For a capital city, San Juan is rather small—but it's densely populated with people and things to do both day and night. Covering the barrios (neighborhoods) of Isla Verde, Old San Juan, Condado, Santurce, and Hato Rey, you can pick your party spot by location, theme, your mood, or the venue’s reputation.
Puerto Ricans, like many people in the Caribbean, love life and live it to its fullest. This infectious outlook is often combined with what is commonly referred to as “Puerto Rican Pride,” creating an atmosphere that’s fun and energetic.
Here is a rundown of some of the hottest places to party in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Few things compare to dancing 'til you drop. Whether you go with friends, your significant other, or by yourself, San Juan boasts several dance clubs worth your time and money. Here are just a few:
- Club EPIC: With a name like Club EPIC, party-goers will find that it does, in fact, live up to its name. Located in Santurce, Club EPIC has a parking lot with valet service.
- La Respuesta: In 2010, music, art, spoken word poetry, and theatre collided to create La Respuesta. In the club’s words about their vision, it’s “free thought, and expression, nurturing our souls with funky music and conscious art.” The street parking here is generally very good—but if you can’t find a space, there are many parking garages within walking distance. The atmosphere at La Respuesta is casual: Jeans are fine, but shorts can get you disapproving looks.
- Club Brava & Ultra Lounge: Two very distinct—and seemingly opposite—personalities peacefully co-exist under one roof at Club Brava & Ultra Lounge. Whether you want to spend the evening sweating your butt off to hip hop, house, or Top 40 beats, or you'd rather relax in the speakeasy-style lounge, you’ve got options. Located at El San Juan Hotel in Isla Verde, the dress code here is “fashionably elegant:" People come with the intention of being noticed. It’s not unusual to see men in suits and women in high heels, and you will be denied entry if you are wearing flip-flops, sneakers, shorts, or a hat.
- Club 77: Located in the heart of Condado, Club 77 offers up a distinct variety of entertainment: live music, art expos, drag shows, and DJs spinning hip hop, rock ‘n’ roll, and punk. Free spirited with an "anything goes" attitude, this club is accessible by train (it's near the Rio Piedras metro stop), bus, bike, and Uber.
Whether you’re a Whitney Houston in the making or your singing conjures images of Cameron Diaz in "My Best Friend's Wedding," San Juan has several karaoke spots for you. Don’t be shy, just step up to the microphone and do your thing:
- Taberna Los Vazquez: This Santurce locale is one of the island’s hippest dive bars. Apart from a wide selection of songs to sing, Taberna Los Vazquez is one of the few places where your dog (or cat) can be your backup singer. It’s fun, it’s hip, and maybe even a little comical.
- El Quinqué: Old San Juan isn't just home to El Morro and other historical landmarks: Here you can find a small, but wildly popular, dive bar called El Quinqué.
- The Mezzanine: Another fun karaoke bar in Old San Juan, The Mezzanine is the perfect spot for your next birthday, bachelor, or bachelorette party. The bar also offers a wide array of tapas alongside an extensive list of artisan beers, wine, and spirits.
If dancing, live music, and karaoke aren’t your thing, there are several watering holes in the San Juan area for you. Here are a few bars in San Juan that will have a nice mixture of tourists and locals.
- El Batey: This is a one-of-a-kind, classic tavern in the heart of Old San Juan. Whether you’ve been there once or a thousand times, it’s a requirement to let folks know you were there by leaving your name and a message on the wall behind the bar. The menu has more mixed drinks than food options, and they have several beers on tap, by the glass or pitcher.
- Gemileo Speakeasy: Although a suit and tie aren’t required, the atmosphere and wine list at Gemileo Speakeasy might suggest otherwise. If you like good wine from around the world, this is the place to go in Santurce.
- Taberna Boricua: The beer list at this pub is almost a mile long with lagers, browns, ales, IPAs, stouts, and more. It’s truly a beer-lover’s paradise.
Tips for Going Out in San Juan
In San Juan and the surrounding metro area, most people are bilingual, but Spanish is decidedly the primary language. It would be a good idea to learn some of the basics before you arrive; Puerto Ricans everywhere will appreciate your attempts to use Spanish, and if they see you trying, they will usually go out of their way to help you as best they can.
Tipping waitstaff and taxi drivers is normal in Puerto Rico. You should expect to give the same 15–20 percent tip you’d pay in the continental United States. It is generally considered rude not to say "please," "hello," and "thank you" in Puerto Rico, even to people you encounter only briefly or casually. If you say it to them in Spanish ("por favor," "hola," and "gracias"), your gesture will be noticed and appreciated.
Although all venues are accessible by car (with either underground parking, street parking, or valet parking), if you plan to drink, do consider taking an Uber.
If you see someone or a group of people eating, it is customary to say, “Buen provecho,” which is the same as “bon appétit” in French. Saying “disfruten” to a group of people is also appreciated; it means “have fun,” because the goal in life for Puerto Ricans is to have fun.