Naples thrums with energy after dark. Big nights out tend to focus on the Centro Storico – but nightlife pops up in residential squares and factory courtyards to local grocery stores. The capital of the Campania region is a place where you can dress down and feel comfortable on a hot summer’s evening, sitting outdoors and enjoying an Italian aperitivo.
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If you want a bar that lives up to its name, Kesté – “this is it” in Neapolitan – is definitely worth a few negronis of your time. Art lines the terrace walls, live bands and stand-up comedians fill the stage, and young Neapolitans gather for draught beers, pocket-friendly cocktails and a buzz you can feel from a block away. Check the website to see which arty goings-on are filling different nights of the week.
A shimmering wall of spirits, bitters and mixers hints at the mixology credentials of this Naples cocktail bar. There’s a definite air of Prohibition-era speakeasy about the moodily lit interior, and the jazz-infused soundtrack only ramps up the nostalgia. Neapolitans who know their drinks come here to sample the latest creations from award-winning owner Alex Frezza, or sip flutes of champagne and live the Naples high-life.
This tiny hole-in-the-wall in the Quartieri Spagnoli has just a few tables and chairs strewn over the pavement out front, but locals duck beneath the bright orange sign nightly (except Sundays) for the house spritz – one of the best buys in the city at €1 a glass. The mood is highly informal, the crowd young and spirited, and locals stop by as a springboard to more ambitious plans later in the evening.
If you lean towards grape rather than grain, duck into this nostalgic enoteca on Vico Belledonne a Chiaia, where wooden shelves heave with well-curated Italian wines, sold by the bottle and the glass. Pull up a stool by the counter, grab a wooden table, or stand and sip with the crowd outside on warm evenings. Grape-lovers make a night of it, grazing on cheeses, charcuterie and crudo (raw fish and meat) platters while quaffing some of the tastiest Italian vintages.
Drinkers are drawn to this hidden-away garden bar as much by the atmosphere as by the complimentary aperitivo snacks. Inside, no two pieces of furniture match, bird cages dangle from the walls and bartenders are constantly in motion, tipping bottles and chinking glasses to conjure up perfect bellinis and mojitos. In recent times, Barril has gone all-out for artisan gin, but the menu also runs to craft beers, satisfying panini, saltimbocca (marinated veal) and piadine (Italian flatbreads).
Antica Cantina Sepe
Under the energetic management of the Sepe family, this neighbourhood grocery store has evolved into a must-visit nightspot thanks to its famous Thursday night AperiSepe gatherings, which feature local wines, live music, DJs, cultural performances and – best of all – fabulous home-cooked food prepared by Giovanna, the family matriarch. It’s fun, completely unpretentious and characteristically Neapolitan. You’ll need to get in early to sample mamma’s cooking, though, as locals eat the kitchen bare by 9pm.
An elegant baroque staircase leads down from Piazza Bellini to this cultured, creative art space, which pulls in a crowd with an inspired combination of art and aperitivo. During the day, people come to Spazio Nea for exhibitions and coffee, but after dark, the focus shifts to snack plates and outsized glasses of Aperol spritz, with regular DJ sets and live bands to set the party mood.
The street is the venue at this student-friendly cocktail bar near the University of Naples Federico II. It’s inexpensive, informal and attitude-free, and the cocktails are expertly shaken and stirred for the price. Mismatched seating and bookshelves set the scene inside, but most of the action takes place out on the graffiti-scrawled roadside terrace. It’s a great place to feel like an instant Neapolitan.
Gran Caffè Gambrinus
It would be remiss to talk about nightlife in Naples without paying a respectful nod to the proud coffee culture of the city. The perfect end to a bar-crawl round the laundry-draped Quartieri Spagnoli neighbourhood is a late-night pistachio-flavoured coffee at this Naples institution, which has been plying caffeine, chocolate and culture since 1860. Tease your palate with everything from rich chocolate pastries to a tingly prosecco spritz while you soak up the golden-age ambience.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Kathryn Beeson.
For a true taste of Naples, don’t miss a chance to savour the best Neapolitan pizza or stop by one of its top places to eat. Besides its epic food culture, there are many reasons why you should visit the capital of Campania, and while here, make sure you visit all of its coolest neighbourhoods and tick off all of the must-visit Neapolitan attractions. If you’re looking for somewhere special to stay, book into one of the best hotels in Naples with Culture Trip.
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