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Best museums in Rome

Do you know why many people call Rome the “Eternal City”? Because of the ancient Roman belief that the city would live on forever. So far, it has lived up to its name. Brimming with history and culture, it won’t be hard for you to find good museums in Rome! If you’re planning a trip to this city and wondering what you need to see before you leave, keep reading to discover the best museums in Rome.

History Museums in Rome

Visit the Colosseum

It’s not exactly a traditional museum, but your trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the Colosseum, one of Rome’s top attractions. It was the cultural and entertainment center of Ancient Rome. Does the thought of the bloody gladiator flights that took place there make you feel a little squeamish? Even if that doesn’t sound like your thing, the Colosseum is still worth a visit for its incredible architectural engineering.

Visit the Catacombs in Rome

The Catacombs showcase another interesting and important part of Roman history. These vast underground passages were used as Christian burial crypts in the second through fifth centuries. Imagine a time in history when it was illegal to bury the dead within the city limits. Because this was the case at one time, the Catacombs were designed as a hidden, underground sanctuary where Christians could bury their dead in peace.

Visit the National Museum of Rome

The National Museum of Rome is another cultural and historical hub in the city that you should consider visiting. It’s divided into four different parts, and you can enter all four parts of the museum with a single ticket.

The Palazzo Massimo alle Terme is a Neo-Renaissance-style palace that is home to some of the best-preserved Roman frescoes in the world. You can also see here a vast collection of mosaics, jewels, Ancient Roman coins, grave ornaments, and more. The Palazzo Altemps holds a vast collection of Greek and Roman sculpture, as well as a large collection of Egyptian art.

The Baths of Diocletian, at the heart of the National Museum of Rome, was the largest bath complex in Ancient Rome. Although as a visitor you can only visit a small part, what you’ll get to see is stunning. Don’t miss its impressive architecture, high ceilings, and hundreds of art pieces.

Finally, the Crypta Balbi is the fourth part of the National Museum. This basement attraction gives you the chance to explore some of Rome’s archaeological ruins. Above ground, you can learn about Rome’s history by examining items that were found during archaeological excavations of the site.

Art museums in Rome

With so much history, art, and culture to discover in Rome, you might feel like there is not enough time to take it all in during just a single trip. 

Visit the Borghese Gallery

If you’re a lover of fine art, you will definitely enjoy the Borghese Gallery Museum (or Galleria Borghese, in Italian). It’s located on the beautiful grounds of the Villa Borghese mansion. The prestigious museum includes works of art by such masters as Raphael, Botticelli, Bernini, and more. After taking in the galleries, you can enjoy a stroll through the villa gardens (the third largest park in the city of Rome).

Visit Palazzo Venezia

The Palazzo Venezia is another Roman mansion that you can visit. It’s located in the heart of Rome and houses a museum with several Renaissance paintings and sculptures. You will also see several other cultural artefacts from Roman history throughout the museum.

The Vatican Museums

Vatican City is, in fact, a separate state entity that happens to be located within the city of Rome. More than just the heart of Catholic Christianity, Vatican City is home to some of the world’s most renowned art masterpieces.

Among the most famous of the Vatican City museums, you’ll find the Sistine Chapel. Art lovers and novices alike will marvel at Michelangelo’s stunning frescoes decorating the walls and ceilings of this famous cathedral.

However, you have plenty more to see in Vatican City than the Sistine Chapel. Other museums and galleries within Vatican City include the Collection of Contemporary Art, the Greek Cross Gallery, the Gallery of Maps, and more. Perhaps the most interesting museum of the Vatican City museums is the Ethnological Museum Anima Mundi. In this museum you will see items of cultural and spiritual traditions of people all around the world.

Keep in mind that Vatican City gets incredibly busy with travelers. Especially June, July, and August are the busiest (or “high season”) months. All visitors have to go through security screening before entering the Vatican. This means you should expect airport-like waits of up to 30 minutes.

Other Sightseeing Options in Rome

Want to discover all there is to do in Rome? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Rome

Overall rating

4.2 / 5

based on 39,165 reviews

All the important areas of the Vatican were covered in great detail without going on too long. The Vatican may be the single most impressive site on the entire planet, and we were able to see it in great and splendid detail. Our guide was top of the line and was able to develop a great relationship with everyone in the group. Plus, no queues for obvious reasons, so that made it a pretty unique experience.

Wonderful tour full of information and all the perfect highlights! Would highly recommend to anyone traveling to the area and wanting to see the Vatican and St. Peters Basilica. David was an amazing tour guide that was experienced and knowledgeable. Thankful to have had this tour otherwise we would have been so lost and not known what to do or what we were seeing.

Loved Pasquale and the tour! Pasquale was a great guide! I've visited both places 20 years ago without a tour, and it's so much more meaningful to have a knowledgeable and interesting guide. Pasquale was amazing interacting with my 8 year old son and keeping him engaged. Highly recommend!!

Very well organized! Our guide provided us with very interesting informations and lifted the experience to a much higher level! We enjoyed our visit very much.

Thank you for a good experience! The host was very nice and friendly and did the little extra in order to make us happy!