Five of Rome’s best museums

Guest blogger Anita Dykstra is a travel writer from New Zealand. You can read her great blog on her website.

Inside the Vatican MuseumsRome has played host to some of the most interesting and iconic history in the world and with that comes a lot of amazing and fascinating museums that you must visit here. If you’re a history and art lover this is the best city to lose yourself in.

With these beautiful museums to keep you busy, we can pretty much guarantee you’ll never forget this magical place. Here’s five that you must see when you come to the Italian capital.


Vatican Museums

Spiral stairwell at the VaticanThe Vatican Museums have to be number one. They holds some of the world’s greatest art collections and there’s around 7km of hallways and corridors waiting to be explored. There are two parts to the museum—The Vatican Palace and Belvedere Palace, joined by exquisite galleries. It is best to carefully choose what you want to see because it’s huge and you’d never be able to see everything in one day. Come early and start lining up before the place even opens so you don’t spend hours in the midday sun waiting to get in. You can also pay an extra €9 to skip the line if you do get trapped! If you’re a lover of architecture then you’ll find great satisfaction looking around this stunning museum; it’s simply beautiful. It is open Monday-Saturday 9am-4pm and Sunday 9am-12.30pm. If you’re a backpacker on a budget make sure you visit on the last Sunday of the month when entry is free.

Stay nearby: Bright and colourful, Colors is an aptly named hostel located just ten minutes’ walk from the entrance to the Vatican Museum. Here you can wake up with free, fast Wi-Fi, a lovely roof terrace and a ton of cafes and supermarkets nearby—and just five minutes from the metro!

Museo Nazionale Romano: Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme

Palazzo Massimo Alle TermeThis is just one museum in the group they call Museo Nazionale Romano. There are four in total; this one is special because it has a large collection of classical art. This nineteenth-century neo-renaissance palace is close to the Termini Train Station, making it super easy to get to. There are four floors which include sculptures, mosaics, frescoes, jewels and—most impressive of all—one of the most important ancient art collections in Rome. As this museum is part of the National Museums in Rome you can buy a pass which allows you to visit this and three others in the city for only €7, valid for three days.

Stay nearby: Funny Palace Rome is located just on the other side of Termini station from the Museo Nazionale, and is a particularly great choice if you’re travelling with friends or family. With private rooms for up to four people and dorm rooms for up to five, this is a comfortable, clean, friendly hostel from which to explore Rome. Plus, there’s free breakfast and more.

Galleria Borghese

Come to Villa BorgheseThe Galleria Borghese is a stunning example of some of Rome’s finest architecture; it really is as stunning inside as it is outside. However, the museum only allows 360 visitors every two hours so make sure you pre-book your ticket and get up early to be in before everybody else. This museum has been dubbed the King of Rome’s art collection and is a must-see. It houses some of the most famous art in the world, including several striking Caravaggio paintings, so it definitely is not to be missed! You can visit Tuesday-Sunday from 9am -7pm and tickets are €11.

Stay nearby: One of Rome’s most popular hostels, the award-winning Yellow is one of Rome’s most happening hostels. They offer free Wi-Fi, free iPad hire and an onsite bar, plus a huge variety of dorms and ensuite private rooms—and all just 20 minutes’ walk from the beautiful grounds of Villa Borghese.

Capitoline Museums

Romulus and Remus with the She-Wolf of RomeThe Capitoline Museums are known as the world’s oldest public museums. They date way back to 1471 when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of ancient bronzes to the residents of Rome. The museums’ location on the Capitoline Hill is just one of the reasons you should take a look at this place—the Roman Forum is on the same site. Combined, they created a single museum which contains a huge collection of art and archaeological artefacts including the famous she-wolf of Rome. The opening hours here are 9.30am to 7.30pm daily. Allow a few good hours to really take in this stunning place!

Stay nearby: Want to stroll past the Colosseum on your way to the Capitoline Museums? Check out Ciak Hostel! They serve up free continental breakfast daily as well as free pasta nights twice a week. This secure, friendly hostel is close to the metro and has private and dorm rooms to suit your needs.

Galleria Doria Pamphilj

Inside Palazzo Doria PamphiljHidden in the exterior of the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, the Galleria Doria Pamphilj holds one of Rome’s richest art collections. The museum displays paintings and statuary which have been collected since the 16th century. There is an extensive collection displayed in the chapel and state rooms which even includes a mummified corpse of the Pamphilj family saint, but there is also a large collection displayed in the four galleries surrounding the courtyard, including Velazquez’s ‘Pope Innocent X; and pieces by Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian. You can also pay an extra €5 to gain access to the private apartments—highly recommended if you’re curious as to the decadent lifestyles of Roman aristocracy. This museum is open every day from 9am – 7pm.

Stay nearby: Hostel Alessandro Downtown is perfectly located between the Doria Pamphilj Gallery and Termini station, putting it within walking distance of the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and more. It’s perfect for travellers on a budget, with cheap breakfast, onsite laundry and discounts at a nearby restaurant. We like their bright and airy rooms and friendly staff.

So, which museum would you love to visit? Spend as much time as you can in Rome to really dig deep into their history and culture, it’s truly fascinating!


Thanks to Xuan Che, Salvatore Capalbi, Ryan Baumann, Anthony Majanlahti and Kevin Gessner for use of their great images under the Creative Commons license.

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