World's top 10 best nighttime attractions: The Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal and more

THE EIFFEL TOWER, PARIS

Paris' favourite icon and a landmark feat of engineering, the iron trellis of the Eiffel Tower becomes ethereal by night, transformed into an artwork by clever lighting that erupts for five minutes every hour on the hour. Snap away, but publishing night images of the tower on social media is illegal since copyright applies. Begin with the distant view from the Trocadero at sunset and walk across the Seine. See toureiffel.paris

TAJ MAHAL, AGRA

Nobody ever told his favourite wife "I love you" with more feeling than Shah Jahan when he built the Taj Mahal for her. This is poetry in stone, and moonlight gilds its shining, studied perfection. The grounds of the Taj are open for night viewing on full moon night and two nights before and after. Otherwise, the view from the rooftop restaurant of the Sai Palace Hotel over your chicken vindaloo is a knockout. See tajmahal.gov.in

MONT ST MICHEL, NORMANDY

Perched on a rocky islet surrounded by sandbanks that are exposed to powerful tides between Normandy and Brittany, this soaring, Gothic Benedictine abbey and the village huddled at its base is a technical as well as an artistic tour de force. Go at twilight and watch the sunset as the lights come on, and step to the side of the promenade for the best shots, magic. See ot-montsaintmichel.com

HAGIA SOFIA, ISTANBUL

Wars, plague, the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the crusaders and the coming of the Ottomans – this massive, sixth century work of Emperor Justinian I on the heights overlooking the Bosphorus has witnessed some of the seminal events of human civilisation over the past 15 centuries. See it from the gardens between Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, another nocturnal Turkish delight. See ayasofyamuzesi.gov.tr

MATERA, ITALY

Lining the sides of a river gorge in southern Italy where most of the population once lived in sassi, caves bored in the side of the gorge, Matera transports you back to the Old Testament. Now a World Heritage zone, it's highly photogenic, a favourite for cinematographers looking for a biblical backdrop. It's at its best at twilight, when house lights anoint the dim passageways that lead to the church at the top of the town. See italia.it

ACROPOLIS, ATHENS

One of the crowning architectural achievements of the ancient world, the Acropolis is an anthill by day, but its cool, serene, classical beauty is restored when the lights come on at night. Philopappos Hill has good views but it's a tricky spot to negotiate by night. Better still is the rooftop restaurant of the Sin Athina Hotel, which has a fine, unobstructed view of the Parthenon. See visitgreece.gr

MEHRANGARH FORT, JODHPUR

Set on a hilltop at the navel of Rajasthan's "Blue City" Mehrangarh is one of the most impressive forts in all of India, its cliff-like walls radiating military might and purpose. Softened by the night lighting, its brooding mass assumes an air of romance. Admire it from the roof terrace of Darikhana Restaurant at Raas Jodhpur Hotel, where the Mediterranean-inspired menu plucks the taste buds like a sitar. See mehrangarh.org

POTALA PALACE, LHASA

Ringed by the mountains of Tibet, the former official residence of the Dalai Lama and one of the world's largest palaces is a stunning vision when the lights come on at night. Enshrined on UNESCO's World Heritage list, the Potala is a place of pilgrimage for Tibet's Buddhists. There's an excellent night view from the rooftop restaurant of the Shambhala Hotel, tucked away deep in the old town. See tibetdiscovery.com

WINTER PALACE, ST PETERSBURG

The classical Baroque façade of the palace, official residence of the Russian Emperors from 1732 to 1917, is a beauty by night. Radiating elegance, majesty and imperial might, the sprawling palace is now the home of the spectacular Hermitage Museum. See it from both sides, from the Palace Square, then cross the Palace Bridge to the opposite bank of the river Neva where the palace is reflected Narcissus-like across the water. See saint-petersburg.com

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SANTORINI, GREECE

On the island home of legendary Atlantis, the sugar-cube houses that cling to the brink of this crumbling pile of volcanic rock glow by night. A prime spot is any one of the bars in the village of Oia, from where the houses spill down the cliff face, completely white except for doors and window frames. Local superstition maintains that vampires flap about when the moon is full, but don't let that put you off. See visitgreece.gr

See also: The truth about seeing the northern lights

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