To us, the best view of Rome is from a rooftop terrace at sunset. Like so many aspects of good living, Romans have perfected the concept. And there are more than a dozen fabulous roof bars in Rome where you can sip wine and enjoy the breathtaking scenery as the city slips into darkness.

If you’re visiting Rome during spring or summer, stay at a hotel with a top-side patio, or at the very least, have a drink at one of the roof bars listed below. It won’t be cheap, but it will likely become a very special memory of your visit.

Here’s our list of the best roof bars in Rome. Since they’re scattered all over town, each has a unique view. So why not visit a different one every night?

Not far from Piazza Navona, the bar and restaurant at the Hotel Raphael looks across at the dome of Santa Maria della Pace. If you lean over, you can see the cloister designed by Bramante, which dates from 1500. The angel on top of Castel Sant’Angelo and the twin horsemen from Piazza Venezia are visible in the distance. Although this is one of the best views in town, few tourists make their way here. To reach the roof, take the elevator to the top floor and then climb a couple flights of steps. With all the hedges and shrubs, this multi-level terrace truly is a roof garden. An absolutely magical place.

Located on Pizza della Repubblica, Hotel Exedra overlooks the piazza’s fountains, Diocletian’s Baths and Michelangelo’s Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli. What’s really special here is the roof-top swimming pool. Non-guests can take a dip for a fee, and then enjoy a cocktail at Sensus, the rooftop bar. The reflections on the pool at night make the ambience even more romantic. If you choose not to eat here, there are several excellent restaurants in the neighborhood.

Across from the Villa Borghese and Borghese Gardens, the Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese is in the old Ludovisi-Boncompagni family palazzo. There really are no better views in Rome than from the La Bellvista restaurant on the 7th floor of the hotel. And it’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So if you can’t make it for sunset, come for a meal. Groups of tables and chairs are separated by small topiaries and the views extend all the way from St. Peter’s to the hills beyond the villa. Happy hour on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 6PM to 9PM includes antipasto. If you can afford it, three of the suites here have private terraces.

With St. Peter’s in the distance, Piazza Venezia to the left, and the towers of Trinita del Monti right below you, La Terraza at the Hotel Eden serves up a view that’s been enjoyed by countless celebrities and international movers and shakers. The restaurant here has one Michelin star, but you can come for a drink, it you prefer. For a sneak peak, check out their web cam at http://www.hoteledenview.com.

The Pantheon is our favorite building in Rome, and you haven’t seen the dome until you’ve seen it from eye level. You can do just that from the roof bar at the historic Grand Hotel de la Minerve. It’s located on Piazza della Minerva, which is where you’ll find the Bernini sculpture of the elephant and the obelisk. You can dine in the La Cesta restaurant or have drinks at Le Cupole. Located in a 17th-century palace, the Minerva is a short stroll from Piazza Navona or the Trevi Fountain.

For the best views of St. Peter’s and the Vatican, head to Hotel Atlante Star. The 360-degree, uninterrupted view includes the Basilica, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Tiber River, and the rooftops of Rome. It’s especially dramatic after dark when St. Peter’s dome is illuminated. Le Etoile restaurant serves lunch and dinner. And La Terraza Paradiso serves drinks and appetizers at pretty wrought-iron tables surrounded by flower boxes.

Offering a sweeping panorama that takes in most of Imperial Rome — including the Colisseum, the Imperial Forum, and the Domus Aurea — Hotel Gladiatori Palazzo Manfredi is a good choice after dark when the monuments are all lit. You can dine in the restaurant by candlelight, or have drinks and appetizers in the American Bar. Sipping cocktails with the Colisseum as a backdrop is a real pinch-me moment. If the terrace looks familiar, it’s a popular location for TV and movie shoots.

Another place in Rome where you can have a great “aperitivo” while enjoying splendid views over the city is Il Fontatone del Gianicolo, located… guess where… on the Gianicolo hill! 🙂

The newcomer to the party is Zest Bar in the Radisson Blu Es Hotel. The location near Termini station isn’t our favorite, and the view isn’t the best. But it has a modern, South Beach vibe that’s missing from the others. The rooftop pool ups the cool ante, and there are always model types enjoying – and making – the scene.

Read about the best restaurants in Rome here.

1) Hotel Raphael
2) Hotel Exedra
3) Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese
4) Hotel Eden
5) Grand Hotel de la Minerve
6) Hotel Atlante Star
7) Hotel Gladiatori Palazzo Manfredi
8) Zest

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