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Essential Guide to Galleria Borghese in Rome

Are you wondering if you should visit the Galleria Borghese when you come to Rome?

Find out why this is one of Rome's must-see museums, and all the tips you need to know about visiting it.

bernini's david in galleria borgheseGian Lorenzo Bernini's sculpture of David is one of the must-see masterpieces in Rome's Galleria Borghese.

Visiting the Galleria Borghese - quick facts

Want to book tickets for the Borghese Museum now?

Jump down here.

  • The museum is open Tuesday - Sunday
  • The museum is closed Mondays and December 25 and January 1, but otherwise open during every other holiday including May 1 and Easter Sunday
  • Entry times are hourly for a 2-hour visit, starting at 9 AM and ending at 7 PM (last entry is at 5:45 PM for a shorter visit.)
  • On the first Sunday of the month from October - March inclusive, it is free to visit the museum (you still have to book!) This was suspended until recently, but as of April 2022, the event is back!
  • You may use your Roma Pass or other Rome City Pass to get into the Galleria Borghese for free or at a discounted rate. You must still book your entry date and time.
  • Anyone under 18 may visit the museum for free
  • There is a maximum number of visitors, 180 people, allowed inside the museum at any of the above times, which means you must reserve in advance, or you risk being turned away due to no availability
  • The museum is inside the Villa Borghese park, at Piazzale del Museo Borghese, 5
  • The park is enormous, and you can visit all the rest of it without visiting the Galleria Borghese. But to see the small gardens inside the Galleria Borghese, you will need to book a visit there.
  • Want to know what this gallery is all about, and what's to see there? Jump here
  • Want to find out how to make the most out of your visit? Jump here
  • Want to know where to eat near the Galleria Borghese? Jump here

5 Reasons You Should Visit the Galleria Borghese in Rome

Based on my own visits to many of Rome's museums (several times over) over the years, if I had to pick only one museum to visit on my trip to Rome, it would be this one.

Sacrilege you say? Not the Vatican Museums?

Well, really, you should see them both (and the Capitoline Museums!)

But as I say, if I had to pick one museum, the Borghese Gallery would win hands down. Here's why:

1. Caravaggio and Bernini

REASON 1: Some of the most exquisite (and famous) works by these two masters are in this museum.

Honestly, look at this statue.

Don't you want to see it up close and personal?

Click here to take a tour of the museum and its beautiful gardens!

Bernini's David statue at Galleria BorgheseGianlorenzo Bernini's sculpture of David, one of my favorite pieces of art, ever

2. One of the best collections of art in the world!

REASON 2: The museum has one of the best collections of art in the world in terms of sculpture, painting and architecture (the building itself is one of the attractions.) And it's all in a space that is visitable in the 2-hour time allotment you have.

Paintings at Galleria BorgheseThe Galleria Borghese is a feast for the eyes, right down to its pink marble walls

The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome

Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.

In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Castel Sant'Angelo, and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.

3. An uncrowded museum in Rome

REASON 3: They only allow 360 people into the museum at once, so even if it can feel sort of crowded when everyone is gaping at one of Bernini's statues all at once, it really is not that crowded. 

Nothing like the Vatican Museums with its 30,000 visitors per day.

uncrowded room inside galleria borgheseEnjoying a long gaze at Raphael's "Deposition"; a bench to sit on; and no crowds

4. Enjoy unparalleled art from throughout roman history

REASON 4: I can see layers of history in the form of art and architecture in a relatively small and manageable space: Floor mosaics from ancient Roman villas showing gladiators and their kills; ancient Roman sculptures, Egyptian art, Renaissance paintings by some of the masters like Raphael and Titian, and some of Bernini's most famous and loved sculptures.

main room of borghese gallery with ancient rome artThe main room of the Borghese Gallery is filled floor to ceiling with art, mosaics and sculptures from ancient Rome

5. Enjoy the surrounding parks, one of the prettiest in Rome

REASON 5: The museum is in the Villa Borghese park, making a walk there (and back) a lovely experience. 

Depending on the season, you may even want to visit the gardens of the museum itself as well.

a tree-lined road in villa borgheseIt's such a pleasant walk through the Villa Borghese to the Borghese museum

Quick History of the Villa Borghese

The villa was the summer and party residence of the noble Borghese family, built in the early 1600's. In 1605, Camillo Borghese became Pope V, and his nephew, Scipione Borghese, soon was made a cardinal. Scipione was a real art buff and at a very young age became one of Bernini's biggest fans and patrons. This villa was decorated and furnished mostly due to Scipione Borghese's tastes and very strong will (some works were purchased and other donated, but some works were "confiscated." You can figure out what that means.)

In the 1800's, another Camillo Borghese, who was actually a prince, married into the Bonaparte family (his wife Paolina is the one seen reclining in Canova's spectacular sculpture, seen in the photo just below.) During this time, Rome was under French rule.

In 1807, Prince Borghese had to give about 500 pieces of art from this museum to Napolean, so if you want to see more of the original Borghese collection, you will have to visit the Louvre in Paris. (This is not a very happy subject for Romans today, as you can imagine!)

In 1902, the Borghese family sold the villa and its contents to the Italian state.

Masterpieces to See in the Galleria Borghese

The museum is so full of amazing works of art, that it's impossible to list them here. But to give you an idea of some of the wonderful sculpture and paintings you can see, here is a short preview:


A sculpture of Paolina Borghese by Canova that is worth the price of admission alone:

paolina borghese by canovaThis sculpture of Paolina Borghese by Canova is one of the most breathtaking pieces of art in the museum. Don't you feel you could lay down on that marble mattress?

GianLorenzo Bernini

What can I say, I am a sucker for pretty much anything Bernini has ever done.

OK make that everything he has ever done.

Aside from the fact that three of his most important sculptures are in this museum . . .

closeup of apollo and daphne by berniniIt's impossible not to be mesmerized by this extraordinary statue of Apollo and Daphne by Bernini

. . . there are many more works by him, including a self-portrait (painting), a fascinating sculpture of Aeneas fleeing Troy (this is the beginning of the Rome foundation story!)...and even a sculpture he didn't finish.

aeneas fleeing troy berniniAeneas saving his father and son, fleeing Troy. Gian Lorenzo Bernini
bernini la verita"La Verita", or Truth, and unfinished sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini


Michelangelo Merisi, otherwise known as Caravaggio was a master of chiaroscuro, which means using very light colors against a dark background, for maximum effect and contrast. He perfected this style and is considered one of the best and most well-known artists in using it to create a strong atmosphere in his paintings.

There is a lot that is fascinating about Caravaggio, his life and his works. But this page is about the Galleria Borghese, so let me just show you a very little hint of some of his works you can see there:

I can't really do justice to paintings by Caravaggio on a web page.

First of all, nothing is like seeing them yourself. Second of all, it's not easy to take a good photo of a museum painting. The angle and lighting are usually off.

But here are some pics I took, just to give you an idea.

john the baptist by caravaggioJohn the Baptist by Caravaggio in the Galleria Borghese - so special and unusual to see him as a young man!
boy with fruit by caravaggioBoy with a Basket of Fruit by Caravaggio

Masterpieces by Titian, Raphael, Rubens, and more

Once again, I really cannot do these works of art justice with my photographs, taken at angles, and the sun glaring on them.

But it's to give you an idea of the art you can find in this fabulous museum.

(Yes photos are allowed, just no tripods and no flash. Get my photo tips here.)

sacred and profane by titianSacred and Profane by Titian, in the Galleria Borghese in Rome

You will find paintings by Rubens, Raphael, Guido Reni, Domenicchino, Parmigianino, Correggio and so many more.

It's worth spending the whole 2 hours in the museum and really soaking up the beauty all around you.

Booking Tickets to the Galleria Borghese

Here is everything you need to know about tickets to the Borghese Gallery - what they cost, how to reserve, what to see, and what tours are available.

Costs of tickets to the Borghese museum

Regular ticket prices for the Galleria Borghese

Reservations are A MUST to visit the Galleria Borghese.

I don't mean, I think you should book.

I mean, it is obligatory, according to the museum's website and rules.

Even for free tickets such as on the Free Sunday (first of every month between October - March) and for children under 18.

Tickets to the museum cost 13€ for adults, and are free for anyone under 18.

There may be additional costs if there is a special exhibit going on.

To book your tickets, there is a 2€ fee. So even if you book for an under-18 year old, or for a free Sunday, you will pay 2€ for the reservation.

The exception is that handicapped people and their caregivers do not pay a reservation fee.

Free Entry to the Galleria Borghese

There are some ways to visit the Galleria Borghese for free.

If you are on a budget, this can be a great way to save.

Just know that for most of the free visits, there is still a 2€ charge to reserve, and most of the time, you need to reserve.

Who is eligible for Free Entry to the Galleria Borghese?

The Galleria Borghese is free for:

For more specific details about who is eligible for free entry, and more info, visit the official website of the Galleria Borghese.

Do you need to book tickets in advance to visit the Galleria Borghese?

Absolutely yes.

They only allow 180 people at once in the museum, with entry every hour, on the hour, for a maximum 2-hour visit. So, if you enter the museum at 10am you have to be out by 12pm, 11am entry means 1pm exit and so on.

You must book in advance. Sometimes a day or two in advance, sometimes weeks in advance.

In low season, you can usually reserve a day in advance, and sometimes even the day of your visit.

But even in low season, you need to reserve.

How to reserve tickets to the Borghese Gallery Museum

There are now 3 ways to book the museum, via phone, online, or by e-mail. You must pay for your tickets during the reservation process (whether you book by phone, e-mail, or online).

Booking the Borghese Museum on the Phone

The number to call is +39 06 32810. The +39 means country code Italy.

So if you are dialling from the US or Canada, you dial 011 39 06 32810.

If you are dialling from another country, use whatever code you need to get an international line, then 39, then 06 32810. (You could also ask your hotel to do this for you in advance, as it's a free phone call for us from here!)

You will have the choice to speak to an operator in Italian or English.

The phone ticket office is open Monday - Friday from 9am until 6pm, and Saturday from 9am until 1pm. It is closed on Sundays and holidays.

Be ready to book with credit card (Visa or Mastercard only), and have something to write with.

Once you book, they will give you a booking code.

They will ask for your email address so they can send you confirmation via email.

You still need to pick up your tickets on the day and time of your visit.

Booking the Borghese Museum via e-mail

Now, you can book the Galleria Borghese via e-mail. This is probably a much easier way to go than via phone. 

Send email

Don't forget to include the number of people, their ages, dates you want to book, and preferred time.

Also make sure to give them an easy way to reach you if the email you send from cannot be used.

When booking via e-mail, you'll receive confirmation within 48 hours.

If you have trouble with email, or don't get a response, then revert to the other ways of booking.

Booking your Borghese tickets online

If you go to the Borghese website (Italian only) and click to book tickets, it will take you to their official ticket vendor affiliate in Italy, which is TicketOne. It's not easy to find this page in English.

I've done the browsing and hunting for you.

Here is the booking page for the Galleria Borghese on TicketOne in English.

You select the date you want, the time slot, number of people etc.

Once you are ready to pay, you will see there is a fee to use that website/vendor, which is an additional 2€ per person. You will need to create a login name and password, but it's fairly straightforward.

Book online with an agency

I have heard more than one person tell me they find the Galleria Borghese ticketing website frustrating and/or difficult to use.

Do you just want to book your tickets via an English-language website and be done with it?

Here's an easy online booking calendar.

The tickets cost just a bit more than using TicketOne, but it's an agency and that includes the ease of use and your peace of mind.

The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome

Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.

In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Castel Sant'Angelo, and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Visit to the Galleria Borghese

How long will a visit take?

You are only allowed a 2-hour window for your visit. But you need to be there at least half-hour before your entry time.

You may also spend a little time afterward visiting the small gift-shop, having a coffee in the bar there, or even walking around the gardens.

Figure in time to get to the museum (this of course depends on where you are coming from, and how you will get there).

So all together, I'd say count on a good 3-4 hours out of your day. 

Guides and tours for the museum

Borghese Gallery audio guides

My top recommendation for a guide to this museum is to do their audio tour. You cannot book this in advance.You just get it on the day you visit.

The audio tour is 6€, and is self-guided. It's really well-done and has good narrators telling interesting history about specific important (numbered) pieces throughout the museum.

There is no order, so you just go at your own pace and start where you want.

Docent tours of the Borghese museum

Alternatively, you may book a guided tour of the Galleria Borghese with one of their docents, for 6.50€ per person. You must book this when you book your tickets.

You have the choice of a docent who speaks English or Italian, and sometimes (but not always) several other languages are also available, including French, Spanish and German.

Taking a guided tour of the Galleria Borgese

You may also opt for a guided tour of the museum.

There are several options for guided tours, including a having an art historian, a family-friendly tour, and a tour that also covers more of the park and the top of the Spanish Steps. 

Click here to view a selection of guided tours of the Galleria Borghese.

Top tips for maximizing your visit to the museum

  1. They say to arrive 30 minutes prior to your entry time. But actually, you should get there 45 minutes before-hand. Consider that everyone is told they need to arrive half hour prior to their entry time. So it will be crowded right then. And you have things to do before you enter: pick up your tickets, check any items you are carrying, possibly arrange an audio or docent tour, have a coffee, use the restroom etc. So give yourself that extra time. Because at the end of your 2-hour visiting time slot, you will be OUT of the museum.
  2. You will need to check anything you are carrying (purses, cameras, backpacks, camera cases, umbrellas but NOT coats or jackets.) This is free but there is always a line, although it moves pretty fast. Even really small bags need to be checked. A large camera case needs to be checked, but it's ok to go in with a camera around your neck. Don't worry, they will give you a little plastic baggy to put some change and your phone in. The ticket office and bag check is located outside of the main building, just to the left as you face it.
  3. Speaking of cameras - the website says no photos are allowed, but on a recent visit, everyone, including yours truly, was snapping away, with SLR cameras and phones alike. I didn't see any "no pictures" signs anywhere, and although there are plenty of museum guards, nobody said anything to the people taking pictures. I think a good rule of thumb is no flash.
  4. If you go at 17:00, you will finish at 19:00, and this is also the exact time they close the gift shop. So if you go at the end of the day, and think you might want to purchase anything in the gift shop, take time to visit the shop before your appointment, or try to leave some time at the end of your appointment, say 18:50, to get to the shop.
  5. They only allow 90 people at once into the paintings galleries on the top floor, and in theory only for 30 minutes max. I recommend that when you arrive at the museum and are downstairs getting your tickets, checking your bags etc, that you STAY there, and go to the entrance in the way back, and go up on the top floor to begin your visit. In this way, you will start first in the paintings galleries, ensuring you will be able to visit them at a leisurely pace. Then, you can go down to the main floor when the other crowds are moving up to the paintings galleries.
  6. The museum will be nearly empty about a half hour before your time slot is up. Even though I personally take every minute I can get in this museum, for a lot of people, it seems 60-90 minutes can be enough. So in the last half hour of your visit, you can go back and have virtually any room or piece of art to yourself.

Wondering where to have breakfast, lunch or dinner before or after your Borghese museum visit?

There is a lovely bio-cafe inside the museum called Vivi Bistrot. (They also have locations at Piazza Navona and on the 6th floor of the Rinascente department store in the center of Rome.)

Besides the cafe inside the Galleria Borghese, here are two of my favorite spots to eat nearby:

Outdoor dining at Pic Nic - That's Amir

outdoor dining in Borghese ParkPic-Nic That's Amir, a lovely place to eat or drink near the Borghese Museum

This cute outdoor cafe is on Piazzale delle Canestre inside the park. It's about a 10-minute walk from the museum.

It's actually really good food, including the pasta and pizza! 

where to eat outdoors in borghese parkSpinach and ricotta filled ravioli at Pic Nic That's Amir near the Borghese Gallery

It's also nice to sit outside and have little birds come join us.

bird borghese gardensLove eating lunch when little songbirds come hang out by you!

Pizzeria San Marco

Not far from the museum (maybe a 10-15 minute walk) you will find one of our favorite pizzerias, Pizzeria San Marco. You can eat inside or out, and have just about anything from pizza to salads to pasta to fish.

pizzeria san marco, where to ear near galleria borgheseSpaghetti and clams with bottarga at Pizzeria San Marco, my go-to place to eat near the Galleria Borghese

They have also recently opened a Japanese sushi place just next door. I haven't tried it yet but if you are in the mood for sushi, this could be a good spot.

Via Sardegna, 38/g. Open daily from 10am - 1am. Phone: 06 4282 4893. Reservations suggested.

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