35 min read

Getting Around San Juan Without a Car

From the train to the ferry, check out all the ways to get around San Juan, Puerto Rico without a car.

San Juan boasts multiple attractions from historical buildings to natural marvels to bustling bars and restaurants. In order to make your way around the city and to make the most out of its sights, it’s advisable to check out all the transportation options. Whether you’re wandering through the cobbled streets of Old San Juan or venturing out to the ecological wonders of El Yunque National Forest, you’ll need to find the choice of commuting that best fits your journey. 

We’ve compiled a list of all the ideal ways to move around San Juan and experience the city:

  • Option 1: Walking, Scootering or Biking
  • Option 2: Renting a car
  • Option 3: Taking a train
  • Option 4: Using Uber or a taxi service
  • Option 5: Taking the bus
  • Option 6: Riding on the público
  • Option 7: Catching a domestic flight 
  • Option 8: Navigating via ferry

Keep reading to find out more about the multiple means to travel around San Juan.

Option 1: Walking or Scootering

If you’re staying in Old San Juan, your own two feet are a perfect mode of transportation. Due to its archaic history, the old town was not made for cars; its narrow, cobbled streets are best explored by walking. Wander through the town and explore San Juan’s colonial history through its eye-catching architecture. A must-see stop for your journey is Calle de la Fortaleza (Fortaleza Street) which is adorned with a canopy of photo-worthy umbrellas. If you crave expert knowledge, there are a multitude of options for walking tours such as here. For a speedier experience, you can find scooters on the sidewalk for rent via an app in many of the popular touristy neighborhoods, and bike rentals are a popular option for those looking to get some exercise while exploring local areas. 

Option 2: Renting a car

Puerto Rico is an island decked with sights worth seeing so we’d recommend renting a car to give you the agency to explore outside of San Juan during your stay. If you’re flying into Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), you can easily hire a car from there and kickstart your stay. Most companies require you to be over 25 years of age and prices are subject to change depending on the season. Ensure that you check insurance, breakdown policies and Puerto Rican road laws to make sure that you are fully prepared in case of an emergency. Fuel is easy to come by, but bringing some change for tolls is a good idea. 

Here are some of the main car rental options:

Option 3: Taking a train

Tren Urbano was the first train system in the Caribbean and it provides a generally accessible transportation system around San Juan. Although it is only a single-line system, Tren Urbano covers 16 stations which will aid your traveling, but may need to be supplemented with walking or a ride-share service. Tickets usually cost $1.50, with discounted tickets for people over the age of 60 and people with disabilities for $0.75. There are also options for train passes that can double up as bus passes. Running from 5:50 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., the service is a brilliant way to explore in and around San Juan if you would rather choose public transport than a private car.

Option 4: Using Uber or a taxi service

If you’re not opting to drive yourself but desire a personal service, then Taxi Turisticos are an ideal method. These taxis are easily located in all the popular locations throughout San Juan. Alternatively, Ubers are another reliable option as you can use your app to quickly call a car in the more densely populated areas of the city. Rates will depend on the time of day and area.

Are you planning to venture outside of San Juan? Around Puerto Rico there are islands worth visiting, such as Vieques and Culebra, which are embellished with white sands and palm trees. Alongside rental cars, the following options are favorable modes of traveling.

Option 5: Taking the bus

For a cost-effective price, you can navigate Puerto Rico using the AMA (Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses) system - also known as the AMA-Metrobus. Running since 1959, this system is accessible to all citizens and tourists. Like the train system, the AMA offers discounted prices for students, people over the age of 60 and people with disabilities. Just look for a PARADA signed bus stop and be prepared to sometimes wait a bit as buses aren’t always exactly on time. Some routes are subject to change so it is best to check the map rather than following guidance on the internet which may be outdated. However, they are a cheap and cheerful way to travel around the island so the bus system is definitely worth a go to sight-see on a budget. 

Option 6: Riding on the Público

Públicos are highly affordable vans that can take you all around Puerto Rico. The drivers follow basic routes but can amend the journey depending on the needs of the passengers. Like the taxi system, you can find público pickup points in popular areas. If you intend to use this method, make sure you have cash and some basic conversational Spanish as públicos are less tourist-friendly than options like taxis or Ubers. Additionally, it is best to plan ahead if you intend to take públicos across the island because they are not always the most reliable service. However, they are a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the local culture and meet locals, especially students and older citizens.

Option 7: Catching a domestic flight 

Puerto Rico possesses a range of airports if you’re seeking a fast, efficient mode of commuting around the island. From Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), you can also travel to nearby islands such as Culebra and Vieques, rather than combine a taxi/shuttle trip with a ferry. Isla Grande, San Juan’s smaller domestic airport, offers even cheaper flights to the islands. Flying is an easily accessible means to catch a well-deserved break at the beach.

Option 8: Navigating via ferry

Another route to the secluded, tropical islands that surround Puerto Rico is via ferry. You can access these by a public shuttle or private car rental. The former is a more advisable choice to ensure that you get a spot on the ferries. The journey times start at around 30 minutes but may vary depending on the conditions of the weather. Puerto Rico Ferry offers a range of routes which connect San Juan and the islands. An added bonus is the opportunity to gaze at Puerto Rico’s coast during your trip.

From historical fortresses to tranquil isles, Puerto Rico is jam-packed with sights and experiences to immerse yourself in. With these varied transportation methods, you can have your own adventure in San Juan and beyond.

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