I travel to PR 2-3 times a yr and always rent cars with Alamo. I decided to try Charlies RC and I have to say I was pleased with the service and price. I would definetly rent with them again. The price was right specially since I went to a funeral. I recommend Charlies RC.
I was a little leery at 1st from renting from a unfamilar rental car agency but we had no problems at all with Charlie Car Rental. One of their locations was just a block or two from the Verdanza hotel we stayed at in Isla Verde, it's their airport location and open 24 hours so you don't need to worry if you have a late flight but still want to pick up a car. It's also very close to the Embassy Suites in Isla Verde. We only rented for the day, it was $21.55 including all taxes and fees for a compact car. If you use a credit card, they will put a $250 hold on your card.
Someone mentioned to me that if I dropped off the car to their Condado location before 4pm that they had a shuttle service to the cruise piers which would have been extremely convenient and avoided the taxi charge to the docks but we got a late start and didn't have the car back until well after 4pm.
Always check the car for dings and dents, we found a big scratch that wasn't marked on the form and pointed it out to them before we left.
At first I had thought to book a day trip to El Yunque but after reading various forums it appeared that it was very easy to drive in Puerto Rico so we decided to rent a car. From the Charlie's location near Isla Verde it was an easy drive of about an hour to get out to El Yunque, we were able to do it with directions I had printed off of Mapquest. If you take their route it sends you on Hwy 66 which is a toll road, it's a well maintained road and quicker than using the other roads but there is a $1.50 toll.
Going back we decided to go along the coast along highway 187. It was a slower drive and when we got to Loiza we hit a traffic jam, apparently on Sunday afternoon the locals flock here for eating and drinking, there were all kinds of booths set up with quick snacks or more substantial meals, we couldn't resist popping out and trying some of the fried seafood snacks.
Unlike most of the rest of the Caribbean, they drive on the proper side of the road here (the right side) just like in the US. Unlike the US, road signs are in Spanish and distances are listed in km not miles.
A few years ago, the city of San Juan decided to offer its visitors a free and convenient way of getting around the historic district. The San Juan trolley covers pretty much all of the old city area, from El Morro to Castillo San Cristobal and the Capitolio, looping around Calle San Francisco and Calle Fortaleza before going back to the port. There are three different routes (one short - red, one long - blue, and one for the fortifications - green) for a total of 26 stops. To be honest, I thought the Old San Juan area was small enough to be visited on foot, but senior citizens or those traveling with small children might want to take advantage of this free service, especially as some might find it difficult to walk on the cobblestone streets all day long. The trolley runs daily and you can pick up a map of its routes at any tourist information center.
We didn't use the free trolleys, the 1st day we were there they weren't running because the streets were clogged by all the people there for the Festival of San Sebastian. And the 2nd day we were there we decided to walk as Old San Juan is fairly compact and interesting to wander through with all of it's colorful buildings. But if you have limited mobility or are wilting from the heat, you might have a look at the link below that describes how they work. The author of that article posted a picture of the trolley signs and a copy of a map of the trolley routes.
We did see them running when we were at El Morro, the trolley runs right up to the entrance.
We arrived in San Juan in the morning after a Southern Caribbean cruise and needed a way to store our luggage until our early evening flight. We were informed on the cruise ship that Venitian Jewelers in Old San Juan (on San Jose' Street) would store our luggage for free. They did indeed provide that service for us. We left our luggage there while we took in all the sights of Old San Juan. Upon return to the jewelry store, we claimed our luggage and then took a cab (taxi stop was right in front of Venitian Jewelers) to the airport. Of course we did stop to look at the beautiful jewelry in the store! What a great service they provide - and they were very friendly and helpful.
San Juan like most places is best seen and explored by walking around. Every chance Jason and I got we walked around and visited little shops and eateries. My only suggestion would be to pick and chose where you walk at night. Some place are not for girls to walk alone while others are perfectly safe. Be sure to walk around Old San Juan whether or not you do one of those walking tours.
On behalf of our hosts recommendation, we rented a car to drive to the Camuy Caves and the Arceibo Observatory which was cool. Definitely rent the car, if you're going to these sites. It’s so easy to get there. Not to mention less expensive, and you get to not only spend time with your “honey” in the process but you can stop at the road side fruit stands, bakeries etc. Because we only needed the car for a day, we rented a hyundai from Charlie’s. They provide pick-up and drop off sevice which was a plus. The cost of the car was inexpensive and decent but not perfect. For instance, when my husband was driving, the steering wheel vibrated some kind of mean; Making him a human vibrator. Also, the way they held the seatbelt together was very creative. Despite a few minor things, it was worth it and would rent from them again.
I would say that a Metro doesn't really help much at all considering it doesn't even get to Old San Juan. I got on it like 4 times and they were all almost empty so I guess not many people use it. What I did was get to Sagrado Carazon station($1.5 for each ride) and took Metro 1 to Old San Juan. The bus costs 50 cents and it took about 30 minutes. It wasn't that far but it stopped at every station.
The best way to see Old San Juan is to walk around. I read there're some free trolleys but I didn't see any that day. I was at its stop for a while and didn't see any leave either. I guess it wasn't my lucky day. You can get a map from Information Centre.
Getting There: There are many flights into and out of San Juan International Airport.
The taxi ride to central San Juan from the airport costs $12 (or maybe it was $16). The price is fixed. A decent trolley system travels the downtown area to many of the sights.
by boat or by plane, airport is fine and the security process is quite efficient and fast.
by car, ($50/day) if you wish to discover beautiful beaches.
by ferry ($2-$20) or by plane ($35-135.00) to visit some beautiful islands (the best one are the small one, not too crowded, wild and so beautiful)...
the roads are like in USA, they seem quite safe,
But try not to stay alone, and do not let your car without survey during a long time in the country or on the beach (take some basic precautions).