The capital city of Puerto Rico is the gateway to all things adventurous on the island. From zip-lining through rainforests to surfing along endless coastlines, your daily activities are covered with just a rental car and a road map.
The real question I have, however, is: “How are you going to spend your evenings while in San Juan?”
Don’t tell me you’re too tired after a long day of activities. Shhhhh, don’t you say it!
Let’s break down the best places to experience San Juan nightlife, no matter what neighborhood you’re staying in and what night you plan on stepping out, so you don’t have any excuses to waste your life sleeping.
- CONDADO -
The Condado area is where many of San Juan’s mega resorts are located and it’s a great place to go out on the weekends. Resorts like La Concha and the San Juan Marriott serve up live music and DJs, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to entertain both locals and foreigners alike…
Bar Gitano – Live Dancers. Sexy Dancers. Great Sangria. What else can I say about this Spanish style resto bar in the heart of Condado? Ask about Bar Gitano‘s nightly schedule for flamenco show days and times for the most seductive experience possible.
El Barrill – Change your scene and step next door from Bar Gitano into El Barril and listen to local bands and DJs rock out until wee hours of the morning.
Red Coral Lounge @ San Juan Marriott – Play some cards in the casino and then slide over to the lounge and dance floor to mix it up with jetsetters and locals alike.
The Lobby @ La Concha – If it’s good enough for George Clooney and Johnny Depp, than it’s good enough for me. La Concha is a hot spot for the famous and sexy, and the “Lobby” bar doesn’t disappoint.
Eternal Lobby Lounge – Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza Hotel’s piece of the nightlife pie. With three separate lounge setups (Moon, Ice and Fire Bar), the Eternal Lobby Lounge gives you multiple options and three times the chances to meet someone special.
- SANTURCE -
Close to Condado, Santurce is a bohemian, blue-collar neighborhood with a local edge and great place to find the best hidden gems of San Juan.
Club Kronos – A crowded laser light party nightclub where the music is great and the elbow room is limited. Get sweaty and enjoy the ride at Club Kronos!
La Respuesta – I went on a Monday night and the party was absolutely crazy. It looks like a warehouse with some rough edges, but the DJs kill it and the eye candy is plentiful.
Plaza del Mercado – Not exactly a bar, but definitely a must-do if you’re looking for a local nightlife experience in San Juan. The market square known as La Placita, is packed with locals on a daily/nightly basis and on Thursday and Friday nights, the market is filled with Boricuas hoping between the many little bars and eateries.
- ISLA VERDE -
Like Condado, this higher-end area of San Juan offers some pretty sweet resort nightclubs to satisfy your inner-chic party animal.
Club Brava – If you want an epic night in San Juan, there is no better club than the one inside El San Juan Hotel & Casino. Club Brava is known for its beautiful people and high energy and for once, the hype lives up to the reality. Prepare to wait in line so have a few drinks in the lobby, Rose Bar.
Mist – I’m a sucker for rooftop bars and one that overlooks the ocean, is just unfair. Head to the top of the San Juan Water Beach Hotel and win some brownie points with that special someone at the Mist Lounge.
El Alambique – Happy Hour specials, good food and waterfront views make El Alambique Beach Café a popular spot for the more low-key, budget-friendly Isla Verde goer.
- OLD SAN JUAN -
The heart of the city lies in Old San Juan. Beautiful architecture and old fortress walls make Old San Juan the sexiest place for nightlife in the city. Offering smaller venues with live music and intimate seating, it’s a much more traditional vibe than in Condado or Isla Verde.
Nuyorican Café – Wednesday through Sunday, the Nuyorican Café is the place to listen and dance to salsa and merengue music in Old San Juan.
El Batey – A quintessential Old San Juan style bar, El Batey is a nice hole in the wall for locals and tourist alike. Because of its popularity, you might see more visitors than residence occupy the barstools however, not like there’s anything wrong with that if you don’t mind.
El Farolito – A great hidden gem nightspot along the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. Local artists, travelers and musicians fill up this little dive and add to an already inviting character, El Farolito.
Barrachina – As you can imagine “The birthplace of the Piña Colada,” is a must-stop nightlife destination for most cruise goers check-list travelers, so, if that’s what you’re in to, go get a Piña Colada from Barrachina just to say you did. No hard feelings.
- RIO PIEDRAS -
The University of Puerto Rico is in Rio Piedras and that makes nightlife in the neighborhood extra vibrant when schools in session. Find all the cheap drinks, live music and packed bars you can handle on Avenida Universidad (University Avenue).
El 8 de Blanco – I went on a Thursday night and El 8 de Blanco was crazy! It was $1 local beers and a live band crushing some Latin Rock. When the bar isn’t featuring live music, it’s a great place to watch sports and play billiards.
Vidy’s Café – Cheap eats and drinks for college kids or the traveler on a budget and it’s open every night until 2am. I miss college. Go to Vidy’s Cafe.
Chateau Rouge – For a different scene in the area, check out the Chateau Rouge for a more sophisticated evening out among the college crowd and on Thursdays and Fridays they have live Bohemian music. If you’re not into the cheap beer down the street, come down here for the impressive wine list.
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