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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

Very interesting and cool to see all the bones! Didn't know much about the crypts of capuchin before coming to Rome but I think it is a hidden gem and must to see! The tour wasn't too long so didn't take up too much of the day and close by the Spanish steps so could see other popular tourist attractions nearby. Our guide Guilano was informative and kept the topic light with some jokes since seeing bones can be pretty dark.

Amazing service. This is the kind of company and people you wish to find when you are visiting a city for the first time. Dario and Mary made our experience even better. Even after the vaticano tour with Mrs Mary (which was absolutely perfect, Mr. Dario kept helping us through what's up.. 5 stars

This is such a unique experience and the guide (I apologize for not remembering his name) was very knowledgeable and passionate about the crypts. I recommend this tour if you like topics off the beaten path.

Much easier and quicker to get in with this ticket.

we had a group led by a supper nice lady Frederika