Last month I visited the Italian Riviera and I was very much looking forward to it as I’m a massive fan of Italy. Truth be told, the Riviera left me slightly disappointed. I felt some of the Italian charm was missing and I also felt it was very overpriced; you just didn’t get value for your money. Being right next to the French Riviera is probably the main reason for all this by making the area heavy on tourists. But at the same time the area felt as safe as most of Italy and you don’t feel hassled by anyone.
Don’t get me wrong. It can still be a nice place to visit, and sometimes you have to go somewhere just to find out it is not for you (this is the first time it’s happened to me in Italy…). And even if it doesn’t work for me, it might still be what you are looking for.
So if you do end up travelling there, or even just travelling through, here’s some tips on where to drink in Sanremo.
Portavecchio, a bar situated at the old part of the harbour, is one of the busiest bars in Sanremo. There are a few restaurants lined up one after another, but Portavecchio is the liveliest of them all. It’s a great place to enjoy an aperitivo and do some people-watching. The music is pretty good and you are given little plates of food each time you order a drink during aperitivo hours. You could literally just sit there without having to go for dinner!
I had a Negroni Sbagliato, in other words a wrong Negroni. In Negroni Sbagliato the gin is replaced by Prosecco, making it less punchy. The drink was invented in Milan when a bartender mistakenly reached for the spumante instead of gin.
There’re a few bars and restaurants at the nearby Piazza Bresca close to Portavecchio, although in Italy not much happens before 10pm. The best strategy is to go for an early aperitivo followed by a late dinner and then hit the bars after.
Punto B, for example, was nice, but it lets you down with inane, poorly thought-out music, especially if you go there too early in the evening. I did find out they do some late-night DJ sets in the summer, which sounded pretty good. The bar itself is quite plastic-looking with crisp white decor, but sitting outside is nice and, as always, nothing really beats people-watching whilst drinking! They do make good cocktails, such as mojitos, Negronis and fruity rum punches, which are all worth a try. Punto B has a wide selection of wines for those who don’t want to drink cocktails all night.
A few doors down from Punto B is a restaurant and bar 21 Bistrot, which is probably one of the most popular places to go in Sanremo. They have live music just outside the venue and the cocktails are really nice, especially the spiritz (they offer a selection of different flavours). Take your own water as they charge a hefty three euros for just half a litre.
Next door to 21 Bistrot is the Drunken Clam Pub, which I thought was pretty good, but unfortunately, 21 Bistrot seemed to attract all the custom and Drunken Clam stayed almost empty. I did visit towards the end of the tourist season, so I would hope it gets busier during the summer months.
Right by the “posh” harbour is a Japanese fusion restaurant and cocktail bar called Victory Morgana Bay, which is the most upscale place in Sanremo (excluding the Casino, but that’s not for everyone). Dress up and go there for an aperitivo – the best one I had in town. Drinks are pretty awesome too! During aperitivo hours, the cocktails are also slightly cheaper than normal, around 7–10 euros (still too expensive, but at least you get food with it).
I was there in September so the place was pretty quiet. Outside they have a little extension onto the beach with a comfy seating area, which I am sure will be buzzing during the heat of the summer season. I really liked the location of the venue and the beautiful panoramic sea views from the terrace. If you go for a dinner make sure you get a table on the balcony out on the second floor! Perfect place for a date night!
If you are a proper foodie your must-visit place is Buca Cena located next to the golf course! Amazing venue and the location is great, with beautiful views of the sea and the mountains. Expect to pay a bit more than usual, but you will definitely get enough value for your money here! I recommend getting a taxi there as the hill is a killer! Or at least keep your heels in your handbag if you choose to walk there…
If you are bored with staying in Sanremo all night long, I recommend hiring a bicycle and cycling along the seafront (there are loads of hire points and the prices are cheap at around 6 euros an hour). The route takes you through several towns along the Riviera (such as Arma di Taggia and San Lorenzo al Mare) and there are many bars and beaches to stop at. Definitely one of my favourite things to do in Sanremo! The bikes are available until midnight so you can stop in a few bars, watch the sunset and make new friends. The bikes come without locks so be careful not to drink too much and lose your bike.
Have you been to the Italian Riviera? What did you think of it?
Portavecchio, Corso Nazario Sauro 33/35, 18038
Punto B, Piazza Bresca 27, 18038
21 Bistrot, Piazza Bresca, 10038
Buca Cena, Strada Campo da Golf 59 | Circolo Golf degli Ulivi, 18038
Victory Morgana Bay, Corso Trento E Trieste 16, 18038