The Photographer’s Guide: 20 Iconic Views of Rome (Map, Photos & HELPFUL Tips)
Rome is filled with some of the world’s most famous landmarks…the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Roman Forum. One of the best things to do in Rome is to get a bird’s eye view of these iconic spots. From panoramic views from the highest spots in Rome to lovely strolls along the Tiber River, we list 20 of the best views of Rome.
In this guide, we cover where to get the best views of Rome with practical information on how you can get the same photos.
Table of Contents
Best Views of Rome
In no particular order, here is our list of the best views of Rome. At the end of this guide, you can see all of them on a map.
1. The Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica
For one of the best panoramic views of Rome, climb to the top of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. From here, you get an aerial view of St. Peter’s Square, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Tiber River, and the heart of historic Rome.
The view from the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica | Best Views of Rome
How to Visit St. Peter’s Basilica
It is free to visit St. Peter’s Basilica but there is a fee to climb to the top of the dome. Take the steps all the way to the top (551 steps, €8) or ride the elevator to the terrace and then climb 320 steps to the top of the dome (€10).
Hours: April 1 – September 30: 7 am to 7 pm; October 1 – March 31: 7 am to 6:30 pm
Cost: €8 (551 stairs) or €10 (elevator + 320 stairs)
Pro Travel Tip: Lines can be long to enter St. Peter’s Basilica from 9 am through the late afternoon. One of the best ways to avoid the line is to get here at opening time.
Learn more: Plan your visit with our Guide to Vatican City
2. Palatine Hill
Terrazza Belvedere del Palatino is located on Palatine Hill, sitting just above the Roman Forum. From here, not only do you get the best view of the Roman Forum, but you will also see the Colosseum, Capitoline Hill, and a portion of the Altar of the Fatherland.
The Roman Forum and Colosseum | Best Views of Rome
Roman Forum | Best Views of Rome
How to Visit Terrazza Belvedere del Palatino
To visit this viewpoint, you will need to enter Palatine Hill. When you purchase a ticket for the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum are included on the ticket.
Hours: Hours vary by time of the year. The longest hours are during the summer months (9:00 am to 7:15 pm) and the shortest hours are during the winter months (9:00 am to 4:30 pm).
Cost: €18 (+ €2 reservation fee) which includes Palatine Hill, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum
Pro Travel Tip: For the best experience, take a guided tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill to get the most out of your visit.
3. Capitoline Hill
From Capitoline Hill, you get another very nice view of the Roman Forum. It’s not quite as good as from Terrazza Belvedere del Palatino, but it is free to visit and very easy to add on to the Capitoline Museums, if you are planning a visit here.
There are two different viewpoints on Capitoline Hill.
For the best view of the Roman Forum from Capitoline Hill, walk between Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Senatorial Palace on Via del Campidoglio to Terrazza sul Foro for this view of the Roman Forum:
Roman Forum from Terrazza sul Foro | Best Views of Rome
There is a second viewpoint of the Roman Forum and Via dei Fori Imperiali. It’s not quite as good, but it is just a short walk to get here. From Campidoglio Square, walk between the Senatorial Palace and Palazzo Nuovo, look for the replica of Lupa Capitolina (the she-wolf statue) on your right, and walk out to the terrace for this view:
4. Caffarelli Terrace, Capitoline Museums
Caffarelli Terrace (Terrazza Caffarelli) is a rooftop terrace and small café on top of the Capitoline Museums.
From here, you get another nice view of the Roman Forum. It’s not quite as good as from Terrazza Belvedere del Palatino or Terrazza sul Foro, but it is free to visit and you can enjoy the view with a drink or bite to eat. It’s a nice place to take a break after touring the Capitoline Museums.
The view of the Roman Forum from Caffarelli Terrace
The view looking towards the Theatre of Marcellus
How to Visit Caffarelli Terrace
This terrace can be accessed from within Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of the two buildings of the Capitoline Museums (a ticket is necessary).
If you don’t plan on visiting the Capitoline Museums but still want this view, enter Palazzo Caffarelli through door #4, on Piazzale Caffarelli. Climb two flights of stairs to the second floor to get to the terrace and the café (no ticket required).
5. Views of the Colosseum
For close up views of the Colosseum, take some time to walk around the entire building. This takes about 15 minutes, depending on how frequently you stop for photos.
For one of the best views of the Colosseum, to go Giardinetto del Monte Oppio. This small park is located next to the Colosseo metro station, it’s free to visit, and this is the view that you get:
The view from Giardinetto del Monte Oppio | Best Views of Rome
6. Inside of the Colosseum
Filling your camera’s memory card with images of the inside of the Colosseum is probably already on your to-do list, but from the Colosseum, you also get a very nice view of the Arch of Constantine and Palatine Hill.
From the west end of the Colosseum, you get a magnificent view of the interior of the Colosseum and the arena floor.
The Colosseum | Best Views of Rome
From here, turn around and walk to the exterior of the Colosseum. This takes you to a terrace that overlooks the Arch of Constantine, with views of Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Here is the view.
Arch of Constantine | Best Views of Rome
For more clarification, below is a photo of the Colosseum, taken near the Arch of Constantine, with a view of the terrace.
7. Altar of the Fatherland
This is one of our favorite views of Rome. From the top of the Altar of the Fatherland, you get 360° views of the city and you can see all of Rome’s major landmarks, including the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum.
The Altar of the Fatherland, also called Altare della Patria, the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, or simply the “wedding cake,” is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Italy.
The monument sits on Piazza Venezia, within walking distance of the Roman Forum and the Capitoline Museums.
It is free to visit the Altar of the Fatherland, but to get to the top level, you will have to pay a few euros to ride the elevator. It’s worth it!
Overlooking Piazza Venezia
Top of the Altar of the Fatherland | Best Views of Rome
The view of the Colosseum and Roman Forum from the Altar of the Fatherland
How to Visit the Altar of the Fatherland
For free, you can climb the series of staircases to the upper terrace and café. From the terrace and the steps of the monument, you get very nice views of Rome.
For the best view from the Altar of the Fatherland, ride the elevator to the top of the monument. The elevator is located next to the café and in 2022, we paid €12 to ride the elevator.
8. Gianicolo Hill (Janiculum Terrace)
For a sweeping view of Rome, visit Belvedere del Gianicolo. This scenic viewpoint is located on top of Gianicolo hill (also called the Janiculum). It is the second-tallest hill in Rome and the views from here are breathtaking.
Gianicolo Hill | Best Views of Rome
How to Visit Gianicolo Hill
This viewpoint is located near Trastevere, so you can pair these two things together at the end of the day, for dinner and sunset views of Rome. The easiest way to get here is to take a taxi or walk from Trastevere (about a 15-minute walk).
9. The View from Castel Sant’Angelo
Castel Sant’ Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, was originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family. Later, it was used as a fortress, a prison, a castle, and now it is a museum.
Our favorite part of visiting Castel Sant’Angelo were the views from the upper terrace, looking out across Rome.
From here, you have almost 360° views of Rome, with views of St. Peter’s Basilica, Pont Sant’Angelo, and the historic heart of Rome.
The view of Vatican City | Best Views of Rome
The view from Castel Sant’Angelo
Upper terrace of Castel Sant’Angelo
How to Visit Castel Sant’Angelo
Hours: 9:30 am to 7:30 pm daily
Pro Travel Tip: Our visit was right at opening time and these photos were taken around 9:30 am. The lighting towards St. Peter’s Basilica is perfect this time of day but the city center of Rome looks hazy. For the best lighting for photos of the historic center of Rome, plan your visit for the afternoon.
10. Ponte Umberto I
Ponte Umberto I crosses the Tiber River just a short walk from Castel Sant’Angelo. From this bridge, you can photograph Ponte Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Basilica with the Tiber River. You will not see Castel Sant’Angelo from this bridge, since trees block the view.
The view from Ponte Umberto I | Best Views of Rome
11. Views of Castel Sant’Angelo
To capture Castel Sant’Angelo in photos, you have several options.
One of the best places to photograph Castel Sant’Angelo is from Ponte Sant’Angelo. This is the bridge that crosses the Tiber River in front of the entrance to Castel Sant’Angelo.
Pont Sant’Angelo | Best Views of Rome
From Ponte Sant’Angelo, walk along the southern bank of the Tiber River towards Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II. This is the view:
The view of Pont Sant’Angelo and Castel Sant’Angelo
Finally, from Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II, you get yet another great view of Castel Sant’Angelo.
The view from Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II | Best Views of Rome
12. From a Rooftop Bar
There are many rooftop bars in Rome and some offer better views than others. We spent our last trip to Rome trying out quite a few of these rooftop bars and restaurants. Here are three of our favorites:
Oro Bistrot. The view from this rooftop bar is awesome, as you look across Trajan’s Forum to the Altar of the Fatherland. The food and drinks are great, too.
The view from Oro Bistrot | Best Views of Rome
Divinity Rooftop. This small rooftop bar and restaurant has a spectacular view of the corkscrew (the top of the Church of St. Ives at the Sapienza) and the Pantheon.
Divinity Rooftop | Best Views of Rome
Trevi Rooftop. From this very small rooftop bar, get a bird’s eye view of the Trevi Fountain.
Trevi Rooftop | Best Views of Rome
13. Pincio Terrace
From Pincio Terrace (Terrazza Pincio), you get a beautiful view of Piazza del Popolo. This terrace is located on the west end of the Villa Borghese Gardens. It is free to visit and open 24 hours a day.
Piazza del Popolo | Best Views of Rome
14. Terrazza Viale del Belvedere
This viewpoint, which is located next to Villa Borghese Gardens, looks across the rooftops to the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica and the historic heart of Rome.
Terrazza Viale del Belvedere
The view is nice, but I don’t think it is worth going out of your way to get here, but if you plan to walk from the Villa Borghese Gardens to the Spanish Steps, you will walk right by this viewpoint. It’s open 24 hours a day and free to visit.
15. Piazza della Trinità dei Monti
Piazza della Trinità dei Monti is the square that sits at the top of the Spanish Steps. It is free to visit and open 24 hours a day. Here is the view:
For dinner with one of the best views of Rome, make your reservation for Imàgo.
Imago is a Michelin-starred restaurant that sits on top of Hotel Hassler Roma. From here, you have a stunning view of the Spanish Steps and rooftops of Rome, due to this restaurant’s fantastic location.
Make your reservation in advance. This is a popular restaurant in Rome and it can be difficult to get a table.
The view from Imàgo | Best Views of Rome
17. The Keats-Shelley House
Located next to the Spanish Steps, this house contains an extensive collection of memorabilia, letters, and paintings relating to Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, Byron, Robert Browning, and Oscar Wilde. In 1821, English Poet John Keats died in this house of tuberculosis.
This house gets a mention because of its unique view of the Spanish Steps.
How to Visit the Keats-Shelley House
For hours of operation and pricing, visit the official website.
18. Knights of Malta Keyhole
This famous keyhole is located on a wooden door in the complex of Sant’Anselmo, on top of Aventine hill. If you put your eye up to this keyhole, you can see St. Peter’s Basilica.
This gets mentioned a lot, but we think it is a little bit overrated. To get here, take a taxi or it’s a long walk from the Rome city center. Most likely, you will have to wait in line. We waited about 10 minutes, which isn’t too bad. However, when we looked through the keyhole, a black bar covered most of the opening, which was a big disappointment.
If you choose to do this, hopefully you will have a better experience than we did. You can combine this with the Orange Garden, mentioned next.
Our view through the keyhole
What the view should look like | Matteo Gabrieli/shutterstock.com
19. Orange Garden of Rome
Also located on Aventine Hill, the Orange Garden has a terrace with another sweeping view of Rome. This viewpoint is called Terrazza Belvedere Aventino. It is free to visit and open 24 hours a day.
View from Terrazza Belvedere Aventino | Best Views of Rome
20. Lifestyle Suites Rome
Lifestyle Suites Rome is a hotel that sits on Piazza Navona. Sitting on top of this hotel is a rooftop terrace with an aerial view of the piazza.
This rooftop terrace is only open to hotel guests, so if you want this view, you will have to stay here. We stayed here on our most recent visit to Rome. The location is fantastic and to start and end the day with views of Piazza Navona was very memorable.
Rooftop terrace of Lifestyle Suites
Best Views of Rome on a Map
How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each viewpoint. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Our Favorite Views of Rome
If you have limited time in Rome and can only visit a few spots, we narrowed down the list to our favorite views of Rome:
- Altar of the Fatherland
- St. Peter’s Dome
- Capitoline Hill
- Palatine Hill
- From the rooftop bars, especially Oro Bistrot
- From a stroll around the Colosseum
- The Lifestyle Suites Hotel
More Information for Your Trip to Rome
For a full list of things to do in Rome, check out our article Best Things to Do in Rome.
Learn how to plan your time with our One Day in Rome Itinerary, 2 Day Rome Itinerary and 3 Day Rome Itinerary.
For advice on where to eat, read our guide about Where to Eat in Rome, that has restaurant recommendations near the Colosseum, Vatican City, and the historic heart of Rome, plus some great rooftop restaurants. We also have a guide to the Best Rooftop Bars in Rome.
Don’t miss our detailed guides about How to Visit the Colosseum and How to Visit the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Get recommendations on where to stay in Rome in our Rome Hotel Guide.
If you have any questions about the best views of Rome, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Italy
BEST OF ITALY: In our guide to the Best Places to Visit in Italy, we list 25 beautiful destinations to consider for your next trip to Italy.
FLORENCE: If you are planning your first visit to Florence, don’t miss our guide to the 10 Best Things to Do in Florence. We also have a guide about how to visit the Florence Cathedral and related sites, the best rooftop bars in Florence and the best viewpoints in Florence.
VENICE: We cover the top experiences in Venice in our Venice Bucket List. Learn where to get the best views of Venice in our article 12 Beautiful Views of Venice. And to help you plan your time, take a look at our one day in Venice itinerary and two days in Venice itinerary.
PHOTOGRAPHING ITALY: For some of the best views in Italy, here are 20 gorgeous views and exactly where to photograph them.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide.
We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, Basilicata, and Puglia.
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