Established as a European colonial city in the 16th century, Puerto Plata city follows a typical grid pattern that is easy to follow on foot or by taxi. The sidewalks can be narrow and the streets busy with traffic. Because many of the attractions and resorts most popular with tourists are located slightly outside the city, however, travelers wanting to make trips into the city or to other areas may want to catch a taxi or gua-gua (bus) to get around. A city map is always helpful, as many of the street signs can be small and difficult to see. Taxis are not terribly expensive, and gua-guas even less so, although the latter tend to be crowded and hot. Air conditioned public buses are a more comfortable option.

Many tourists in Puerto Plata never leave the complex of the resort they have chosen, since the all-inclusive packages offered by many of these resorts provide much in the way of entertainment. In resort complexes such as Playa Dorada, tourists can take bicycle tours to the other hotels in the compound. Many resorts distribute wristbands to indicate who is staying with each resort, and some hotels may restrict admission to include their own guests only. The compound is small enough to explore by foot and is safe throughout the daylight and evening hours. Some hotels will offer free shuttles to the city or to the beach.