

Miami is a bit more expensive. A standard one-week trip to Florida’s most popular city typically costs about $1,876. Miami’s costs can go up substantially, especially if you frequent many of the world-renowned clubs and restaurants that are stretched all across the city. One way to save some costs in Miami is to consider staying in an affordable hotel and limiting your fine dining outings to once or twice in the trip. 

Affordable Hotel Options

In San Juan, one of the most affordable and unique hotels is certainly the Casa Santurce. This upscale hostel is conveniently located near Candado Beach. It is a great way to experience beachfront lodging accommodation for a reasonable price, as long as you do not mind dormitory-style lodging. 

In Miami, affordable hotel options are plentiful. Many popular budget hotel chains are everywhere, but consider staying at a unique budget hotel, Ithaca of South Beach. Not only is this hotel affordable with many amenities, but it is also located just a short stroll from the excitement and adventures awaiting you on the infamous South Beach. 

Main Attractions

When visiting San Juan, a trip to the Old San Juan historic district is one of the most popular attractions for vacationers. This district stretches back to the early sixteenth century, with many of the founding buildings and displays of architecture still intact to this day. 

San Juan vs. Miami

Miami is, of course, famous for its beaches, but when you have had your fill of warm ocean-filled days, consider taking a trip to the iconic Everglades National Park. This large park is accessible from Miami and features some of the most sacred and heavily protected wetlands in the United States. 

Food

The cuisine of San Juan incorporates many authentic Latin dishes with a strong influence of seafood in the region. Miami’s cuisine is a mixture of quintessential American dishes with a strong representation of authentic Latin American cuisine. Both areas are similar as far as food, yet also unique and different in their own rights. 

In San Juan, one of the best restaurants to dine at is Kasalta. This restaurant is located just a few blocks from the sea and is a popular brunch, breakfast, and dinner eatery. Be sure to try the classic Caldo Gallego soup, which incorporates many regional ingredients. 

In Miami, the options are limitless, but a dining experience at Alter is definitely a must. This award-winning restaurant combines local ingredients in unique and flavorful combinations with a European and Latin American flare.  

Weather

Both San Juan and Miami are in the tropics, which means that heat and humidity characterize the region’s weather throughout the year. Hurricanes are possible during the summer and early fall months; therefore, you should prepare for such events if visiting either destination during these months. 

San Juan vs. Miami

Safety

San Juan is considered a generally safe city to visit with moderate criminal activity; however, vacationers are typically immune from this if you exercise a certain degree of caution, such as not traveling alone at night and keeping track of your belongings. Miami is a generally safe city as well, with most of the areas popular with vacationers, including main attractions, being overall safe, although more residential areas should be avoided.

Transportation

Walking and bicycling are popular when vacationing in San Juan; free trolleys, taxis, public buses, and ride-sharing apps are also available. When vacationing in Miami, Miami-Dade Transit offers many types of public transportation. Additionally, car rentals and taxis are also popular, as are walking and bicycling, particularly in Miami Beach and South Beach.

Customs

If traveling from the continental U.S., you will not need a passport to vacation in San Juan; however, a valid I.D. will be needed to prove you are an American national. If traveling to either destination from outside of the United States, you will need a passport to vacation in either destination. 

Conclusion

So, which of these popular cities is better for a vacation? In terms of things to do, you will probably have a more exciting trip to Miami. San Juan is a beautiful city, yet pales compared to all of the attractions and adventures to be had in Miami, which is the epitome of Floridian extravagance.

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