Getting around in San Juan
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Getting around in San Juan Reviews
How to get around in San Juan & Solo female travelers Aug 24, 2009
First I'll start by saying that it is safe to travel here alone as a solo female. There are plenty of police stationed day and night to insure that walking is safe here.
Tourists are at the mercy of cabs in this city. Taxis never-ever run their meters - they just throw out a number that they want to charge you, and it is usually exorbitant. Here are some ways I have discovered to get around them.
Within the city of Old San Juan:
1) Walking: Old San Juan is quite walkable if you are in average shape. With many hills and uneven surfaces it is a good idea to start in the morning leaving plenty of time to rest along the way.
Walking is safe in OSJ except it is not advised to go into the crowded settlements between the old city wall and the ocean along the stretch from El Morro and Cristobal. Those neighborhoods were settled generations ago and those who live there are always pressured to leave the land... so they defend it vigorously and are not welcoming to visitors (particularly visitors who are Puerto Rican.)
2) Free Trolleys: A map for the routes and stops is available at the tourism bureau which is located across from the port in the gray building on the corners of Calle Cristo and La Princesa Promenade.
There are 3 routes for the free trolleys that will take you to most typical tourist sites in the city. Traffic is generally congested so there are no time slots specified. When the trolley arrives is when it comes :o) They seem to circulate about every 45 minutes(ish).
The green route takes rides around the perimeter of the city past the port, Cristobal, and El Morro.
The blue route cuts through more of the interior city streets as well as overlapping the castle and fort sites.
The orange covers the port area and central city streets.
All of the trolleys are free and have designated stops. Riders MUST wait until the trolley stops completely and then enter from the right side. The drivers take their jobs very seriously and will kick you off right then and there if you don't wait for the complete stop......I've seen it done!
To the Beaches of Isla Verde and the Airport:
1) Walking is not advised as a long bridge must be crossed and it is not set up for walkers. The distance from Old San Juan and Isla Verde is about 7 miles and is a 12 or so minute drive by cab.
2) Public Bus: The bus system is decent here to get back and forth. The cost is .75 cents. Bus stops are located all along Ave. Isla Verde (behind the hotels which face the ocean). Again, no designated times, but one of 2 routes to OSJ come approximately every 30 minutes to an hour. The earlier you go after rush hour the more likely the trip to OSJ will go as buses are less crowded after say 8:30 and before 11:00am. If the bus is full it will pass the bus stop without stopping and there is no telling when the next bus will arrive!
**Note, to avoid the 2 hour crush of rush-hour, be sure to head back to Isla Verde before 4pm or after 6pm, otherwise the bus ride (or cab ride) could take 2 hours.
To get into Old San Juan take routes A5 or C53. Both end at the bus terminal in OSJ and you cannot miss it, as the route ends.
Buses run until 8pm daily.
3) Cabs cost $20 one way. Haggle with the driver, they WILL go down in price. If you see others in your hotel waiting for a cab offer to share a cab and split the expense. Cab drivers hate that!
4) Rental Car: Instead of paying more through Travelocity or Expedia, rent a car once you get to the island. A common place to rent from is Charlie Car Rental which as 2 locations on Ave. Isla Verde. They are very reasonable and have just about any kind of car to choose from. If you rent a car still leave it parked at the hotel when entertain Old San Juan because parking is tough and it still has steep charges at parking garages ($2.40 per hour).
5) Tours: I recommend planning for and taking a tour early in your stay. Transportation is included from the hotel and you will get a view of areas outside of the city. From there you can choose what to see next and determine how far it is from Old San Juan or Isla Verde. There are waterfall tours, rainforest, coffee tours, snorkeling, zipline, etc.
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