San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips: A local weighs in (photos)

UPDATED: March 2016! Today I got some insider San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips for you. Needing only to be 18+ to enjoy most of the nightlife, I was able to sample a great deal of hotels, casinos, and clubs before I went to college in the USA. Additionally, I have been going back every year. So I wondered…why the heck haven’t I written a post about them yet?!

**I’m referring to the San Juan metro area, including Isla Verde, Guaynabo, Río Piedras

San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips

San Sebastian Festival, Old San Juan (Tif Pic, Flickr)

Party hotel lobbies and casinos

Let’s be honest here: Everything about Puerto Rico is a party. You can find not only a party hotel, but also party lobbies. That’s right: even the locals flock into upscale hotel lobbies during the weekends for excellent free entertainment. Latin bands play live until the wee hours of the night (approximately 4 AM), with an accompanying bar serving until then.

Within the same hotels, there are also lively casinos, some which are open 24 hours a day! In there, the party atmosphere continues with great free drinks, food, and gambling that never sleeps. Below, my San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips + list of my favorite party hotel lobbies and casinos:

Condado strip

Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel & Casino: Party at the Ambassador Club Lounge; gamble at the 24-hour casino with 482 slot machines.

1369 Ashford Ave., San Juan 00907

La Concha Resort: Laid-back, yet ultra elegant atmosphere. Rub shoulders with the chic locals. Party is at the lobby as well. Great Latin band at the Ocean Lounge on Wednesday nights, by the way.

1077 Ashford Avenue, San Juan 00907

Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza: Rated among the Top 25 Trendiest Hotels in the Caribbean by Tripadvisor readers, the lobby is where it’s at. Usually best on Fridays, when the entire Condado strip is hot to party.

999 Ashford Avenue, San Juan 00907

Marriott San Juan Resort & Stellaris Casino: An all-time favorite of mine. I have partied at this lobby and gambled at this casino on several occasions. The live Latin bands and even DJs at the lobby are always great. Best San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips for this location: It is an older crowd, best for those over 25 (or anyone trying to avoid the youngsters in their late teens/early 20s). Party starts to sizzle on Wednesdays and Thursdays, depending on the season.

Ashford Ave, San Juan 00907

Old San Juan

Hotel El Convento: The number one hotel in San Juan in terms of charm and service. Ironic, yes–it used to be a convent! Good parties at the lobby on Wednesdays.

100 Cristo St, Old San Juan, San Juan 00901

La Factoria: chic bar in Old San Juan, with a nice selection of wines and specialty cocktails together by so-called expert “mixologists.” A little hipster for some people’s liking, but popular place among upscale locals. If you don’t like it here though, there’s something for everyone all along Calle San Sebastian! Both bars and great food.

Calle San Sebastián 148, Old San Juan, San Juan 00901

Isla Verde area

El San Juan Hotel & Casino: Ultra lavish hotel, beautiful grounds, even non-guests can venture to the beach on its backyard whilst partying. Not only are there great parties in the lobby, but also at the nearby nightclub (Brava) and even burlesque lounge (The Rose Club – call 787.565.7700 for showtimes). **Fridays and Saturdays are best for partying at the lobby, by the way. Brava usually has the best DJs on Saturday nights.

6063 Isla Verde Ave, Carolina 00979

San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips, El San Juan Hotel

Grand chandelier at El San Juan Hotel & Casino’s lobby                         (Josh Friedman, Flickr)


Most of the hottest nightclubs in the island play Latin (salsa, merengue, bachata, and particularly reggaetón) and/or electronic music. The more upscale establishments will usually have two rooms or more– with at least 2 different DJs dedicated to these genres. Conversely, a select few offer metal, underground genres, and even poetry readings.

One of the best San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips I can give you, by the way? Even restaurants are turned into nightlife hotspots on my island 😀 Case in point:

Di Zucchero Restaurant & Lounge: Very busy on weekends, particularly after 12:30 AM. Better yet? Party goes on until 5 AM!

1210 Ashford Ave, Condado 00908

Brava (inside San Juan Hotel & Casino): Quite possibly, the classiest crowd in Puerto Rico. Also popular with tourists staying at the hotel. Most guests are in their 20s. Best parties usually take place on Saturday nights.

6063 Isla Verde Ave, Carolina 00979

The Rose Club (also inside El San Juan Hotel & Casino): As described on their website, this is “Puerto Rico’s First Cabaret Nightclub Venue featuring Miss Dakota’s Ran Can Can Burlesque Show.”

6063 Isla Verde Ave, Carolina 00979

Nuyorican Cafe: unbelievable salsa dancing is what you seek? This is your spot! Tucked away in historic Old San Juan, Nuyorican is popular with some of the best dancers in the island. Another personal favorite!

Calle San Francisco 312, Old San Juan 00901

La Respuesta: Self-described as “home to Puerto Rico’s underground artists,” you may come here to listen to local poetry or even metal bands. Great place to learn about the youth culture of the island. Many special events; official website updated frequently.

1600 Ave. Fernandez Juncos, esq. Calle Del Parque, Santurce

San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips, reggaeton

San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips: join the dirty reggaeton dancing (Generation Bass, Flickr)

Sport bars and other watering holes

Great cover bands and too-good-to-be-true drink specials characterize the sport pub and dive bar scene in San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife. Then it is a really big party when an important boxing fight takes place or if the Puerto Rico basketball team is playing in an important championship abroad. If you want to party with the locals like very few do, you must come down here on a boxing weekend! Below, a list of my favorites:

Shanna’s Pub: Irish bar, extremely popular with the locals. Goes crazy on boxing match nights and any given Friday or Saturday. Also very busy on Wednesdays, so be there before midnight.

On marginal of Martínez Nadal Expressway, corner of Esmeralda Avenue, Guaynabo

Stop and Go: this is where you pregame, no exceptions! Unbelievable, unheard of prices for the Condado strip. Some great examples? A bucket of 6-7 Coronita beers for $7; large Heineken bottle for $3. Essentially a semi-open dive bar, with a few slot machines, that also sells Puerto Rican fried foods. Popular with the locals, naturally.

1214 Ashford Avenue, Condado 00907

Small Bar: Crowded, tiny hot spot–yet relatively relaxed for Condado. Great artisan beers, great food, good prices. You can even drink outside 😉 love it! Open late as well, usually beyond 4 AM.

1106 Ave. Dr. Ashford (Across La Concha, between Mhan Chung & El Balcón), Condado 00907

San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips, La Placita

Bongos at La Placita, Santurce by Adrian Salgado, Flickr

La Placita: the hidden gem of my San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips for tourists. La Placita is not just an establishment, but an entire plaza full of popular bars. College kids attending the state university and even young professionals alike flock here on Wednesdays and weekends. Some of the cheapest drinks in town!

Parada 18, between Ponce de Leon and Baldorioty de Castro, San Juan

Got additional San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips? Share them below!

**Special thanks to Stella Rodgz for being the major contributor of this San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips post!

51 thoughts on “San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips: A local weighs in (photos)

  1. WoW Thank you so much for this Blog ! I will be traveling to PR next month for an entire 7 days. Have been doing my research and planning everything out . This list just made things so much easier for me ! I will share it with the group of girls that I will be traveling with ! Im staying in Condado and I am beyond excited ! I can’t wait to check out these spots ! Thank you again Maria !

  2. Nothing about La Factoria or La Placita?

    Someone sure does NOT know about Puerto Rican nightlife in San Juan.

    The only two AREAS you need to know for night life are:

    San Sebestian Street in OSJ and La Factoria.


    La Placita

    Drop Mic!

    • Factoria depends on the mood, a little expensive sometimes, but for the buji crowd I guess I should add it, that one is true.


      seems like Mr. “boom” didn’t quite read the article, as La Placita is CLEARLY mentioned toward the end.

      OH! WHAt’s THAT!?

      *drops mic*

  3. I am more interested in visiting PR for business/networking more specifically fashion and modeling industrt. Are places for this? Maybe in San Juan? Downtown?


    • well, quite frankly, if you’re interested in fashion and modeling I would think Miami, a short flight away, is much better for exposure. Puerto Rico is a significantly smaller market; limited global exposure from there. Just a thought

  4. Hi María,

    Excellent article. This is one of the few places on the Internet with updated information. I wrote a book a couple of months ago called “Puerto Rico is Music!” about music tourism in the island (the digital version is available on Amazon at $2.99). It contains additional venues in the non-touristic areas that are organized according to specific genres (salsa, reggaeton, bomba, plena and folk music). The touristic zone is just the tip of the iceberg.

    David asked about hip hop and rap… we have Nuyorican Café, Gio Lounge in Santurce, and Hookaj Bar in Caguas. Rap is not popular nowadays,. You can find interesting bands that fusion native rhythms with hip hop. For example, Bomburayo combines hip hop, bomba, plena, flamenco and Brazilian rhythms. Bomba Urbana fusions bomba and hip hop. You can spot them in the West of the island (Mayaguez) in places such as Café Betances Sur and Tertulia en mi Tierra.

    In addition to the nightlife venues, there are hundreds of festivals through the year where you can watch well-known performers. For example, Ricky Martin has made impromptu appearances at Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián (check the first picture in Maria’s post), Gran Combo de Puerto Rico plays in lots of festivals, as well as many Latin Grammy-award winners.

    I would like to mention that one of the things that you should do when you come to Puerto Rico is to watch a live performance of a folkloric group dancing our native rhythms and dances. We have joyful music, with colorful traditional costumes that are a delight. If I were going to see just two things in Puerto Rico I would just see El Morro and a folkloric performance.

    In the Puerto Rico is Music book I wrote about the traditional rhythms and where to spot performances. The book has a companion website that lists the places you can go to enjoy live music in puertoricoismusic .com on a daily basis.

  5. Greetings Maria I host at my restaurant and lounge one of the best brunch parties (#sundaydrivebrunch )been catching on with greater momentum and we’d luve to celebrate our 1Yr anniversary in PR… we are finalizing several details but we are hoping to bring the party to the island at a private villa. Would luv to pick your brain on a few things my email is attached. Thanks in advance

    • I’m sorry Eddie I just saw this. I was in Indonesia this past year, but going back to Puerto Rico January 2016. Let me know if you already started that brunch, would love to check it out!

  6. Hello Maria. I’ll be in San Juan August 26-Sept 1 of this year. My question for you is, where do the grown and sexy party (over 35)?


    • hello Carla, sorry my late response! But certainly, the hotel lobbies I described above host live Latin music and nights where most guests are over 35 😉 most of the college kids go party elsewhere – or at Brava.

  7. Exactly the type of list I was looking for ! Moving to Condado for a few months (no real reason.. hope I learn Spanish lol) and this list looks like i’ll find my favorite bar in no time ! Hit me up i’ll buy you a drink thanks for making this !

    • Condado is a GREAT spot! I see you wrote this comment last year while I was traveling throughout Asia: are you in Puerto Rico now, still living there?! How do you like it?! You have a favorite bar from the list yet ?! I would bet so, tell us about it!

  8. Hey there! I’m heading to Puerto Rico next month and i’m having a hard time finding any reccomendations for authentic reggaeton clubs in the San Juan area or close by . Any suggestions? I don’t want it to be fancy, I love reggaeton and just want somewhere that I can enjoy it all night and that’s safe of course!

    • I just saw your post, but in case you are back, just walk down old San Juan and follow your ears! There are many small places that play reggaeton music certain nights and you just pop in 😉

  9. Hi Maria, Great article for newbies going to San Juan. We are 2 guys in our mid twenties from New York looking to explore the party scene in San Juan this summer for a few days. Beyond what you have written above, any tips for a few nice guys from New York looking to meet some beautiful Puerto Rican ladies ?

    • I hope you guys had a great trip, Zack! You probably noticed, the beautiful Puerto Rican ladies are anywhere there’s good nightlife. The island treats us very well, giving us free admission and cheap drinks virtually everywhere there’s a good vibe! 😉 Ha ha

  10. Hey there thanks for the good information! My friends and I will be in Puerto Rico next week were all 19. I was wondering if we are going to have any trouble purchasing alcohol at any bars there. Specifically Señor Frogs we would really like to go there. And do you recommend any good places for people our age? Thanks.

    • legal drinking age is 18, so you shouldn’t have a problem! There are certain establishments that will ask for 21 or even 25, that’s just to control the type of crowd that visits it 😉 a.k.a. you wouldn’t want to go to those places anyway, people would be too old for you lol! Everywhere else in Condado should be fine, so have lots of fun!

  11. Hey Maria, I’ll be in PR sometime next week. Is there still a good nightlife scene at this time of the year?

    • the nightlife scene is ALWAYS on! Please note, the places I have listed here are frequented by locals, so no matter the time of the year, they are always a blast 😉

      Hope you had a great trip, my apologies for the late response!

  12. I am going to be there june 3 to the 8th. Is there any good spots to hit up? I like hip hop and rap music but I can get with some salsa too. I went to college in Las causes New Mexico so i get giggi with it. Lol. Anybody want to hang? first round on me.

    • sorry I just saw your message David, but I believe the list was detailed enough for you to have found the perfect spot during your time in my island 😉

  13. I am headed to San Juan, PR June 3 to the June 8 this year so this was a major help. Are there any clubs that play hip hop at all. If not that is cool do as Romes do while in Rome I guess. Music is all the same if you get twisted enough. If anyone is going to be out there at that time hit me up first round is on me.

  14. Hi There!
    Finally I found a website which gives details and name of places to go!
    As a women traveling alone for 4 days, do you have any tips for me?
    Should I rent a car or should I use local transportation?

    • if you stay in the strip of Condado (i.e. Ashford Avenue) you can walk to most happening places quite safely (so long you don’t get lost or walking to a dark street!). However, if you want to get out of there, renting a car is a must as public transportation is unfortunately not very reliable and bus stops, if there are any where you want to go, might not be very safe at night for a woman traveling alone.

  15. hello maria, my name is jon i’m from paris France, with a friend of mine, we’ll spend 2 weeks in san juan, i’d like to know if there’s any bar/club where they play hip hop there? isn’t it dangerous in san juan at night?

    • most of the big nightclubs have separate rooms which play either electronic or Latin/hip-hop/reggaeton music. Just read up this guide again for more details. You could also Google each of the venues to look up any special events or the particular type of music they play different days of the week! 😉

  16. I spent a couple of weeks in PR. I think I saw places where people had bars set up in their garages for Saturday night parties. Can you tell me anything about that? I would like to do it in my neighborhood in the states. Thank you.

    • oh ha ha that’s just the way locals like to party! Go to the store, buy some booze, build your own bar and set it up in your own garage! 😛 you can do it anywhere! 😉

  17. We arrive this Sunday, Easter, at 3:45am and are looking for a breakfast place that will be open. Hopefully between the airport and Old San Juan, where we will be staying. Our hostess is kind enough to let us check in at 7am but we want to habe something to eat first.


    • it’s really tough to tell! My personal recommendation is to tell your Driver to take you to the closest PANADERIA: they are typically open quite early, have delicious sandwiches, and are CHEAP. Your local bakeries in case you’re asking 😉

      Have a wonderful trip!

  18. Hey Maria I have a question about PR im hoping you can help me with. Do you need a passport to fly from the US to Puerto Rico or just a valid drivers license?

  19. Hello Maria, My boyfriend and I will be in Puerto Rico March 24-31, 2014. We are staying in the Condado area. We are looking forward to the day trips, enjoying the delicious food, fun in the sun and of course enjoying the nightlife.
    Thank you for great tips!
    Los Salseros de Chicago M&L

  20. Hi Maria!

    My friends and I are going to PR tomorrow morning and will be staying there for a week. It’s our spring break (all 21+) so we wanted to know more about the night life. You said most places are popular on weekends and Wednesdays, are they open any other nights?

    We want to visit family, go to the beaches, and other fun places during the day, but still enjoy our evenings. I wish we could take you along as a guide!

    -Jalyssa Hernandez

    • just saw this! Hope you had a great time in Puerto Rico. If you’re still here, all places I’ve listed here are open nightly, the crowds will simply be different 😉

    • hello there Justin. Well, 4 nights isn’t quite enough, but if you can, take a day trip to El Yunque rainforest or fly to Vieques for a night. Completely different experience from San Juan, rather worth it!

  21. Hi how are you Maria? I might go to Puerto Rico in the next year or 2. Most likely after Europe, Asia, Australia, South America. I’ll stop by the Caribbean islands on the way back to America (USA). Be sure to check out my you tube channel/videos for the latest updates on whenever I make a ton of travel videos more sing along videos,etc. Looks like a blast to me!

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