So you’ve only got a couple nights in San Juan, but you want to make sure you go to the right spots — look no further.
These tried-and-true bars and clubs are guaranteed to keep you on your feet, dancing the night away with plenty of friendly Puerto Ricans — who by the way, are known to be great dancers.
No visit to San Juan is complete without a rum tasting at the famous Bacardi distillery. Just across the water from Old San Juan, this 1 1/2 hour is a perfect start to your night out. Tours are from 10am to 5pm, depending on how early you want to start drinking. I recommend catching the 5pm tour, which will finish by 7pm.
Essentially, you get 7 full drinks for $55, which is a pretty good price if you ask me since it also comes with a little bit of history. Sit in the lawn in a comfy wicker chair, sipping a perfectly crafted Bacardi cocktail: Mojito, Daquiri, Cuba Libre, etc.
Getting there: Old San Juan ferry to Cataño, then a $1 bus or $5 uber to Bacardi; OR a $12-20 uber from Old San Juan/Condado.
Old San Juan bars (pre-game or chill night out)
There’s no shortage of bars and pubs in old San Juan, but the best spots are on Calle San Sebastian. There are also a few bars near the water on Calle Norzagaray in between the two forts.
Down by the water, the small village-feeling community of La Perla has some super local and cheap bars, definitely a place to go if you’re an adventurous Spanish speaker and looking for a genuine experience.
La Placita (Friday nights)
La Placita is the hottest place to be on Friday nights in San Juan. This pedestrianized area around Calle Roberts consists of a dozen or so dive bars, where music spills out into the street, and people are dancing inside and out. Here, you can sip local Puerto Rican beers such as Medalla, or purchase a very-homemade tasting cocktail.
It’s definitely a little younger and grittier scene, I’d compare it to NY’s East Village. Lots of fun, and a good place to meet locals as well as tourists from other Latin American countries, rather than other U.S. and Canada nationals.
Crowd: Teens, 20s and 30s
Getting there: Located in the Condadito/Santurce area, just 10 minutes from Old San Juan (by car) and 5 minutes from Condado, it’s a cheap uber ride from wherever you’re staying. The party starts around 11:30 or 12 at the earliest, and goes until 5am.
Depending on the bar, beers range from $2-5 and cocktails from $5+.
Dress code: casual, best to wear close-toed shoes
La Factoria (Saturday nights)
This famous establishment is on Calle San Sebastian in Old San Juan, but what makes it different from the other old San Juan bars is that it has five rooms and an upstairs lounge, each with a different kind of music; from Latin styles (salsa, chacha, reggaeton) to EDM/trance, etc.
Check the calendar, because on certain Saturdays and even Sunday nights, La Factoria hosts live salsa bands. Even if you can’t dance, you’ll enjoy the energy.
Stand back and enjoy the show, or politely ask a local; they’ll be glad to show you some basic steps!
Beers: $4-6 Cocktails: $9-11. I recommend the Lavender mule with rum instead of vodka, a great and refreshing drink.
Dress code: pants and a collared shirt, closed toed shoes (for salsa!), for ladies, really anything
Crowd: all ages
I didn’t take any pictures here, I was too busy dancing!
Condado (Any Night)
Ashford Avenue is lined with hotels with various bars, casinos, and clubs inside them or on the rooftops. Hotel bars and clubs are popular, not just for tourists but also for locals looking for a fancy night out. The parties here are alive just about any night of the week, so even if you’re in San Juan during the week you’ll be able to find some action.
The vibe at these places ranges from Carribean tiki bar to New York high-life, so there’s something for everyone. If getting flashy bottle service is your dream, head to La Concha, or one of the many other upscale lounges, where this fantasy is obtainable for a relatively inexpensive price. Definitely a good place for a classy birthday party.
Tables and bottles here are much less expensive than they would be in major U.S. cities, for the same alcohol (and honestly better-looking people and music).
The prices in this area are higher; $15+ cocktails.
Crowd: late 20s, 30s and early 40s.
Dress code: business casual, elegant
It’s hard not to have a good time in San Juan, once you get a taste of the city’s upbeat and vibrant nightlife. Be ready to dance the night away in some of these hot spots, and drink plenty of ‘Vitamin R’, as they in the Carribean — rum!