Places That Come Alive at Night!


Everyone loves a sunny day, but for some places, night time is the right time. Whether it’s a building that comes to life with neon lights, a tunnel that only gains its haunting ambiance once the sun goes down, or a bioluminescent wonder that proves that nature is a night owl, let’s talk about our favorite places that are best seen at night!

(Image: Studio Roosegaarde)

Personally, I’ve always wanted to visit the Van Gogh Bike Path in Eindhoven, Netherlands. It’s a winding path through a park that doesn’t look like much in the daytime, but in the dark it turns into a glowing, earthbound starscape thanks to treated glow-in-the-dark stones in the paving. A secret in the day, and a work of art in the night.

Tell us about your favorite place that just has to be seen at night, where it’s located, and how you discovered it. Of course if you have any terrific pictures of the place, let’s see those too! Your response might be included a round-up article on Atlas Obscura. Don’t be scared, let’s find out what comes to life in the dark!


I love the natural wonder of bioluminescense, were the water lightens up whenever is disturbed. I’m fortunate to live near three permanent bio bays in Puerto Rico: La Parguera, Laguna Grande and Mosquito Bay. So far I’ve visited the first one, which is apparently the least bright. I can only imagine how much prettier the other two are, specially Mosquito Bay judging by the pictures I’ve seen. Hope that one day I can take a night kayaking trip through the bay and experience this natural wonder myself.


Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada! They light up the falls at night with beautiful colours. So visit the Falls in the daytime to see them in their rushing glory, then come back after dark to see the sparkling spray like a rainbow. :slight_smile:


Obviously, the various Red Light districts of Europe, but especially the Reeperbahn area in Sankt Pauli in Hamburg. During the day, it’s sort of depressing, with the bars and theaters closed, and the window displays of the sexshops looking rather drab in daylight. At night, it becomes an exhilarating place, with thousands of partygoers, tourists, music, and lights. Sankt Pauli is a special and dear place to the people of Hamburg. It’s close to the harbor and has been an amusement district for hundreds of years. It has a peculiar atmosphere that seems the opposite of the somewhat posh, affluent and civilized face of the city during the day, but it is a vital part of Hamburg’s identity.


The Lincoln Memorial at night has always touched me deeply for some reason. One night I walked a couple of miles from my hotel, alone, just to see it. Disclaimer: This was about 30 years ago, so I had no GPS, and I obviously had some trouble calculating the actual distance using a street map. Luckily I was a lot younger and stronger then. And the trek was more than worth it. There’s something majestic and yet comforting in the nighttime view of it.


Where rowing teams stow their boats in Philadelphia. Boat House Row


Totally agree!


Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main public square in Marrakesh’s Old City, is a most amazing place. By day, it is a fairly laid back area, almost desultory in its activity level, ringed by small shops and sleepy cafes on the outer edges, with vendors’ carts in the middle. It’s a huge square and people just walk right through it, creating the impression of a vast emptiness. At night a transformation takes place. It swarms with tourists and (mainly) Marrakeshi men. You can easily trip over people, that’s how crowded it gets.

The square gets very smoky from so many food stalls selling grilled meats of all sorts, and there are people selling every kind of small lamps, fruit, perfumes and essential oils, spices, and furniture. But best of all are the story-tellers, who gather large crowds out in the open. It’s so much fun even if you don’t understand a word of it! Because of the long-standing tradition of the story tellers, the square was named a “UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” There are also the obligatory henna-painters, fortune tellers, water sellers with their brass cups and leather water bags, snake charmers (yes, really!), natural medicine practitioners, holy men, young men with chained monkeys, and performers, musicians, and singers of all types. It’s dark, with only a few lights and the cooking fires, and it feels slightly dangerous, but it’s actually very safe. I was a single American woman on my own, and had a great time. One of the translations of Jemma el-Fnaa is “Assembly of the Dead,” supposedly because it was the site of public executions, but it doesn’t feel very grim now-a-days anymore.


Two places, as geographically diverse as possible. The Harbin, China Winter Festival, where ice sculpture cities are lit at night, and Burning Man, in the desert where vehicles are lit with neon. Tried to upload pictures but I can’t make it work.


The Dragon Bridge in Da Nang, Vietnam


The Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda’s capital. A popular spot for international convenings, the Convention Centre symbolizes Rwanda’s stature in the international business and nonprofit worlds, a position no one expected the country to hold 20 years ago. The dome-shaped building is illuminated in the rotating colors of Rwanda’s flag, and because Rwanda is “the land of a thousand hills” and the Centre is centrally located, it is visible from spots all over the city. (I didn’t have a good picture, this one is from google.)


Penn Station in NYC has beautiful romantic lighting at night and the stars on the ceiling make it seem dreamy. It’s at its best when it is fairly deserted.


I lived in the city for so long, I forgot how beautiful and plentiful the stars are in the night sky (if it’s a clear night, and if you can get away from all lights).


Continuing the discussion from Places That Come Alive at Night!:

When I lived in Northern Virginia years ago, my favorite place at night was the back of the Lincoln Memorial. It is quiet, overlooks the river, and you can watch the planes landing and taking off at Reagan International Airport. It was magical!


Las Vegas


Burning Man at night is spectacular.


Very cliche but London at night. Last one was a Tate Modern display - looked great at night


Wish I had a picture, the place that I always thought was magical was standing with my back to Thomas Jefferson at the Jefferson Memorial and looking toward the Mall.


This isn’t very helpful for those looking to visit, but once at dusk while driving past farmland in southeast Wisconsin, my friend and I saw hundreds of fireflies (aka lightning bugs) flickering over the cabbage fields. Amazing! And once when I was at Zion National Park, I saw a total eclipse of the moon. The stars and meteors that appeared were dazzling.


Totally agree. All of the monuments at night are magnificent.