Lonely Planet Writer

Sun down, thumbs up

tibchrisLast Saturday many cities around the world marked Earth Hour by turning out their lights. This got us thinking about the difference a little light and shade can make when experiencing a place.

Many cities are splendid during the day or night and cultures of cool things to do and see spring up around both. But some places are at their best when the sun goes down and the skyline fires up.

We polled our Facebook fans to see which cities know how to shine, offering up Las Vegas, New York City, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Paris and Sydney to select from.

Here's how the votes played out. Paris was on top, still delivering on its 'city of lights' reputation. The city that never sleeps, New York, and its immortal skyscrapers scored a sound second. Close behind was the town with a knack for blurring day and night, Las Vegas.


Some of you thought we left a few off the list. London, Istanbul and Hong Kong were suggested as other places that put on evening ritz.

A few of our fans pointed out that there's something pretty spectacular about places where night doesn't equal dark, such as Hammerfest, Norway, when the Northern Lights are in full flight, or Russia's St Petersburg in the midst of their legendary White Nights.

Many also recommended a different kind of captivating 'dark' experience, where the human elements of a destination are subsumed by the night sky and stars. Great places to take in the delight of starry climbs include Montana, the Northern Territory, New Zealand, Sark, Hawai'i, Slovenia and British Columbia (you can find more of the best spots to stargaze in our Best in Travel 2009).

What did we miss? Which cities come alive at night? Where is the best place to dance in the dark?

[Photo: tibchris/Flickr]