One of my afternoons when I visited Rome last year was strolling around the Damien Hirst exhibit at Galleria Borghese.

If you don’t know who Damien Hirst is, I suggest you look his work up ASAP.

His artwork is amazing, and seeing it inside such a historic old villa turned museum, was just next level gorgeous. 

In fact, after all the museums I hit up on that trip, I’ve concluded that Romans definitely know what they’re doing with interior decorating. 

Everywhere I went there was another gorgeous fresco, mural, or piece of art to be admired.

Rome is super old, especially when compared to the USA, so it’s no wonder they’ve got a bunch of museums to choose from.

Whatever you do, don’t miss out on these must-see museums in Rome!

1. Galleria Borghese

I saw the Damien Hirst show here in the summer of 2021 and it absolutely blew me away.

Not only was the artwork astounding, the space itself was beautiful, since it’s inside an old villa.

Galleria Borghese has tons of permanent artwork, plus some absolutely incredible murals on the ceilings.

You’ll also want to spend some time wandering around the villa’s gardens.

They’re some of the most beautiful in all of Rome, and perfect for a bit of romance.

Don’t forget to buy your tickets early, especially if you’re there during peak season, or while an especially popular exhibit is running.

I almost missed seeing this place because I waited until the week before to book my ticket.

Reserve your entry time today!

2. Vatican Museums

Okay, so truthfully, the main reason I ended up here was to see The Sistine Chapel, which if I’m honest was cool, but not nearly as impressive as I’d imagined it would be.

Though I’m happy to say I’ve now seen it in person.

It’s cool though, because The Vatican has a ridiculous amount of art and artifacts to walk through.

Fair warning, most of them are obviously all religious, so it can easily get repetitive unless you’re really into it. 

The good news is that there are also some really amazing painted rooms, gardens, portraits, statues, and even architecture—the stairs you exit down are stunning!

Local’s Tip: Since it’s The Vatican, they have a strict dress code inside. Check out the article below to learn more!

Guarantee you see The Sistine Chapel by booking your tickets today!

3. National Roman Museum

With a collection rivaling the Vatican, the National Roman Museum is a place you’ll spend hours wandering around since it’s spread over four locations.

You’ll check out the following spots:

Book your entry time early for the best availability!

4. Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica

When visiting The National Gallery of Ancient Art, you’ll enter Barberini Palace and discover galleries filled with Renaissance art by artists like Bernini, Borromini, and Caravaggio. 

Don’t forget to look up. There’s also some amazing murals on the ceilings.

You’ll also want to spend some time exploring the garden if it’s a nice day out.

Keep an eye out for the cats that roam around.

5. Villa Farnesina

Head to my favorite neighborhood in Rome, Trastevere, to visit Villa Farnesina.

My favorite thing is that it’s rumored to be built on the site of an ancient villa where Cleopatra stayed with Mark Antony. 

These days this early Renaissance villa is home to mythological frescoes by painters like Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo, and Baldassare Peruzzi.

It’s next level, and not too large, making it the perfect stop while you’re exploring Trastevere.

6. Scuderie del Quirinale

Close to the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic, The Quirinal Palace, you’ll find an art exhibition in the old stables. 

And just be clear, its the nicest old stable you’ve ever seen!

They arrange temporary exhibits on a multitude of subjects, so check their calendar to see what’s on when you’re visiting.

This is definitely a museum to visit if you want to be somewhere less crowded than the majorly touristy museums in Rome.

Don’t forget to catch the gorgeous views of the city from the top floor.

7. Castel Sant’Angelo

While I was in Rome, I was staying nearby and would walk by the Castel Sant’Angelo at least twice a day.

It’s really beautiful lit up at night, and there’s normally a bunch of people hanging out here in the summer, with at least one person playing music nearby.

There’s a beautiful bridge over the Tiber, and a crazy view of the Vatican sticking out along the skyline.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to this one on my first visit to Rome, so I’ll let you know more once I get to visit. 

But friends tell me it’s an interesting spot to visit. 

It served as the prison/fortress for the Papal residency for years, and has a very long history that you’ll learn as you walk through.

I’m hoping to score tickets for around sunset, since the fortress has some incredible views of the Tiber and the Roman skyline.

Don’t wait until it’s sold out like I did. Book your tickets today!

8. National Gallery of Modern Art

Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna is a must for anyone who enjoys checking out modern and contemporary art.

You could easily spend an hour or two checking out their eclectic art collection.

The best part is that because they don’t have any mega-famous works of art here, this is a museum where you won’t be stuck in a crowd of people.


Okay, this is another museum in Rome that’s still on my bucket list.

The National Museum of 21st Century Art focuses on contemporary art and architecture. 

Even the exterior of the building is worth walking by if you don’t have time to go inside—though from what I’ve heard, you should definitely make time!

10. Police Car Museum

The Police Car Museum might be the more unique museum in Rome.

They display all the motorcycles and cars that Italian police have used for roughly the last 60 years.

I’m not into cars, so this is another spot I still need to check out. 

I actually found out about it from one of the restaurant servers I had while I was in Rome. They said it’s a really cool place if you like cars or just appreciate vintage things.

11. National Etruscan Museum

Honestly, I didn’t know there was an Etruscan civilization before researching museums to check out while in Rome. 

Around 900 BC, the people of Etruria formed the civilization in ancient Italy.

They’ve got displays for a wide range of items from different time periods, making it an interesting museum to stroll through.

Plus, it’s housed in the gorgeous old Villa Giulia, which was built for Pope Julius III between 1550 and 1555.

12. Capitoline Museums

A new friend recently told me they thought the Capitoline Museums are the best in Rome.

Truthfully, it’s a toss until I get to visit them, but either way, they sound amazing.

The museums are a group of museums situated around Piazza del Campidoglio, focusing on art and archeology.

My friend says you’ll see tons of Roman art, sculptures, and statues, ranging from the beginning of Greek civilization up to around the Renaissance.

Check out some of these awesome early booking options!

Wrapping It Up

must see museums in Rome Galleria Borghese 2

I hope you’ve found the perfect couple of museums to visit during your time in Rome.

Let me know in the comments which one you’re most looking forward to checking out, or if there’s a museum you think I should add to the list!

Book entry to one of these popular museums in Rome today!


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