The Best Photo Locations in Rome

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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.

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The Best Photo Locations in Rome

We have spent a long time exploring Rome over numerous trips to Italy and have loved it every time. We’ve selected our favorite photo locations from around the city to help you plan your photo trip to Rome.

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 Bascilca from the Aventine Keyhol
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Through the keyhole!

The Rome Tourist Digital Pass

If you are planning to visit a number of the big sights in Rome it’s worth considering the Rome Tourist Pass. This digital ticket is really good value for money and includes priority entrance to the Colosseum, fast track access to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, and a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The pass also includes access to the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and audio guides for Rome and the Pantheon. You will save a lot of time and money in Rome if you get this pass – check prices now!

Buy your Rome Tourist Pass now

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.

There is a guided tour available that includes the climb to the dome of the copula. The tickets are worthwhile as you will also get access to the crypts, Michelangelo’s Pietà or the Bascilica without any lines – check prices now!

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

Our Photography Gear

My main camera is a Nikon D7200 with the Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 and the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lenses. Elaine uses the compact Fuji XT-10 for all her shots.

 Check out our gear page to see whats in our bag.

We also use Adobe Lightroom for editing all our photos and highly recommend it The combination of Lightroom and Photoshop for a small monthly fee is a fantastic deal – Check prices now!

Click here for the best Adobe Lightroom prices

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

Editing your photos: Lightroom

If you want to make the most of your photos then we highly recommend using the right software to catalog and edit your work. We’ve used Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for years and love it. There is simply no better photo editing and management software out there. We recommend the photography plan which includes lightroom and photoshop for around $10 US a month, which is excellent value – check prices now!

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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

Where to Stay in Rome

Rome centre is a relatively compact city and we highly recommend staying in the city centre. It’s easy to walk to everything, especially when the crowds are less in the mornings and evenings. Our favourite Rome hotels are:

  • Hotel Navona: an absolute hidden gem we try to stay in every time we visit Rome. It’s close to Piazza Navona and the Pantheon and its location means we can walk almost everywhere across the city. Prices are really reasonable and the management is top class – Check prices now!
  • Albergo del Sonato: 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 – Check prices now!

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5 | 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 8.30 am each day. The best photo opportunities are actually of the building from the outside (by the main entrance) during sunrise.

Colosseum Tickets

As you can expect, due to it’s popularity the queues at the Colosseum in Rome can be insanely long. We recommend booking a priority or skip-the-line ticket in advance which ensures you won’t have to spend long getting into this amazing building.

Similar to the Vatican Museums, there are two priority tickets, a regular priority entrance ticket, and a last-minute priority entrance ticket. If you’re booking well in advance the regular priority is recommended. We’ve booked the last-minute tickets previously and they were a lifesaver! – check prices now!

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Whichever you choose, we highly recommend getting one of them as it’ll significantly improve your experience at the Colosseum. The tickets also include priority access into the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

Rome Photo Location Tip: For your best chance of getting a shot of the interior of the Colosseum purchse tickets for first thing in the morning. 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

6 |  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 mesmerizing effect.

Vatican Museum Tickets

The Vatican museum gets crazy-busy at peak times so we definitely recommend reserving a fast-track ticket before you go. We recommend the skip-the-line ticket as you’ll get into the museum more quickly and avoid the crazy long general queue – check prices now!

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Vatican Museum Last Minute Tickets

If you’ve left reserving your tickets till the last minute (we’ve all been there), then don’t worry. There is an optional last-minute ticket (it’s a little more expensive but worth it) that will get you priority access to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. These tickets are definitely worth it as the general queues into the Vatican Museums are some of the longest in Rome – check prices now!

Book your last minute Vatican Museum ticket

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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The spiral staircase at the Vatican Museum

7 | 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

8 | 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

9 | The 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 the Pantheon’s unique roof

10 | The 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 Photo Locations 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

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!

7 thoughts on “The Best Photo Locations in Rome”

  1. Nice article. Rome feels like a city you can visit so many times and still you’re just scratching the surface.
    Love the nightshots of the Pantheon.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the great tips!! Really helpful in my planning for my first trip to rome this summer. Were you able to go into the Pantheon o St. Peter’s with a camera bag or tripod?

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it Kss! The pantheon didn’t have any bag restrictions however I think you’d have trouble using a tripod in there. St. Peters is a lot more strict, no tripods or large bags. You might be OK with a small camera bag but I’d just leave it at your hotel and bring your camera only as they might turn you away. Have fun!

      Reply
  3. Did you ever any concerns shooting at night as far as safety (gearwise?) I shoot a lot at night and am always aware of what’s going on around me. Just wanted to know your experience. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Mark

      Dave is pretty laid back but I always worry when he’s out! We don’t venture anywhere too remote/considered unsafe and it usually gets busier as the sun comes out. We usually come across other photographers when we’re out shooting so the photo spots aren’t too lonely either.

      Elaine

      Reply

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