Where to stay in Pensacola

Pensacola is located in the Florida Panhandle in Northwestern Florida. Here sunny days, crystal clear water and sugar-like white beaches are parts of the daily life. But where to stay in Pensacola and the surrounding area for the ultimate stay?

Great options are Downtown Pensacola, Pensacola Beach, Gulf Breeze and Navarre Beach.

Blue ocean and Pensacola Beach Pier.
The Pensacola Beach Pier.

Staying in Downtown Pensacola

Downtown Pensacola has more than 450 years of history behind it, with the Spanish founding the city in 1559. Today, the historic downtown is the pumping heart of the city.

In the downtown area you find a good selection of educational museums, fun shops, cozy cafés, award-winning restaurants and bars ready to cool you off. And the area is very walkable, so you don’t have to rely on your car while you discover what the heart of the city has to offer.

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If you want to trade the city for the beach for a change, you can reach the white dunes in about 20 minutes.

But all things considered, if you’re after a pure beach holiday you should stay in any of the other areas that are directly on the beach. But if that’s not the case, downtown is a very good option for where to stay in Pensacola.

Here you have a rich selection of entertainment, places to eat and bars where you can cool off during hot Florida days or nights. And all that in the beautiful historic environment of one of the first European settlements in America.

Entrance of high-rise building
Downtown Pensacola.

Staying on Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach is situated on Santa Rosa Island, south of the city and Gulf Breeze. Here the sand is as white as sand gets and the water as clear as water gets.

The main attractions here is of course the beautiful beach. You can walk for miles on quiet and relaxing stretches of it, or you can choose to base yourself on the contrasting Casino Beach. There you have a more busy beach scene if you prefer that.

A great thing with Pensacola Beach is that is has a good selection of restaurants and bars on the island too. That means that you don’t necessarily need to leave the island during your stay.

All the positive aspects of the beach make people come for it from near and far. That means that the hotels here tend to be pricier compared to if you look in other nearby areas.

To sum up, this is a great choice for where to stay in Pensacola if you’re looking forward to a beach vacation. Here you literally can stay on the beach, and step right out on the sandy dunes as soon as you wake up in the morning.

Crystal clear water and white sand on Pensacola Beach.
Crystal-clear water and white sand on Pensacola Beach.

Staying in Gulf Breeze

Gult Breeze is located south of Pensacola, but north of Pensacola Beach. When you stay in Gulf Breeze you are just a short drive away from both.

So this is the option if you can’t decide if you want to stay downtown or on the beach. Or if you simply want to go a lot to both places and therefore stay between them.

Another advantage with Gulf Breeze is that it’s often cheaper than if you stay directly on the beach. So you can pay lower rates when you stay here, even if you’re only a 10 or 15 minute drive away from the sandy snow-white dunes.

In other words, Gulf Breeze is a great choice if you look for cheaper rates and think it’s fine to drive to the beach and downtown when you want to go there.

Sunset over Pensacola Bay
Sunset over Pensacola Bay.

Staying on Navarre Beach

Navarre Beach is an excellent option to Pensacola Beach. It’s also situated on Santa Rosa Island, but further east.

All that separates the two is the Gulf Islands National Seashore. And to drive the distance takes about 30 minutes.

The beach in Navarre is just as pretty as it is in the neighbouring community. Instead, the main difference is that Navarre is quieter. Here you find smaller crowds, less to do and fewer places to eat.

Also, it’s longer from Navarre Beach to all the things to do in Downtown Pensacola. So if you plan to go a lot there you should look into the other suggested areas to stay in.

All in all, Navarre Beach is a great option if you look for a quiet but beautiful beach stay. The selection isn’t as good here compared to Pensacola Beach, but that’s not what you come for when you go to Navarre anyway.

Crashing waves on Navarre Beach
Waves crashing in on Navarre Beach.

Search for a hotel in Pensacola

Use the booking tool below to find the perfect accomodation for your stay in Pensacola. Browse the map for options in various areas, or click on the search button to get all options listed.


Read more: The optimal beach getaway to Pensacola Beach, Florida >>

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