After you’ve seen Rome’s top monuments and the Vatican museums, you may be ready to escape the crowds and visit a few lesser-known sites and museums. There’s lots to see and do in Rome beyond the most popular places. Here are our recommendations for where to go to experience a less-crowded Rome.
5 Rome Museums to Visit
While Rome’s top museums can be very crowded, these museums generally have fewer visitors, making them a little quieter and easier to enjoy the exhibits.
Borghese Gallery – While the Borghese Gallery, in the Borghese Gardens, is one of Rome’s top museums, the number of visitors is limited so it’s not crowded. Reservations are mandatory with entrance times every 2 hours. Arrive at the museum 30 minutes before your reserved time in order to be assured of entrance. You’re allowed to stay inside for 2 hours, then you need to exit. When you enter, go upstairs to start your visit since most visitors start on the ground floor. Buy Borghese Gallery Tickets from Tiqets or on the Borghese Gallery website.
Villa Giulia National Etruscan Museum – One of Italy’s top Etruscan museums, the National Etruscan Museum is housed in Villa Giulia, a former villa with a garden you can wander around. It’s a great place for an introduction to the pre-Roman Etruscan museum and it’s rarely crowded, even on free entrance days. Piazzale di Villa Giulia, outside the city walls, about a 20 minute walk from Piazza del Popolo. The closest metro stop is Flaminio on line A, about a 15 minute walk. See National Etruscan Museum web site for current times and ticket price (closed Mondays).
Doria Pamphilj Gallery – Doria Pamphilj Gallery is a large art gallery housed in the stunningly beautiful palace Palazzo Doria Pamphilj. Art works are displayed in the state rooms and in galleries around a courtyard and you can also visit the chapel. The private collection includes paintings, statues, and furniture. The gallery is on Via del Corso. Normal opening time is 9:00. Closed the 3rd Wednesday of every month, January 1, Easter, and December 25.
Centrale Montemartini – Housed in a former power plant, Centrale Montemartini is an ancient sculpture museum with a good collection of ancient Roman and Greek statues, mosaics, frescoes, and friezes. Via Ostiense 106. Closed Mondays, January 1, May 1, and December 25. Normal opening 9:00. See Centrale Montemartini web site for current times and price.
Villa Torlonia Museums – Villa Torlonia is a lavish villa designed by Giuseppe Valadier for Alessandro Torlonia in the early 19th century. The Casino Nobile, once the residence of Benito Mussolini, is now a museum open to visitors. Inside you’ll see beautiful frescoes, stuccoes, chandeliers, marbles, artworks bought by the family, and furniture used by Mussolini. Inside the whimsical Casina delle Civette has a large exhibit of stained glass windows and preparatory sketches. The House of Princes holds art exhibits. The surrounding park is free to enter and includes a replica of an Etruscan tomb, a large fountain, grassy areas, and walking paths. For opening times and ticket prices see Villa Torlonia Museums web site.
Parks, Gardens, Neighborhoods, and Libraries
Vatican Gardens – Even at the Vatican it’s possible to find serenity in the peaceful gardens. New for 2020: Vatican Gardens Open Mini-bus Tour. visits the gardens in a small open-top bus (maximum 12 people) with audio guide available in 7 languages. There are no stop-offs on the itinerary and entrance to the museums is not included. Shoulders and knees must be covered and no big bags or suitcases are allowed.Aventine Hill – Bordered by the Tevere River and the Testaccio neighborhood, the Aventino neighborhood is the southernmost of Rome’s 7 hills. At the top of the hill, you’ll be rewarded by great view spots, historic (and uncrowded) churches and monasteries, and the famous Knights of Malta keyhole with a view of Saint Peter’s Dome. Explore the Aventine Hill neighborhood in detail with this guide and map.
- Stay on the Aventine Hill: Hotel Villa San Pio is a peaceful hotel, with parking, made up of 3 villas with gardens.
Historic Libraries – Several of Rome’s libraries have a room with historic displays that you can visit. These libraries are a peaceful escape from the noise and crowds. Here are 3 Historic Libraries that are easily accessible in the city center.
Quartiere Coppedè – Whimsical early 20th century architecture designed by Gino Coppedè makes Quartiere Coppedè an unusual neighborhood to walk around and you’ll usually see very few tourists. The neighborhood is a little northeast of the Borghese Gardens. Take trams 3 or 19 to Piazza Buenos Aires and walk from there.
Borghese Gardens – Above the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo, this large park is a great place to stroll, rent a bike, jog, or just relax. There’s a small lake where you can rent a boat and the zoo is in the northern part of the park. Several refreshment stands are scattered throughout the park.
Ancient Roman Sites
These sites are outside the historic center but can easily be reached by public transportation or taxi.
The Appian Way – The old Roman road built in 312 BC that arrives in Rome at Porta San Sebastiano is now a regional park, Parco Appia Antica, a great place for a walk, bike ride (bike rentals are available in the park), or guided e-bike tour. Along the road are remains of Roman monuments, tombs, and catacombs. To get there, it’s a long walk from the Baths of Caracalla throuugh the San Sebastiano Gate to Via Appia Antica or take bus 118 to one of the catacombs and start your walk there. Explore what to see and do with this Appian Way Map and Itinerary.
Villa dei Quintili – The largest Roman villa complex in the suburbs, Villa dei Quintili once had its entrance along Via Appia Antica. Now the entrance to the vast ruins is on the modern Appia Nuova, reached by a long walk or a bus ride from Appia Antica. Start your visit in the Antiquarium where there are Roman statues and other artifacts found at the villa or on the Appian Way. Walk up to the remains of the residential area and ancient baths. Some mosaic floors and wall frescoes can still be seen. See Villa dei Quintili for visiting information and more photos.
Ostia Antica – Visit the remains of Rome’s ancient port city, an easy day trip from Rome that’s much easier to reach than Pompeii and usually much less crowded. Although smaller than Pompeii, there’s a lot to see and you can easily spend several hours wandering around the many old streets and alleys, shops, houses. and even toilets. See our Ostia Antica guide for visiting information and more photos.
Rome Hidden Places Tours
Plan Your Visit to Rome
- Where to Stay:
JK Place, near the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon, is a top boutique hotel.
Hotel Residenza in Farnese is a comfortable hotel on Piazza Farnese, near Campo de Fiori.
For more luxury, try the 5-star Grand Hotel Via Veneto.
- See and compare more top Rome hotels.
- Find out how to get around the city with our Rome Transportation Map
- Quiet Corners of Rome: Cloisters, Gardens, Archaeological Sites, Piazzas, Fountains, Villas, Architectural Ruins, Courtyards
- Rome the Second Time: 15 Itineraries That Don’t Go to the Coliseum
- Recommended Books about Rome
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