Home » Rome From Above: Best Viewpoints and Terraces to Admire the City

Rome From Above: Best Viewpoints and Terraces to Admire the City

by Paola Bertoni
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Rome is a city that is both chaotic and vibrant, with a fascinating mix of streets, squares, rooftops, and picturesque views. To truly appreciate Rome’s grandeur, you must see it from above. From this vantage point, you can witness the majestic domes of the basilicas, the iconic monuments like the Colosseum and the Pantheon, and the rich architectural details of historic buildings. Seeing Rome from above also provides a unique perspective on its past, allowing you to observe the most famous archaeological sites.

Rome From Above: the Dome of St Peter’s Basilica

If you are visiting Rome for the first time, climbing St. Peter’s Dome is an experience you must not miss. From the top of the largest church in the world, you can enjoy an extraordinary panoramic view that is probably the city’s highest vantage point.

Save money on entrance fees and transportation costs with the Roma Pass. This City Card offers free entry to two attractions, as well as discounts at other museums and archaeological sites, including the Colosseum, the Roman and Imperial Forums, the Capitoline Museums, the Ara Pacis and other must-see.
To stay connected in Italy, remember to buy an Airalo eSim online, with data and phone coverage for your trip to Rome.

How to get to the top of St Peter’s Dome

If you want to climb to the top of St. Peter’s Dome, you have two options:

  • You can choose to climb the Dome using the stairs. There are about 551 steps, but the route is fascinating as it goes through the Dome’s interior. You can admire the Dome’s frescoes up close and enjoy the partial views of the Basilica and the city along the way. However, in the final part, the corridor gets narrow, so it may not be suitable if you have claustrophobia.
  • To avoid the stairs, there is a lift available. The lift will take you up to the upper terrace of the Dome, reducing the number of stairs you have to walk to 320 steps instead of 551. However, although the lift facilitates access, it will not allow you to admire the Dome’s interior on the way up, nor will it save you the most cramped part of the route.

Once you reach the top of St. Peter’s Dome, you will see historical monuments such as Castel Sant’Angelo, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the roofs of Roman houses. You will be able to admire the view of Vatican City itself. If the day is clear, you can see the surrounding hills of the famous Castelli Romani.

Tickets for St Peter’s Dome

Climbing St. Peter’s Dome to admire Rome from above requires a ticket purchase. The price is €10 with the lift to the base of the Dome and €8 for the option without a lift. Also, during the high season, there may be a long queue to get up to the Dome, in addition to the queue in St Peter’s Square to get to the Basilica itself. So, plan for long waits or visit Rome between November and February, during the low season. You can also visit St Peter Basilica and the Dome with a guided tour to get more insights about the biggest church in the world.

Panoramic view of Piazza San Pietro from the Dome of St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City (Rome)
Panoramic view of Piazza San Pietro from the Dome of St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Rome)

Rome From Above: The Vittoriano (Altare della Patria)

The Vittoriano, also known as the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II or Altare della Patria, provides a magnificent 360-degree view of Rome. This impressive monument is in Piazza Venezia, right in the heart of Rome, near the Campidoglio, the Roman Forum and Via del Corso. The memorial has three terraces where visitors can enjoy a privileged city view.

The three terraces of the Vittoriano

After entering Piazza Venezia, you will find the Terrazza del Quadriglio, the first terrace. From here, you can admire a close-up view of the equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II, Piazza Venezia, and Via del Corso from above.

Continuing your visit, you’ll arrive at the second intermediate terrace, which offers a privileged vantage point over the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Here, you will also find a bar, where you can get a coffee or an aperitif with a priceless view.

Finally, the Vittoriano’s top terrace is the one you must visit. You can reach it by taking a modern glass lift. Once you reach the top, you’ll enjoy a 360-degree view of Rome from above. Not only will you be able to admire famous monuments and landmarks such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, St Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, and many more, but you’ll also be able to observe Rome’s bustling streets, the rooftops of historic buildings, and the wide-open spaces.

You can access the first two terraces of Altare della Patria free of charge, while the ticket to reach the top terrace by lift costs €17, including admission to exhibitions.

Panoramic view of Rome from the first terrace of the Vittoriano (Altare della Patria)
Panoramic view of Rome from the first terrace of the Vittoriano (Altare della Patria)

Rome From Above: Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as Hadrian’s Mausoleum, is situated on the western bank of the Tiber River, just a short distance from the Vatican. Climbing up to the terrace of the monument, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Tiber River, the Sant’Angelo Bridge with its statues, and the centre of Rome on one side. On the other side, you can see a close-up view of St. Peter’s Square, the Basilica, and its Dome.

This monument is easily accessible by foot from most of Rome’s major attractions. To access the terrace of Castel Sant’Angelo, you need to enter the Castle and purchase a ticket. During high season, there may be days when the turnout is high, so there could be some waiting time. For this reason, I recommend booking the entrance ticket in advance.

There are stairs and lifts to reach the top of the Castle and the viewing terrace. However, it is advisable to wear comfortable shoes since some of the steps and the paving of the terrace are uneven.

Rome From Above: the Pincio Terrace

The Pincio Terrace is a beautiful location in Villa Borghese, one of Rome’s largest and most renowned parks. It is located on Pincio Hill, providing a stunning panoramic view of Rome from above, specifically of Piazza del Popolo and the historical centre of Rome.

To reach this vantage point, climb a staircase from Piazza del Popolo or take a pleasant walk through Villa Borghese. Once you reach the terrace, you’ll see a breathtaking panorama of the city. You can gaze at the roofs of ancient Roman churches and palaces, the domes of basilicas, and other iconic landmarks, such as the Colosseum and the Vatican.

The Pincio is a popular spot among locals and tourists, particularly during sunset, when you can witness a spectacular play of light over the city, giving it a golden and romantic aura.

Terrazza del Pincio at Villa Borghese, Rome
Terrazza del Pincio at Villa Borghese, Rome

Rome From Above: the Orange Garden on the Aventine Hill

The Orange Garden, also known as Parco Savello, is a beautiful place to enjoy a different viewpoint of Rome from above. It is on the Aventine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome, near the Circus Maximus and the Bocca della Verità.

To reach the Orange Garden terrace, you must follow the path to the top of the hill after entering the park. The park is open to the public, and entry is free. Aside from the panoramic view, you can take a peaceful stroll amidst fragrant orange trees and shady paths.

This area of Rome is a popular spot for locals and tourists as it provides a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. It is particularly captivating during sunset when the light creates a magical atmosphere over the city.

Rome From Above: the Gianicolo Terrace

The Janiculum is a hill in Rome that overlooks the right bank of the Tiber River. It is located outside the historical centre and is not one of the traditional seven hills of Rome. The hill has a unique position, with one side descending towards the Tiber River and the Trastevere district. In contrast, the other side ends towards the peaceful district of Monteverde Vecchio.

On the southwest side, it borders the beautiful park of Villa Doria Pamphili, and to the east is the Botanical Garden of Rome. In addition to the fantastic view, this hill offers two great attractions: the equestrian statue of Garibaldi, a symbol of the Gianicolo, and the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, a beautiful Baroque fountain located nearby.

Panoramic view of Rome from the Gianicolo Hill
Panoramic view of Rome from the Gianicolo Hill

Where to stay in Rome

I have tried several hotels in Rome during my travels and I recommend staying in the city centre to avoid the chaotic traffic of the capital. Among the hotels I suggest, the charming Roma Suites Navona has family rooms and is in a great location just a few steps from Piazza Navona.

If you prefer a hotel with a buffet breakfast, you can choose the Bloom Hotel Rome, very close to St Peter’s Basilica, while if you arrive by train, the best choice near Termini station is the DoubleTree By Hilton Rome Monti hotel with double and family rooms.

From above, Rome reveals itself in its beautiful contrasts, where ancient ruins coexist with modern buildings, and the past meets the present at every corner. From the majestic Colosseum to the iconic Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome’s landmarks are even more impressive when seen from above. Feel free to add your favourite place to see Rome from above in the comments.

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