The first thing to know about nightlife in Italy's Cinque Terre region is this: people don't come here for the nightlife. A vacation exploring the five towns of the Cinque Terre typically revolves around hiking, dining out, beach time, and water sports. But just because you can't dance until dawn doesn't mean you can't have fun after dark in the Cinque Terre.
The low-key action centers around a handful of bars and restaurants that stay open late (you'll find most of them in Riomaggiore), seasonal concerts, cultural events, and impromptu beach parties. While you won't find the buzzy after-dark scene that you'll see in places like Rome or Milan, there's an easygoing vibe to the nightlife here that goes well with the region's relaxed and natural setting.
The bar scene in the Cinque Terre amounts to a few bars in each of the towns that stay open late—and by late, we mean past 10 pm. A few casual restaurants, especially those with patio dining, seem to make an effortless shift between the late dinner crowd and the after-dinner drinks crowd. Here's an unranked list of some favorites in the five towns:
- The Beach bars of Monterosso al Mare: Of all the Cinque Terre towns, Monterosso comes closest to having a true beachfront promenade, particularly near Fegina Beach in the newer section of town. Pick a bar, or barhop along seaside Via Fegina and join the crowds of young drinkers on the sand.
- A Pié de Mà, Riomaggiore: Though the bar section of this cliffside restaurant—one of our top picks for Cinque Terre dining—only stays open until 10 p.m., it's still worth a stop for a glass of beer or wine on the terrace.
- Nessun Dorma, Manarola: With almost mythical status among visitors to Manarola, this casual bar and eatery—also on our list of top Cinque Terre restaurants—serves refreshing cocktails, tasty small plates, and swoon-worthy views until 10 p.m.
- La Scuna, Corniglia: This is sleepy little Corniglia's liveliest after-dark spot, with a solid selection of beer, wine, and cocktails plus a terrace with views to die for. And it stays open until midnight.
- Bar O'Netto, Riomaggiore: Tucked under an arched terrace on the main drag, this is the closest thing Riomaggiore has to a dive bar—and we say that lovingly. Great draft beers and a fun vibe await at this spot that stays open to 1 a.m.
- Bar Terza Terra, Corniglia: You'll probably walk up to Saint Mary's Terrace in Corniglia for the stunning view of the other four Cinque Terre towns. Stay for a drink and a snack at this well-located bar that's open to 10 p.m.
- Vertical Lounge Bar, Riomaggiore: There's great people-watching, great cocktails, and a young-ish crowd at this hole-in-the-wall with a terrace right on Via Colombo. It's open to midnight most nights.
- Ananasso Bar, Vernazza: Among the cluster of bars that hug Vernazza's small beach and harbor, Ananasso is consistently reliable for cocktails and aperitivo. Enjoy people-watching from the crowded terrace. Open to midnight.
The short-notice concerts that strike up on summer evenings on the towns' piazzas and seafronts are one of the Cinque Terre's many delights. To find one, look for posters tacked up around the towns, or just follow the melody. Otherwise, head to one of these top spots for some live music.
- La Cantina dello Zio Bramante, Manarola: Set below street level on Via Renato Birolli, Manarola's main street, this lively, welcoming den stays open to midnight and has live music most summer nights.
- Blue Marlin Bar, Vernazza: Come for the decent food; stay for live music on the patio, with crowds spilling out onto the street day and night.
Festivals and Events
Apart from religious observances at Christmas and Easter, most of the festival action in the Cinque Terre happens in the summer. Even if an event is not a music festival, you can expect there to be some sort of gathering in the town whether it's dinner, dancing, or a concert or two.
- Cinque Terre International Music Festival: This annual classical music festival, with concerts in all five towns, starts in late July and runs through early September.
- Sagra dei Limoni: The Lemon Festival of Monterosso is a popular annual event held on the third Saturday in May. The event includes contests for the largest lemons, and vendors selling lemon-based products, including limoncello liqueur.
- La Sagra dell’Acciuga Fritta: On the third Saturday in June, the Fried Anchovy Festival in Monterosso celebrates the tiny, flavorful fish.
- Ferragosto: A huge holiday in Italy celebrated on Aug. 15, Ferragosto marks the start or endpoint of most Italian summer vacations. Celebrations may include fireworks, concerts, and street fairs.
- Festa dei Pirati: The annual Pirate Festival in Vernazza (dates change year to year) recalls the real pirate attacks of the medieval era though it a lot more fun than its historical counterpart.
- Anchovy and Olive Festival: These two savory treats are celebrated the third Saturday in September in Monterosso.
Tips for Going Out in the Cinque Terre
- As in most of the rest of Italy, public drunkenness is frowned upon, so keep your partying at a reasonable level.
- Tips for your server are not expected, but they are appreciated.
- Keep the noise down when you return to your hotel or rental—people's homes are right nearby.
- If you're not staying in the town where you're partying, keep an eye on the clock. The last trains connecting to towns to the north or south leave around 11 p.m.