The fact that Rome is a marvellous place is indisputable, and just by walking the streets, squares and narrow alleys in its historic centre, you can feel its greatness. But if you want to understand how majestic the Eternal City is, we recommend exploring its panoramic viewpoints. From the best panoramic terraces of Rome, you can feel the city’s magic at a glance.
When we think of a panoramic view of Rome, images of red roofs, beautiful domed churches, and bell towers against a sunset sky usually come to mind. And while it is true that Rome’s viewpoints are best enjoyed at sunset, you can enjoy the Roman views any time of the day.
Thanks to its location (Rome is famously built on seven hills) and its iconic architecture, visiting a panoramic terrace is an unmissable experience in Rome. The Eternal City offers many places with views, and choosing the best scenic viewpoint in Rome is not an easy task. Since we could not decide on just one, today we will talk about nine panoramic viewpoints with the best views of Rome, Italy.
Best Terraces & Viewpoints in Rome, Italy
1. Belvedere de Gianicolo (Janiculum)
Any good list of the best viewpoints in Rome could not leave out one of its highest hills. Considered the “eighth hill of Rome,” the Gianicolo viewpoint offers spectacular views.
This hill, sometimes referred to as Mount Janiculum or Janiculan Hill, is located between the Vatican and the Trastevere, on the right side of the Tiber River and offers views of some of the historic churches and the main monuments of Rome.
If the day is clear, you may even catch a glimpse of the Alban Hills, a series of volcanic mountains southeast of the city. While it’s not hard to reach, the Janiculus is not very popular among tourists because it is relatively far from the centre.
Try to schedule your visit to the Janiculum at noon to witness the cannons’ firing.
This daily tradition began in 1847, at the behest of Pope Pius IX, to standardize the city’s clocks and unify the ringing of all the churches’ bells at exactly 12:00.
Another excellent time to visit the hill is at sunset when the Roman buildings’ brown and orange colours are intensified by the effect of the evening light.
The hill offers several terraces with views over Rome. I personally think that the one at the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola is the most scenic, but the higher Piazza Garibaldi offers a complete panoramic of the city.Gianicolo: How to Get There
As we mentioned above, the Gianicolo is a high hill, so although it is possible to go up on foot from the Vatican, Trastevere, or the centre of Rome, the walk can be somewhat long and tedious.
The Janiculum can be easily reached by bus. If you leave from Termini station, you can take line 40 towards Borgo Sant’Angelo and get off at Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I (6 stops). From here, on Via Paola, take another bus (lines 115 or 870) and get off at Piazzale Garibaldi, right at the Gianicolo. Under normal traffic conditions, the whole thing shouldn’t take more than 35 minutes.
Alternatively, you can get to the Gianicolo by car or motorbike: just set your GPS destination to Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi and park near the terrace. You can use the same address if you travel by taxi or Uber.
2. St. Peter’s Dome
We already showed you some of the best views of Rome from a natural viewpoint —the Gianicolo hill— now we will talk about one of the most iconic manmade Roman balconies, the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. In addition to being the ‘cathedral of cathedrals’, St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most famous monuments and one of the most beautiful churches in Rome, and climbing its dome offers incomparable views.
With a height of 17 metres (136 metres from the ground to its top) and a diameter of 40 metres, Saint Peter’s dome is one of the masterpieces of Renaissance architecture and engineering. This great cupola was designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti, although it underwent major modifications under Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana, the material executors of Michelangelo’s project after his death. It was finally completed in 1590 under the pontificate of Sixtus V.
The dome is open to the public, who can access its panoramic viewpoint after climbing 537 steps through the bowels of the basilica’s roof (around 320 if you use the lift). Unfortunately, the ascent is somewhat tricky, but once up, the views are absolutely worth it.
Seeing the PIazza from above is a magical experience. You can easily admire Bernini’s colonnade, Via della Conciliazione and Castel Sant’Angelo. In the distance, you can see an area surrounded by greenery; Villa Borghese. If you pay attention, you can also spot the Altare della Patria, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon.
In short, the entire historic centre of Rome is in front of you, and you will not be able to stop looking for the city’s most important attractions between the rooftops. On the left, you can admire the Vatican Gardens from above and the entire area of the Vatican Museums, as well as the outside of the Sistine Chapel.
To climb St Peter’s dome, you will usually have to queue. The length of the wait depends on the time of day and the season you visit.
Avoid going at peak hours (8:30 to 11:00). It is best to go at lunchtime and avoid Sundays at any time.
St. Peter’s Basilica is located on the namesake square in Vatican City, a couple of miles from the heart of Rome and in the same tourist area as the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
The proximity of its points of interest will allow you to easily explore all the most important attractions of Vatican City in a single day.
You can take the red metro line from Termini and get off at Ottaviano-San Pietro. From here, a 10-minute walk will take you to St. Peter’s Basilica. On the same line, the Cipro station is also near the basilica.
3. Terrazza del Pincio
The Pincio (or Colle Pinciano) is located north of the Quirinale, near Rome’s centre. Initially, during Ancient Rome, Pincio was a residential area with luxurious villas and gardens.
At its summit stands the first public garden in Rome. Here, from Piazzale Napoleone I, popularly known as the Pincio terrace, you can enjoy a wide view of the nearby Piazza del Popolo and the Prati district. The panorama extends throughout Rome and many of its most recognizable monuments, such as the Basilica of San Pietro, Monte Mario, the Janiculum, the Quirinale, the Altare della Patria and the Capitoline Hill. On clear days you can even make out the skyscrapers of the Eur zone to the southwest.
Its incomparable views and relatively easy access make the Pincio one of the most famous panoramic viewpoints in the Italian capital.Terrazza del Pincio: How to Get There
This marvellous terrace is right above Piazza del Popolo and is accessible by public transport from the centre of Rome.
If you are travelling by metro, you can use line A to Flaminio/Piazza del Popolo. Once you leave the station, you will find yourself in front of the stairs that lead to the terrace.
Alternatively, if you want to take a longer walk, you can get off at Piazza di Spagna and walk through the famous square leaving the church on your right. The walk is approximately one kilometre to Piazza Napoleone I.
4. Quirinale Square
Piazza del Quirinale is a Roman square between Via del Quirinale and Via XXIV Maggio at the top of the hill of the same name. On the west side of the square, you can see a balustrade that dominates the capital’s panorama with a wonderful view.
Thanks to its extremely central location, Terrazza del Quirinale could be considered one of the most accessible panoramic viewpoints in Rome.
The square is bordered to the northeast by the imposing façade of the Quirinal Palace, the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic.
In the centre of the square is the large sculptural group of the Dioscuri Fountain, also called the Monte Cavallo Fountain; the statues depict twins Castor and Pollux. The Palace of the Constitutional Court borders the eastern side of the square, and on the opposite side of the presidential residence are the Quirinal Stables.Piazza del Quirinale: How to Get There
As mentioned above, the Quirinal is central and easily accessible by public transport from all over Rome.
If you travel by bus, lines 40, 60, 64, 70 and 117 stop in the area. Additionally, metro stations Piazza della Repubblica (line A) and Cavour (line B) are about a 10-minute walk from the panoramic terrace.
5. Terrazza delle Quadrighe (Altare della Patria)
We couldn’t fail to mention the views from Terrazza delle Quadrighe at the Vittoriano in Piazza Venezia.
It is the highest artificial viewpoint in the city and offers a 360-degree view of Rome.
The building also offers a 40-metre glass lift to its panoramic terrace, where you’ll find four free telescopes allowing a view of Rome’s historic centre, and, on clear days, you can even catch a glimpse of the sea tens of miles away.
The Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, jokingly known as the “wedding cake”, “typewriter”, or “denture,” is an incredible place to bask in some of the best views Rome has to offer.
Sunset views from here are breathtaking; the golden sunset light hits the city’s orange and brown roofs, domes and walls, giving it a dramatic glow.Vittoriano: How to Get There
Follow the signs for Piazza Venezia. Many Roman bus lines stop there. If you prefer to use the metro, get off at the Colosseum and take a short walk.
You don’t need much more information; the Altare della Patria is unmistakable and can be seen from all over the city.
6. Giardino degli Aranci
If you are looking for a park to spend a beautiful sunny day enjoying nature, the Giardino degli Aranci, also known as Parco Savello, is the place for you.
This Orange Garden covers 7,800 m² and dominates a magnificent landscape from the Aventine Hill in the Ripa district. It was opened in 1932 and designed by the architect Raffaele De Vico to give Rome a new viewpoint.
Parco Savello is one of the most romantic places in Rome, and from its panoramic terrace, you can enjoy a splendid view during sunset.
Another unmissable stop on the visit is a famous lock through which you can see St. Peter’s Basilica.
Giardino degli Aranci offers impressive views and, during the spring months when the orange trees are in bloom, offers a unique atmosphere enhanced by the scent of orange blossom.Giardino degli Aranci: How to Get There
This enchanting garden is near the Circus Maximus. It can be accessed from three entrances; Piazza San Pietro d’Illiria, Via di Santa Sabina and Clivo di Rocca Savella.
The metro station closest to Parco Savello is Circo Massimo (line B), and buses 118, 160, 170, 51, 628, 85, 87, and C3 stop nearby.
7. Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill)
If you are looking for the best views of the Roman Forums and the Colosseum ruins, we recommend you climb Capitoline Hill.
The Capitol, Campidoglio or Capitoline Hill, is located between the Forum and the Field of Mars and is one of the Seven Hills of Rome. Among other things, this hill is known as Rome’s birthplace.
The Palazzo dei Conservatori, Palazzo Nuovo and the square between is one of the Italian capital’s historical, cultural and architectural landmarks.
In addition, Capitoline Hill includes not one but three panoramic terraces. The first two, one to the right and the other to the left of the old Palazzo Senatorio, overlook the Forum area. From here, it is not difficult to understand the power and beauty of Rome in imperial times; temples, basilicas, squares, columns and arches speak of centuries of the city’s might.
However, the real surprise is on the cafeteria terrace of the Capitoline Museums. Unknown to most and accessible without visiting the museums, this panoramic balcony offers views over the Foro Olitorio, which houses the Marcelo Theatre.Capitoline Hill: How to Get There
All city buses that pass through the historic centre (81, 85, 87, 186, 571, 810, 850) stop at Piazza Venezia. The closest metro station is Colosseo (line B).
8. Trinità dei Monti (Spanish Steps)
Another great viewpoint in Rome is undoubtedly Trinità dei Monti. From the top of this 18th-century staircase, Piazza di Spagna and Rome’s shopping district are at your feet.
Although this terrace does not offer views as spectacular as other places on this list, its location and the fact that it is directly connected by a metro stop with an elevator make it the most accessible viewpoint in Rome. It is suitable for people who cannot climb many stairs due to age, physical condition or reduced mobility.
If your physical condition allows it, we recommend walking along the avenue that leads to Villa Medici. This promenade offers spectacular views of the historic centre and the domes and towers that make up the Roman skyline.Piazza di Spagna: How to Get There
The Trinità dei Monti steps are connected via the Spagna metro station (line A). Several bus lines also run through the area.
9. Horti Farnesiani
If the view of the Forums from Capitoline Hill wasn’t enough for you, you can simply climb to the top of Palatine Hill and try the panoramic terraces of the Horti Farnesiani.
Created in 1550 in the northern part of Palatine Hill by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the Farnesian Gardens are considered the first private botanical gardens in Europe.
From here, you get incredible views. On the one hand, all the charm of the palaces and buildings at the foot of the Capitol and the Vittoriano, and on the other, the view extends over the entire area of the Forums to the Colosseum and Colle Opio.