A lifetime probably would not be enough to soak in all of the culture and art that Rome has to offer. Before coming to Rome make sure to check out the permanent and temporary exhibitions at the following museums. This will definitely help you to pick one or two museums for your cultural city trip. Here are some of our favorites!
Plan your cultural city trip
Rome’s city center is definitely a huge open air museum. The Eternal City is also home to numerous museums, galleries and villas that contain priceless works of art. If it’s your first time in Rome, I would not recommend you to plan more than one visit to one of the numerous museums. You will need the time to get to know the city, its most famous squares, churches and foodie hot spots. Check out the museums and exhibitions online before your trip to find out if there might be an exhibition you are interested in. And: book your tickets online to avoid long queues at some of the following museums.
1. Capitoline Museums
Piazza del Campidoglio 1, open Tuesday – Sunday from 9:30am – 7:30pm, closed on Mondays
The Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini) are located in the heart of the city, in Piazza del Campidoglio, which is only one minute away from Piazza Venezia. The collection dates back to 1471. Back then Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of bronze statues to the people of Rome. The two palaces Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo make up the Capitoline Museums. They offer an impressive collection of ancient Roman bronze and marble statues, medieval and Renaissance art, and frescoes. They are linked by the Galleria Lapidaria, a tunnel that takes you under Piazza del Campidoglio. So you don’t even have to leave the museum to reach the other building.
Insider tip: Come here if you want to enjoy great art as well as one of the best views of the Roman Forum.
2. Galleria Borghese
Piazzale Scipione Borghese 5, open Tuesday – Sunday from 9am – 7pm, closed on Mondays
Galleria Borghese is one of Rome’s best known museums. Combine a relaxing stroll through the Villa Borghese Park with a visit to the museum. It hosts an impressive collection of Roman, Renaissance, and Baroque art. The Galleria is home to Bernini sculptures, numerous paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian, and is regularly hosting temporary exhibitions.
Insider tip: Ticket reservation is required for all visitors and there’s only a limited number of tickets for spontaneous visitors.
3. Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
Viale delle Belle Arti 131, open Tuesday – Sunday from 8:30am – 7:30pm, closed on Mondays
The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea is Rome’s National Gallery of modern and contemporary art located only a few minutes walking from the Villa Borghese Park. The museum is dedicated to modern and contemporary art. It hosts one of the largest collections of 19th century including paintings and sculptures, but also graphic, photography, archives and more in Italy. The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea hosts 20,000 works by for example Canova, Cézanne, De Chirico, Duchamp, Fontana, Giacometti, Klimt, Modigliani, Mondrian, Van Gogh any many more. It offers a great view on art starting from the 1800’s to today. Find out more about the permanent and temporary exhibitions here.
Via Guido Reni 4A, open Tuesday – Friday & Sunday from 11am – 7pm, Saturday from 11am, closed on Mondays
Located in the newly hip Flaminio district, the MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo is devoted to contemporary creativity and art. The museum is an interesting piece of contemporary architecture designed by prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid. MAXXI is home to permanent architecture and contemporary art exhibitions. The museum also engages the public by organizing art and architecture related research, education and training workshops. The MAXXI building itself is worth a visit, too.
5. Palazzo delle Esposizioni
Via Nazionale 194, open Sunday – Thursday from 10am – 8pm, Friday – Saturday from 10am – 10:30pm, closed on Mondays
Palazzo delle Esposizioni is the largest interdisciplinary exhibition venue in Rome’s city center hosting permanent as well as temporary exhibitions on three floors and more than 10,000 square meters. The museum also includes an auditorium and cinema and is used for film festivals, theatre productions, photography and literature events. You will usually find two to three simultaneous exhibitions there. Perfect for travel partners with a different taste of art.
Insider tip: Check out the online event calendar before going there. Many special events are free of charge and might also be an interesting option for you. Check out the roof-top restaurant for a short break or lunch after your visit to the museum.
6. Scuderie del Quirinale
Via XXIV Maggio 16, open Sunday – Thursday from 10am – 8pm, Friday & Saturday from 10am – 10:30pm
The Scuderie del Quirinale museum is situated only a few meters away from the Palazzo del Quirinale which is the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic. Historically a stable, today the Scuderie is a well known gallery that hosts various exhibitions. Check out the exhibitions that include the old masters as well as contemporary artists before your visit.
7. Vatican Museums
Viale Vaticano, open Monday – Saturday from 9am – 6pm (final entry 4pm), every last Sunday of the month from 9am – 2pm (final entry 12:30pm)
There’s no doubt that the Vatican Museums are the most important museum to see in Rome. With over seven kilometers of art galleries, hundreds of rooms & halls, the Vatican Museums are among the largest in the world. Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the collections were enlarged by successive pontiffs and are now among the world’s greatest and most important art collections. Some of the highlights are the rooms frescoed by Raphael and the Sistine Chapel that was painted by Michelangelo.
Insider tip: The dress code for St Peter’s applies to the Vatican Museums, too. Very short shorts or skirts are not allowed. Better cover up, otherwise you risk being turned away at the door. Make sure to plan your visit in advance! Check out the time slots on the official website and book your tickets online.