As I mentioned in a previous post about San Juan, the downtown area reminds me very much of the French Quarter in my hometown of New Orleans! That’s because of the colorful houses, beautiful balconies and narrow streets from the time before cars. It’s also because of the abundance of historical buildings, restaurants, and bars in the downtown area.
Downtown San Juan is much smaller than New Orleans, though, and there is really just one main area which gets packed at night. Several bars close to each other attract a primarily younger crowd of 20 and 30 somethings. Parking is nearly impossible, particularly on a Saturday night. After driving around for 20 minutes, Shirin and I ended up parking a good distance from downtown and walking quite a bit to get there.
As we made our way towards the bars, we stopped in a plaza to listen to some traditional Puerto Rican music. A man who had enjoyed plenty of chupitos (the local slang for shots) already told us all about the music and his opinion of it. There were many drums and singers contributing to the unique sound. Some dancers got up and started to entertain the crowd. I took a short video clip for y’all, you can check it out here.
After listening and grooving to the music for a bit, Shirin and I headed in search of an interesting bar. We found one which offered beer from all over the world, including the “premium” Abita Purple Haze from Louisiana. I selected a beer I had never heard of before to try and Shirin and I headed to the back courtyard to enjoy our drinks. Shortly after, we were sipping rum and cokes from a neighboring bar when a policeman came over to have some words with us and several others standing around about being too close to the sidewalk to be drinking. Puerto Rico does not have open container laws so all drinks must be drank within the bar’s walls. We quickly moved back inside the cramped space to appease the officers.
Our final stop was my favorite, a hidden bar within a bar Shirin led me to with the most unique and delicious cocktails. I could have stayed there all night! The cocktail I enjoyed featured ginger, vodka, and champagne, a surprisingly good mix.
The nightlife vibe in Old Town San Juan is much calmer than other locations I have visited. I think it might be necessary to venture out to some of the larger night clubs in Condado if you are really into nightlife and clubbing. However, if you are simply interested in having a good time with your friends, sipping some unique beers and well made cocktails in a unique setting, then check out Old San Juan on a Saturday night!
Sign up to receive updates from the Sporty Sightseer & receive my top 10 tips for staying active while traveling! Shirin and I covered one of my top tips which is to walk EVERYWHERE! Even when going out, we walked and danced our way around Old San Juan.