janiculum hill terrace and viewpoint

Is Janiculum Hill The Best Viewpoint In Rome? (Belvedere del Gianicolo)



So you are in search of the best view of Rome and are considering visiting Janiculum Hill. You likely have questions about whether it’s really a hill, whether it’s free, and how to get there. You might even be asking yourself whether visiting it is truly worth it.

Let me help you answer those questions.

In this article, I will share with you the three views of Rome I had the pleasure of admiring during my last visit to the eternal city. I will also tell you the differences, how to get there, and which is my favorite one.

Before, let’s do something fun. I am going to insert 3 images, one of each of the views without telling you the names. Look at each, and decide which one attracts you the most, and which you’d like to visit. You can also try and guess which is which.

I’ll share the names corresponding to those places later on.

Now that you have an idea of the type of views we’ll be comparing, let me tell you more about them.

What Is Janiculum Hill? (in case you don’t know)

Janiculum is one of the seven hills in Rome. It is just west of the historic centre. On top of Janiculum Hill, there is a big monument with a statue of a man on a horse. This statue shows Giuseppe Garibaldi. He was an important Italian soldier and leader a long time ago.

In 1849, Garibaldi and his Italian soldiers defended Rome from French soldiers attacking the city. They did this while on Janiculum Hill. There is also a large fountain called Fontana dell’Acqua Paola on the hill. It has water flowing through it.

Another place on Janiculum Hill is the Church of San Pietro in Montorio. This church was built hundreds of years ago. From the top of the hill, you can see great views over the whole city of Rome below. People go to Janiculum Hill to see these scenic viewpoints.

Fun fact about Gianicolo Hill
There’s a legend in Roman mythology that says Gianicolo hill was the site of the city established by the god Janus, hence its name. Janus had several offspring, one of whom, Tiberinus, is believed to have given his name to the Tiber River.

Janiculum hill views of Rome (2)

Janiculum Hill: How To Visit & Should You?

Il Colle di Gianicolo, as we call it in Italian, was not my favorite view of Rome. This doesn’t mean I did not enjoy it. So if you are thinking of going, you definitely should. I suggest visiting before sunset; it’s truly a magical time.

When we visited there was nice romantic music playing in the background. The sun was getting ready to set, and while there were many people dotted around the edges of the viewpoint, many sitting on the edge, it wasn’t too busy or too noisy.

The weather was perfect. After a hot and sunny day, it was getting a little breezy but was still pleasant enough not to wear a jacket or long sleeve.

We didn’t spend a long time admiring the view as it was already time for dinner and we needed to make our way back down. Had we had more time and energy, we likely would have walked back down, as it’s apparently a very nice walk, and just 20 minutes away from Trastevere.

If you go at sunset, you can walk back down, and then have dinner at one of the restaurants in my Trastevere Food Guide.

The view stretches from the Vatican to the Colosseum, but I felt it was too far to really get a sense of what you are seeing. If you compare it to Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, there the view is far enough to get a nice view but close enough to be able to spot your favorite corners of the city.

Don’t worry, I have a similar view to suggest for Rome too, and it’s coming next!

Before, let me tell you how to get to Janiculum Hill.

How to Get to Colle del Gianicolo

Find your way to Paola bus stop, located 2-minute walk from Vittorio Emanuele bridge, along Lungotevere.

From there you can take either bus 970 or 115. Both of them will take you straight to the hill, and you don’t have to walk at all to admire the views.

To get down the hill, you can take one of the bus numbers above going in the opposite direction. The bus stop is on the left side of the viewpoint if you are standing looking at the view.

best view of Rome at Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo View: Better Than Gianicolo Hill

My favorite view of Rome was unexpectedly Castel Sant’Angelo. I say unexpectedly because I had no idea you could go up so high and admire those views.

The best part of it is that you get to see two levels of views, both at 360°. 

First, you go up the internal spiral staircase that gets you to a small open area where you can enter the exhibition room, with miniature models of the castle explaining how the architecture changed through the years, and the story behind it.

After you exit that exhibition room you can access the first set of terraces. These are located on the same level as the Cafeteria, and you get views of Rome framed by the loggia. 

The views continue as you go around until you have completed the full circle. Some of them are covered by glass, but you can still admire what’s underneath.

As you move the view changes. You can see the bridge in front of the castle, Ponte dell’Angelo; that was my favorite side, with the view of the river.

You can also admire the Palace of Justice, Villa Borghese with all its greenery, the Quirinale, the Pantheon, the Campidoglio, Aventino, Janiculum hills, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

That’s a breathtaking view, but there’s more.

While you are going round that terrace you’ll see steps that lead you into beautiful Halls, including a library. From the library, you can go up to the panoramic terrace where the view gets even better. You’ll be able to see all that was visible in the lower terraces but without any obstructions. Enjoy!

Now, you can understand why this is my favorite view of Rome, at least to this date. I’ll let you know if something else tops it.

views of Rome from Castel Sant'Angelo (2)

How to get to Castel Sant’Angelo Terraces?

You’ll need to buy a ticket to visit the castle. The cost is €17 per person.

I suggest you purchase it in advance on the official site.

Important Note:
Make sure to go on a good weather day, when it’s not raining. That’s because the upper terrace is closed when it rains, and that’s the best part of the visit.

Palazzo Colonna: A Quaint Lesser-Known View of Rome

You likely never heard of this attraction in Rome, and that’s why our visit was so perfect and unspoiled by the crowds. For once I could stand admiring the view without people surrounding me, which made taking pictures such a pleasure.

Those views are not as high as Janiculum Hill offers you, and neither are so encompassing as those we have just seen on top of Castel Sant’Angelo. Yet, there’s something incredibly special about them.

It feels like you are peeking onto Rome’s rooftops and gardens from your own terrace; well, I wish it was my home’s terrace. That feeling stems from the fact that the gardens and terrace at the top feel so quaint, intimate, and unspoiled.

I got a really beautiful feeling inside while looking at the view, and I really enjoyed visiting the interiors too. The gallery and smaller rooms are breathtaking (you wouldn’t expect to see a hall this big in a palace that looks relatively small from the outside).

Yet, they are not as overwhelming in terms of both size and crowds as the Vatican, to name an example.

Rome rooftop view from Palazzo Colonna

How to get to Palazzo Colonna Terrace

To admire those views you need to first purchase a ticket, go up to the first floor, get outside, and go towards the small garden. You’ll see some stairs that are mirrored on both sides.

Go up either side and then continue your walk up through the path with the larger steps. There are two flights of those large steps. Be careful, especially on your way down, as the first flight of stairs is a little slippery.

You have made it to the beautiful terrace overlooking those Rome rooftops I shared earlier.

The view from the terrace is gorgeous, but there are other views worth looking at. On your way down, don’t forget to admire the views on different sides. There’s a gorgeous one as you go down the first flight of steps from the top terrace. And there’s another one next to the fountain; this overlooks the garden and palace.

The ticket for Palazzo Colonna is €15 without Isabelle’s Apartment, or €25 with the latter included. We opted for the first option, and it was perfect. You can book it here.

Now that I’ve shared more details about each view, do you still like the one you picked earlier, or do you have a new favorite?

Let’s see if you guessed the locations of the images I shared earlier:
1. Janiculum Hill
2. Castel Sant’Angelo
3. Palazzo Colonna

us at Palazzo Colonna in Rome
Us at Palazzo Colonna

Other Stunning Views of Rome

Rome is among my favorite cities, both in Italy and in the world, because it’s beautiful, of course, but also because there’s always more to see and discover. This includes more stunning views, some up and close and others further away.

Let me share with you the ones I plan to visit next:

  1. La Terrazza del Pincio (free entry)
  2. Il Giardino degli Aranci (free entry)
  3. Piazza del Campidoglio (free entry)
  4. Belvedere di Trinità dei Monti (free entry)
  5. La Terrazza del Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II with lift, €17 per person (with access to Museo Centrale del Risorgimento and Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia.)

There’s also the magnificent view from the Cupola of San Pietro Basilica, but I am not keen on the 500+ steps, so I might skip this one. 

In case you’d like to visit the latter, You can buy the ticket, which costs €10 and allows you to go over halfway up via lift, and the rest by foot. This can’t be purchased online. You’ll have to wait in line to enter the Basilica, then once inside you’ll have to queue to buy that ticket.

More Rome Sightseeing & Foodie Resources

Did you enjoy this article about Janiculum Hill and the best views in Rome? If so, I have many more covering my time in Rome, including the best food and a great 5 day itinerary. Pick one to read next.

Best Breakfast Spots in Rome

Best Sandwich in Rome

Best Tiramisu in Rome

Best Suppli in Rome

Best Cacio e Pepe in Rome

Trastevere Restaurants

5 Day Rome Itinerary

More Rome articles here.

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Alessia Spampinato