One of my favorite things to do whenever I visit a new city is to take it in from above. And no, I’m not wealthy enough to hire helicopter tours, I mean from a viewpoints.
And the views of Rome from a lookout are among the most memorable I’ve ever seen. The city is exceptionally walkable, so it’s easy to get lost in the medley of the city’s attractions and landmarks.
But from above? It’s like looking at a blueprint! The city unfurls itself at your feet and you start to realize just how big it is. Domes start popping up like pins on a map and you start piecing together all the sites you saw that day.
Not to mention, enjoying views of Rome can make you feel like less of a baby if your feet are hurting. You begin to realize maybe the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica really aren’t that close. 😉
For those who call Paris the City of Love have never been captured by a sunset in Rome saturating an already colorful city in cotton-candy shades. Can you tell how much I love the viewpoints in Rome?
Over my most recent month-long stay in Rome I made a conscious effort to visit as many viewpoints in Rome as I could. I conjured up this list of the best views in Rome hoping another sappy romantic like myself finds it useful in planning their trip. If you fit the bill, welcome!
But enough small talk, are you ready to get to the meat of the matter? Because I am!
Visiting Rome? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in Rome for First Time Visitors (+2 Areas to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s my favorite hotel in Rome, hands down.
Best Viewpoints in Rome
Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara Coeli
The Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara Coeli was the inspiration behind writing this post of the best views in Rome. Having been near the church countless times all it took was one, unplanned visit to make my jaw drop. Here, let me to paint you a picture:
I left my AirBnB on a whim one night during sunset, camera in hand, hoping to take some epic photos. I visited the Piazza del Campidoglio where I found a sharp-dressed couple perusing the square, hand in hand.
They took the back entrance near the Capitoline Museums into the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara Coeli and I opted to tread on their heels. I wasn’t prepared to be starstruck by one of the best views in Rome.
From the back of the church I worked towards the front entrance, and when the sun poked through the open door it nearly blinded me. The city was gorgeously ablaze in shades of red and orange. To cap it off the scene was framed by the 12th century columns inside the church.
I couldn’t get a photo because as soon as I closed my jaw they announced the church was closing for the day. But then I stepped outside and it was even more glorious. Folks sat on the steps (so many I struggled walking down!) soaking in one of the best views in Rome.
I didn’t know until later that the basilica is the highest point on the Capitoline Hill. All this to say if you’re in the area, the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara Coeli is well worth a pit-stop for one of the best views of Rome.
Address: Scala dell’Arce Capitolina, 12, 00186 Roma RM
Giardinetto del Monte Oppio
A trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without a photo in front of the Colosseum. As one of the most iconic landmarks in the entire world, it’d be a crime not to commemorate the day with a picture.
But, where do you go when you want the best views in Rome of the Colosseum? If you stand too close it may look distorted. And if you’re too far away it’ll just look like any old high school football stadium. Ha!
There’s a few spot worth mentioning, but the Giardinetto del Monte Oppio is still the best I’ve found. A mere five minute walk takes you to the small park tucked into the next-door neighborhood with a secluded overlook of the Colosseum.
Although the park has been getting a spotlight thanks to the likes of TikTok, it’s still lacking the rampant crowds of tourists you’ll find circling the Colosseum like an ant colony.
If you take the time to frame your photo you can give the illusion that you’re there alone. This way you can avoid having to crop your romantic pictures or Photoshop out the Midwestern family with matching I <3 Roma shirts.
And if you really want to visit alone (and get the best photos) a trip during sunrise or sunset presents the best views in Rome of the Colosseum. Plus the location is ideal because you can setup a tripod and not worry about traffic running over your camera.
Address: Via del Monte Oppio, 00184 Roma RM
Giardino degli Aranci
Home to the most famous view of Rome, the Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Garden) is an internet superstar. A quick search on Instagram or TikTok and you’ll be inundated with enough clips of the garden to make a full-length film.
Normally I’m not one to give too much credit to things on social media but the Giardino degli Aranci lives up to the hype. The garden lies in the backyard of the Basilica di Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill.
The basilica and its surrounding green space are fun to wander thanks to the old-world charm and architecture. If you have time be sure to check out the cypress-wood doors to the basilica. They were carved around the year 430!
But I know I know, you’re here searching for the best views in Rome.
Just follow the aroma of oranges (to the right of the basilica) until you find the tree-lined walkway. Gander down the gravel path for stunning views of Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Tiber River.
During most parts of the day it shouldn’t be hard to find. Just follow the constant stream of people guiding you to the water. Some nights you’ll find vendors selling snacks or wine and street artists playing music, adding to the romance.
Bonus: You can’t leave without checking out the Aventine Keyhole at the end of the same street as the basilica. It has one of the most unique views in Rome! Through the keyhole you’ll see a narrow path with the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in the distance! The green door is hard to miss, there’s almost always a line.
Address: Piazza Pietro D’Illiria, 00153 Roma RM
Ponte Umberto I
Who said the best views of Rome have to be taken from above? Sometimes all you need is a change in perspective to appreciate the beauty of what lies in front of you. *Ponte Umberto I has entered the chat*
Ponte Umberto I is a 19th century bridge (near the Castel Sant’Angelo) that you could walk a hundred times before truly appreciating its magnificent view. All it takes is the proper timing and looking up from your phone. 😉
But what makes this one bridge one of the best viewpoints in Rome? It’s the charm of looking down at folks sitting along the Tiber River and the sweeping views of St. Peter’s Basilica. The best view is from the southern edge of the bridge where you can follow the river with your eyes to the Vatican.
For about about an hour during sunset there’s a swarm of folks buzzing around the bridge like mosquitos, camera phones in hand. Just be patient, most of them will snap a photo and be on their way opening up a spot along the bridge for you.
Fun fact: The colossal building at the end of Ponte Umberto I is the Palazzo di Giustizia, or Palace of Justice. It’s the home of the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation.
Address: Ponte Umberto I, Roma, RM
St. Peter’s Basilica Dome (Cupola)
I don’t need to talk your ear off with the praises of St. Peter’s Basilica, but I can offer some tips for visiting one of the best views in Rome: the basilica’s dome (also known as its cupola).
First, access to the basilica is free (usually after a lengthy wait in line) but the ascent to the dome will cost you. The fee is €8 for the stairs and €10 for the elevator. Just know that the elevator doesn’t go all the way up. It only cuts out 231 steps, so you’ll still have 320 for a decent leg workout.
My suggestion is to put the carbs you ate during your visit to Italy to work. Just take the stairs and enjoy the ride.
Along the way you can catch glimpses of the basilica from different perspectives. You get to walk along the base of the dome (from the inside) alongside 400 year old mosaics.
There’s an open area when you reach the roof of the basilica with views of Rome, but you’re not at the top yet. With 320 steps to go, this is where claustrophobic folks may want to take a deep breath.
The staircases get narrow and goes up in a tight, winding spiral. It gets narrower as you get closer to the top. When the walls start bending (following the curve of the dome) you know you’re getting close.
Before you know it you see the light at the end of the tunnel, welcoming you to the highest point in the Eternal City. At this point you can catch your breath and admire the panoramic views of Rome, taking time for pictures.
As you look down over St. Peter’s Square you’ll see the statues of the Apostles that line the roof. This is where you popped out earlier, and from this point they seem to be admiring the cityscape too.
Address: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City
Vialetto degli Innamorati, Monte Mario
Lo Zodiaco was a restaurant atop Mount Mario that unfortunately closed down two years ago, but boy did it have one of the best views of Rome. Although the restaurant is shuttered its plaza is still open to the public. You’ll find the square is frequented by couples and folks looking to enjoy the panoramic views of Rome.
That’s where the viewpoint gets its name Vialetto degli Innamorati roughly translates to Lover’s Way. So if you threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain and fall in love with an attractive Italian, this is a great spot for a first date. 😉
There’s multiple ways your GPS can route you to Lover’s Way but they all include a short walk up the hill. It’s a gradual, easy ascent, but if you find yourself getting winded just stop to enjoy the views of Rome along the way.
Monte Mario is the tallest hill in the modern city of Rome, but it’s not one of the founding Seven Hills. This just means that when you get to see all of the ancient city, and every time I visit I try to imagine what it would’ve looked like 2000 years ago.
I will admit since the closing of Lo Zodiaco the area’s upkeep has had a steady decline. There’s some trash in the brush and again, but if you’re solely after the best views in Rome you’ll have a hard time finding better.
Also, the path to Monte Mario is along a winding highway. I strongly encourage taking a cab to and from the trailhead to avoid walking along the busy road (especially if you visit when it’s dark).
Address: Viale del Parco Mellini, 88/92, 00136 Roma RM
I guess sometimes the best viewpoints in Rome are just off the side of the road (or in this case, a roundabout). About a 25 minute walk north of the Vatican is Piazzale Socrate, an unassuming lookout that secretly has some of the best views in Rome.
You won’t find much info on it on social media, so you’ll have to trust me on this one. The roundabout is where the Via Cornelio Nepote, Via Fedro and Viale Platone meet. You’ll see an opening on the fence and a small, dirt area.
The fact it’s so close to the Vatican means you can frame photos with the iconic dome of St. Peter’s Basilica close behind you. And if you visit when the sun is going down? You might as well put those photos on the cover of a magazine.
The lack of crowds and impeccable views make this one of the best viewpoints in Rome for a proposal. It’s free and access is easy, you can even drive to it in a taxi so you’re not all sweaty. The only off-putting aspect is the dirt floor, but I think it just adds character.
Address: Piazzale Socrate, 00136 Roma RM
The Mausoleum of Hadrian, better known Castel Sant’Angelo, has origins dating back to the second century. Commissioned by Emperor Hadrian, several emperors remains are laid to rest in the castle, including those of Marcus Aurelius (anybody else read his book, Meditations?)
In the present the castle has become one of Rome’s major landmarks. It attracts herds of tourists for photos and into its museum. However, in order to get the full fairytale-like experience at Castel Sant’Angelo you’ll have to visit to one of the best viewpoints in Rome, its terrace.
Entrance to Castel Sant’Angelo will cost €13 and tickets can be bought online or at the ticket office in person.
Under the statue of Michael the Archangel you’ll see the whole of Rome open up to you. The castle is one of the few viewpoints in Rome where you can gaze upon St. Peter’s Square, not just the basilica’s dome.
And did I hear somebody say, coffee break? The Caffetteria Ristorante Le Terrazze Castel Sant’Angelo is a small shop with tables lining Castel Sant’Angelo’s terrace. I’m just going to be honest and say the service is slow and the food is mediocre at best, but there are few better spots to enjoy an espresso and bewitching views of Rome.
Address: Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma RM
Altar of the Fatherland
The Altare della Patria translates to the Altar of the Fatherland, but it sounds so much more badass in Italian (even with an accent). The epic monument pays homage to Victor Emmanuel II, the first King of unified Italy and has gone on to represent Italian nationalism as a whole. The building is also known as Vittoriano.
Just walking by the colossal monument inspires a sense of wonder and amazement. Therefore you’ll understand my excitement when I found there’s a rooftop terrace with some of the best skyline views of Rome atop the Vittoriano.
Entrance into the lower levels of the monument is free, but access to the terrace requires a ticket. You can buy tickets online or in person at the ticket office for €15 a pop.
The views of Rome are well worth the price of admission. The Altare della Patria is one of the best viewpoints in Rome because it’s practically in the Colosseum’s backyard. You’ll have a front-row seat to the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, the Colosseum and Foro Traiano.
Plus, if you’re like me and love to enjoy the best skyline views of Rome with a drink the Altare della Patria has a rooftop cafeteria ready to serve you. The cafeteria/restaurant has drinks, small snacks and tables so you take your time enjoying the best views in Rome.
Address: Piazza Venezia, 00186 Roma RM
Behind the Capitoline Museums
Let’s say you want to see the Roman Forum (the ruins of ancient Rome) but don’t want to buy tickets or don’t have the time the time to walk through it. If only there was a place with free views of ancient Rome, hmm.
You’re in luck because I have a hidden gem for you. Tucked away behind the Senatorial Palace on Capitoline Hill is one of the best viewpoints in Rome. Most folks don’t know to wander to the back so I’ve found the lookout is shielded from the crowds.
You won’t be alone since plenty of folks peruse the hill. However it’s far from the logjam you see crowding famous viewpoints in Rome. Because of the lack of crowds it’s a great location to set up a tripod for pictures with epic views of Rome.
I’ll also be honest and say you don’t get a view into the heart of the Roman Forum near all the attractions. With that said, these views of Rome are hard to beat and you get an idea of what the ancient city looked like.
To get to the viewpoint just head to the Capitoline Hill (called the Campidoglio) and find the building behind the statue of Marcus Aurelius. Head to either the left or right side and you’ll immediately see small terrace-lookouts.
Address: Piazza del Campidoglio, 00186 Roma RM
The Janiculum Hill
The Belvedere del Gianicolo or Janiculum Hill is the second tallest hill in the modern city of Rome (behind Monte Mario). As such you shouldn’t be surprised to see the flocks of tourists and locals alike perched along the lookout like gargoyles, admiring the panoramic views of Rome.
Since the Belvedere del Giancolo is was intentionally designed to be a viewpoint in Rome you’ll find a lovely, open area with railing and even a fountain. I wish I could call it serene, but the crowds make it more lively than tranquil.
Since the hill is on the west side of the Tiber River it isn’t one of the Seven Proverbial Hills of Rome. This means that from the hill you get to see into the ancient city, and enjoy some of the best views in Rome.
My suggestion if you want to make a date-night of a visit to the belvedere is this: show up a few hours before sunset. Stroll through the Botanical Garden of Rome at the base of the hill (€5 entry) enjoying the blooms and vibrant greenery.
Then, when the garden closes head up to the lookout. Find a spot along the railing and enjoy one of the best viewpoints in Rome with your beloved.
Address: via Garibaldi, Salita di Sant’Onofrio, 00165 Roma RM
I bet you were wondering when I’d include a restaurant among the best viewpoints in Rome. Well fellow foodies, that restaurant’s name is Oro Bistrot and you’re not going to want to miss it.
If you’ve done any research on best views in Rome odds are you’ve come across one TikTok or Instagram post about Oro Bistrot. Normally I’d try to give you a fresh, new recommendation but I just haven’t been able to find any other rooftop restaurant in Rome as good.
Oro Bistrot has everything you need for a memorable night out. First off, it has one of the most mesmerizing views of Rome. Its terrace faces the Vittoriano, and if you visit during sunset the rays hit the building setting it ablaze in a warm, fiery light.
Not to mention the food alone is worth the visit, even if it was underground. Unlike tourist-trap restaurants that only offer a pretty view, Oro Bistrot will leave you well fed and pampered. It’s fine dining, so the portions are small and the price is at a premium, but the flavor-loaded dishes are a worthy indulgence.
And the best part is that reservations aren’t uber-hard to come by. Normally you can book a table online with only a few days notice which is not bad for a restaurant with extraordinary views of Rome.
Address: Via di S. Eufemia, 19, 00187 Roma RM
Top of the Spanish Steps
One of the best views in Rome is from the top of the Spanish Steps? Who would’ve known?
This one might seem like a “duh” suggestion, but you’d be surprised at the amount of folks who only walk the first few Spanish Steps for a photo and then come back down.
If you head to the top of the Spanish Steps towards the Trinità dei Monti church and turn around you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Although it’s not the tallest viewpoint in Rome, you still get to see a unique perspective of the Eternal City.
The countless domes that make up the Roman skyline start popping up like whack-a-moles and you can gaze down alleys and streets. If you make your visit during twilight the shops below start turning on their lights, giving the piazza a soft and inviting warm glow.
Again, this isn’t one of the most epic views of Rome but odds are you’ll be near the Spanish Steps at least once. Don’t make the mistake of not going all the way up! It’s only 174 steps and one of the most memorable viewpoints in Rome.
Address: Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma RM
Passeggiata del Pincio
Just on the edge of the magnificent Villa Borghese is the Passeggiata del Pincio, or Pincio Walkway. You really couldn’t ask for a better viewpoint in Rome, since it borders the Aurelian Walls you’re just barely inside the ancient city.
The Passeggiata del Pincio overlooks the historic Piazza del Popolo, or people’s square. It bustles with life as Romans go about their day-to-day lives. You’ll often find musicians serenading a crowd, and sometimes even a crowd singing along.
This is one of the most popular viewpoints in Rome and thus you’ll rarely find it empty. There’s always a couple or runner strolling past. I’ve never felt unsafe staying past dusk and watching the city’s lights flicker on.
If you have time, I suggest stopping by a few hours before sunset so you can walk the neighboring Villa Borghese, which is free. Along with the breathtaking views of Rome it’s one of the best free date nights you’ll find in the Eternal City.
And here’s a pro tip: most folks will climb the steps from the Piazza del Popolo up to the viewpoint and stop there. My suggestion is to keep walking past the first viewpoint towards the Casina Valadier restaurant. Here you will find a less crowded and (in my opinion) better viewpoint of Rome.
Address: Viale Gabriele D’Annunzio, 00187 Roma RM
Odds are your visit to the Eternal City will also warrant a visit to the Colosseum. Now, with most tickets to the Colosseum you’ll gain entry into the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Most tourists peruse the Forum, but don’t take the time to walk to the top of Palatine Hill. It’s a damn shame because from here you get some of the best views in Rome of the ancient city.
At one point this is where the Roman nobleman and even Emperors lived, but today it’s one of the best viewpoints into ancient Rome.
Unlike most other viewpoints in Rome whose views are peppered with domes and bell towers, from the Palatine Hill you get to gaze down upon much older buildings (or what’s left of them).
I think that when walking through the Roman Forum you can’t appreciate the might of ancient engineering. The Palatine Hill gives you a bird’s eye view where you can really appreciate the ancient city’s footprint.
This is the go-to spot for the best views of ancient Rome. Unfortunately you’re beholden to the time stamp on your ticket for entry, but a visit anytime of day can blow your mind.
Best Viewpoints in Rome (Post Summary)
- Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara Coeli
- Giardinetto del Monte Oppio
- Giardino degli Aranci
- Ponte Umberto I
- St. Peter’s Basilica Dome (Cupola)
- Vialetto degli Innamorati, Monte Mario
- Piazzale Socrate
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Altar of the Fatherland
- The Janiculum Hill
- Oro Bistrot
- Top of the Spanish Steps
- Passeggiata del Pincio
- Palatine Hill
Best Skyline Views of Rome (Map)
Need more help? Check out: Epic 3 Day Rome Itinerary (Perfect for First Time Visitors).
And there you have it folks! My rundown of where you’ll find the best views of Rome. I hope you found the article useful in planning your trip to the Eternal City.
Until next time, cheers!