25 Best Museums In Rome Italy

Rome has no shortage of treats for the culturally curious visitor. In this guide, you’ll get an overview of the 25 best museums in Rome.

The Eternal City is a veritable treasure chest of art. You can barely turn a corner without bumping into a museum.

Pinterest pin for the best museum in Rome Italy
Pinterest pin for the best museum in Rome

You can find every imaginable kind of art, although Rome is most known for its ancient goodies. You’ll find museums that appeal to the first time visitor and seasoned art expert alike.

In addition to these powerhouse museums like the Vatican Museums or the Borghese Gallery, I’ve also included some of Rome’s secret off the beaten path small museums.

These smaller scale museums are no less impressive and will appeal to those who want to enjoy their art without mood-killing crowds.

Bernini's Rape of Persephone, in the Borghese Gallery, one of the best museums in Rome
Bernini, Rape of Persephone, 1622

25 Best Museums in Rome Italy

Here are my picks for the top must visit museums in Rome:

1. The Borghese Gallery | Galleria Borghese

Ah, this might be my favorite museum in Rome. The Borghese Gallery houses one of the world’s most jaw dropping art collections in a chic and luxurious garden villa.

In the 17th century, Cardinal Scipione Borghese meticulously assembled the densely packed collection.

It’s rich in ancient Roman, Renaissance, and Baroque art. It boasts major works by art superstars — Bernini, Titian, Caravaggio, Raphael, Rubens, and Canova.

Bernini, Apollo and Daphne, 1625
Bernini, Apollo and Daphne, 1625

In particular, the cardinal commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini — the Baroque “master of marble” — to create a series of sculptures that would become the pièce de résistance of his gilded sanctuary. The most famous works are David, Apollo and Daphne, and The Rape of Persephone.

Be sure to linger in the Caravaggio Room, where you’ll find six of his paintings. After you’re done admiring the art, take a stroll in the Borghese gardens. This vast and verdant area is Rome’s equivalent to Central Park.

For the full scoop, here’s my complete guide to visiting the Borghese Gallery, with tips for visiting. You’ve got to make a pre-book a ticket well in advance to visit the Borghese Gallery. If you want a guided tour of this magnificent museum, click here.

Bernini, David, 1624
Bernini, David, 1624

Address: Piazzale del Museo Borghese

Hours: Open daily 8:30 am to 7:30 pm, except closed on Monday.

Entry fee: 13 € plus a mandatory reservation fee of 2 €. The 1.5 hour audio guide is 5 €. I advise getting it, if you’re not on a guided tour. Under 18 free.

Pro tip: It’s obligatory to purchase tickets and make a timed entry reservation online in advance. You are limited to a maximum of 2 hours in the gallery, which won’t seem like enough. You’ll have to check everything except for very small handbags.

gallery in the Capitoline Museums, one of the best museums in Rome
gallery in the Capitoline Museums

2. Capitoline Museums | Musei Capitoline

The Capitoline Museums sit atop a beautiful square, the Piazza dei Campidoglio on Capitoline Hill. In the center is a grand statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback (the original is inside).

The Capitoline Museums are Rome’s oldest civic museum. The museum gives you a unique up close look at Rome’s ancient imperial history. If you’re a history or archaeology buff, this is a must see site in Rome.

The Capitoline’s stash of ancient art and artifacts is unparalleled, albeit somewhat disorganized. It’s housed in two buildings, the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo.

They’re connected by an underground passageway, called the Underground Galleria Lapidaria. It’s lined with evocative funereal steles.

the She-Wolf of Rome, suckling the twins Romulus and Remus
the She-Wolf of Rome, suckling the twins Romulus and Remus
Caravaggio, The Fortune Teller, 1594
Caravaggio, The Fortune Teller, 1594

Inside, you’ll find some of the world’s most famous ancient sculptures — Spinario, Bust of Commodus, Capitoline She Wolf, Medusa, and Dying Gaul.

Here’s my complete guide to the Capitoline Museums. In high season, you’ll want to pre-book a skip the line ticket. If you’re a true fan of ancient sculpture, you can also book a guided tour of the museum.

Address: Piazza del Campidoglio 1. The entrance and ticket office are in the building on your right after you climb the stairs.

Entry fee: € 11. The audio guide (which is worth it) is 6 euros. You’ll need to leave your passport or license as security.

Hours: Daily 9:30 am to 7:30 pm

Pro tip: If you have anything more than a small purse, you’ll be required to check it. The cost is € 1, so have coins. Pick up a map when you enter. This museum is confusing. It’s easy to get lost and miss important pieces.

sculptures in the Aldobrandini Room of the Doria Pamphilj, with a famous Caravaggio painting above
sculptures in the Aldobrandini Room of the Doria Pamphilj, with a famous Caravaggio painting above

3. Doria Pamphilj Gallery | Galleria Doria Pamphilj

The Doria Pamphilj Gallery is simply a joy to visit, a heady blend of yesteryear art and magnificent architecture. It’s a hidden gem in Rome, housed in a lavish 17th century Roman-Rococo palace.

The art collection was meticulously assembled and is still owned by a powerful Italian family, the Doria Pamphilj (pronounced Pom-fee-lee). It all started with Camillo Pamphilj, who gave up his cardinalship to marry his true love, Olympia Aldobrandini. Their heirs still live in the palace.

The Doria Pamphilj boasts over 650 works spanning the 15th to the 18th century, including pieces by Velazquez, Raphael, Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian, Carracci, and Bruegel.

the seminal work of the Dorai Pamphilj, the Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velazquez
Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velazquez

The best works are stashed in the Aldobrandini Gallery and the Aldobrandini Hall. The gallery’s emblematic painting is Diego Velazquez’s Portrait of Innocent X, which has a dedicated room. And the museum has a glittering Hall of Mirrors, reminiscent of Versailles.

Apart from the art, every inch of the walls and ceilings are decorated with beautiful frescos, tapestries, and chandeliers. A true art lover will be utterly delighted by this museum experience.

It’s so rare to enjoy art in its original historic setting, a yesteryear type experience. And there’s no crowds. You can admire the art in peace and quiet without being jostled by crowds and selfie sticks.

Raphael double portrait in Rome
Raphael double portrait

Here’s my complete guide to visiting the Doria Pamphilj Gallery. Click here to book an entrance ticket.

  • Address: Via del Corso 305
  • Hours: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm (last entry at 6pm). Most museums in Rome are closed on Mondays. The Doria Pamphilj isn’t, something to keep in mind.
  • Entry fee: 12 €, free audio guide
  • Pro tips: There’s not much seating in the gallery and no elevator. You can tour some residential rooms in the palace for an extra fee.
the Castle Sant'Angelo Museum, formerly Hadrian's Mausoleum
the Castle Sant’Angelo Museum, formerly Hadrian’s Mausoleum

4. Castle Sant’Angelo | Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo

Castle Sant’ Angelo is also known as Hadrian’s Mausoleum. Hadrian built it on the banks of the Tiber River in 139. He also erected the Bridge of Angels, which connected central Rome to his mausoleum.

The bridge is now lined with 10 angels, designed by Bernini and commissioned by Pope Clement IX. Each statue holds an object of Christ’s passion.

The cylindrical castle was richly decorated. Originally, it was faced with travertine marble, pilasters, and bronze. By the 5th century, the mausoleum was converted into a miltary fortress. It was renamed Castle Sant’ Angelo in the 5th century. Legend holds that the Archangel Michael appeared above the castle, sheathed his sword, and magically put an end to the plague.

view of Rome from Castle Sant'Angelo's Angel Terrace
view of Rome from Castle Sant’Angelo’s Angel Terrace

It’s a unique museum with a mix of art and artifacts. You’ll find sumptuous papal apartments decorated with frescos by Pinturicchio, medieval firearms, paintings, and sculpture, and military memorabilia.

In 1536, a marble and bronze statue of Archangel Micheal was perched on top. There are gorgeous 360 views of Rome and St. Peter’s Basilica from the Terrace of the Angel. The museum also has a bar/coffee shop with splendid views.

Click here to pre-book an entry ticket. Or, book a guided tour with fast track entrance.

  • Address: Sant’ Angelo Bridge
  • Hours: Daily from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, closed Mondays
  • Entry fee: € 14. You can skip the line with the Roma Pass.
courtyard of the Villa Farnesina
courtyard of the Villa Farnesina

5. Villa Farnesina

Designed by artist-architect Baldasarre Perruzi, Villa Farnesina is a magnificent off the beaten path museum in Rome. It’s located in Rome’s lovely Trastevere neighborhood. The museum is home to torrid love stories and secret Raphael paintings.

Between 1506-11, the wealthy banker Agostino Chigi from Siena built Villa Farnesina, then titled Villa Chigi. Chigi wanted a show-offy party pad to entertain Roman VIPs. He created a beautiful space, a Roman pleasure garden, that was bright, airy, and infused with Renaissance beauty.

The villa is decorated with racy mythological frescos by Renaissance painters Raphael, Peruzzi, and Sebastian del Piombo. Check out the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche, the Hall of Galatea, and the Room of the Perspectives.

fresco of the wedding feast of Cupid and Psyche
fresco of the wedding feast of Cupid and Psyche
Raphael, Triumph of Galatea, 1513-14
Raphael, Triumph of Galatea, 1513-14

The highlight is the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche, painted by Raphael and his workshop. The beautiful and animated frescos will take your breath away.

READ: Guide To The Paintings of Raphael

Cavorting gods and goddesses cover every inch of the walls. The theme is “love conquers all.” In the next room, the Hall of Galatea, you’ll find Raphael’s famous Triumph of Galatea.

Here’s my complete guide to visiting the Villa Farnesina. Click here for a guided tour of the lovely villa. Click here for a guided walking tour of the villa and the Trastevere neighborhood.

  • Address: Via della Lungara 230 in the Trastevere neighborhood
  • Hours: Monday through Saturday 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, the second Sunday of the month from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Entry fee: € 10
Villa Medici in Rome
Villa Medici

6. Villa Medici | Accademia di Francia a Roma

Built in 1540, the Villa Medici is an opulent Renaissance palace, just a stone’s throw from the Spanish Steps.

READ: Walking Tour Of Central Rome

It’s a Mannerist style villa with a garden next to the larger Borghese gardens. Founded by Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, the villa is now property of the French State.

Mercury Fountain at Villa Medici. The original Giambologna sculpture is in Florence's Bargello Museum
Mercury Fountain at Villa Medici. The original Giambologna sculpture is in Florence’s Bargello Museum

The villa houses paintings, sculptures, and period rooms that you can only visit via a 90 minute guided tour. It also offers a stunning skycap view over Rome from its perch on Pinchon Hill.

You can take a virtual tour of Villa Medici on Google Arts & Culture. You can also take a virtual tour by video on the museum website (though it’s in Italian).

  • Address: Viale della Trinita dei Monti 1a
  • Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • Entry fee: € 10, € 14 to also see the special exhibitions
the courtyard of the Palazzo Barberini, one of the best museums in Rome
the courtyard of the Palazzo Barberini

7. Palazzo Barberini | Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica

Palazzo Barberini is an underrated museum in Rome. But it’s definitely an art lover’s art gallery.

Recent restorations give it an unapologetically grand wow factor. The museum holds some of Europe’s classic paintings by the great masters.

The Barberini Palace is 12,000 square meters and has 187 rooms. It has beautiful staircases by Borromini and Bernini.

The museum is home to one of Raphael’s most famous paintings, La Fornarina. It’s a painting of the “baker’s daughter,” whom Raphael had fallen in love with while fresco painting in the Villa Farnesina.

Raphael, La Fornarina, 1520
Raphael, La Fornarina, 1520
Artemisia Gentileschi, Self Portrait, 1630s
Artemisia Gentileschi, Self Portrait, 1630s

Other master works include Caravaggio’s Narcissus and Judith and Holofernes, Holbein’s Henry VIII, and the ceiling fresco by Pietro da Cortona.

Though the painting is not very well preserved, I fell for Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi and her beautiful Self Portrait.

I had just listened to an Art Curious podcast about her famous painting Judith Beheading Holofernes, which is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. She survived a rape by her tutor. After a move to Florence, she flourished and was the first woman admitted to the Accademia.

READ: Artemisia Gentileschi’s Life and Paintings

  • Click here for a skip the line entrance ticket. Click here for a 2 hour guided tour of the museum or here for a private tour.
  • Address: Via delle Quattro Fontane 13
  • Hours: Tues to Sun 8:30 am to 7:00 pm
  • Entry fee: € 11.50
frescos on the ceiling of the Christina Queen of Sweden room at the Galleria Corsini
frescos on the ceiling of the Christina Queen of Sweden room at the Galleria Corsini

8. Galleria Corsinsi | Corsini Gallery

Located just opposite Villa Farnesina, Galleria Corsini is part of Rome’s Arte Antica collections, along with Galleria Borghese and Palazzo Barberini.

The museum is housed in an impressive late-Baroque palace built by the wealthy and prominent Corsini family. The gallery has an impressive collection of Italian art from early Renaissance to the late 18th century.

It boasts works by Caravaggio, Fra Angelico, Van Dyke, Rubens, and Reni. The famous Caravaggio piece is John the Baptist (1604).

The highlight of the museum may be the Biblioteca Corsini, a gorgeous library embellished with columns, trompe l’oeil painted busts, and elaborate ceiling frescoes.

  • Address: Via della Lungara 10
  • Hours: Monday & Wednesday through Saturday from 2:00 pm to 7:30 pm, Sunday from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm, closed Tuesday.
  • Entry fee: € 5
Keats-Shelley Memorial House
Keats-Shelley Memorial House

9. Museo Keats-Shelley | Keats-Shelley Memorial House

Nestled at the foot of the Spanish Steps, the Keats-Shelley Memorial House will appeal to literary pilgrims.

It’s dedicated to its two namesake Romantic poets from England. The museum is the apartment where John Keats died at age 25 of tuberculosis.

Keats’ furniture is long gone. But the museum preserves Keats original fireplace and ceiling decorated with floral motifs. There are also many letters and artifacts from the period. And a working library for scholars of the poets.

  • Address: Piazza Di Spagna 26
  • Hours: Open Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 1:00 pm & 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Saturday 11:00 am to 2:00 pm & 3:00pm to 5:00 pm on Saturday.
  • Entry fee: € 3.50
the courtyard of the Galleria Sciarra
the courtyard of the Galleria Sciarra

10. Galleria Sciarra

Galleria Sciarra is largely unknown architectural beauty in Rome. It’s located just a few steps away from the iconic Trevi Fountain and the fashionable Via del Corso.

It’s not a museum per se. But its beautiful courtyard is a living museum, transporting visitors back to the height of the Art Nouveau movement.

The wealthy Sciarra family commissioned the opulent courtyard in the late 19th century. Every inch of the arcade walls are adorned with colorful murals painted by Giuseppe Cellini. The theme is the “glorification of women.”

The glass and iron ceiling lets sunlight spill into the courtyard, illuminating the details in the frescoes. When the sun goes down, lights turn on to bathe the courtyard in a warm yellow glow.

  • Address: Via Marco Minghetti, behind the Teatro Quirino
  • Hours: Open to the public Monday through Friday during normal business hours
beautiful ceiling in the Vatican Museums
beautiful ceiling in the Vatican Museums

11. Vatican Museums | Musei Vaticani

The Vatican Museums are undoubtedly the best museum in Rome, or in Vatican City more precisely. They Vatican Museums are the public art and sculpture museums in the Vatican City complex.

They’re housed in former wings of the Vatican Palace. Much of the work was collected by Pope Julius II, the imperious “warrior” pope who left a staggering legacy.

A museum path takes you through the long corridors and wings of the Vatican Museums. Most of the fine art is in the Vatican Pinacoteca (the painting gallery), the Pio-Clementino Museum (the sculpture gallery), the Gallery of the Candelabra (more sculpture), the Raphael Rooms, the Borgia Apartments, and the Sistine Chapel.

But you’ll also be dazzled by the corridors themselves. Along the way, you’ll pass the gorgeous tapestries designed by Raphael’s workshop and the awe-inspiring Map Gallery. The Map Gallery has a crusted gold ceiling and holds what were the Vatican’s official maps.

At the end of your long march, you’ll arrive at the Sistine Chapel, the highlight of any Vatican visit. In 1508, Pope Julius II summoned Michelangelo from Florence to paint the ceiling of his private chapel. They depict scenes from Genesis and seem to open up the chapel to heaven.

In 1533, Michelangelo went back to paint The Last Judgment on the altar wall. After his death, “underpants” or draperies were added to the fresco during the Counter Reformation.

You can take an online virtual tour of the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, the Pio Clementino Museum, and the Raphael Rooms. You can also virtually tour Vatican City on Google Arts & Culture.

Raphael's School of Athens painting in the Raphael Rooms
Raphael’s School of Athens painting in the Raphael Rooms

Here are all my Vatican City guides that you may find useful when planning a visit to the Vatican Museums:

Tickets & Tours:

If you don’t book a guided tour, you absolutely must pre-book a skip the line tickets. Or else you’ll be stuck in line for hours unless it’s the dead of winter. 

Hall of animals in Vatican Museums
Hall of animals in Vatican Museums

Most guided tours don’t cover everything in the Vatican. For example, you will likely miss the Raphael Rooms and the specialty museums on a standard tour.

Here are some of your Vatican tour options. You can pick a tour tailored to your own interests. 

Melozzo da Forli fresco in Vatican Museums
Melozzo da Forli fresco in Vatican Museums

If you’re taking a guided tour, you’ll access St. Peter’s Basilica from the back left corner of the Sistine Chapel. Once inside the basilica, you cannot re-enter the Vatican Museums.

Address: 00120 Vatican City

Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Entry fee: € 17, plus an extra € 5 if you book online. On the last Sunday of each month the Museums can be visited free of admission charge from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. But it will likely be packed.

Maxxi, the National Museum of Art from the 20th Century in Rome
Maxxi, the National Museum of Art from the 20th Century

12. MAXXI, the National Museum of Art of the 20th Century

Opened in 2010, this museum is billed as Rome’s first museum dedicated to “contemporary creativity.” Maxxi is housed in a concrete and steel building designed by starchitect Zaha Hadid. Like the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain, the museum may be more famous for its architecture than its art.

But if you want to see more modern works, this is your place. It’s one of the few spots in Rome where you can see cutting edge work.

There’s no permanent collection. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions, performances, and workshops. You have to check the museum website to see what’s featured at any given time.

You can take a virtual tour on Google Arts & Culture here and a Google Street view tour here.

  • Address: Via Guido Reni 4a
  • Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, Saturday until 10:00 pm
  • Entry fee: € 12
Museum of the Altar of Peace
Museum of the Altar of Peace

13. Museum of the Altar of Peace | Ara Pacis Museum

The Roman Senate commissioned the Ara Pacis, or Altar of Peace, in 13 BC. The altar was built to honor soon-to-be emperor Augustus, who had just pacified and defeated the barbarians.

His victory marked the beginning of the Pax Romana, a 200 year golden age where arts and architecture flourished.

READ: History of the Roman Emperors

The altar was once part of a large complex. It was moved to its current location in 1938. The Ara Pacis Museum opened in 2006 and is dedicated to this single monument.

Bust of Augustus in the Ara Pacis
Bust of Augustus in the Ara Pacis

The museum is housed in a modern pavilion designed by American architect Richard Meier in 2006. It was rather controversial at the time. The Romans wanted something more ancient looking.

When you head up the stairs, you’ll see an absolutely massive amount of relief sculpture that wraps around the whole altar.

If you’re on a budget, you can skip the rather outrageous entry fee and admire the ornate altar on the museum’s virtual tour here.

Click here to book a skip the line ticket for the museum. The ticket also includes entry to Augustus’ Mausoleum, which is a must visit ruin and archaeological site in Rome.

  • Address: Lungotevere in Augusta Corner of Via Tomacelli
  • Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • Entry fee: 10.50 €
patio in Villa Giulia, which houses the Museo Nazionale Etrusco
patio in Villa Giulia, which houses the Museo Nazionale Etrusco

14. Villa Giulia | National Etruscan Museum

If you are obsessed with the elusive Etruscans who lived around 600 B.C., head to the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giuli, housed in the Villa Giulia. It’s part of the massive Borghese Gallery park complex.

It’s a true Rome hidden gem and one of the best museums in Rome for history buffs. It’s just a short stroll from the Borghese Gallery, so you can combine the two museums on a single trip.

The villa was built by Pope Julius III as a pleasure pad escape. Several architects were involved, with Michelangelo lending design advice.

The museum houses the greatest Etruscan collection in the world. You can see that, in fact, the Etruscan did produce some high fine art.

beautiful arcade in Villa Giulia
beautiful arcade in Villa Giulia
Sarcophagus of the Spouses
Sarcophagus of the Spouses, 6the century B.C.

Highlights include exquisite pieces of gold jewelry, urns, the sarcophagus of the spouses (identical to the one in the Louvre), the 6th century B.C. Apollo of Dei sculpture, and the Pyrgi Tablets.

The Pyrgi Tablets are an ancient example of Etruscan writing, though it’s not been deciphered. There’s also a reconstructed Etruscan temple in the villa gardens.

You can explore the museum masterpieces on its website here. You can learn about the Etruscans and the museum’s famed sarcophagus of the spouses on a Smarthistory video here.

If you are a fan of Etruscan history, click here to book a guided tour of the museum.

  • Address: Via di Villa Giulia 9
  • Hours: Daily 8:30 am to 7:30 pm
  • Entry fee: € 8
courtyard of the Palazzo Altemps
the grand central courtyard of the Palazzo Altemps

15. Palazzo Altemps

The 15th century Palazzo Altemps is a quiet oasis across from the Piazza Navona. It’s definitely worth a visit if you admire ancient sculpture and want to escape the crowds.

The core of the collection are the superb sculptures from the Ludovisi collection. It was compiled by Ludovico Ludovisi, a nephew of Pope Gregory XV. The palace also has some lovey frescoed rooms, particularly the Sala delle Prospettive Dipinte.

The Palazzo Altempts isn’t a cluttered museum either. You’re given ample berth to view the sculptures.

The major must see works include Apollo the Lyrist, the Ludovisi Athena, the Ludovisi Throne, the Grande Ludovisi Sarcophagus, the Ludovisi Ares, the Ludovisi Gaul, and Gallic Soldier and his Wife Committing Suicide.

mid panel of the Ludovisi Throne, 460 B.C.
mid panel of the Ludovisi Throne, 460 B.C.

The last piece was discovered along with the Dying Gaul masterpiece that’s in the Capitoline Museums. The sculptures were found during construction of the Villa Ludovisi, which was built on land that once belonged to Julius Caesar.

You can take a virtual tour of the Palazzo Altemps here. Click here to book a skip the line ticket for the museum.

  • Address: Largo di Villa Peretti 2
  • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Entry fee: € 10, combo ticket 12 euros, audio guide 5 euros

The Palazzo Altemps is one of four museums that together make up the Museo Nazionale Romano, or National Museum of Rome. (They were separated in the 1990s.)

A combined ticket to all four, 15 €, is is valid for three days and gives you admission to the the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, the Terme di Diocleziano, and the Crypta Balbi.

ancient garden frescos removed from the House of Livia on Palatine Hill, in the Palazzo Massimo
ancient garden frescos removed from the House of Livia

16. Museo Nazionale Romano di Palazzo Massimo

Palazzo Massimo is a wonderful hidden gem in Rome. It’s one of Rome’s newer museum spaces.

But you’ve definitely seen it. The museum is next to Rome’s unlovely Termini station in the north. Don’t let that put you off.

Once inside, you’re in a magnificently restored building bursting with a wealth of fine sculptures, mosaics, and frescos.

exquisitely detailed status of Emperor Augustus in the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
exquisitely detailed status of Emperor Augustus

Three galleries on the ground floor are dedicated to busts and statuary from the last years of the Roman Republic. You can see the beautiful, and incredibly detailed, statue of the Emperor Augustus.

The other stand out sculptures are the Sleeping Hermaphrodite, Boxer at Rest, and the Discus Thrower. Boxer at Rest is especially spectacular.

The sculpture was discovered on the Quirinal Hill of Rome in 1885 near the ancient Baths of Constantine. Seated on a rock, the scarred boxer is catching his breath between the back-to-back matches that were routine for Greek boxers. 

sculpture of the Boxer at Rest, 3rd century B.C.
Boxer at Rest, 3rd century B.C.

But perhaps my favorite part of this little museum is in Room II on the second floor. That rooms houses the exquisite detached garden frescos that were removed from the House of Livia on Palatine Hill.

Livia was the wife of Emperor Augustus. The villa was discovered during the Renaissance.

Ancient Greco-Roman paintings are extremely rare, so this is a true treasure. The illusionistic garden scene is meant to suggest that even when you were inside, you were outside.

Other rooms contain frescos taken from the Villa Farnesina. You can take a virtual tour of the museum on YouTube here.

  • Address: Largo di Villa Peretti 2
  • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Entry Fee: € 10
Museo Napoleonico in Rome
Museo Napoleonico

17. Museo Napoleonico | Napoleon Museum

Housed in the Palazzo Primoli, the Napoleon Museum is dedicated to the period of Napoleon and his connection to Italy. Located just north of the Piazza Navona, the museum contains the collections of Count Giuseppe Primoli. He was the great grandson of Joseph and Lucien Bonaparte.

Primoli’s aim was to present the imperial family from his own private point of view. The museum is still arranged as he envisioned it. You’ll find painting, artifacts, sculptures, Napoleon’s outfits, books, memorabilia, etc. If you’re a history buff, this museum is for you.

The Museo Napoleonico has an excellent multimedia virtual tour. You can take a 360 tour of the collection. Or you can go to the photo gallery, click on a specific photo, and get a wealth of information. The museum is also on Google Arts & Culture.

  • Address: Piazza di Ponte Umberto 1
  • Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Entry fee: € 4
facade of the Quirinal Palace in Rome
facade of the Quirinal Palace in Rome

18. The Quirinal Palace, Rome

The Quirinal Palace, or Palazzo del Quirinale, was built by Gregory XIII in 1574 as a summer residence. Now it’s the official home of the Italian President.

You can take a 360 guided tour of the palace with audio commentary. Along the way, you’ll see the Hall of the Mirrors, the Great Ballroom, the First State Room, and the spectacular Mascarino Staircase. You can even take a tour of the gardens.

  • Address: Piazza del Quirinale, 00187 Roma
  • Hours: Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Book at least 5 days prior to the tour.
  • Entry fee: The short tour (1.5 hours) is free with a mandatory booking charge of € 1.50. The longer tour (2.5 hours) is 10.
National Modern Art Gallery

19. Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna | Modern Art Gallery

The Galleria d’Arte Moderna is home to one of the largest collections of contemporary Italian art in the world. It houses over 5,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and engravings.

The works date from the Neo-Classical period through the 1960s, with both Italian and renowned International artists represented.

You can take a virtual tour of Rome’s Modern Art Gallery on Google Art & Culture. Right now, there are online 360 exhibits of the gallery’s paintings by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Cy Twombley. You can also take a Google Street View tour of the gallery.

  • Address: Viale delle Belle Arti 131
  • Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 8:30 am to 7:30 pm
  • Entry fee: € 10
the Palazzo Braschi, which houses the Museum of Rome
the Palazzo Braschi, which houses the Museum of Rome

20. Museo di Roma | Museum of Rome

Housed in the Palazzo Braschi, the Museum of Rome is a civic museum devoted to the history, art, and traditions of Rome from the middle ages through the 20th century.

This is where you go to get a taste of local Rome and learn about its aristocratic families. You can see how Rome changed by studying the landscape paintings and portraits.

You can take a virtual tour of the Museum of Rome here.

  • Address: Piazza Navona 2
  • Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • Entry fee: € 7
the L'illusione della Prospettiva in the Palazzo Spada
the L’illusione della Prospettiva in the Palazzo Spada

21. Palazzo Spada

Palazzo Spada is located just a few minutes from Campo de’ Fiori. The Renaissance palazzo is named after Cardinal Spada, who purchased the palace in 1632. He hired the architect Borromini and beautifully transformed the building.

The small gallery consists of four rooms filled with 16th and 17th century work by Caravaggio, Reubens, and Titian. But the museum’s real highlight is the internal courtyard, where Borromini created a forced perspective trick or optical illusion.

The long corridor of columns seems endless. But it’s really only 28 feet in length. A towering sculpture appears at the end, but that’s only 23 inches high.

  • Address:Piazza Capo di Ferro 13
  • Hours: Open every other day from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm, closed Tuesdays
  • Entry fee: € 5
Giovanni Barracco Museum
Giovanni Barracco Museum

22. Giovanni Barracco Museum

If you’re a fan of ancient sculptures, the Giovanni Barracco Museum is one of the best museums in Rome to visit. It’s housed in a beautiful 16th century palace.

Located close to Campo de’ Fiori, it’s an intimate and free museum that has recently reopened. 

Giovanni Barracco studied the classics at a young age and became enamored with ancient civilizations. He bequeathed his antiquities collection to the city in 1902. You’ll find a remarkable collection of Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Phoenician, and Etruscan art.

  • Address: Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 166A
  • Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Entry fee: free, the audio guide is € 5
Museum of Rescued Art, one of the best new museums in Rome
Museum of Rescued Art, © Museo Nazionale Romano

23. Museums of Rescued Art

The Museo dell’Arte Salvata is a new museum in Rome that opened in June 2022. It’s housed within the massive Octagonal Hall in the National Roman Museum in the Baths of Diocletian.

It display antiquities that were recovered after being illegally sold, looted, lost, or found after natural disasters. The museum is a testament to Italy’s “art squad,” a group who repatriates antiquities from foreign museums and private collections abroad.

Right now, 1,000 objects are on display. But Italian policy is to return them too the museum closest to the site where they came from. This process takes time and there is a team of dedicated archaeologists tasked with determining where the artifacts will ultimately land.

  • Address: Viale Enrico de Nicola, 78
  • Hours: The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.
  • Entry fee: € 8
Baths of Diocletian

24. Baths of Diocletian

The Baths of Diocletian were were the largest of the imperial public baths in ancient Rome. They were completed in 306 A.D. Today, they are part of the National Museum of Rome.

The baths were meant to surpass the Baths of Caracalla and could accommodate 3,000 citizens.

The baths were built using the typical bath design of Roman times — with a frigidarium (cold), tepidarium (warm) and caldarium (hot), large bathing chambers, and gymnasiums.

On the ruins of the frigidarium, Michelangelo was commissioned to build a church, the Basilica of Santa Maria deli Angeli e dei Martiri. You can visit the church and a modern museum

  • Address: Viale Enrico de Nicola, 78
  • Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 2:00 pm to 7:45 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 am to 7:45 pm
  • Entry fee: € 10. Click here to book a skip the line ticket and guided tour of the baths.
ruins of the Baths of Caracalla
ruins of the Baths of Caracalla

25. Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla, one of the most monumental ruins from Ancient Rome. The baths were inaugurated by Emperor Caracalla in 216. They were the most luxurious thermae of Rome.

Construction of the baths began in 206 A.D., under the direction of Emperor Septimius Severus. The original red brick walls are still standing, a towering shell.

You can visit the ruins of the thermae, a library, and tour the cavernous subterranean corridors (opened to the public in 2019). In the latter, you’ll find a rare ancient mithraeum, which was a was a worship center for the mysterious religious cult of Mithraism

For more information, here’s my detailed guide to the Baths of Caracalla. Click here to pre-book a skip the line ticket.

  • Address: Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
  • Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am until one hour before sunset
  • Tickets: 8 €
  • Pro Tip: You don’t really need an audio guide. There are plenty of informational plaques in English.
Gallery of Statues and Hall of Busts in the Vatican Museums

Tips for Visiting Museums in Rome

It’s always best to buy your tickets online in advance. The most popular museums in Rome get very crowded and lines will be ultra long, especially at the Vatican.

You can get skip the line access for many museums. If you plan on visiting everything on the list, consider getting either the Omnia Rome & Vatican Pass or the Roma Pass.

If you plan on going to the Borghese Gallery, you can only visit with a pre-booked timed entry ticket. Here’s my complete guide to the Borghese, which explains how to buy online tickets and gives you tips for visiting.

Some of Rome’s best museums have free access on the first Sunday of the month. Most museums are closed on Mondays.

Michelangelo stairs to Piazza del Campidoglio on top of Capitoline Hill, where you'll find the Capitoline Museums
Piazza del Campidoglio on top of Capitoline Hill, where you’ll find the Capitoline Museums

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the best museums in Rome. You may enjoy these other Italy travel guides and resources:

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4 thoughts on “25 Best Museums In Rome Italy”

  1. This is such a great guide. I visited many of these on my last trip to Rome, but it looks like I have to go back. Thanks so much for creating this incredible guide!

    • Thank you. I’ve been to Rome four times. There is always more to do. The Imperial sites only scratch the surface.There are so many hidden gems. I hope you get back there soon!

  2. Thank you, thank you, for this guide and all the wonderful material on your site. It’s been so helpful to me in planning trips to Italy – to towns and cities off the beaten track.


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