Museums Walk, Rome (Self Guided)

As an ancient and cultural city, Rome is packed with museums which demonstrate its value in the world of culture and civilization. When it comes to art, Rome contains the most significant artifacts in the world, including sculptures, paintings, pottery, and porcelain; all hidden within the splendid palaces of the city. Take the following tour to better acquaint yourself with the splendors of Rome.
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Museums Walk Map

Guide Name: Museums Walk
Guide Location: Italy » Rome (See other walking tours in Rome)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 km
Author: audrey
Capitoline Museums: Palazzo dei Conservatori / Palazzo Nuovo

1) Capitoline Museums: Palazzo dei Conservatori / Palazzo Nuovo (must see)

Since then, the museums' collection has grown to include a large number of ancient Roman statues and artifacts; a collection of medieval and Renaissance art; as well as huge collections of coins, jewels, and other items. One would need a lot of time to see all these in their entirety.

Widely known as Capitoline Museums, the Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo are the world's oldest public museum body established courtesy of Pope Sixtus IV who gifted Rome with a collection of precious ancient bronze back in 1471. Among the presented items was the mounted statue of Marcus Aurelius, a bronze replica of which adorns the picturesque Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo, outside the museum. The original copy is held inside and is one of the few authentic Roman statues preserved. Many of them were destroyed in the Middle Ages, on orders by Christian authorities, but the one of Marcus Aurelius survived, ironically, because they thought, mistakenly, that it was the statue of Emperor Constantine who made Christianity the official religion of Rome.

Along with the ancient statues, the museums also hold a rich collection of Medieval and Renaissance artifacts including coins, jewels, and more.

Both palaces are open to visitors on a single ticket that can be bought at Palazzo dei Conservatori. The two museums are linked with an underground tunnel. Prior to leaving the museums, do give yourself a treat to the rooftop cafeteria for some excellent espresso and the matching view of the Roman Forum with the Colosseum peaking in the background. Quite a sight!

Why You Should Visit:
These museums hold a large number of the most historically precious sculptures in all of Rome: The Dying Gaul; Boy with Thorn, She-Wolf with Romulus and Remus. And that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Most important on a summer day: there is air conditioning throughout.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-7:30pm; Dec 24/31: 9:30am-2pm
Last admission 1 hour before closing time
Sight description based on wikipedia
Crypta Balbi

2) Crypta Balbi (must see)

Perhaps the most intriguing branch of the National Museum of Rome is Crypta Balbi standing upon the remains of the 13th-century Theater of Balbus. The latter, complete with numerous medieval artifacts filling up three floors, were uncovered during archaeological excavations. They say the best way to explore this museum is by working one's way upward, starting from the basement, walking through dark passageways amid the theater's ancient columns, checking out, among other remnants of the past, a fragment of an ancient depot once used for stocking grains collected from the nearby farms.

The museum displays images of Rome, the way it looked from the very beginning up until the present day, as well as artifacts attributed to various historical periods - pottery, fragments of glass, seals, ivory, collections of coins and precious stones, plus Medieval frescoes, marble slabs, and many others. Those in love with archaeology will find this museum particularly interesting, especially the 3D reproductions of Roman buildings from different ages.

Why You Should Visit:
An extremely interesting site for the story of the stratification of the city it tells.
You can see all of the layers of Rome's development history in cross-section.
An excellent relaxing way to get one's mind around life in ancient Rome.

A ticket to Crypta Balbi also grants access to three other branches of the National Museum of Rome, namely: Palazzo Massimo, Baths of Diocletian, and Palazzo Altemps. The ticket is valid for three days and is a true value for money.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-7:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Barracco

3) Museo Barracco

Rome is full of interesting museums and often the smaller ones are overlooked. That is a great shame because some of those are well worth visiting. Made up of an exquisite private collection of ancient sculpture, and housed in a 16th-century palace, what the Barracco Museum lacks in size is more than made up for in quality. The building hosts over 400 ancient statues, busts and artwork from Assyria, Cypress, Egypt, Etruria, Greece, Phoenicia and Rome. The collection was amassed by Giovanni Barracco, a rich statesman, and donated to the City of Rome in 1904. Barracco was an avid collector and either bought the items or recovered them from archaeological digs around the city.

Included in the exhibition is a bust, found in Egypt, of a Roman wearing a diadem and thought to represent Julius Caesar. You will also see Egyptian alabaster funeral urns, which once held the internal organs of the dead. Another Egyptian statue, this time discovered during excavations in Rome, is a 1st-century statue of the god Bes, who protected mothers and children. There is a wonderful display of tablets of cuneiform writing dating back to 3000BC, from Mesopotamia, an original 1st-century piece of mosaic using tesserae and depicting two pigeons and a 12th century mosaic from the original St Peter’s Basilica. In the Greek section of the museum, you will find funerary and votive slabs, as well as artifacts and works from Polyclitus, the great artist who lived in the 5th century BC.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-4pm (Oct-May); Tue-Sun: 1pm-7pm (Jun-Sep)
Last entry 30 mins before closing time
CLOSED: Mondays, Jan 1st, May 1st, Dec 25th
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo di Roma

4) Museo di Roma

Those visiting the Museum of Rome in Palazzo Braschi should prepare for a double treat – the museum itself and the elegant Neoclassical palace which is an attraction in its own right. The first thing one sees at the entrance, standing on the side of an imposing staircase, is the sculpture of Jupiter, the Thunderer.

The museum collection spans several centuries of Roman history, starting from the Middle Ages until the first half of the 20th century. It gives a good understanding of the changing city through collections that include paintings, engravings, furniture, ceramics, and photos.

While part of the exhibition details historical facts, the other part is dedicated to all kind of people who lived in Rome and their life stories.

A particular attention deserves the recently refurbished 3rd floor, featuring perhaps the most comprehensive and significant of all the museum's exhibits. It tells the story of the palace itself recounting, among other periods, years under Mussolini, during which the exterior was covered in Fascist banners, the post-war period when some 300 impoverished Romans moved in here desperate for shelter, and more. For visitors convenience, there's an audio guide presented in both Italian and English.

The photography exhibition is also important to see, as its focus adds symbolic value to Rome as the place of Christianity "par excellence".

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-7pm; Dec 24, 31: 10am-2pm
Ticket office closes one hour earlier
Palazzo Altemps

5) Palazzo Altemps (must see)

A single ticket to the National Museum of Rome serves four different sites. One of them is the luxurious Palazzo Altemps, home to the collection of classical Renaissance and Baroque sculptures, as well as some newer archaeological finds.

The palace carries a wealth of frescoes and wood ceiling paintings, revealed during restoration, and is sure to impress. As soon as you peek into the inner courtyard with beautiful sculptures, you will have the pleasure of an elegant sight.

The museum exhibits are spread over two floors and comprise Roman and Greek antiquities, as well as those of Egypt and the Medieval period. Among these are a wonderful fountain clad in a seashell mosaic, a collection of Roman emperors busts, a 2nd century AD bas-relief of gods and goddesses of Mount Olympia, plus a room dedicated to Moses adorned with a fresco depicting scenes from the prophet's life. The highlight of the exhibition is the Ludovisi Art Collection consisting of more than 100 sculptures including the ancient classic Greek relief of the Ludovisi Throne.

The well-preserved remains of an ancient Roman building that once stood on the site of today's palace is yet another fascinating piece of history displayed here.

To add to the interest of the museum, most items have a brief description and explanation as well as “before and after” showings of how they were restored. After the hustle and bustle of Rome's main attractions, this place is a welcome escape, and each piece it displays deserves to be contemplated with attention.

Why You Should Visit:
A quiet and relaxing place torn between Renaissance architecture and Ancient Sculpture.
Unlike other galleries, these collections are sparingly and well displayed, instead of being crowded together.
There are no specific directions to follow and you can choose your own tour according to what you want to see.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-7:45pm, closed on Mondays
Sight description based on wikipedia
Keats-Shelley Memorial House

6) Keats-Shelley Memorial House

The Keats-Shelley Memorial House is a museum in Rome, Italy, commemorating the Romantic poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The museum houses one of the world's most extensive collections of memorabilia, letters, manuscripts, and paintings relating to Keats and Shelley, as well as Byron, Wordsworth, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Oscar Wilde, and others. It is located on the second floor of the building situated just to the south of the base of the Spanish Steps and east of the Piazza di Spagna. The house was bought in 1906 by the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association. During the Second World War the collection was dismantled and hidden to keep it safe from the Nazis, and was returned to the house at the end of the war.

The poet John Keats lived in the house for several months and died here in 1821. According to the law of that time, because he died of tuberculosis, the house walls were scrubbed and scraped and all its contents were burned. The items on display belonging to Keats were donated by the Association. Percy Bysshe Shelley was a friend of Keats, but he never set foot in this house. At the time of Keats’ death, Shelley was living in Pisa, with his wife Mary (the author of Frankenstein). On hearing of Keats’ death, Shelley composed his famous elegy “Adonais” and dedicated it to his friend. Shelley died a few years later; he was drowned while sailing to Lerici in northern Italy and his boat sank during a storm. His body was washed up several days later and according to quarantine laws, he was cremated on the beach. Many people believe that he was murdered for his political beliefs.

Operation hours: Monday - Saturday: 10:00 am - 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Giorgio de Chirico House Museum

7) Giorgio de Chirico House Museum

Visiting house museums is always a must if you want to find out how a famous person lived and the Giorgio de Chirico House Museum won’t disappoint you. The great artist bought an apartment in the Borgognoni Palace and you can visit the entrance hall, the dining room, bedrooms and studio where he lived and worked from 1948 until his death in 1978. On an easel in the studio is his last, unfinished sketch of a bathing woman. You can also see his book collection and his paints and brushes. In the halls on the 4th floor you will find paintings which include “Il Mediatore”, “Donna in Riposo”, “Le Maschere” and “Bagnanti”. There are also sculptures and graphics from his personal collection.

Giorgio de Chirico was perhaps the greatest Pre-Surrealist and Surrealist artist in Italy, his work is on a par with Salvatore Dali, but his best works were executed between 1909 and 1919 during his Metaphysical Period, during which time he founded the Metaphysical School of art movement. Just as his beloved Gala was Dali’s muse, so his wife Isabella was De Chirico’s and there are several portraits of her and she figures in many of his paintings. In 1939 he adopted Rubens’ Baroque style of art and these works were criticized as not being as good as his early work. So to revenge himself on those he called “ignorant critics” he back-dated some of his paintings, which were then accepted with acclaim.

Guided Tours (English/Italian):
Tue-Sat and 1st Sundays: 10am/11 am/12pm (pre-booking only)
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica (Palazzo Barberini)

8) Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica (Palazzo Barberini)

The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, or National Gallery of Ancient Art, is an art gallery in Rome, Italy, located on two sites: the Palazzo Barberini and the Palazzo Corsini. The Palazzo Barberini was designed for Pope Urban VIII, a member of the Barberini family, by Italian architect Carlo Maderno (1556–1629) on the old location of Villa Sforza. Its central salon ceiling was decorated by Pietro da Cortona with the visual panegyric of the Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power to glorify the papal Barberini family. The eight rooms of the gallery exhibit works by Raphael and Raffaelleschi, Florentine, Sienese, Leonardeschi and Venetian painters, and has a portraits room as well.
Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 8:30 am - 7:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme (Museo Nazionale Romano)

9) Palazzo Massimo alle Terme (Museo Nazionale Romano) (must see)

The National Roman Museum is a vast complex spread out over four buildings, one of which is the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, built as a Jesuit seminary in 1887 on the site of a villa that once belonged to Pope Sixtus V. This part of the Museo Nazionale displays iconographic artifacts from the Flavian Age to the end of the late Empire, and 1st century BC frescoes salvaged from imperial villas. There are two fine copies of “The Discus Thrower” by Myron. There is a mummy in its sarcophagus with jewelry items, found in 1964 on via Cassia. There is also an important coin and jewelry collection, along with many statues to see.

Why You Should Visit:
The wall paintings transported here from the Casa di Livia are quite stunning, but there are also some wonderful mosaics and sculptures, including the bronze Boxer – surprisingly moving.
The building is airy and there are several excellent restrooms, plus cloakroom and gift shop. The only thing lacking is a café, but there is one in the square opposite which compensates.

If you visit, take the lift to the 2nd floor and then work your way down.
It is possible to buy a ticket that allows you to see the three other Museo Nazionale venues, in the span of 5 days.

Operation Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-7:45pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Rome, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Rome

Create Your Own Walk in Rome

Creating your own self-guided walk in Rome is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
"Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour

"Roman Holiday" Movie Walking Tour

"Roman Holiday" (1953) is a movie, filmed entirely in Rome and beloved by generations of people. Starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, the film won three Oscars, giving Hepburn a boost to her glorious film career. The main storyline centers around a day of freedom in the beautiful Italian capital for an otherwise duty-bound Princess Ann. Take the following tour to live the happiest...  view more

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.9 km
Monti and Celio Walking Tour

Monti and Celio Walking Tour

To stay close to the action in Rome but be able to mingle more with the locals, look no further than the districts of Monti and Celio. Although Monti – the city's oldest district – doesn't boast grand monuments, it more than makes up for that with its lively, friendly atmosphere. Sitting on the fountain steps at Piazza Madonna ai Monti and watching the world go by is as rewarding as...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km
City Orientation Walk I

City Orientation Walk I

Legend has it that Rome was founded in 753 BC by twin brothers Romulus and Remus who were raised by a she-wolf. However, the pair argued about who had the support of the gods, and Romulus ended up killing Remus in a fight on what became Palatine Hill. Thus, Romulus named the city after himself and declared himself as king.

In a slightly less glorious account, Rome actually began as an Iron Age...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Vatican Walking Tour

Vatican Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Trevi and Colonna Walking Tour

Trevi and Colonna Walking Tour

The Trevi district is well known for housing Rome's largest Baroque fountain and one of the world's most famous, as well as for being home to sumptuous palaces such as the Quirinale and the Barberini. The neighbouring Colonna district takes its name from another famous landmark, the Column of Marcus Aurelius in the Piazza Colonna. This district has a classic elegance, with its upscale...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
Campo Marzio Shopping Walk

Campo Marzio Shopping Walk

As well as being one of Rome's most central quarters and, thus, one of its most desirable neighborhoods, Campo Marzio is filled with enticing boutiques and markets. Known as a mecca of fashion, this neighborhood actually has everything from antiques and foods to pop culture. To ease your shopping experience, we've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs that you can buy from some of Campo...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Souvenirs Shopping: 15 Authentic Italian Things To Buy in Rome

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Rome for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Rome has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Rome's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Rome Tourist Card, OMNIA Card, Best of Rome Sightseeing Pass, or Omnia Vatican and Rome Pass.

A city pass combines all of or multiple Rome and Vatican City's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time. Some of them you don't even have to pick up but can scan straight on your phone at any of the city's major attractions/museums!

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Rome hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Corso 281 Luxury Suites, Hotel Cosmopolita, Hotel Piazza Venezia.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Rome, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Rome typically costs from around US$20 up to US$80 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Rome and the Vatican City from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the route.

- Cruise along the river Tiber on a similar hop-on hop-off sightseeing boat to view Rome's top attractions from a different angle and be able to get on and off as often as you want at any of the stops along the Tiber riverbanks. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs) and may be upgraded to include a hop-on hop-off bus tour as well.

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts 3 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Rome on a 3-hour bike and food tour to visit the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the Eternal City from an informative group leader, plus savor some of the iconic food of the Italian capital.

- Come see all of Roman highlights at a great discount on the Rome Super Saver tour combining two best-selling guided tours for the price of one! Be guaranteed to skip the lines to all the major sights like Colosseum, Roman Forum, and more.

- Take a guided walk to explore Rome's renaissance after the demise of the Roman Empire, learn about the contribution of many popes towards the Eternal City's rise to its present glory. Along with viewing the iconic landmarks, on this tour you will also get a chance to taste Rome's famous gelato (ice-cream).

- Step back in time to the days of the Roman Empire on a 3-hour night tour of Rome to discover the city's top attractions in a different light. Experience Rome's nighttime ambiance amid the twilight and the evening lights adding a romantic touch to the famous sights.

- Explore the artistic trail of Caravaggio in the Italian capital on the Caravaggio walking tour of Rome paying tribute to the great artist's legacy manifested in numerous paintings throughout the city (churches and monuments). Ideal for those on a short visit to Rome and not sure where to start!

- Combine sightseeing with cooking on a 4-hour experience incorporating the “best of Rome” walking tour and the authentic pizza-making class led by a professional Italian pizza chef.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Rome, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like the chic island of Capri, ancient Ostia, Siena and San Gimignano, Assisi and Spoleto, Amalfi сoast, or the ancient city of Pompeii. For as little as US$70+ to US$170+ per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites including gorgeous coastal scenery, historic seaport, charming medieval structures, birthplace of St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan religious order, ancient Roman ruins, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight at your hotel or a designated place in Rome, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned bus, boat or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.