Top Rome museums

Best museums in Rome

Rome is abundant with museums that span the ages and genres. From delectable ancient Greek art, heroic Roman Emperor statues and zany contemporary art pieces, there is something for everyone in the Italian capital city. Some of the buildings they’re housed in are as much a piece of art as the works they display, and can be admired both on the outside and in. If you’re wondering where some of the best museums in Rome are, we’ve compiled a list of the ones you really can’t miss.

  1. Capitoline Museums
  2. Galleria Borghese
  3. National Gallery of Modern Art
  4. National Etruscan Museum
  5. Palazzo Altemps

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Capitoline Museums

Kick-start your visit at the Capitoline Museums, made up of two palaces that are the oldest museums in the world. The two palaces are connected by a tunnel. The first palace, the Palazzo dei Conservatori, houses work by renowned artists such as Rubens and Caravagio: keep an eye out for busts of prominent figures, paintings and sculptures. Make sure you don’t miss the bronze statue of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who sits upon a horse and raises a hand to the imagined crowds ahead – today, he sits at the centre of the glass-ceilinged hall. In fact, there are even more enormous statues to check out in this palace. Over in the second palace, the Palazzo Nuovo, are numerous statues, mosaics and sculptures; some are Roman replicas of Greek originals. Make time to see the famous Dying Gaul statue, which depicts a dying foreign soldier in all his beauty, despite the fact he is an enemy. No matter what Rome holiday packages you’re considering, a visit to the Capitoline Museums is a must.

Best for: Some of the best ancient Roman statues

Opening hours: Tuesday–Sunday 9.30am–7.30pm.

2. Galleria Borghese

As picturesque Rome museums go, the Galleria Borghese is undeniably one of the best. This slightly more ‘modern’ art museum (this is Rome, after all) houses an extensive collection of 15th- the 18th-century works of art. The gallery is housed in a beautiful mansion with sprawling gardens – making it a popular tourist attraction in its own right – but if you come for the museum, you should also stay for the rest of the site. This well-renowned collection includes works from the likes of Boticelli and Raphael; there’s also well-preserved frescoes and mosaics which give the mansion an extra sense of artistic splendour throughout the ages. There’s a lot on display here, and lots you may want to take in, so it’s best to book onto a guided tour of each room and hall.

Best for: The Apollo and Daphne statue by Bernini

Opening hours: Tuesday–Sunday 8.30am–7.30pm

3. National Gallery of Modern Art

Of all the museums in Rome, the National Gallery of Modern Art is the most contemporary museum to visit. With over 5000 works on display, there’s a decent range of permanent and temporary exhibitions that are interesting. Each floor is dedicated to different art movements or periods, ranging from the neoclassical period on one floor, works by van Gogh and Monet on the 19th-century-focused ground floor and 20th-century Futurist, Cubit and abstract art on the top floor. This is a fantastic way to get a full scope of differing art genres throughout time, and perhaps find your next favourite artist, too. The exterior of the building is a grand affair, with its wide-set steps leading up to the museum's large entrance, lined with tall columns and topped with fantastic wreath and flower details.

Best for: Modern art

Opening hours: Tuesday–Sunday 8.30am–7.30pm

4. National Etruscan Museum

The Etruscans were an ancient people who not only precessored but also influenced the Romans. The National Etruscan Museum is a dizzying collection of artefacts from this pre-Roman antiquity, with the likes of funeral urns, jewellery and sculptures on display over two floors. One of the must-sees in the museum is the Etruscan sarcophagus (similar to a coffin) which dates back to 520BC, as well as other ancient figurines and items of historical significance. The museum is housed in Villa Giulia, a Renaissance palace; once you’ve checked out the best the museum has to offer, step outside to stroll around the pleasant gardens and take in the beautiful exterior of the palace.

Best for: Pre-Roman art

Opening hours: Monday–Saturday 9am–8pm

5. Palazzo Altemps

If you’re interested in classical sculpture, as well as Egyptian art, then the Palazzo Altemps won’t disappoint. The works on display once belonged to prominent Roman families between the 16th and 17th centuries, but today they are available for everyone to take a look at: the 5BC Greek Ludovisi Throne, 1AD Roman head of Juno Ludovisi and 2AD Roman copy of a Hellenistic original of the unfortunate Galatian Suicide. There’s more to this museum than its fine sculptures, though. The museum is decorated with beautiful frescoes and ornate curved doorframes, and there’s even a small church on site, the Church of San Aniceto, which is an unexpected – but very pleasant – addition to the museum.

Best for: Ancient history nerds.

Opening hours: Tuesday–Sunday 9am–7.30pm.

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