St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City
Stuart Bak

Things to do in Rome at Night Time

A sightseeing Shangri-La during the day, Rome is arguably even more exciting after dark, when lights illuminate its spectacular ancient ruins, swoonsome fountains, imposing statues and vast Roman amphitheaters. It’s also a lot less hectic in and around the main attractions as the majority of tourists have already retired, footsore, to their hotels and apartments. Read on for our guide to all the best things to do in Rome at night time, including:

  • Colosseum night tours
  • People-watching on the piazzas
  • Trevi Fountain
  • The Catacombs of Rome
  • The best rooftop bar views
  • A night at the opera
  • Gelato!

Up on the Roof

Couple drinking wine in a bar at sunset

Let’s start our tour of night time Rome as we mean to go on: with a Campari cocktail at sunset in one (or two) of the Eternal City’s excellent rooftop bars. The sixth-floor terrace at Eitch Borromini Hotel is just about as good as it gets, with panoramic 360-degree views across the rooftops of Piazza Navona and beyond, and a list of cocktails as long as your arm. Watch the sun set over the Pantheon’s iconic dome from atop Hotel Raphael, see the illuminated Roman Forum from (where else?) Hotel Forum, and hit up the art-deco Bettoja Hotel Mediterraneo for some of the finest rooftop views in Rome. Do be aware that you’ll be paying for the view as well as the drink so expect significantly higher prices than at most street-level Rome bars.

The Colosseum by Night

The Colosseum in Rome at night

Fewer tourists, shorter queues, cooler temperatures, better views… there’s literally no downside to making your pilgrimage to the Colosseum at night, when light floods the world’s largest (and best-preserved) ancient amphitheater and you can almost hear the roar of the crowd baying for gladiator blood. Night tours need to be pre-booked and usually kick off around 9PM, so plenty of time to scarf down a pizza before you get there. Night tours are also a great way to get into the guts of the Colosseum and unleash your inner Russell Crowe as you step out onto the arena floor, activities that are traditionally waaay oversubscribed during the daytime.

People-Watch on the Piazzas

Campari cocktail and tapas on a piazza in Rome

The evening atmosphere on Rome’s piazzas is second-to-none. This is the magic hour, when the sun sets, bars bustle, and street entertainers come out in force. Hit up Piazza Navona – home of the beautifully illuminated Bernini fountain – grab yourself a gelato and find somewhere to perch as you admire the fairytale churches and palazzos and, well, just watch the world go by. Piazza di Spagna is no less enchanting and has the added bonus of lying at the foot of the Spanish Steps, while the lesser-spotted Piazza Trilussa over in Trastevere is an unsung hero beloved of locals who meet and mingle by the fountain here, overlooking Ponte Sisto and the Tiber, nightly.

A Night at the Opera

Woman holding opera glasses at the theater

For the quintessential night time Rome experience, book a performance of one of the greats at the historic Teatro dell’Opera. We’re talking nothing less than the likes of Turandot, La Traviata, Madame Butterfly and La Bohème, right here in Italy, the birthplace of opera. Between its grand opera-house setting and extraordinary open-air summer home at the Baths of Caracalla, the Teatro dell’Opera has hosted performances by Maria Callas, The Three Tenors and Joan Sutherland, as well as the world premier of Puccini’s Tosca way back in 1900. Quite the pedigree, then.

The Catacombs of Rome

Inside the San Pancrazio catacomb in Rome

Night time activities in Rome don’t come much spookier than a tour of the Catacombs. Brace yourself for thrills, spills and chills as you descend deep beneath the city streets for a blood-freezing meet-and-greet with the city’s oldest permanent residents. For down here in the Catacombs lie the mortal remains of thousands of ancient Romans, often arranged in bizarre and macabre displays. These creepy underground ossuaries are spread across the city, but most tours will include a stop at the famous Capuchin Crypts, where the bones of countless friars are displayed in weird, wonderful and frankly shiver-inducing ways. Chapels down here include the Crypt of the Pelvises, Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones, and Crypt of the Three Skeletons, and are very much not for the faint of heart.

Trevi Fountain Photo Shoot

Evening view of the Trevi Fountain in Rome

Nothing says romance like an evening stroll to the Trevi Fountain. I mean, can you even say you’ve been to Rome if you haven’t flipped a coin into its waters at some point during your visit? No, dear reader, you cannot. And there’s really no better time to make your Trevi pilgrimage than at night after the crowds have dissipated, and when your chances of nabbing that essential ‘alone in Rome’ selfie for your Insta feed are at their highest.

Pizza and Beer in Trendy Trastevere

Vine-clad pizzeria in Trastevere, Rome

Bohemian Trastevere is one of Rome’s coolest neighborhoods, a medieval labyrinth of cobbled lanes and colorful piazzas chock-full of artisan stores, independent trattorias and hip brewpubs. The district really comes alive at night as locals gather for aperitifs on Piazza Trilussa before heading on for dinner and drinks at some of the best bars and pizza joints in town. Hit up local fave Pizzeria ai Marmi for a slice of the good stuff: wafer-thin, wood-fired and ultra-crispy with a kaleidoscopic range of toppings to choose from, then make for the likes of Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà or Bir & Fud for craft brews that go above and beyond the ubiquitous Peronis and Birra Morettis favored by less adventurous travelers than you, dear reader.


Friends eating ice cream

It doesn’t matter a jot whether you’re visiting Rome during summer or in the depths of winter: Italian gelato should be considered an utterly essential part of your experience. Still in Trastevere? Hit up Otaleg for some of the city’s more unusual flavors (artichoke sorbet, anyone?). Or head back over the Tiber, where the chestnut flavor at Ciampini near Piazza Navona, and tiramisu from Il Gelato di Claudio Torcè may prove life-changing. Gelato parlors stay open well into the evening for all your night-time frozen snack needs.

And Finally… McDonalds

A classic McDonalds burger

Bear with us here. In the event you get an attack of the late-night munchies that only a Big Mac can satisfy, make for the branch at Termini station, where your burger and fries come with a large side order of Roman history. For inside this otherwise identikit restaurant you can view a section of the Servian Wall that defended the city against invading Carthaginians and Gauls in the 4th Century BC. We're lovin' it.

Save on attractions in Rome

Save on admission to Rome attractions with the Vatican and Rome Omnia Pass. Check out @omniavaticanrome on Instagram for the latest top tips and attraction info.

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