Once the most powerful city in Western Civilisation and still a religious capital of the world, Rome draws people from all over the globe who are looking to experience this influential city.
For photographers, Rome has no shortage of subjects. The Italian capital is packed with historic artefacts, both grand and attractive. It’s hard not to feel awed by the impressive selection of monuments–some of which date back thousands of years.
A photography trip to Rome does require some planning, but if done correctly, you’ll come out with a full memory card of amazing photos. Here are all the best photography spots in Rome for you to check out!
Rome Photography Tips
- As the second most visited tourist destination in the EU (after Paris) receiving up to 10 million visitors every year, Rome can feel like a city suffering from over tourism. To see these photography spots without the intense crowds, it’s best to roam the streets during the early hours of the morning.
- Many of Rome’s photography subjects involve buildings, architecture, and monuments. A wide-angle lens will be a useful tool for capturing the full breadth of these structures.
- Keep an eye on your gear. Rome is known as a pickpocketing hotspot for tourists visiting the city, so don’t leave any of your possessions unattended. An anti-theft camera bag may be a wise choice for this destination.
Photography Spots in Rome
In my opinion, the Castel Sant’Angelo is one of Rome’s most underrated photography subjects. The cylindrical shape of its red-tinged fortress walls creates interesting curves in photos.
From the castle, head across the river to look back along the bridge that leads to the entrance. Castel Sant’Angelo looks great head on, or you can walk along the riverbank a little to see it at a slight angle. This spot is a good option after sunset when the castle is lit up with floodlights, and you can capture reflections if the water is still enough.
You simply can’t visit Rome without admiring the gorgeous Trevi Fountain. This spot must be visited at sunrise (or pre-sunrise) as crowds during the daytime make photography near impossible.
The detailed sculptures situated in the fountain look great from various aspects including head on, at a slight angle, up close, or from afar. It’s good to have something smaller in the frame to truly appreciate the fountain’s grand size.
The Spanish Steps connect Piazza di Spagna with the Trinità dei Monti church along a short but steep hill. The grand staircase is a popular Instagram spot in Rome and you’ll likely see some people doing outdoor model photography here.
The steps can be captured from below with the church sitting proudly at the top, or from above with a view over the piazza towards pastel buildings and the road opposite leading away into the distance.
The Pantheon is one of the most well-known and also most beautiful buildings in Rome. From the piazza on its north side, you’ll see the stunning columned facade–visit early in morning to capture it with the sunrise and pigeons fluttering about in the square.
When you head inside (and you really must), look upwards to see the patterned interior of the domed ceiling, with the sun streaming through the hole in its center. An extreme wide-angle lens may be a good option here for getting a wider perspective of the large room.
Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland)
The Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) and Victor Emmanuel II Monument honors Italy’s first king with an exceptionally magnificent building. Affectionately nicknamed ‘The Wedding Cake’ by locals, the white marble exterior and columned facade look somewhat like a frosted cake with candles.
It can be hard to get a good photo of Altare della Patria as the road out front is fairly busy and there is no public parking. If you can, head to the grassy area at Piazza Venezia during golden hour to capture the architectural symmetry of the building from head on.
The Colosseum is one of the most touristy spots in Rome, but this isn’t a huge problem for photographers as there are countless angles from which to capture it. One of the best viewing locations is from Via Nicola Salvi where you can get above the heads of the tourists for an elevated view of the Colosseum’s north side.
Standing up close and looking up at the angled wall on the west side with a wide angle lens is another great option. If you visit the Colosseum during blue hour, you can also try standing back for some shots with the road which looks especially good with long exposures.
St Peter’s Basilica
St Peter’s Basilica is often photographed from the outside as its dome stands tall above Rome’s rooftops, but the inside of this structure is particularly special. It’s worth paying entrance to the Vatican Museum just to see the intricate details and sheer scale of the interior of St Peter’s Basilica.
During the morning and afternoon, sunlight will stream through the windows around the dome to create golden beams of light. Take a range of lenses for this place, including a wide angle to capture the whole area, and a zoom lens to get up close to the painted frescoes and decoration on the ceiling.
Vatican Museum Staircase
Another photography location inside the Vatican Museum is the Bramante Staircase, which was built in 1932 and is a popular Vatican Instagram spot. The double helix staircase is well lit from above, making it an easy and interesting photography subject.
This is one of the few places where it can be beneficial to have some people in your frame, as their size provides scale for the huge dual staircase. Use an extreme wide-angle lens to capture the round room in its entirety.
Piazza San Pietro (St Peter’s Square)
This Vatican photo spot is known for its curved colonnades that follow the edges of the piazza. The statue-topped columns can be captured on their own contrasted against the blue of the sky, or as a part of the piazza with its Ejyptian obelisk in the center and St Peter’s Basilica in the background.
If you’re lucky, you may also spot some of the Swiss Guard hanging around here in their brightly striped (and slightly ridiculous) uniform. Take a telephoto zoom lens to capture the guards against an appropriate distance.
One of the best places to see Rome is from the banks of the River Tiber. A neat spot for photography is around the south end of Ponte Umberto I, where you can look west towards the arches of the Ponte Sant’Angelo (St. Angelo Bridge) with St Peter’s Basilica standing proudly behind it.
This location is great to visit after sunset, when the sky lights up in pinks and reds. Arm yourself with a polarizing filter when visiting this Rome photography spot, as it will help to saturate your images and tone down any unwanted light reflections from the water.
Trastevere is a place where you can go beyond the famous Roman monuments and instead capture the charm behind the scenes. This neighborhood features quaint alleys, leafy doorways, parked mopeds, and small pizzerias with al fresco seating that reflect the relaxed Italian lifestyle.
Head to Piazza di Santa Maria in the late afternoon and evening to capture the local buzz in Trastevere. A travel tripod may be useful at this spot for photographing people as they move about in the evening light.