9 Amazing After-Dark Travel Experiences for Night Owls

Make the most of your travels by experiencing these destinations at night.
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As soon as the sun sets, many travelers are lured to the hottest clubs in town. But if that’s not your scene, here are some other spectacular nighttime experiences around the globe.

Alcatraz Night Tour in San Francisco, California

A visit to this infamous prison is a unique adventure. First, you’ll be treated to a beautiful sunset silhouette of the Golden Gate Bridge. After a brief orientation on the prison’s ins and outs, you're left to explore it at your own pace. Recordings from former inmates will guide you through the eerie prison after hours. When you're done with the Cell House, you can visit different sites around the island, such as the Alcatraz museum and bookshop. It can be a bit spooky (there are variety of special presentations only offered at night) but it’s definitely extraordinary.

Bioluminescent Bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico

If you happen to be in Vieques during a “New Moon” phase, make sure to book a starlit kayak trip along a mangrove forest. The view is spectacular and while taking photos can be a bit of a struggle, witnessing the neon-blue lights made by dinoflagellates (tiny microorganisms that glow in response to movements) is one for the travel journal. According to legend, the first Spanish conquistadors were frightened by the glowing Mosquito Bay so they decided to block the entrance to keep out the bad spirits. This preserved the ecological environment making it the world's brightest bioluminescent bay.


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Firefly Viewing in Palawan, Philippines

After visiting the beautiful beaches of Palawan, explore this unlikely natural display. A romantic cruise along Ihawig River is the perfect way to end an exciting day. Here, you can quietly admire the glory of untouched nature, and, if a swarm of beautifully flickering lights in the middle of a mangrove forest isn’t enough to make your heart flutter, then maybe a bunch of glowing plankton will.

Tuktuk Tour in Bangkok, Thailand

Many travelers tend to overlook the most beautiful scenes of Bangkok at night. Yes, the nightlife is exciting—what with its epic bars and pubs—but there are also markets, temples, and food, which are best experienced under the moonlight. The best part? Less tourists and bearable traffic. You will also see how the city comes alive with different lights in vivid colors.

WaterFire Providence in Rhode Island

This multi-sensory experience is complete with different music selections and aromatic wood smoke. An art installation and community event, the WaterFire is free for the public, so you can go downtown and watch as 80 braziers light up the Woonasquatucket, Moshassuck, and Providence Rivers. It’s cited as the most popular work of art created in the capital city’s 371-year history by the Providence Journal. Check out the schedule here.

Night Safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa

The park is roughly the size of Israel and easily one of the best places in Africa to see wild animals like lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and rhinos. Since a lot of animals laze around during the day, this is perfect for those who want to see some nocturnal species hunting at night. Your designated ranger will even share expert knowledge and explain animal behavior as you observe from a safe spot. The drive usually starts around 5 p.m. and lasts for about three hours.


Petra by Night in Jordan

Petra is one of most famous UNESCO World Heritage sites. Just imagine being surrounded by mountains with about 1,800 lighted candles as you explore the old city—it’s beautiful! Here, you’ll also be treated to traditional Jordanian music and stories about Petra and the Nabateans. The entrance is about $24 and children below 10 years old are free of charge.

'Colosseum Under the Moon' Tour in Rome, Italy

A lot of tourists go to Rome every year to see the Colosseum, the ancient city’s most famous ruins. It has survived wars and earthquakes and is definitely one of the must-see places when in Italy. However, visiting can be a hassle, especially during summer when it’s too hot. Try joining a guided night tour (usually from May to October) to have a unique glimpse. The vibe is reminiscent of the Ancient Empire on a full moon night.

Night Mooring at Saga International Balloon Festival in Japan

Held along the riverside, this festival is all about the impressive sight of a hundred balloons lit up by burners. The burners are lit in a choreographed manner to the music of a live band. The night ends with fireworks soaring over the Kase Riverside. The best time to visit is during the international balloon festival, which is usually held between the end of October and the beginning of November. 

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