The Best Photo Locations in Rome

by | Mar 15, 2017 | Europe, Italy, Latest Posts, Photography, Rome

Rome is an incredible European city crammed full to the brim of iconic photo locations just waiting to be captured! A combination of the beautiful architecture, deep history and stunning light make Rome a must see for all photographers. After lots of visits and hours and hours of strolling around the streets and hidden passages we’ve put together a list of our 10 best photo locations in Rome: it’s our guide on where to take the best pictures of Rome. Enjoy!

Rome photography tip: Our biggest tip for photographing Rome is to stay as close to the centre of the city as possible as most of the photo opportunities are within easy walking distance and it’s great for capturing the best light. We always stay close to the Pantheon, usually in the Albergo Del Senato Hotel located directly in front of the Pantheon or at  Hotel Navona near Piazza Navona.

1 | Aventine Hill

One of the seven hills of ancient Rome, Aventine hill is home to the Aventine Keyhole which is one of the best photo spots in all of Rome. At the Knights of Malta gate a tiny, nondescript keyhole adorns a green wooden door at the top of the hill and the keyhole lines up directly with the beautiful, tree lined priory garden and centres on St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. It really has to be seen to be believed.

Rome photography tip: For the best photo opportunity visit the Aventine Keyhole early in the morning when St Peter’s is drenched in the gorgeous orange Roman morning sunlight. I found my tripod and Sigma 70-200mm lens worked best for capturing the Aventine Keyhole, set up as close to the keyhole as possible, almost resting on the door.

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The unbelievable view of St Peter’s Basilica

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Through the keyhole!

2 |St Peter’s Copula

Perhaps the most beautiful view of Rome is from the top of St Peter’s Basilica which is accessed by climbing 551 winding stairs to St Peter’s Copula (a 7 Euro fee will give access to an elevator which saves 320 of those steps!). As you enter the large front doors of the Basilica itself, the elevator to the roof and the entrance to the Copula is on the left hand side of the Basilica.

Rome photography tip: Try to visit early in the morning or just before sunset for the best light for photo opportunities. Due to a busy schedule we had to visit during the day when the light was not ideal for shooting. I used a bracketed exposure to take the handheld HDR.

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The view from the Copula at the top of St Peter’s Basilica

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The view of the Basilica from the climb to the Copula: don’t forget to look down!

3 |Banks of the Tiber

For some unique angles take a walk along the Tiber banks early in the morning as the sun is rising. As the early morning light floods Rome the photo opportunities pour in. I spotted this natural frame for St Peter’s as I walked under Ponte Umberto towards the Vatican as the sun was coming up.

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A beautifully framed St Peter’s Basilica

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A dramatic Ponte Umberto

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Castel Sant’Angelo as the sun hit the bright red stone of the tower

4 | Piazza Navona

Often touted as Rome’s most famous square Piazza Navona is a fantastic place for photos. Surrounded on all sides by ornate, historical buildings the square is large and open with a constant bustle of street performers and tourists. The many bars dotted along the sides of the square are perfect for people watching and the beautiful surrounds make for great architectural shots of the buildings and beautiful fountains.

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Morning reflections of the dome of Sant’Agnese in Agone in Piazza Navona

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The beautiful fountains of Piazza Navona

Check out our gear page to see what we use to take our photos

5 | Vatican Museum Spiral Staircase 

The enchanting spiral staircase in the Vatican museum is guaranteed to hold your gaze and have you reaching for your camera to capture its perfection. It’s made up of two staircases: an upward and a downward staircase in a double helix and they combine to create a mesmerising effect.

Rome photography tip: To photograph the staircase you’ll need a wide lens or take a panorama shot and stitch it together in post processing. I usually do this in Adobe Lightroom, which we use for all our photo editing.

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Where to stay in Rome: Where we stayed

We have two Rome hotel faves. When we travel as a trio we opt for Hotel Navona an absolute hidden gem close to Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. It’s location means we can walk almost everywhere across the city, they have lovely triple rooms and the prices are really reasonable. When Dave and I are in Rome we switch between the Hotel Navona and the Albergo del Senato.

In the Albergo del Senato opt for a room overlooking the Pantheon and throw open the windows for an amazing view and the sounds of Roman life! It’s seasonal rooftop bar is an amazing perk for residents only. Both are perfect for a Rome break.

6 |Altar of the Fatherland

The largest monument in Rome and home to the Tomb of the Unknown, the Altar of the Fatherland is a feast for the eyes and is seriously impressive. The best views are from directly in front of the massive structure in the centre of the Piazza Venezia roundabout.  I took this shot en route to an early morning shoot at the Colosseum.

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Pre dawn Altar of the Fatherland

7 | Piazza del Campidoglio

Located next to the Altar of the Fatherland is the Piazza del Campidoglio, an absolute gem of a square. I stumbled on it while walking to the Colosseum for sunrise and photographed it in the dark. The symmetry of the square and the tiled floor make for a really interesting composition and it’s one of my personal favourites from the shots I’ve taken in Rome.

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A black and white take on Piazza del Campidoglio

8 | Pantheon 

One of the most recognisable buildings in Rome, the Pantheon is another iconic photo spot. From the ancient Roman temple itself, now a church, to the electric Piazza della Rotonda in which it stands, there are lots of photo opportunities. Inside you’ll find the domed roof with intersecting arches and a huge circular hole. During the day light falls through the space allowing for some beautiful shots of the Roman roof.

Rome photography tip: the Pantheon and the Piazza della Rotonda are beautifully lit at night, so it’s worth stopping by after dark for extra shots.

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One of our Rome favourites: the Pantheon

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The fountain allows for some beautiful shots

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Stunning symmetry of its unique roof

9 |Trevi Fountain

No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Trevi fountain. However, as it’s one of the most popular attractions in Rome, it’s also one of the busiest with huge crowds at all times of the day.

As with all night photography you’ll need a tripod and a cable release to properly capture a long exposure of  the fountain. Due to the sheer size of the fountain and the layout of the square you’ll also need a wide angle lens to capture it all in one shot. I use a Nikon D7200 with this Manfrotto travel tripod and a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens for architecture shots like this.

Rome photography tip: The Trevi fountain is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and this means you’re guaranteed to face a huge number of tourists who stop by at all hours. I ventured over for some photos very early in the morning, before the sun came up, and pretty much had the place to myself. Do beware of potential pickpockets: there is a constant police presence at the fountain due to the frequent incidents.

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The Trevi fountain

10 | The Colosseum

Probably one of the most photographed buildings in Rome and the most visited monument in Italy, the Colosseum is a true Roman icon. Once the scene of outrageous Roman sporting events the Colosseum is now open to visitors from 8.30am each day. The best photo opportunities are actually of the building from the outside (by the main entrance) during sunrise.

Rome Photography Tip: When the Colosseum opens for visitors there will likely be a small queue but it moves quickly. Once inside a quick race to the first level (use the stairs on the right after you enter as they’re quicker than the lift at the back) and the true beauty of the Colosseum unfolds before your eyes. If you’re early enough you’ll get a photo with relatively few tourists but unfortunately the peace doesn’t last long as the tourists flow in quickly!

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You can capture some beautiful shots as the sun rises from behind the Colosseum

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Early morning light on the Colosseum

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View from the first level inside the Colosseum

Any more?!

So there’s our list of the best photo locations in Rome. It is one of our favourite cities and we’ll definitely return many more times. If we’ve missed any great photo locations please let us know in the comments and we can add them to the list!

Photography Gear

My main camera is currently a Nikon D7200 with the Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 and the Sigma 70-200 f2.8. Elaine uses a Fuji XT 10 for all her shots. We use Adobe Lightroom for editing all our photos and highly recommend (we pay €12.29 a month for a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop which is a fantastic deal).

Rome photography tip: Check out our photography gear page to see what else is in our bag.

Where to stay in Rome: Where we stayed

We have two Rome hotel faves. When we travel as a trio we opt for Hotel Navona an absolute hidden gem close to Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. It’s location means we can walk almost everywhere across the city, they have lovely triple rooms and the prices are really reasonable. When Dave and I are in Rome we switch between the Hotel Navona and the Albergo del Senato.

In the Albergo del Senato opt for a room overlooking the Pantheon and throw open the windows for an amazing view and the sounds of Roman life! It’s seasonal rooftop bar is an amazing perk for residents only. Both are perfect for a Rome break.

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