Rome is filled with breathtaking views everywhere you look, but there are some key spots to admire the city’s unique skyline punctuated with domes, bell towers and monuments peaking through.
It’s always exciting to explore a city from above, right? Rome is the ideal place to do this since it was built on seven hills and as such it’s filled with unique vantage spots that give out onto various parts of the city.
Here’s s a list of my favorite panoramic spots in Rome.
One of the best panoramic points that you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Rome is the Gianicolo terrace, just above the popular Trastevere district. Being the second highest hill in the city, Gianicolo offers some of the most diverse views, spanning from the Pantheon to the St. Peter’s Basilica. Grab a beer from the kiosk and enjoy the view guarded by the famous statue of Garibaldi.
There are a few interesting things to see in the area. For example, in the garden next to the panoramic terrace there’s an old puppet theatre that has been entertaining children since 1959. There are shows only on Saturdays and Sunday (10:30 am-1 pm and 4 pm-7 pm, free donation).
Just ahead of the Gianicolo Terrace you’ll find the Constitution Wall, which is another great belvedere. Its name derives from the fact that the Italian constitution of 1849 is engraved on the wall. If you keep walking you’ll find also a lighthouse, quite an unusual site in Rome! It dates back from 1911 and was donated to the city by a group of Italian immigrants in Argentina on the 50th anniversary of the unification of Italy.
Fun fact: every day at noon, a cannon goes off from here to indicate the time of day to Romans. The cannon dates back to the I WW and has been used here every single day since 1904!
On your way back downhill, take a look at the monumental Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, that Romans usually call “er fontanone” (literally, the big fountain), and the Tempietto del Bramante, which is considered as one of the most important examples of Renaissance architecture.
Address: Piazzale Aurelio 6. There are no metro stations nearby, so it’s either a 20-minute walk uphill from Trastevere or you can arrive by car or scooter, as there’s a lot of parking space.
Known also as Parco Savello, this idyllic little park lies at the top of the Aventine Hill, one of the seven original hills in Rome, and looks out over the Tiber and the historical center. As you enter the main gate you will encounter a peaceful setting surrounded by soaring pines and orange trees, while an enchanting view of Rome opens up in front of you – truly magical! This garden is a great place to escape the chaos of the big city and the summer heat, with lots of shaded spots under the trees.
While you’re here, join the queue in Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, just a little further along the road: there’s a little keyhole that provides the most fascinating view over St Peter’s cupola. Yep, a keyhole! It’s on the entrance door of the Villa of the Knights of Malta, one of the last surviving orders of knights left from the Crusades. I’ve added a picture here below but taking a good shot is definitely not that easy, hopefully, it gives you a feel for what this view is all about.
Not far from the Orange Garden there is also Rome’s beautiful rose garden, which opens only a few days each year (this year it will be open 21 April-16 June), the Circus Maximus and the Mouth of the Truth.
Address: Via di Santa Sabina. Take Line B to “Circo Massimo” station and then walk for about 10 minutes. The garden is open 7 am-6 pm October to February, 7 am-8 pm March and September, 7 am-9 pm April to September.
The Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica
One of the highlights of my visit to the Vatican was climbing up the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. Being the tallest dome in the world, this is one of the highest points you can reach in Rome and the 360° views from up there are truly spectacular. It will feel like embracing the whole city with your eyes!
The queues can be really long, but I managed to go up in a minute after a super early Vatican tour. You can either climb all of the 551 steps or pay a little extra like I did to take an elevator halfway and clamber only the remaining 320 steps (which are the toughest, by the way…). Whichever way you choose, you’ll be rewarded with the most amazing views of Rome and St. Peter’s square.
On the way up to the terrace, you’ll be able to explore the round balcony at the base of the dome. From there you’ll be able to admire the interiors of the Basilica and the mosaics of the ceiling.
Address: Piazza San Pietro. Take metro line A to “Ottaviano” station and then it’s a 10-minute walk down Via Ottaviano. The Dome can be visited 8 am-5 pm from October to March and 8am-6 pm from April to September. The tickets cost €8 and the elevator ride will cost you only an extra €2.
The Pincio terrace is located within the gorgeous park of Villa Borghese, directly below Piazza del Popolo. This was Rome’s first public park and one truly cherished by locals. Although this is not one of the seven hills of Rome, Pincio offers great views of Rome, in particular of St Peters Basilica.
There are plenty of things to see and do here. You could rent bikes and four-wheel ‘carts’ to explore the park, look for the unique water clock built in the XIX century or admire the busts of famous Italians that line the pathways.
If your budget allows it, don’t miss a stop at Casina Valadier, a chic restaurant, and café with some of the best views in town. Of course, all this has a price – expect to pay at least €5 for an espresso!
Address: Via Gabriele D’Annunzio. Take metro line A to “Flaminio” stop and then follow the path uphill from Piazza del Popolo. Alternatively, climb the Spanish Steps and walk for about 1km to Piazza Napoleone.
The Vittoriano Monumental Complex
For some great views over the Fori Imperiali and more in general of the city, then head to Piazza Venezia and visit the Vittoriano, a huge marble complex built as a tribute to the first king of a united Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II.
The Vittoriano houses a museum dedicated to the unification of Italy, an art exhibition space a beautiful rooftop with sweeping views of the city. Since 2007 it is possible to reach the Terrazza delle Quadrighe, a wonderful panoramic platform where you can enjoy the stunning Roman landscape: the Roman Forum, the historic center and, weather permitting, the hills beyond. You’ll find free telescopes and useful signs that will help you spot the major landmarks.
Address: Piazza Venezia. Take metro line B to “Colosseo” station and then it’s an easy walk through the Roman Forum. The elevator to the panoramic terrace is on service every day from 9:30 am to 6:45 pm in winter and from 9:30 am to 11:30 pm in summer. Tickets cost €7 (yep, quite pricey for a 30-second ride)
Perhaps lesser-known but equally beautiful is the exclusive Terrazza Caffarelli, located at the top of the beautiful building that hosts the Capitoline Museums – the must-go place for lovers of Roman history. Remember that you don’t need a museum ticket to check out the terrace views!
The terrace is huge and there is also a café where you can enjoy a drink or two after your visit to the museums. Among tiled rooftops and various domes, you’ll be able to spot the Pantheon, Rome’s synagogue and many other famous landmarks.
Address: Piazza Caffarelli 4. Take metro line C to “Venezia” stop and then it’s a 5-minute walk to Piazza Caffarelli. You can reach the terrace from the steps of Capitol Hill. The café on the terrace is open every day from 9:30 am to 7 pm.
Located on the bank of the river Tiber, Castel Sant’Angelo was originally conceived as the mausoleum of Roman emperor Hadrian, and throughout the centuries it was used as a papal fortress and a prison before turning into a museum. In the 13th-century Pope Nicholas III connected the structure to the Vatican through a secret passage called Passetto di Borgo, which served as an escape route for the popes in case of danger. You can visit the Passetto with a guided tour but I think it’s currently closed for renovation works.
The roof of this historical landmark is a fantastic observation point. Although it’s not as high as other panoramic spots in Rome, the terrace of Castel Sant’Angelo offers very nice views of the Vatican, the Tiber river and the lovely Sant’Angelo bridge.
Address: Lungotevere Castello 50. There are no metro stops close to the castle, but you can reach it with a nice 10-minute walk from either the Vatican or Piazza Navona. The castle is open every day from 9 am to 7:30 pm and tickets cost €14 (free up until the age of 18).
Terrace of Trinità dei Monti
At the top of the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna, right in Rome’s shopping district, you’ll find a terrace with nice views over the famous square. There are over 130 steps to reach Trinità dei Monti, but you can cheat by taking the lift right next to the metro station.
There’s a trendy cocktail bar at the top of the Spanish Steps called Il Palazzetto, which makes climbing the stairs even more rewarding. It’s expensive (beer is €7) but that’s the price to pay for drinks with a view.
Piazza di Spagna is one of Rome’s most popular gathering places both for locals and tourists, so it gets crowded very quickly, but I went there at 7:30 am and had the whole place to myself – beautiful!
Address: Piazza di Spagna. Take the metro line A to “Spagna” station.
Calling all romantics out there… guys, take note of this place!
The Zodiac Terrace is the highest point of Rome atop Monte Mario (139mt. Above sea level) and is a truly impressive panoramic point that not many people know about. The belvedere has been dubbed Vialetto degli Innamorati (literally, avenue of lovers) since it offers some of the most fascinating and romantic sights in the whole city.
I particularly recommend a visit at night time, when Rome is covered in lights! There is also a little café/restaurant called Lo Zodiaco. I haven’t tried it yet, but it may be worth checking it out if you are planning a romantic date.
Address: Viale del Parco Mellini 88/92 website. It’s better to take a taxi because there are no public transports in the vicinity
Can you recommend any other places with great views to share? I would love to expand my list 🙂
Until next time,