So you’ve only got a couple of nights in San Juan, but you want to make sure you go to the right spots — look no further.
I’m Tristan, an NYU student, backpacker and animal rights advocate. Here are some of my favorite spots!
These tried-and-true bars and clubs are guaranteed to keep you on your feet, dance 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 one and a half hour tasting session is a perfect way to start 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.
A great way to try Bacardi’s fancier rums without having to buy a whole bottle.
Essentially, you get seven 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 for a chilled 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.
A rooftop bar in vibrant old San Juan.
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 on 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 a little younger and grittier scene, I’d compare it to New York’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.
The outside areas become just as busy as inside the bars. Mingle!
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+.
La Factoria on 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, cha-cha, reggaetón) to EDM/trance, etc.
Check the calendar, because 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 cost $4-6 Cocktails: $9-11. I recommend the Lavender mule with rum instead of vodka, a great and refreshing drink.
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 Caribbean 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.
The prices in this area are higher; $15+ cocktails, so your dress code should match – business casual, and elegant is the name of the game here.
Nothing beats a good mojito on a hot day.
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 do in the Caribbean — rum!
Ready? Get more inspiration for Spring Break here!