London Eye sur la Tamise by Grand Parc via Flickr

Though cities can look grand, imposing and full of life during the day, when the sun goes down and the lights come on they take on an entirely new persona and become enormous lightscapes, with their landmarks and buildings picked out of the darkness.

This transformation can turn an average city into a place of striking beauty, and make for some truly fantastic photographs.

Deciding which of the world’s many spectacular cities are the most beautiful at night is no easy task, but we’re willing to give it a go, so here’s a top five.

1. London

Home to some of the most iconic buildings, monuments and views in the world, London is a truly spectacular city and one that is no stranger to beautiful scenery.

However, at night it takes on an even more fantastical appearance with many of the famous buildings along the Thames illuminated with multi coloured lights that reflect in the water below.

Some of the most impressive night time scenes include St Paul’s Cathedral viewed from the Tate Modern, the Houses of Parliament viewed from the South Bank and the entire city seen from the heights of Parliament Hill in the north or Forest Hill in the south.

London at Night - Wikipedia
London looks fantastic both day and night – Wikipedia

 

2. Sydney

Compared to the rest of the cities on this list, Sydney is a veritable spring chicken; however its youth hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable cities in the world.

The most impressive part of the city’s nightscape is its famous harbour, home to the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and many other notable buildings.

Though the city looks great throughout the year, the best time to see it at night is during the VIVA Festival (held in May and June every year) when many of the most famous landmarks are lit with multi coloured lights and projections, transforming them into pieces of art sculpture.

Sydney Harbour - Wikipedia
Sydney Harbour is one of the most iconic sights in the world – Wikipedia

 

3. Istanbul

With its many waterways, its fantastic mosques and its grand palaces, Istanbul is a city that almost seems built to be lit up.

During the day the beautiful buildings are difficult to pick out from the mass of sprawling architecture, however at night, they come alive and look magnificent in their illumination.

The best view of Istanbul at night can be seen from the many ferries that ply the water between the European and Asian continents.

Hagia Sophia at Night - Wikipedia
Istanbul’s Mosques look incredible by night – Wikipedia

 

4. Paris

As it’s known as the City of Lights, it’s no surprise that Paris looks unbelievably beautiful lit up after dark.

From the dramatically illuminated Eiffel Tower to the majestic Sacre Coeur, every part of the city is made more magical and more romantic when the sun goes down and the lights come on.

Cathedrale of Notre Dame - Wikipedia
The Cathedral of Notre Dame is one of the many buildings illuminated at night – Wikipedia

 

5. Hong Kong

Built around the base of an island peak, the sky scrappers of Hong Kong Island are clustered closely together, making it look like a densely packed, futuristic metropolis.

Every building has its own form of illumination, lighting up the skyline and making the city look alive throughout the night.

In contrast to the modern office blocks, the ferries, fishing boats and yachts that sail around the harbour give the city a timeless feel.

Hong Kong Night Skyline - Wikipedia
Hong Kong truly is a city of the future – Wikipedia

 

No matter where in the world you are, night time cityscapes can be spectacular, so next time you’re in a new city or even the city where you live, take the time to give it another look once the sun’s gone down and you just might be surprised by what you see.

Picture credits: Wikipedia 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5