The capital of Italy, Rome is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring cities. Tourists flock to Rome to marvel at its architecture and its historical legacy, to enjoy the world-famous Italian food, and to experience the bustling narrow streets filled with cafes, gelato shops, and pizza parlors.
Rome is where the Western civilization originated, so walking around Rome is similar to taking a trip down the world’s memory lane.
Rome’s magnificent art, museums, and exhibitions attract millions every year. Many also come to visit the numerous religious attractions that Rome has to offer.
Some, however, choose Rome for the dolce vita lifestyle. Although Rome can be hectic and busy, Roman life always appears like an unending vacation, especially with its plentiful sunshine.
Some argue that Rome is at its best during the night, with the focus on food, strolling, hanging out with friends and family, having drinks and gelato, and people watching.
Here’s what you can do in Rome at night:
1. Visit the Colosseum
Although also amazing to visit during the day, Colosseum is worth visiting during the night too. There’s something eerie and magical about seeing this wonder of architecture at night.
Colosseum is a 2000-year-old amphitheater, the largest ever built. This means it attracts over 6.5 million visitors a year.
Visiting during the night means you get to avoid the crowds – and who doesn’t want that?
Here’s a tour that takes you down to the hypogeum. This underground level, complete is where gladiators and wild animals would await their fate. You’ll also get to visit the arena floor. Your guides will have plenty stories to tell, so make sure to ask a lot of questions! Prices range from $39 for children to $79 for adults.
2. Have a meal outside
Weather permitting, have a meal outside. In Rome and Italy, it’s all about the slow pace. Rome has a few fast-food locals, but many more places that celebrate slow food.
In Rome, the dinner on its own can be the main star of the evening. Even on small and unsteady outdoor tables and with traffic roaring past, Romans have still managed to create a cozy and intimate atmosphere for dining.
Try authentic Italian pizzas made with freshly tossed thin crusts in wood-fired ovens. To experience the authentic Pizza Romana, visit the Testaccio institution of Remo.
Chocolate is one of Rome’s famous indulgences. You’ll find exquisite chocolate shops and cafés. Rome also has excellent coffee, and Romans don’t shy away from a late night cup.
3. Take in the view
Head to Monte Mario, just a 15-minute drive from the city center, and Rome’s highest peak. It’s slightly off the beaten path for most tourists, but the glistening view of the entire city is well worth the drive.
Alternatively, go over to the Vittoriano, a monument to united Italy. It has a lift that will take you up to its terraces in a matter of moments to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Rome.
For a more traditional experience, climb the 320 steps to the top of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica.
4. People watch in one of the piazzas
Like a lot of other Southern Europeans, Italians eat dinner relatively late (7:30-9:00 pm), and sometimes even later than that. Dinner usually lasts more than an hour.
After having dinner, walk around Rome. Rome gives off a very different vibe at night. The streets are lively (even winters aren’t that bad due to the mild climate), and many people are shopping, having drinks, or just hanging out in piazzas (public squares/gardens/spaces). In Italian, the act of people watching is called the struscio (literally, “the rub”), with everyone checking each other out.
Visit Piazza di Spagna. Goethe, Joyce, Byron, Shelley, and Keats all visited and pondered on the spectacular view.
Also, check out Piazza Navona and enjoy street performers, artists and tourists acted out against a backdrop of baroque architecture.
There is always something going on in Piazza del Popolo, so make sure you swing by this neoclassical square.
Finally, don’t miss out on Piazza del Campidoglio on the Capitoline Hill, one of Rome’s most beautiful public spaces.
5. Visit the Vatican
Probably the most expensive recommendation on this list, but very much worth it if you’re into history and culture.
For 250 euros (although there are some cheaper ones) tourists can visit the Vatican Museum in small groups led by personal guides after hours. Galleries packed to by day are, at night, empty and dream-like. The Sistine Chapel is shared by as few as a dozen others, and you might even sneak a picture.
With your guide, you will explore some of the nearly 2,000 galleries, apartments and other rooms that make up the vast museum complex. This allows you to enjoy the tranquil evening atmosphere.
This might not be the best option if you like to explore museums on your own, but if you’re short on time, if you prefer less crowded areas or if you simply enjoy guided tours – this is a perfect activity for you.
6. Have a drink on a rooftop
Rome is called the city of seven hills for a reason. Rome boasts a number of scenic spots from which to enjoy a spectacular view.
Admire the cupolas, archaeological sites and historic monuments with a drink in your hand.
If money is no object, head to one of the many rooftop bars and restaurants in Rome. Try Grand Hotel de la Minerve, where you can enjoy fancy cocktails with a view of the nearby, night-lit Pantheon.
For the best view of St. Peter’s and the Vatican head to Les Etoiles Rooftop Garden, at the Hotel Atlante Star. The prices are relatively reasonable and the setting is elegant, which makes it a popular spot for couples looking for romance, other locals, and tourists alike.
Other great rooftop bars include:
– La Terrazza, Hotel Capo
– American Bar, Hotel Forum
– Aroma Restaurant, Palazzo Manfredi
If you’d like to do something more low-key, settle in in one of many outdoor cafes.
7. Have a night-time walk in Trastevere
Start your night with a ritual passeggiata. The streets of central Rome are safe and inviting for a walk at dusk, and there’s no better way to feel the city’s pulse.
With gelato in hand, stroll the streets of picturesque and bustling Trastevere.
Trastevere is on the “other” side of the Tiber River. Although bustling and lively, Trastevere has never lost its village feel. It represents the authentic, intimate side of Rome — a place of red pastel buildings with green ivy hanging down.
Numerous cafes, bars, and restaurants await!
Updated: June 4, 2018