Capri has a reputation for being a party island, and it's mostly well deserved. There are plenty of hotels, bars and restaurants that stay open late and, if you've got the energy (and the money), exclusive nightclubs that will take you through until dawn.
The most obvious place to have a drink and people watch is the Piazzetta. There are four café bars on the Piazzetta and there isn't much between them in terms of prices and what they offer, so I'd choose the one that you like the look of and grab a seat. The bars are all open until about 2am so, as long as the money doesn't run out, you could spend your entire evening watching what Norman Douglas described as "the world's little theatre".
The Piccolo bar is the oldest of the four and benefits from an upstairs bar (handy if you'd rather "see" than "be seen"). Tiberio (closed November) is popular with young Neapolitans, the Gran Caffè is usually popular with tourists and Bar Caso serves great granite (drinks over crushed ice).
On Marina Grande the Gran Caffè Augusto (Via Cristoforo Colombo 20; 081 837 0559) is the place to come for the wildest creations involving homemade ice cream; they're enormous.
There are those who wouldn't be seen dead on the Piazzetta ("far too touristy darling"), they might be found hanging out at a few of the more chi-chi hotel bars such as Quisi, the terrace bar of Grand Hotel Quisisiana (Via Camerelle 2; 081 837 0788, www.quisisana.com).
Tucked down a street off the Piazzetta, the best known of the clubs is Anema e Core (Via Sella Orta 39/e; 081 837 6461; www.anemaecore.com). The name means 'soul and heart ' and was the brainchild of Guido Lembo. While it's not so much a place for dancing or eating (no food is served), patrons seem happy enough sitting at tables and having a drink while enjoying the bands (though rumour has it that there is occasionally a bit of dancing on the tables when the crowd gets over-excited). It's open until 3am and reservations are advisable.
The newest kid on the block is Panta Rei (Via Lo Palazzo 1; 081 837 8898; www.pantareicapri.it). The rather high-brow name comes from Heraclitus's philosophy 'everything flows', and it certainly does, as the complex seems to expand year by year. On my last visit, Panta Rei contained a restaurant, bar and spa area with pool. The idea was by realised by owner/architect Massimo Esposito (who also designed Villa Marina, the newest 5-star hotel on the island). The place opens for business at around 7pm – when funsters arrive for aperitifs and to listen to lounge music, or head to Panta Gusto for dinner – and doesn't close until 2 or 3am.
Nightlife back on the mainland
For more advice on nightlife in Naples and the Neapolitan Riviera, see my Neapolitan Riviera nightlife page.