When the sun goes down: Things to do in Rome at night

Castle of St. Angelo in Rome at sunrise, Italy
Scenic view of Castle of St. Angelo in Rome at sunrise, Italy

We’re sure you know all about the best bucket list landmarks, attractions and tours to tick off your list when you visit the Italian capital, but with so many stunning spaces to see in the daytime – what’s left to do in Rome at night?

The answer? Plenty!

From night time tours of the Colosseum, to open-air rooftop aperitifs (with live opera) and outdoor cinema screenings on the banks of the Tiber, there are loads of ways to keep yourself busy when darkness descends on the capital. In fact, some would argue the city is actually better discovered at night – when the air is cooler and the hardcore tourists have retired after a long day’s jostling for space on the sidewalks!

So if you consider yourself as more of a night owl, check out our guide to the best things to do in Rome at night:

Alternative things to do in Rome at night

1. Catch a movie – outdoors or in!

Isola del Cinema Rome

If sightseeing has filled your daylight hours and you’re looking for something to do that requires very little effort, a trip to the big screen could be just the shout.

During the summer months, coveted seats at the pop up Isola del Cinema screens (pictured) along the River Tiber book up fast, with patrons hoping to catch a Hollywood blockbuster (in English, with subtitles) in the picturesque setting. There also are plenty of places to slink into a late night showing in English over the winter months, including the Nuovo Olimpia off Via del Corso and the Odeon in the Cassia neighbourhood, while the Villa Borghese’s Casa del Cinema often holds international film festivals.

2. Visit the Catacombs after hours

Many discerning travellers across the globe have discovered that the best time to visit a city’s top attractions is at night, and these people are warmly rewarded in Rome with some of the most exclusive tours on the market taking place after hours.

One such tour is the Catacombs at Night by Walks (pictured), which only begins as the public filters out of the eerie space and the evening draws in. Guests head deep underground to see some of the city’s most incredibly preserved burial sites, learning all about ancient Rome along the way.

More top tour to do after hours? For first-timers, a Welcome to Rome Evening Tour is a must, while a Colosseum by Night Tour is perfect for those looking to do things a little differently. More on that below.

3. Watch the sun set on one of Rome’s romantic rooftops

Should you find yourself in the mood for a treat, there’s really nothing like dressing up and making your way to one of Rome’s romantic rooftop bars for a sunset beverage – ‘When in Rome…’

As far as views go, Eitch Borromini Hotel (pictured) is up there (pun intended), with a 360 panorama of the surrounding cityscape from its sixth floor rooftop terrace (reservation only). For truly special occasions it’s possible to book an aperitif at the Eitch Borromini, complete with an open-air opera show.

If craft beer is more your thing, a visit to My-Ale, Open Baladin or Brew Dog Roma could be the ticket, while cocktail-enthusiasts will be at home in the cosy, rustic Black Market Monti or the chilled-out, stylish Necci dal 1942.

4. People watch in the Piazzas

Who doesn’t love to while away their time with some solid people watching of an evening? It’s one of the lesser talked-about activities we all like to indulge in when we visit a new city, but one that’s often the most relaxing and enlightening.

Piazza di Spagna (pictured), Piazza Navona or any of the busier squares in the city all offer the perfect spaces to sit back and observe street performers, painters and hawkers, children playing hopscotch and friends bidding farewell after a late night meal.

After the sun sets and before it rises is also a good time to plan your ‘alone in Rome’ photoshoot at the Trevi Fountain or on the Spanish Steps. Many Instagrammers and bloggers opt for this time to set up their tripods and snap that elusive #travelgoals photo – so even if you’re not up for the task yourself, you might catch a photoshoot taking place while you’re there.

5. See the Colosseum lit up on a late night tour

The crowds are smaller, the views better, and the experience much more intimate – what’s not to like about seeing one of the world’s top sites at night?

Whether you’ve visited the Colosseum already and are itching for another way to experience it, or it’s your first time and you’re looking for a way inside without too much fuss, an evening tour is a great option as it’s cooler, less crowded and easily as beautiful as it is in the day time.

Remember the Colosseum underground and arena floor can only be visited on pre-booked tours with a very limited number of tickets per day, so if that’s on your list, check out Walks‘ VIP Colosseum at Night Tour (pictured) which also gets you on to the arena floor for one of the best views.

6. Grab a bite to eat in the Jewish Ghetto

One of the most relaxing and enjoyable places to while away an evening in Rome is most certainly the Jewish Ghetto, where rickety chairs and tables covered in red and white checkered cloth line the main street, and residents effortlessly weave their way through visitors, disappearing into silent side streets. The atmosphere is friendly and laid-back, despite the presence of restaurant hosts urging couples to try their place over the one next door.

And then there’s the artichokes. 

Part crispy, part creamy, fried artichoke is on the menu at almost every restaurant in the Jewish Ghetto, and for good reason; Carciofi alla giudìa (Italian for ‘Jewish style artichoke’) originated in Rome, and it’s there that it has been perfected.

Try it out at the Nonna Betta, one of the charming kosher restaurants lining the cobbled stoned Via del Portico d’Ottavia, and a special stop on this fantastic Rome food tour.

7. Seek out the city’s best gelato!

No matter the season or region, there’s one Italian food that never fails to please: gelato. And even after the sun sets there’s still plenty of time indulge in than a trip to a local gelateria to peruse the mouth-watering flavours (and maybe grab a sample or five…)

If that sounds like your preferred night time activity, grab a pen: some of Rome’s best gelato can be found in:

  • Gelateria I Caruso, Via Collina 13/15, a 10-minute walk from the Repubblica train station (don’t miss their fondente, a super-creamy dark chocolate, or the fruit gelatos);
  • Ciampini, Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina 29a 5-minute walk from the Spanish Steps or Piazza Navona (if it’s in season, opt for the castagna — a chestnut flavour with bits of chewy chestnut mixed in), and;
  • Il Gelato di Claudio Torcè, Viale Aventino 59, near Circus Maximus; and Piazza Monte d’Oro 91/92, near Piazza Navona and Via del Corso (Rome foodies call Claudio Torcè the master for his crazy-creative flavours and high-quality, all-organic ingredients!)

Read more: Where to find the best gelato in Italy

8. Learn how to make authentic Italian pasta at a cooking class

Full disclosure, we may be tooting our own horns with this one, but here at Walks everyone agrees that learning how to make pasta with a local chef – plus enjoying a full homemade meal on the chef’s rooftop after – is an amazing way to spend an evening in Rome.

Cooking classes may not sound like they’re for everyone, but more times than not, couples, solo travellers, families and especially children find themselves sometimes unexpectedly calling it a highlight of their vacation!

Read more: 12 Non-touristy things to do in Rome

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