- San Juan, Puerto Rico residents mainly drive to get to and from places.
Traveling to Puerto Rico from the United States is a piece of tres leches cake compared to other Caribbean islands. You don’t need a passport, an international phone plan, or a change of currency. It’s one of the many reasons I love living here.
The island is just over 100 miles long and about 35 miles wide, but public transportation is notoriously lacking, so don’t rely on it as an efficient transport method. Most people drive, so there is traffic in and around the San Juan metro area. Rental-car prices can cost more than your flight, so I recommend making reservations well in advance. The street signs are American, but the potholes are distinctly Puerto Rican, and occur with such frequency that they’re jarring for unfamiliar drivers, so be cautious while driving around.
As a local, here’s everything I think visitors need to know about getting around San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport
Domestic airlines like JetBlue, Southwest, Delta, United, American, Frontier, and Allegiant all fly to Puerto Rico in under four hours from most East Coast hubs. There are also select nonstop international flights, like Madrid to San Juan on Iberia, and service from regional carriers that operate within the Caribbean.
Puerto Rico has three major international-commercial airports: Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan (SJU), Rafael Hernández Marín International Airport in Aguadilla (BQN), and Mercedita International Airport in Ponce (PSE). SJU is the most popular by far, and will likely be the one travelers fly into. It’s a small, but busy, airport, with TSA PreCheck available, but not CLEAR for expedited screening. When you’re departing the island, make sure you go through the required agricultural inspection before checking your bags.
There are several rental-car companies on-site at SJU such as Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz. Certain companies, like Sixt, have branches just off-site and provide a transport shuttle from the airport to the branches.
If you’re planning to stay within the San Juan area, you can get away with walking and taking ride-shares, but if you want to visit other regions, you’ll want a car. There’s no other way to reliably visit other parts of the island unless you book a group tour and organized activities.
I recommend visitors rent a car for the flexibility and use a local company called Charlie Car Rental, which has branches at both SJU and BQN. They’re affiliated with ACE Rent A Car and fulfill their vehicle reservations at SJU. They always have competitive prices, are quick to process your reservation when you arrive, and are honest when it comes to any pre-existing damage on the vehicle.
The only app-based ride-hailing service on the island is Uber, and be warned — they’re nearly impossible to catch outside the San Juan metro area. Even if you call one from within the metro area, many Uber drivers are hesitant to make long trips to other parts of the island since it’s unlikely they’ll find a passenger for the ride back. Lyft is not available. There are a handful of cars listed on Turo, a peer-to-peer car-sharing service, which is a good option if you want to rent a Tesla or another luxury vehicle.
Old San Juan Trolley
There’s a free trolley that loops around Old San Juan. Stops include the capitol building and the Paseo De La Princesa — a scenic walk along the old perimeter wall of the city. Old San Juan is only seven square blocks in total, so it’s otherwise walkable, but the trolley is air-conditioned and a welcome break in hot months.
Biking is a popular way to get around Old San Juan, and a good option considering how crowded it gets and how difficult it can be to find parking. Rent the Bicycle, which offers tours and rentals, is located in Old San Juan. San Juan Bike Rentals will deliver a bike to you via their mobile-delivery service anywhere in the metro area. Cycling enthusiasts can also ride from Old San Juan to Condado, crossing the Dos Hermanos bridge on a dedicated, car-free bike path. There are also electric-scooter rentals available, but they’re banned in Old San Juan. You can contact San Juan Scooter Rentals for various electric-scooter options and models.