These Iconic European Destinations Deserve A Revisit After Dark, Per Rick Steves

Even though New York City may be "the city that never sleeps," there are plenty of places all across the globe that are worth exploring after sunset. Some travelers may be weary of going out on the town at night, but sometimes getting out of your comfort zone is worth it so you don't miss out on new environments in places you rarely see. And you don't necessarily have to include clubbing or hanging out at bars to enjoy lively European nightlife scenes either.

In fact, travel expert Rick Steves urges tourists not to retreat to their hotel rooms too quickly when in Europe. As the sun goes down, there are opportunities for more activities and changes in atmosphere. This can also mean taking in more local scenes, given that residents of countries like Spain and Italy tend to be night owls. Steves recommends exploring on foot, even at night. And while Paris is known as the City of Light, some of Steves' favorite places to visit at night are elsewhere in Europe. These include markets and even entire cities, such as Palermo and Rome in Italy, and Lyon in France, that transform after sundown.

The Vucciria Market has a different atmosphere at night

Palermo, the largest city on the island of Sicily, features a notable after-dark locale that Rick Steves enjoys. "I love the markets of Palermo, where merchants sing their sales pitches and the octopus are squirting-fresh. But at night, it's an entirely different scene," he states on his website. Steves especially loves Palermo's Vucciria Market at night, which he describes as "a kaleidoscope of edgy graffiti, kids with big eyes and gelato, cheap plastic chairs, soccer on the big screen, and people embracing life with Sicilian gusto." Vucciria Market is popular during the day too, but its typical daytime wares, like produce, give way to dancing, music, and evening food and drinks around 8 p.m.

Find the Vucciria Market at Piazza Caracciolo and Piazza Garraffello. Both are located in the historic center of Palermo, just over a mile from the ferry docks at Port of Palermo. Aside from being the oldest local market in Palermo, the surrounding buildings date back centuries as well. The Church of Sant'Antonio Abate Magno near Piazza Caracciolo still looks similar to how it appeared in the 1500s. Check out the church before grabbing a bite at the bustling market. 

Visit Rome's small details and big attractions after sundown

Rome is another iconic destination with sights worth visiting both during the day and at night. Rome's quaint, winding streets and major landmarks like the Pantheon light up in a golden hue at night. Rick Steves recommends walking around the Campo de' Fiori market and the nearby Spanish Steps after dark. Classic-film lovers will recognize the Spanish Steps from the Audrey Hepburn film "Roman Holiday." Like those in Sicily, Rome's locals sometimes stay out late as well. Aside from getting a local's point of view by wandering the city at night, you can also better avoid Rome's large tourist crowds. "The city — so grand and monumental by day — becomes intimate and approachable [at night]," Steves wrote.

The city of Lyon, which Steves loves for being so non-touristy, is also the perfect city for nighttime exploring. "Lyon is a leader in urban lighting design and hosts conventions on the topic," Steves explained on his website. "Each night, more than 200 buildings, sites, and public spaces are gloriously floodlit." Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) is the oldest part of the city, as the name suggests, and features plenty of these lit up buildings. Simply stroll along these centuries-old streets and allow yourself to get lost.