Rome is the capital city of Italy and is one of the most renowned cities not just in Europe but in the whole world. Dubbed the “Eternal City”, Rome is up there on the list of most popular tourist destinations. This buzzing metropolis is filled with historic landmarks, cultural attractions, world-class museums, amazing food and other points of interest that will leave you in awe.
Although visitors tend to spend most of their time in the wonderful city during the day, exploring Rome at night is one of the most fun things you can do. In fact, there are some interesting and unique activities in Rome that you can only experience during the evening. The good news is that it is generally safe to wander in Rome at night, as long as you stay alert and take the usual precautions that you would anywhere else.
If you have plans to use public transportation, take note of the operating hours (check out our guide on how to get around when visiting Rome). You can also take advantage of the suitcase storage lockers in Rome where you can securely leave your large bags and other belongings while you explore the city at night.
Book a guided tour of the Colosseum at night
The Colosseum is an ancient amphitheater that has been in existence since 80 A.D; it is the biggest amphitheater that has ever been built and one of the oldest ones that are still standing today. Located in the heart of Rome, the Colosseum is no doubt one, if not the biggest draws of the city. This prominent attraction is visited by thousands of tourists on a daily basis.
However, not a lot of people know that the Colosseum is open for nighttime tours. In fact, it is an excellent option for those who want to avoid the sizeable crowds or for those who do not cope well with the heat, especially during the summer months. The night tours of the Colosseum also include access to some restricted areas, such as the Arena Floor and Colosseum Underground, which is why it is preferred by some tourists.
One of the downsides of taking the Colosseum night tour is that ticket prices can be a bit more expensive compared to the day tours. In addition, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are closed in the evening; these two attractions are typically coupled with a day time tour because of their proximity to each other.
See the Trevi Fountain light up at night
The Trevi Fountain is another one of the most iconic landmarks in the city and one that’s on every tourist’s Rome itinerary. More than just being a stunning landmark, the fountain is also an integral part of a local tradition. According to legend, throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain means that you will come back to Rome in the future. This tradition was immortalized by Audrey Hepburn in the Hollywood film Roman Holiday.
Because of its immense popularity, visiting the Trevi Fountain during the day can be quite overwhelming. Thousands and thousands of tourists gather around the area to take videos of themselves tossing a coin or simply capture photos of themselves with the fountain as their background. One way to avoid the crowds is to swing by the attraction at night.
Visiting the Trevi Fountain during the latter part of the day is one of the best things to do in Rome at night. During this time, there are only a few people in the area so you don’t have to nudge your way to take photos of the lovely landmark. The fountain looks even more divine as it is illuminated by warm lights, which makes for an impressive sight – and it's a free activity too, other than your coins!
Appreciate the beauty of the Vatican City
Whether or not you are a religious person, there’s no way that you can visit Rome without making your way to the Vatican. Situated just a short walk from the city center, the Vatican is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and is a major tourist destination in the Eternal City. It is home to world-renowned attractions such as St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter's Square.
With millions of people visiting the Vatican every year, having to deal with massive groups of tourists is almost a certainty. But with a little bit of advance planning, you can beat the crowd and see a different side of the Vatican at night. Evening tours of the state’s most prominent spots, such as the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, are available. These tours focus on small groups and are ideal if you want to skip the queues and deal with fewer crowds.
Visit the Catacombs after hours
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience in Rome, you should join a late-night tour of the catacombs. These ancient catacombs date back to the Roman Empire and were constructed by the city’s first Christians as a way to bury their deceased loved ones without being persecuted by the Roman rulers. At present, there are numerous catacombs and crypts spread all over Rome, all of which have become tourist attractions and can be accessed via guided tours.
No doubt one of the most popular things to do in Rome at night, an evening tour of the catacombs provides a more eerie and impactful experience than you would have during the day, with the bonus of dealing with a smaller crowd. Although it might seem like a frightening time, a nighttime tour of the catacombs is extremely educational and a definite must-try when in Rome.
Experience the local tradition of aperitivo
One of the most popular traditions in Rome, the aperitivo is a set time around early evening (typically from 7:00 to 9:00 PM or after work hours) where locals have a few drinks along with light snacks as a way to unwind after a work day – think of it as the Italian version of “happy hour”. Originally a northern Italian tradition, aperitivo has made its way to southern Italy and is widely practiced in Rome.
While you can have an aperitivo just about anywhere in the city, the Trastevere district is an ideal choice. The trendy neighborhood is known for its buzzing nightlife scene and hosts a broad selection of cocktail bars, wine bars and restaurants where both locals and tourists can enjoy a drink with some light nibbles.
Go people watching at the Piazza Navona
The Piazza Navona is a magnificent public square in Rome and is one of the city’s most prominent open spaces. The plaza dates back to the Baroque period and is a significant part of Rome’s history, having hosted festivals, theatrical events and more. Today, the square is a major tourist spot. It is a center for activity such as live entertainment and street performances and hosts a number of commercial establishments such as restaurants and shops.
Piazza Navona is naturally busy throughout the day, as locals and tourists gather to shop, dine or simply hang out. If you want to have a more serene experience, it is best to take an evening stroll along the square to admire the beautiful architecture, watch some live performances and observe people and how they go about their evening.
Hang out on the rooftop bars in Rome
If you want to socialize and have a few drinks while enjoying some of the best views of the city's famous landmarks, then you should definitely check out the rooftop bars in Rome. These rooftop cocktail lounges and wine bars are a favorite among locals and tourists because of the spectacular scenery that they offer and are a must-visit in Rome at night.
Some of the most popular rooftop bars include the rooftop terrace at the Hotel Forum, which offers an epic view of the Roman Forum, the Hotel Raphael, where you get to see the Pantheon, and the Tiziano Terrace, an open-air bar overlooking the Colosseum. Regardless of which rooftop bar you choose, however, be prepared to pay steep prices for your drinks. Additionally, you may want to reserve a table ahead of time as these nightlife spots fill up quite easily.
Climb the Spanish Steps of Rome at night
Dating back to the 18th century, the Spanish Steps is a famous stairway that connects Pincian Hill to the Piazza di Spagna and is among Rome’s most recognizable landmarks. Designed by famed architect Francesco de Sanctis, it consists of 135 steps and is considered a work of art in scenography. Today, it is a well-known historic attraction that draws tourists from all over the world.
The Spanish Steps not only functions as a public-use stairway, but it has also become a major hangout spot where locals and foreigners like to sit down, people watch and unwind. With that said, the area is often crowded during the day. To take in the beauty of the Spanish Steps sans the crowd, you can visit during the evening instead.
A top activity in Rome at night, hanging out by the Spanish Steps allows you to enjoy the cooler evenings and relax without the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowds. Furthermore, the steps are filled with lovely lights and you get to see admire a stunning view of the Piazza di Spagna as it is illuminated at night.
Watch a movie in an open air cinema
Why not try street food in Rome and a movie? If you are spent from all the sightseeing and touring during the day and would like to do something in Rome at night that requires little effort, a good option would be to watch a film at an outdoor cinema. During the summer, numerous spots across the city are transformed into open air cinemas that feature a variety of movies and programs.
Because this activity is more popular among locals than tourists, the films shown in these outdoor cinemas are often in Italian. However, as it becomes more renowned among the foreign crowd, more and more spots are starting to offer films in the English language or those with subtitles.
Witness an enchanting opera performance
Looking for an activity in Rome at night that’s unlike any other? Why not watch an opera performance? After all, it was in Italy where the art of opera first originated in the 16th century! Put on your best look and catch a magical opera performance at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Established in 1880, the Neo-Renaissance style opera house is one of Italy’s most prominent opera theaters and draws thousands of guests who want to experience artistic performances.
The Teatro dell’Opera di Roma has a capacity of nearly 1,600 people and showcases some of the best opera and ballet performances in the world. Some of the world-renowned performers that have graced the theater’s stage include Luciano Pavarotti, Renata Tebaldi and Maria Callas. Aside from opera, the venue also boasts a year-round calendar of events, including classical music and other contemporary performances. You can visit their official website to view the schedule for the year and to purchase tickets.
Join an evening food tour of Rome
Italian food is beloved all over the world and in Rome, there is an overwhelming amount of dinner options. If you are unsure where to eat dinner when in Rome, why not take a Rome food tour instead? One of the most popular activities in Rome at night, an evening food tour saves you from tourist traps and allows you to try a little bit of everything.
There are plenty of companies that offer such tours, which also double as walking tours. These food tours normally last for a few hours, where you get to do sample some of the finest Italian cuisine, discover hidden gems and do a little bit of sightseeing on the side. Having a local guide on your food tour is also advantageous to avoid getting scammed and to learn some tips that only the locals know.
Walking Tour or Night Tour of the Eternal City
Ancient Rome is a place to be explored whether through a ghost tour, a dinner cruise on the River Tiber, or even a wine tour with a master sommelier. For foodies, a late night meal on a rooftop terrace or a cooking class where you'll learn to make authentic pasta are excellent ways to spend an evening. Lovers of culture can marvel at Swan Lake at a ballet performance or catch a concert at the Baths of Caracalla, ancient Roman ruins that deserve a mention. Rome has so much to see, and activities at night are especially fantastic!