Nightlife in Venice takes place in the bacari, where people will gather in the evenings to have drinks and eat cicchetti, or Venetian-style bar food. You’ll find all kinds of little bites, from small portions of seafood to fried goodies, to cured meats and cheeses in delicious combinations. The drink of choice is the spritz, made of prosecco, sparkling water and a shot of a liqueur like Aperol or Campari. It’s a classically Venetian way to spend an evening and you’ll find yourself a part of the lively local scene. Here’s our guide to where to spend your evenings in Venice.
Osteria Ai Pugni
Bar, Wine Bar, Italian, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, $$$
Close to Campo Santa Margherita is this little bar frequented by students and people from the neighborhood, which sometimes hosts live music in the evenings. A great place for a drink and a fried snack. Prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is lovely.
This is a family-run bacaro close to Zattere, known either as Al Botteghon or Gia Schiavi among regulars. It’s one of the best places for cicchetti, all made by the matriarch of the family. It can get crowded but that’s part of the charm, as you rub elbows with Venetians and visitors alike at the counter and then have your drink out on the picturesque canal. Just be warned that the place will closes around 8:30, so be sure to start your evening here.
Bar, Cafe, Italian, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, Pub Grub
Santa Margherita | la_citta_vita/Flickr
This tiny cafe at the center of Campo Santa Margherita is a pillar of the Venetian student community. By day, you’ll sit out in the sun drinking coffee and having snacks. By night, you’ll find yourself in the middle of an impromptu outdoor party full of youngsters and bohemians, who come for the cheap drinks and the good vibes.
Restaurant, Wine Bar, Bar, Italian, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Wine, Beer, $$$
Mauro Lorenzon at Enoiteca Mascareta | fabioomero/Flickr
La Mascareta is also a full-service restaurant, but if you avoid the dinner rush, you’ll find a delightful neighborhood wine bar frequented by the Castello community. The host, Mauro Lorenzon, is a neighborhood character and truly passionate about what he does. A place for drinking a good-quality glass of regional wine and having some oysters or a plate of cured meats and cheeses.
Bar, Nightclub, Italian, Vegetarian, Cocktails, Wine, Beer
Close to a lovely residential campo called San Giacomo dell’Orio is the cafe Osteria da Filo, known as La Poppa. It’s a popular neighborhood bar that has the feel of a cozy living room, often featuring live music. You’ll see a mix of students, locals and visitors chatting around the table.
Bar, Restaurant, Italian, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Vegan, Wine, Beer, $$$
This gorgeous vaulted restaurant opens up onto a delightful courtyard right on the Grand Canal. The best time to come is during aperitivo hour, when they put out an assortment of bar snacks to down your drinks with, but it’s also a great place for a romantic dinner. They feature nightly live music ranging from jazz and blues to 80s pop.
Bar, Bistro, Restaurant, Italian, Vegetarian, Vegan, Wine, Beer, $$$
This restaurant in Cannaregio turns into an open-air party towards evening, full of revelers who come by foot and by boat. You can take your aperitivo here, make reservations for a full-on dinner, or just come by late at night to have a drink on the restaurant’s boat.
Bar, Restaurant, Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, $$$
Along the same street, you’ll find this lovely restaurant where the crowds will spill out onto the canal. Every Monday night, there’s a live band and as it gets late, they’ll start to clear away the seats to make a little dance floor right in the middle of the restaurant.
Bar, Italian, Vegan, Vegetarian, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, $$$
With reasonably priced drinks and a tasty assortment of snacks at the counter, this bar in Campo Santi Apostoli gets quite busy in the evenings. It’s also one of the few places in the city open later than midnight. The bar is named for the bald barman behind the counter, who’s a friendly character.
Bar, Diner, Market, Italian, Vegetarian, Fast Food, Wine, Beer, Seafood
This tiny bar near Rialto is standing room only, with some of the best cicchetti in town. You’ll get to taste Venetian specialties fresh from the market like baccala mantecato, a creamy concotion of dried cod whipped with oil and sarde in saor, sardines in a sauce of slowly cooked onions and raisins. The selection of wines is also excellent, with a focus on small producers around the Veneto. You won’t always find it open late, so it’s best to stop in earlier before all the best dishes have been gobbled up.