Look down on the earth at night and you’ll see satellite images from space spotlighting large areas of artificial light. These are the world’s cities on all continents. The popularity of cities reflects their infrastructures, landmarks and attractions. In North America, cities like New York have plenty to appeal to visitors by day but just as much by night. Europe’s major cities often have histories stretching back many centuries. Increased availability of long-haul flights helped develop relatively new cities where the populations have grown as people left rural areas searching for more opportunities.
Here’s a selection of popular cities at night to visit, where you will find plenty to do and see. While some cities are more expensive, experienced travellers on a budget will still find affordable accommodation and activities that won’t “break the bank.” You can get plenty of help and advice on each of the ones in this list with local help available, ranging from guided tours to the chance to book popular activities in advance to avoid disappointment. Here’s an A to Z of the 20 best cities at night to visit.
20 Of The Best Cities At Night
Images Of Cities At Night
Amsterdam is famous for its canals, the “Red Light” district, the Rijksmuseum, one of several outstanding museums in Amsterdam, and much more.
It is the largest city in the Netherlands, a densely populated country on the North Sea.
While nights in the summer remain pleasant, you may need warm clothing at other times if you decide to walk around.
The canals are a great way to explore a city with bars, coffee shops and restaurants.
There are landmarks on either side of the canals with the old merchant houses, evidence of Dutch trading history. Check out this canal cruise.
Despite not being the capital, Auckland is the most dominant city in New Zealand.
It’s a city where the surrounding sea provides many opportunities to enjoy the outdoor life, popular with the average Kiwi (New Zealanders).
A nighttime tour around the harbour allows visitors not experienced in sailing to sit back to enjoy dinner and New Zealand’s fine wines.
After enjoying the outdoor activities available by the day, you’ll love spending an evening sitting back and relaxing.
This great city in Thailand is famous for its temples, markets and cuisine.
You can enjoy a nighttime city tour that takes in all of these things.
Bangkok is a densely populated city where you need patience in the traffic, but the waterways are an effective alternative transport.
If you take a tuk-tuk tour, a vehicle that can manoeuvre through any traffic jams, you can see all the famous landmarks in Bangkok, visit the markets, the flower market being a 24-hour market, and sample the local food. Or go on a river cruise and see the city at a leisurely pace.
Even where the temples are closed, you can walk around the grounds, seeing the temples under floodlights.
Spanish tapas and wine are highlights of any visit to Spain.
Barcelona on Spain’s northwest coast is famous for the creations of Antoni Gaudi, especially Sagrada Familia, among the highlights.
A great introduction to night in Barcelona is a tour of the Old Gothic Quarter, sampling the tapas and wine along the way.
This is also a fantastic way to make new friends from within the group.
An alternative is an evening watching a flamenco show while enjoying dinner.
Barcelona’s variety makes it an excellent choice for a long weekend, even a week.
The harbour has been revamped with La Rambla, a street heading down to the water, an increasingly lively pedestrian street in the evening.
Berlin’s modern history since the dividing wall between East and West is one of increasing development and tourism numbers.
There are a huge number of landmarks and plenty of good restaurants, international as well as German cuisine making it one of the top cities to visit at night.
There are several shows you might enjoy, with the showcasing of the “Golden Years” worth consideration.
Book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment for this or any other show.
If you are interested in museums, Berlin is the place for you, with many museums staying open into the late evening.
A great place to have dinner at night is at the Berlin TV tower, where you might want to book a ticket to skip the line and enjoy a VIP dinner.
6- Buenos Aires
There are few sights in Argentina as impressive as the “Pink House”, Casa Rosada, under lights at one end of Avenida de Mayo, 25th May Avenue.
Newsreels show President Juan Peron with his wife, Eva, talking from its balcony to huge crowds.
Buenos Aires has many landmarks to enjoy, excellent bars and restaurants and the chance to see the dance for which it is famous, the Tango.
The Tango developed in the city’s streets, a mix of Cuban, African and European influences.
By day, you may even see it being performed in some neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires, but you will truly enjoy the atmosphere of a milango in this city at night. Check out this tango show.
Equally as famous as the tango is Argentinian beef.
Dinner in a good restaurant with a steak and a bottle of Argentina’s best malbec makes it a truly memorable city at night to enjoy after a day of sightseeing.
Tivoli Gardens is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks and one of Copenhagen’s top attractions, staying open well into the night.
It’s so popular that it’s worth buying an advance ticket to avoid the lines. .
It opened in the middle of the 19th century and its central location in the city’s heart makes it very accessible.
You will need a coat at night for many months of the year, but that should never be a reason not to explore this wonderful city at night.
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a real experience, with crazy traffic.
Take your life in your hands to cross the road through a sea of scooters.
Locals do, but accidents are rare as riders are experienced in avoiding pedestrians.
A walking tour with an experienced guide will show you how it is done, with your reward the range of fantastic street food you sample on the way.
Everything is fresh and cooked in front of your eyes.
Vietnam’s increasing popularity with overseas tourists is well-deserved and Hanoi is the top city at night.
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the lakes and the Water Puppet Theatre make Hanoi a city you must see.
Istanbul, Turkey’s most important city, has one foot in Europe and the other in Asia.
The dividing line is the Bosphorus, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, heading to the Aegean.
There are many landmarks to explore, including mosques such as the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.
By night, there is a huge variety of fine restaurants, cabaret and traditional shows.
The European side of this enormous city holds the majority of tourist attractions, but that is not to say you should not take a ferry across the Bosphorus to increasingly popular districts like Kadikoy. Check out the details of this cruise.
10- Las Vegas
Las Vegas is one of the most famous entertainment cities in the world, where the city’s night is more important than daylight hours.
Several world-famous performers are resident in the hotels on the Strip.
The casinos never close, so if you decide to visit Las Vegas, you are likely to play until the early hours.
Don’t plan any activities for early morning.
Las Vegas was built for gambling, a city in the solitude of the Mojave Desert in Nevada.
There is no solitude here, with the pristine desert surrounding a city that was only created in 1905.
If you’re keen to see a particular show, make sure you book your tickets in before you go to get the best seats.
London is a European mirror of New York with a far richer history.
The West End is a place with numerous theatres, bars and restaurants.
Theatre tickets for the most popular shows are worth booking in advance to avoid disappointment. And it’s also a popular shopping area, especially Oxford and Regent Streets.
The River Thames splits the city with several iconic landmarks on its two banks: Parliament, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, the list goes on.
You can take a cruise at night down the Thames, have dinner and dance.
At the end of the cruise, the heart of London does not close, so head to a club for even more dancing.
12- New Orleans
If you love music, the French Quarter in New Orleans is the place for you.
Jazz, blues, rock and country feature along the main street, Bourbon Street, which has featured in numerous films over the years.
Cajun Cuisine is certainly worth trying, its origins coming from French-speaking immigrants.
Bourbon Street provides plenty of choices of bars and restaurants by night.
Nighttime tours range from cruising along the Mississippi to learning more about the “dark history” of New Orleans.
13- New York
New York gets plenty of visitors in the winter when the weather can be cold and unappealing.
Christmas in the city known as the “Big Apple” is fun, with its fabulous shops attracting large numbers.
New York’s skyline from the rivers on either side of Manhattan is famous, while Broadway is one of the world’s top theatre areas.
Even if you are a first-time visitor to New York, there are plenty of tours you can enjoy by night to introduce you to the city’s nightlife and activities.
One of the buildings on its skyline is the Empire State Building, once the tallest structure in the world.
You will get a good view of it from the rivers surrounding Manhattan, but you can also go up to the observatory deck on the 86th floor to see great views across New York under lights or skip the line to go to the 102nd floor of the One World Observatory.
The Moulin Rouge hosts a nightly cabaret show that has been popular for decades and is the place that invented the can-can.
The theatre was destroyed by fire in 1915 but reopened a decade later.
It can only seat 850, so booking tickets well in advance of your visit to Paris makes sense.
The River Seine splits the city with many of the French capital’s iconic landmarks on its banks.
French cuisine is world-famous and the city’s restaurants offer cuisine from every region in France accompanied by fine French wine.
The Moulin Rouge is just one of many nighttime alternatives along with cinema, theatre, bars and restaurants. Skip the line and reserve your ticket here.
The skyline on both sides of the Vltava River is best seen from the river and a nighttime cruise reveals Prague’s landmarks under lights.
Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral stand high on one bank and are worth exploring in more detail.
The Charles Bridge under which you will pass also deserves further inspection.
Prague is famous for its beer, and you are likely to sample local brews in the plentiful night bars.
As one of the first of many Eastern European cities to attract visitors after the breakup of the Communist world, there’s plenty to do in this city at night.
16- Rio de Janeiro
While you may not be in Rio when “Carnival” is taking place in February, it’s fascinating to go behind the scenes and see the preparations that go into the parades that are so important to these celebrations.
A late afternoon tour, which takes up to four hours, is a great idea before a ate dinner.
Likewise, Copacabana Beach at night is a vibrant place with locals and tourists enjoying the setting.
Corcovado, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, stands above Rio, lit for all to see wherever you are.
If it is football season, check whether there is an evening game at the Maracanã Stadium.
You’ll be talking about the atmosphere at a game for the rest of your life.
The city was relatively small when Rome was the hub of a huge empire.
It has grown enormously since those days as the capital of modern-day Italy.
St. Peter’s in Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel are hugely popular places with queues days and night.
The Vatican is a place you must visit while you are in Rome and to avoid queues, buy your tickets in advance from a reputable tour company.
You can visit in the evening after a busy day elsewhere before heading to one of Rome’s wonderful restaurants to eat your favourite Italian dishes.
Shanghai has been an important Chinese port for many years and, in recent times, it has become one of the world’s top financial centres.
Only 14 world countries have a larger gross product.
Its skyscrapers define a skyline you can enjoy on a night cruise on the Huangpu River.
Originally a fishing village, Shanghai on the Yangtse River Estuary grew in the 19th century and now has a metropolitan population of almost 40 million.
The waterfront is lined with buildings from the colonial era, yet the Shanghai Tower at 632 metres (2073 feet) and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower are much more recent.
Shanghai is a mix of old and new and its nightlife has grown with the city.
The city harbour, which includes the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, looks wonderful at night.
What better way to spend a night than on a cruise with a leisurely dinner as you enjoy the setting?
While Sydney is not the capital of Australia, it is the country’s most populous city and has a vibrant nightlife of bars, restaurants and clubs.
Australia may not have a distinctive national cuisine but Australians love their pies.
There is a harbourside caravan selling pies where there is always a nighttime queue. So be patient and give it a try.
Few cities have more neon lights and signs than the capital of Japan.
Tokyo is a huge city with excellent transport infrastructure and everything runs on time, so getting around to see the sites is easy.
First-time visitors will find a fascinating city with plenty to do and see.
A great introduction to Japanese cuisine is a tour to sample local food and you can learn about local city life if you head to neighbourhoods like Shimbashi, a popular nightlife area of Tokyo. You may also like this Tokyo Bay dinner cruise.
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