Things to do in Rome

Explore Museums in Rome – 10 Best Museums for First-timers in Rome

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Rome is renowned for its rich history and cultural heritage, and there are few better ways to experience this than by visiting one of the city's many museums. From the Vatican Museums to the Capitoline Museums, Rome offers a wide range of options for those interested in art, archaeology, and history.

But even if you're not a particularly big fan of museums, there are still plenty of reasons to pay a visit. Many of Rome's museums offer stunning views of the city, and many are located in close proximity to other attractions such as the Colosseum or the Roman Forum. In addition, many museums offer guided tours that provide valuable insights into Rome's fascinating past. So whether you're a History buff or just looking for a unique way to spend an afternoon, be sure to add some of the best museums curated below to your Rome itinerary.

Museums in Rome


Museums are a great way to learn about the history and culture of a city, and Rome is one of the most culturally rich cities in the world. There are countless museums in Rome, covering everything from art and history to religion and archaeology. A visit to Rome's museums will give you a better understanding of the city's past and present, and of the people who have shaped it.

Rome's museums offer something for everyone, from ancient Roman artifacts to Renaissance paintings to modern art. Some of the most popular attractions include the Vatican Museums, the National Museum of Rome, and the Capitoline Museums.

5 Must-See Masterpieces in Rome


There are countless museums in Rome, but some highlights include the Vatican Museums, the National Museum of Rome, and the Capitoline Museums. The Vatican Museums are home to some of the most famous works of art in the world, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms. The National Museum of Rome is located in a beautiful 16th-century palazzo and contains a wealth of Roman artifacts, from ancient statues to Renaissance paintings. The Capitoline Museums are located on Rome's Capitoline Hill and house an impressive collection of Roman sculptures, as well as a planetarium and observatory.

While the city's history affords Rome with a multitude of museums, here are 5 must-see pieces of art, sculpture & artefacts that you must see when in Rome.

1Raphael's Frescoes

Vatican Museums

Raphael's Frescoes are some of the most famous works of art in the world, and they can be found in the Vatican Museums. The frescoes were painted by Raphael between 1508 and 1511, and they depict scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary. They are located in the Stanza della Segnatura, a room in the Vatican Palace that was once used as a library. The frescoes are considered to be some of Raphael's finest work, and they are a must-see for anyone visiting the Vatican Museums.

Museums in Rome

2Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Vatican Museums

The Sistine Chapel Ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, is a masterpiece of Renaissance art. The 9 meters high ceiling is covered with over 300 figures from the Old Testament. The central panel depicts the Creation of Adam. Other panels show scenes from the life of Moses and the life of Christ.

Museums in Rome

3Borromini's Prospettiva

Palazzo Spada

Located in the Palazzo Spada, the Prospettiva is a painting by the Baroque artist Borromini. The painting is an optical illusion, depicting a gallery that appears to be much longer than it actually is. The effect is created by using a technique known as forced perspective, which involves making the objects in the painting appear larger or smaller than they actually are. The Prospettiva is a fascinating example of Baroque art, and it is well worth a visit if you are interested in optical illusions.

Museums in Rome

4Apollo and Daphne

Borghese Gallery

Bernini's Apollo and Daphne is a sculpture that can be found in the Villa Borghese. The sculpture depicts the moment when the god Apollo is transformed into a tree, after he tries to rape the nymph Daphne. The beauty of this sculpture lies in the elegant dynamism of the Apollo's and Daphne's forms, a well as the delicate transfiguration of Daphne's fingers into leaves, mid-way into her transformation.

Museums in Rome

5The Statue of Marcus Aurelius

Capitoline Museums

Of great significance in terms of how the emperor wanted to be portrayed, this bronze statue dates back to 175 AD. It depicts the emperor without weapons, after a conquest, to portray him as as harbinger of peace rather than a military hero (the emperor thought of himself the same way).

Museums in Rome

10 Best Museums in Rome


#1 Vatican Museums

Unique Collection of Portraits of Past Pope

from €30

Tickets
Museums in Rome

The Vatican Museums are a collection of art museums located within the city boundaries of the Vatican City State. The network of museums contains some of the world's most important artistic, cultural, and historical treasures. The museums trace their origins back to the early sixteenth century, when Pope Julius II founded the Museo Pio-Clementino to house his collection of antiquities. Over the centuries, successive Popes expanded the museums, adding new wings and buildings to accommodate their ever-growing art collections. Today, the museums encompass 54 galleries, with works from Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as from Renaissance painters such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The Sistine Chapel, with its iconic ceiling painted by Michelangelo, is also part of the Vatican Museums. In addition to its art collections, the Vatican Museums also house an extensive collection of coins, medals, and other objects. With over 70,000 items on display, the Vatican Museums attract millions of visitors each year from all over the world.

Best Time to Visit
Early mornings
Recommended Duration
3 Hours

Vatican Museum Highlights

  1. Spiral Staircase
  2. The Raphael Rooms
  3. Gregorian Egyptian Museum
  4. Vatican Historical Museum and the Portraits of the Popes
  5. Sistine Chapel

Recommended Vatican Museum Tickets

Vatican Museum - Insider Tips
  • St Peter’s Basilica is free to visit, the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel are not. Make sure to purchase a ticket in advance.
  • It takes about 3 hours to explore the Vatican Museum. Wear comfortable footwear during your visit.
  • The Vatican does have a dress code. For entry into the Vatican, shoulders, and knees must be covered for both men, women, and children.

Vatican Museum Reviews

The whole experience was great. The queues to check tickets & green passes went very quickly. The museum's were amazing, the paintings, tapestries & sculptures on display were wonderful. We didn't get to see everything but you couldn't possibly see it all in one visit. The ticket pricing was very reasonable.


- Lynda, Headout, October 2021

The booking for the musem voucher went smoothly. We did not have to wait and a great start to an impressive day in the Vatican Museum. We will recommend this to friends - especially on days which may be more crowded. Plus we look forward to checking in for similar offers from headout ourselves.


- Mario, Headout, November 2021

#2 Borghese Gallery

Best Collection of Bernini Sculptures

from €21

Tickets
Museums in Rome

The Galleria Borghese is one of the most significant art museums in Rome. Housed in a elegant seventeenth-century villa, the museum is home to an exceptional collection of paintings, sculptures, and antiquities. Among the most famous works on display are sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, including his masterpiece, David. The Galleria Borghese also boasts an impressive collection of paintings by Renaissance and Baroque masters such as Raphael, Caravaggio, and Titian. In addition to its unparalleled art collection, the museum is also notable for its beautiful setting in the Borghese Gardens. Visitors can stroll through the manicured grounds and enjoy views of several other historic villas, including the Villa Farnese. With its combination of world-class art and breathtaking gardens, the Galleria Borghese is a must-see for anyone visiting Rome.

Best Time to Visit
Morning hours
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Borghese Gallery Highlights

  1. Bernini's Apollo and Daphne - sculpture
  2. Caravaggio's David with the Head of Goliath - painting
  3. Caravaggio's Boy with a Basket of Fruit - painting
  4. Canova's Victrix - sculpture
  5. Raphael's The Deposition - painting

Recommended Borghese Gallery Tickets

Borghese Gallery - Insider Tips
  • Arrive atleast 30 minutes before your assigned time slot.
  • You can store use the cloakroom to store your baggage.
  • Once done with Borghese Gallery, don't forget to visit the park and zoo, or even row a boat in the nearby lake.

Borghese Gallery Reviews

It was very easy to book a ticket for the Borghese Gallery through Headout. Details were emailed to me and I was able to show the ticket number at the desk. It was sold out for the day so I was glad I had booked ahead. The gallery has a fantastic collection of sculptures and paintings and the building and its interior decoration are worth seeing in their own right.


- Kathleen, Headout, September 2022

Excellent! Four of us REALLY appreciated that the crowd was limited to a decent size!!!!!! After going to the Sistine Chapel the day before and experiencing a crowd size that was UNSAFE, unhealthy, disgusting and should be illegal, the Galleria Borghese was a dream. Please keep the decency you have established. It was an organized and beautiful visit. Thank you.


- Carlo, Headout, September 2022

#3 Castel D'Angelo Museum

Tomb of Emperor Hadrian and the Tallest Building of Ancient Rome

from €16.50

Tickets
Museums in Rome

The Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo is a beautiful and historic site that is well worth a visit. The castle was originally built as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian, and it has been used as a fortification, a palace, and a prison over the centuries. The museum contains an impressive collection of art and artifacts, including sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and armor. The highlight of the museum is the Rotunda of Hadrian, which offers a stunning view of Rome. Visitors can also enjoy the castle grounds, which feature gardens, fountains, and a statue of the Archangel Michael. The Castel Sant'Angelo Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in history or art.

Best Time to Visit
Evening hours
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Recommended Castel Sant'Angelo Museum Tickets

Castel Sant'Angelo Reviews

Trustworthy and all according to plan. Arrived and they admitted without fuss. Great site to visit. Lots of history and legacy. Interesting to see Chamber of Urns where Hadrian's ashes were supposedly kept.


- Johan, Headout, September 2022

Interesting place with a lot of history and stunning views. It also has a lovely cafe at the top to enjoy both the food and the Rome's landscape. I was slightly disappointed after visiting Vatican as I was hoping to see more art collections. But its definitely worth visiting just to appreciate the beauty of the city and the architecture.


- Svetlana, Headout, September 2022

#4 Pantheon

Most Iconic and Influential Dome from the Roman Times

from €5

Tickets
Museums in Rome

The Pantheon is a massive temple located in the center of Rome. It was built during the reign of Augustus, and is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings in the world. The Pantheon is made up of a series of grandiose chambers, each with a massive domed ceiling. The dome itself is nearly 143 feet in diameter, and is supported by an impressive network of pillars and arches. The Pantheon is considered one of the most significant architectural achievements in history, and continues to be a popular tourist destination. Built in the 2nd century AD, it is home to an impressive collection of art and artifacts from Ancient Greece and Rome. Visitors to the Pantheon can learn about the history of Ancient Rome, see some of its most famous artworks, and explore one of its most impressive buildings.

Best Time to Visit
Between 11 AM and 1 PM
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Roman Pantheon Highlights

  1. Visit between 11 AM and 1 PM to catch beams of light falling through the oculus
  2. Tomb of the Renaissance painter, Raphael
  3. The rotunda
  4. Original 7th-century icon of the Madonna and Child

Recommended Pantheon Tickets

The Pantheon - Insider Tips
  • Visitors are expected to dress modestly since the Pantheon is also a church. Make sure that your knees, shoulders, and midriff are covered.
  • You cannot drink, eat or smoke inside the Pantheon.
  • Make sure to read up on the Pantheon in advance to have an enriching experience

#5 Capitoline Museums

Collection of Antiques from Ancient Rome

from €25

Tickets
Museums in Rome

The Capitoline Museums are located on the top of Capitoline Hill in Rome. They consist of two museums, the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo, and a series of outdoor sculptures. The museums contain a large collection of Roman art, with pieces dating from the 2nd century BC to the 21st century. The Palazzo dei Conservatori houses the Capitoline Wolf, a life-size bronze sculpture of a wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. The Palazzo Nuovo contains a series of statues known as the Griffins, which were excavated in the 19th century. The museums also contain a number of paintings, including works by Titian and Caravaggio. The Capitoline Museums are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Rome, and they offer a fascinating insight into the city's rich cultural heritage.

Best Time to Visit
Afternoon
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Capitoline Museums Highlights

  1. Colossus of Constantine from 312–315 AD
  2. Bust of Commodus as Hercules from the late 2nd century
  3. Capitoline She Wolf from 5th Century AD
  4. Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Medusa, from the 1630s.

#6 Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna

The Only National Museum in Italy Dedicated to Modern Art with Over 4400 Works

from €13

Tickets
Museums in Rome

The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna is one of the premier museums of modern art in Italy. Located in Rome, the gallery is home to a wide range of paintings, sculptures, and other works by some of the most influential artists of the past two centuries. The museum's collection includes works by Italian masters such as Giovanni Boldini and Giacomo Balla, as well as international figures such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. With over 4,000 works on display, the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna provides a comprehensive overview of the development of modern art. Visitors can explore the museum's many temporary exhibitions, or take a guided tour to learn more about the history and evolution of this important artistic genre.

Best Time to Visit
Afternoon
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna Highlights

  1. Jackson Pollock's Water Paths
  2. Claude Monet's Ninfee Rosa
  3. Gustav Klimt's The Three Ages
  4. Vincent Van Gogh's The Gardener
  5. Andy Warhol's Hammer and Sickle

Recommended Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna Tickets

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna Reviews

The 'Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Roma' museum was spectacular. A must see for any culture buff. The HeadOut pre-buy ticketing service made our visit easy. Though there was a 2 hour hick-up the night before securing our tickets via there web site all was resolved quickly in the background. HeadOut kept me upto date via email about what was happening.Issue was resolved with no effort on my end. I highly recommend this app & service as it is so much easier to use than others we've tried.


- Lowell, Headout, June 2022

One of the best museum with modern art mainly, love it!


- Michal, Headout, August 2022

#7 Capuchin Crypt

The Bone Church of Rome

from €65

Tickets
Museums in Rome

The Capuchin Crypt, located in Rome, Italy, is a small space that houses the bones of 4000 Friars. The crypt was built in 1631 and contains the remains of 3000 friars buried between 1528 and 1870. The remaining 1000 bones are visible through two glass panels. The crypt is an ossuary, which is a type of burial site where bones are stored. The Friars were from the order of Saint Francis of Assisi, and they chose to be buried in the crypt because they believed in simplicity and humility. The crypt has been called "the most touching of all cemeteries" because of its unique decoration. The walls and ceilings are adorned with the bones of the Friars, and some of the bones are arranged in decorative patterns. The Capuchin Crypt is a unique and macabre destination that offers visitors a glimpse into the mortality of man.

Best Time to Visit
Afternoon
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Recommended Capuchin Crypt Tickets

#8 Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica

Principal Collection of Roman Paintings from before 1800

from €13

Tickets
Museums in Rome

The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica is one of the most important museums in Rome. Housed in the Palazzo Barberini, the museum contains an extensive collection of works from the medieval, Renaissance, and baroque periods. Highlights of the collection include paintings by Raphael, Caravaggio, and Gentileschi, as well as a wide range of sculptures and tapestries. The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica is also home to an important library and archives, which are open to scholars by appointment. In addition to its exhibitions, the museum frequently organizes lectures, workshops, and other events for the public. With its rich collection and wide range of programs, the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica provides a window into the history of art in Rome.

Best Time to Visit
Between 11 AM and 1 PM
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica Highlights

  1. Raphael's Fornarina
  2. Caravaggio's Judith and Holofernes
  3. Titian's Venus and Adonis
  4. Caravaggio's Narcissus
  5. Pietro de Cortona's Triumph of Divine Providence

Recommended Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica Tickets

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica Reviews

Great service. Purchasing tickets directly from Palazzo Barberini was tortuous... quick and easy from Headout and picked up our tix right before entry. Highly recommend!


- Steve, Headout, August 2022

It is an amazing museum with work-class art. This was my last day in Rome and I had a limited amount of time to visit. Being able to walk in right away gave me more time to see the exhibitions. A stellar collection with gems from so many artists Caravaggio, Holbein, Ribera, Goya and Gentileschi just to name a few!


- Katherine, Headout, July 2022

#9 Museo Nazionale Romano

The Best Archaeological and Classical Art Collections in the World

from €8.80

Tickets
Museums in Rome

The Museo Nazionale Romano is a world-renowned museum complex located in Rome, Italy. The museum draws over four million visitors each year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The complex consists of three main branches, each of which houses a different collection. The Palazzo Massimo alle Terme is home to the museum's extensive collection of Roman sculptures, while the Palazzo Altemps houses a rich selection of Renaissance and Baroque art. The third and largest branch of the museum, the Crypta Balbi, contains a wealth of archaeological artifacts from the Roman period. In addition to its world-famous collections, the Museo Nazionale Romano also offers a variety of educational programs and special exhibitions throughout the year.

Best Time to Visit
Afternoon
Recommended Duration
3 Hours

Museo Nazionale Romano Highlights

  1. Ludovisi Throne
  2. Palazzo Massimo's Roman frescoes
  3. Statue of Emperor Antonius Pius
  4. Yellow marble statue of a Dacian

Recommended Museo Nazionale Romano Tickets

Museo Nazionale Romano - Insider Tips
  • Buy the tickets in advance to jump the queue.
  • Make sure to wear comfortable footwear since you'll have to walk around the four sites.

#10 Archaelogical Museum of Ostia

Located Amidst the Ruins of an Ancient Metropolis

from €12

Tickets
Museums in Rome

Ostia Antica is an archaeological site located in Rome, Italy. The site includes the remains of an ancient Roman city that was founded around 600 BCE. The city flourished as a major port for Rome until it was eventually abandoned in the 4th century CE. Today, Ostia Antica is a popular tourist destination, as it provides a unique insight into everyday life in the Roman Empire. Visitors to the site can explore the ruins of houses, shops, and public buildings, as well as the city's ancient harbor. Ostia Antica is also home to a number of museums, which offer more information about the history of the site and the Roman Empire.

Best Time to Visit
Between 8 AM and 10 AM
Recommended Duration
2 Hours

Archaelogical Museum of Ostia Highlights

  1. Statue of Minerva from Porta Romana
  2. Relief from the Temple of Hercules
  3. Portrait of Trajan
  4. Statue of Perseus & Medusa

Recommended Ostia Antica Tickets

Ostia Antica Reviews

The procedure to reserve was very simple and the ticket was sent to me in a very short time. Thank you for allowing me to get to know such a special place. I was able to remove from the list, another of the many pending attractions that make you return to Rome again and again (and the times that I still plan to return because this was not the last, I assure you). It was a wonderful and enriching experience. Ostia is everything I imagined and more, it is really like being transported to another time, it is an architectural wonder that will remain engraved in my eyes forever. I recommend it to every traveler because after all, it is our history, our beginnings as a civilization with errors, virtues, but ours.


- Alejandro, Headout, August 2022

Went great. Just needed a map as the park is very large.


- Diana, Headout, April 2022

Have an extra day in Rome?


If you have an extra day to spend on your trip to Rome, then you can go on a day trip from Rome to some nearby destinations. For culture and beautiful architecture, a day trip to Florence is a must. You can explore the art galleries, beautiful gardens, and several architectural marvels on your visit here.

Another great option is Venice , also known as the ‘City of Canals’, where you can enjoy a boat cruise with a gorgeous view of the city. For history buffs, Naples is one of the most beautiful cities to visit on a day trip from Rome which also happens to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. There are many other amazing places such as Tivoli, Amalfi, Siena, etc. that you can cover as a day trip from Rome if you have an extra day to spend.


FAQs


How many museums are there in Rome?

There are over two hundred museums in Rome.

What is the oldest museum in Rome?

The Capitoline Museums are the oldest museums in Rome. They were founded in 1471 and are located on the Capitoline Hill.

What is the most visited museum in Rome?

The Vatican Museums are the most visited museum in Rome. They receive over six million visitors each year.

What is the largest museum in Rome?

The National Museum of Rome is the largest museum in Rome. It covers over two million square feet and contains over seven hundred thousand artifacts.

What is the best time to visit museums in Rome?

The best time to visit museums in Rome is during the week, as many of them are closed on Sundays. However, some of the most popular museums, such as the Vatican Museums, are open every day.

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