Puerto Rico

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Puerto Rico Money-Saving Tips

Take the Trolley in San Juan

Hop on a trolley car in Old San Juan for a free journey past the city's most notable sites.

Eat Like a Local

For cheap and authentic grub, stop at one of the snack bars found along beach roads.

Get Beached

Beaches with a “Blue Flag” designation by the Foundation for Environmental Education have the safest, cleanest, and best-equipped seashore conditions. Puerto Rico has three within an hour of the capital: Escambrόn, between Condado and Old San Juan, Carolina in Isla Verde, and Montserrate in Luquillo. A fourth is beautiful Flamenco on the island of Culebra.

Hit the Highway

Route 66, expanded in 2008, allows cars to drive from San Juan to the northeast coast in just 20 minutes, down from the hour of stop-and-go it used to require.

It’s Cold in Here

You haven’t experienced air-conditioning until you’ve been to Puerto Rico: Bring a sweater with you everywhere.

Drive You Crazy

The locals are known for reckless driving and creative parking – stay alert!

Just Fry This

Puertorriqueno cuisine is not for the cholesterol conscious – much of it is heavy and fried – but is delicious! Three dishes to try are: mofongo (mashed plantain stuffed with meat, chicken, or seafood and accompanied by a broth-like gravy), tostones (fried smashed plantain slices), and alcapurrias (fried mashed plantain).

In the Zone

Puerto Rico adheres to Atlantic Standard Time, 1 hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Daylight Saving Time isn’t followed, however, so in summer, it’s the same time in San Juan as it is in New York.

No Passport Required

As a U.S. territory, American visitors don’t need a passport to visit Puerto Rico (letters costs the same to mail as back home, too).

No Currency Exchange Needed

Similarly, because the island is a commonwealth of the U.S., its official currency is the dollar. There is no other local currency.

Tax Alert

The hotel tax ranges 9-11 percent and some resorts levy an additional service charge around 10-12 percent. Puerto Rico's sales tax ranges from 5.5-7 percent depending on the municipality – you’ll find it applied to purchases in shops, restaurants, etc.

A Note on Language

Spanish and English are both official languages, but many people, especially outside tourist and business areas, speak little or no English. Fluency in English often depends on the age of the person with whom you're speaking, as the requirement to learn English in public schools has fluctuated multiple times since the '50s. If you’re exploring outside San Juan, bring a phrase book – or a deep well of patience.

Get Around

Although you’ll need a car to get anywhere else on the island, you don’t need wheels in San Juan, especially Old San Juan, which is compact and traffic-choked (there’s also a free trolley that navigates the old city). Bus service links the four-mile coastline where most of the city’s accommodations and sites are found, running between Old San Juan, Condado, Ocean Park and Isla Verde. Metropolitan Bus Authority; 787-767-7979

Visit the Rain Forest

There is no fee for entrance to El Yunque rain forest. Spend the day hiking, swimming, and viewing the abundant and unique plant and animal life.

It’s Classical

The Casals Festival – named after Puerto Rican cellist Pablo Casals – has been luring top names in classical music to San Juan since 1957. The month-long series of concerts starts mid-February. 787-721-7727; www.festcasalspr.gobierno.pr

Sample Rum at Casa Bacardi

Discover the history of the rum-making Bacardi family at the Casa Bacardi Visitor Center. The free tour includes a film, a bartender demonstration, and two free drinks.

Boutique Hotel Boom

Boutique hotels – a new phenomenon that has swept the island in the past decade – tend to provide more personality and privacy, often for less money than name brands.

Free Info

For maps and general visitor tips head to La Casita, a tourist information center housed in a yellow house next to the San Juan port, where the majority of cruise ships dock. They’ll help you get oriented for a walking tour of the old city and can also point you to the stop for a free trolley that tours the sites. 787-722-1709

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