I recently visited Puerto Rico for my first time with my old college buddy, Mattius. We rented an AirBnB in San Juan about a 10 minute taxi ride from San Juan Viejo, Old Town. Uber is now in Puerto Rico, so those who know the hassle of a gringo trying to constantly negotiate a fair price in regular taxi’s trying to overcharge you 2x-3x will be Uber-happy to know it exists there! For a 15-20 minute Uber it was averaging about $5-6. Old Town is indeed where most of the action is, so point your inner-adventurer compass there! During the day, you have many choices of museums, the old “Morro” Spanish fort, & an abundance of options to enjoy this colorful Caribbean ancient town. The word “colorful” does not do this place justice & cannot come close to explaining it with words. Instead, let’s say its: a collage of pastels, tropical tastes, mesmerizing blends of animated architectural beauty. Now, let us get to the point, afterall, this is a travel music blog, where music is the main focus! During the night, woo-laa…you have plenty of music options right within Old Town, with my favorite, La Placita not far from there.
1) La Placita
Recommended by several locals, this place kept popping up in conversational radars about the best nightlife in the city. We went out on a Thursday night & were not disappointed. My bar is set very high for totally amazing nightlife places as I’ve recently spent two months in Rio de Janeiro, where I witnessed & partied with the best of them for Carnaval the entire month of February 2017! See my blog here where I revealed the best of Samba street party culture there, with over 500+ “blocos” (themed block parties) that happen those 4 weeks! La Placita had the energy of Rio’s block parties, minus the numbers & bands playing in the streets. It was a bit more contained inside about 15 different bars, but sometimes spilling out into the streets. There were live salsa bands that were top notch, perhaps rivaling Cuba’s bands I saw in Havana (click here for that blog adventure). One bar we went into was packed full of people, possibly 80 or so in the tiny place, and upon looking around, we noticed everybody there was above 60 years old & dancing freely to a live obviously well known salsa band (we didn’t catch their name). Around the corner, there was another bar with a live salsa band, again the place packed full of people doing the highly energetic salsa boogie! Walking around more we felt like this place had it all. There are places with DJ’s spinning Reggaeton, Cumbia, EDM & Top 40 dance tracks. There are restaurants & food vendors with tables & seating on the streets outside of the bars. Just sitting down for awhile & people watching was fun too, as there must have been over 1000 people in this 2 block radius happening place they call La Placita!
2) La Factoria
This bar is well known in San Juan Viejo (Old Town) & gets quite busy Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights. They feature mostly DJ’s, and some live bands. The first few rooms were smaller & full of people drinking & socializing. They had a 3rd room that they opened up at 10pm which was much larger & had a DJ playing classic Rumba & Cumbia tunes off his iPad. Behind him, there were bookshelfs full of vinyl records & two turntables, so yes…they spin records here as well. I have a real soft spot for vinyl, as I’ve been collecting since 1995, and my father since 1960. It’s a nostalgic thing, plus it is analog technology, which is said to contain more musical aesthetic & pleasure from listening then compressed mp3s of our digital age! Anyhow, around 11pm it started to get busy here. Feet & hips soon began moving with fire, inna Latino stylee! Salsa, Merengue, Rumba, Cumbia, oh yeah!
PS. I hear they have a 4th big room that opens up later on the weekends.
3) Saint Germain
This 3 story abode has a restaurant for fine dining on the street level, a stylish bar on the 2nd level, and a rooftop bar as your prize for walking up 3 flights of stairs. Nice view, great drink menu, & great place for a date with your sweety, or a rest amidst your San Juan Viejo walks! Try some rum cocktails, your in the Carribean afterall & plenty of rum abode in these islands full of sugarcane.
4) Nuyorican Café
We never made it to this place, but I hear its happening! From the looks of this schedule….it is indeed! Many good music choices here.
5) Which neighborhoods to stay?
Easy answer…..Old Town, San Juan Viejo, duh!!! It’s the oldest part of town, the Heart of San Juan, with colonial buildings, cobblestone streets, a few plazas, museums & Salsa bands on every block(just like Cuba!), with many choices of restaurants & few rooftop bars! Trust me, this neighborhood is the shiznit!
Book your AirBnB there & receive $40 free credit (see my blog on how to do this by creating a new account with alternate email):
6) Random Pic of the Moment
Apparently after losing the democratic nominee vote for the November 2016 election, Bernie Sanders decided to retire in Puerto Rico & leave the life of politics behind. Or wait, maybe that was a cardboard cutout poster of him?!?
Random Note of the Moment :: You must try Mofongo, a local dish that is like mashed potatoes but made with mashed plantains, herbs, spices, sometimes sauces & always yummy!