Things to Do at Villa Borghese

This post will cover a variety of fun and interesting activities that you can enjoy at Villa Borghese. In addition to helping you plan a trip to the area, we will also provide details about how to save money at popular attractions and some of the more notable nearby sites.

 

 


PLAN YOUR VISIT

In this section, we will provide all the details you need to prepare for a trip to Villa Borghese. We will include information about where the park is, how to get there, and the best hours to visit. If you want to know more about a specific location in the park, make sure to visit the respective section for that attraction. 


How to Get to Villa Borghese

This large and popular park is located just Northeast of Rome’s city centre. It is within walking distance of several bus and metro stops, as well as quite a few notable landmarks. The park is large, but most people enter near the Spanish Steps (map)

If you plan to use public transportation to get here, make sure to read our post about navigating Rome’s metro system.

 

Villa Borghese Map

Metro Stops

There are two metro stops which pass by the Southern edge of Villa Borghese. The closest stop is Flamino, which is located right next to Piazza del Popolo. Alternatively, you can also get off at Piazza Barberini and walk a few blocks North to the park.

Bus Stops

There are several bus stops in and around Villa Borghese which are serviced by dozens of city buses. Here are a few of the better locations to hop off and the various bus lines you can take to get there.

  • Casa del Cinema – 61, 89, 120F, 150F, 160, 490, 495, 590, N1, SHOP1
  • Museo Carlo Bilotti – 61, 89, 120F, 150F, 160, 490, 495, N1
  • Flamino – 61, 89, 120F, 150F, 160, 490, 495, 590, N1
  • Borghese Gallery – 52, 53, 63, 83, 92, 223, 360, 910
  • Bioparco (Zoo) – 52, 223, 910

Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Stops

If you’re planning to take a hop-on-hop-off bus, these are the closest stops to Villa Borghese.

  • Big Bus Tours – Jump off at the Spanish Steps and head a few blocks North.
  • Gray Line – The closest stop offered by this service is at Piazza Barberini.
  • City Sightseeing – Located just 3 blocks away from the park, the Spanish Steps are the closest stop.
  • Omnia Vatican & Rome – At around 7 blocks South of Villa Borghese, the closest stop offered by this bus tour is at the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Best Times to Visit

Villa Borghese is open 24/7, but there are times when it can get pretty busy. Thankfully, the park is so large that you probably won’t have any issues with crowds. That said, if you’re hoping to visit while it’s nice and quiet, you may want to consider arriving during less popular hours.

The busiest hours are between 11 am – 6 pm, and that is likely because most of the biggest attractions in the park are open during this time of day. After 6 pm, most of the museums start to close up for the night, so this could be a great time to come and take a walk or perhaps even do some stargazing.

Chart of popular times on Sunday

 

If you want to beat the crowds, consider coming between the hours of 8 am – 11 am. Many popular attractions will start to open up for the day at around this time, so you won’t necessarily have to miss out on anything. Anyone planning to stay for half a day or more might want to think about having a picnic while it gets a bit busier during the afternoon hours.

As with most popular sites in a city like Rome, you can expect this park to be at its busiest during weekends. The best way to avoid the largest crowds is to plan your visit for a weekday.

 

Chart of popular times to visit on monday

 


What to Expect

As we mentioned before, Villa Borghese is a big enough park that it probably won’t get too crowded. Most of the crowds are centralized around the popular attractions in the area, so it all depends on what you plan to do while you’re here.

If you’re just interested in walking around and enjoying the natural beauty, you probably won’t run into a lot of foot traffic along the way.

Most people spend about 2 hours at Villa Borghese, but there’s enough to do here that some visitors might want to stay for either half a day or a full day. If you’re interested in visiting more than one attraction in the park, we recommend setting aside at least 5-6 hours for this activity.

A lot of people come here just to relax, but others enjoy biking and other fun physical activities. There are bike rental services and bike tours available throughout Rome, and you can read more about these opportunities on our post covering the best Rome bike tours.

 


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VILLA BORGHESE MUSEUMS

There are a lot of great museums to visit in Villa Borghese. While some of them are free, the more popular locations will require you to purchase admission. This section will cover all of the museums either in or near the park, providing details to help you decide whether or not to visit. 


Borghese Gallery

This is without a doubt the most popular attraction in Villa Borghese. Located at the Southeast end of the park, visitors should take note that this is a bit further from the city centre than most of the major attractions in Rome.

 

 

One of the main reasons for the popularity of this museum is the fact that they have a lot of artwork from famous artists such as Picasso, Bernini, Caravaggio, Raphael and more. With several beloved sculptures and paintings in their collection, this is one of the finest galleries in the ancient city.

  • Tickets: €18/General Admission | €11.50/Reduced
  • All tickets require a €2 reservation fee
  • Dates: Tuesday – Sunday
  • Hours: 9 am – 7 pm
  • Thursday Extended Hours: 9 am – 9 pm
  • Included with all Rome tourist passes.
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

Although they do require a reservation fee, it is still possible to visit without booking your tickets ahead of time. All you have to do is go to the ticket office and purchase admission when you arrive. This process can take a bit of time, so we recommend getting your tickets online before arrival. Even so, if you’re the more spontaneous type, it’s nice to know you don’t need to reserve a spot.

Tours

If you want to learn about some of the most notable exhibits at this museum, consider taking their guided tour. You can purchase tickets with a tour included for a slightly higher price. Here are the ticket prices with an added tour.

If you prefer a self-guided tour, you can purchase an audio guide for €5 at the Gebart Spa store in the basement of the museum. 

How to Visit for Free

If you want to save some money, consider coming to the Borghese Gallery on the first Sunday of the month. Also known as Domenica al Museo, this is the day when many popular museums and historic attractions are free to the public. The Borghese requires a €2 reservation fee, but still, this is a great money-saving deal. On the downside, coming on Domenica al Museo is that it’s very crowded.

To save money and avoid large crowds, consider using a Rome tourist pass to save money on this attraction another day. 


Pietro Canonica Museum

This location houses several beautiful sculptures that were created by Pietro Canonica. In addition to these works of art, you will also find sculptures that used to line the paths of the gardens in Villa Borghese. The building used for this museum is known as Fortezzuola and it dates back to the 17th century.

  • Tickets: Free of charge
  • Availability: Tuesday – Sunday
  • Hours: 10 am – 4 pm
  • Learn More Here

You’ll find the Pietro Canonica Museum near the centre of the park on the Northeastern side of Villa Borghese. Take either Viale di Valle Giulia or Viale Pietro Canonica to reach the museum. 


Carlo Bilotti Museum

If you’re interested in seeing some of the most historic pieces of art in Rome, consider stopping at this museum while you’re in the park. In addition to housing several wonderful sculptures, you’ll also find paintings, sketches and other pieces of artwork donated by none other than Carlo Bilotti. The collection includes work from Giorgio de Chirico, Andy Warhol, Mimmo Rotella, and other notable artists.

 

 

  • Tickets: Free of charge
  • Availability: Tuesday – Sunday
  • Hours: 10 am – 4 pm
  • Learn More Here

Found right alongside Viale Fiorello La Guardia, it should be pretty easy to reach this museum via the bus. The Carlo Bilotti Museum is right next to the Portico dei Leoni and fairly close to Tempio di Esculapio.


Museum of Environmental Crime

This is the only museum of its kind in all of Europe, and it covers the history of crimes against the environment. With exhibits covering illegal trade, endangered fauna and flora, pollution, poaching and more, there is plenty to see and do while you’re here. This is a great place to learn about conservation efforts and why certain laws exist to protect animals and plants around the world.

  • Tickets: Included with Zoo admission
  • Availability: Daily (except Christmas day)
  • Hours: 9:30 am – 6 pm
  • Learn More Here

The Museum of Environmental Crime is a fairly new addition to Villa Borghese, and it is located at Bioparco di Roma on the Northeastern side of the park. You can reach the museum and the zoo from Viale del Giardino Zoologica or take the bus/tram to the Bioparco stop.


Museum of Zoology

Visitors who want to learn more about animals may want to combine their trip to the zoo with a stop at this museum. There are several interesting things to see including exhibits about the Barrier Reef, the Wetlands of Lazio, a Hall of Amphibians and more. In addition to these attractions, there are also several fossils of several animals such as a giraffe, an elephant, and even a giant whale.

  • Tickets: €7/Adults | €5.50/Reduced
  • Free admission on Domenica al Museo
  • Free for kids under 6 years old
  • Availability: Tuesday – Sunday
  • Hours: 9 am – 7 pm
  • Learn More Here

The Museum of Zoology is located just North of Bioparco di Roma and can be easily accessed from Via Ulisse Aldrovandi. Alternatively, you can also take the bus or tram to the Bioparco stop.

TIP: Tickets to the Museum of Zoology are included with the Roma Pass and the Rome City Pass.


Villa Medici

Also known as the French Academy in Rome, Villa Medici is a historic building which now features various collections of artwork from the past 300+ years. In addition to several notable paintings, sculptures, tapestries, sketches and more, they also provide limited events and exhibitions which focus on specific subjects. Unfortunately, the only way to see this collection is if you take one of their guided tours.

  • Tickets: €12/Adults | €6/Reduced
  • Special Exhibitions: €6 per person
  • Availability: Tuesday – Sunday
  • English Tour Hours: 11 am, 2 pm, 3:30 pm
  • Learn More Here

Villa Medici is located on the Southern end of Villa Borghese, very close to the Spanish Steps. One of the easiest ways to get here is via Metro, as there is a stop just 5-10 minutes from the museum. You can also take a bus to access the site from Viale della Trinita dei Monti.


National Gallery of Modern & Contemporary Art

There’s quite a bit of old and classic artwork in museums around the city of Rome, but this is one of the best places to see modern and contemporary pieces from the 19th and 20th century. The gallery itself is over 130 years old and their collection is enormous. In addition to their permanent exhibits, they also have limited events and exhibitions from time to time.

  • Tickets: €10/Adults | €5/Reduced
  • Free admission for everyone under 18
  • Free admission during Domenica al Museo
  • Availability: Tuesday – Sunday
  • Hours: 8:30 am – 7:30 pm
  • Learn More Here

While this location isn’t technically in Villa Borghese, it is right across the street on the Northern end of the park. There is a bus and tram stop nearby across from Fontane delle Tartarughe, and it’s not too far from Tempio di Esculapio.

NOTE: Tickets are included with the Roma Pass.


Explora Children’s Museum

If you’re looking for a museum that your kids can enjoy, this is an excellent opportunity. The Explora Children’s Museum has a lot of fun hands-on exhibits and experiments for kids to help them learn more about the world around them.

There are also special seasonal activities available during certain holiday events, so make sure to keep an eye on their calendar to see what’s on while you’re in the area.

  • Tickets: €8 per person (age 3 and up) | €5/Kids (age 1-3)
  • Thursday Afternoon: €6 per person (age 3 and up)
  • Free entry for kids under 12 months of age
  • Availability: 4 rounds every day from Tue-Sun
  • Hours: 10 am – 6:45 pm
  • Duration: 1 ¾ hour per round
  • Learn More Here

Although the Explora Children’s Museum isn’t technically located in Villa Borghese, it is just a few blocks away from the Northwestern end of the park. Flamino is the closest Metro stop and it’s just a 5-minute walk away from the museum.

 


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FAMILY ATTRACTIONS

Although many of the attractions in this park are likely to appeal more to adults, there are several family-friendly attractions in the area as well. Some of these activities are free, but there are a few that will require admission. This section will include suggestions for fun things you can do with your children in Villa Borghese. 


Bioparco di Roma

Giraffes at Biopark Zoo

Rome’s zoo is one of the most popular locations in Villa Borghese, and it’s a great place to take the kids if you’re planning a day in the park. They house many different types of animals and provide several special events throughout the year. In addition to these services, admission to Bioparco di Roma includes access to the Museum of Environmental Crime.

  • Tickets: €16/Adults | €13/Children | €10/Disabled
  • Free for kids under 1 meter tall
  • Availability: Daily (except Christmas)
  • Spring/Summer Hours: 9:30 am – 6 pm
  • Fall/Winter Hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm
  • Learn More Here

One of the most interesting exhibits is their Rettilario, a conservation centre for reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Access to this site is included with your tickets to the zoo, and there are a lot of great things to see here. You’ll find the Rettilario just across the street from Bioparco di Roma.

The zoo itself can be found at the Northeastern end of the park. There is a Bioparco bus/tram stop nearby, and this is one of the easiest ways to reach the area. Alternatively, you can always walk here via Viale del Giardino Zoologico.


Villa Borghese Playground 

Lake at Villa Borghese

Located just a few steps from the Roman Arch, the Villa Borghese playground is a great place to take your kids if they want to have some fun in the park. There are two swing sets, a small playhouse, a slide and plenty of room to run around.

In addition to all of the activities in the area, there is usually also a vendor selling food and drink. If you’re looking for a place to stop and get a bite to eat, this could be a great option. Needless to say, this attraction is entirely free to enjoy.

If you’re looking for even more to do in the area, there is a boat rental service nearby at Laghetto di Villa Borghese which you can use to go out on the scenic lake surrounding Tempio di Esculapio. This is a great way to enjoy fantastic views of the historic temple. Tickets are €2 for adults and €1.50 for children, so this is a pretty affordable activity to include on your trip to the park.

You’ll find this site at the intersection of Viale Esculapio and Viale dell’Aranciera. The Villa Borghese playground is pretty close to the National Gallery of Modern & Contemporary Art. 


San Carlino Puppet Theatre

If there are younger children in your family, this puppet theatre is sure to be a hit. On average, they perform at least 2-3 different shows per month with several showtimes for each performance. In addition to these opportunities, they will also hold special events during holiday seasons. Although this isn’t a free activity, tickets are very affordable.

  • Tickets: €9.90/Adults | €8.90/Children
  • Tickets are about €1 more at the Box Office
  • Recommended Viewing Age: 3 and up
  • See Upcoming Shows

The San Carlino Puppet Theatre is located at the Northwestern end of Villa Borghese. Flamino is the closest Metro stop, just a 5-10 minute walk from the theatre. This attraction is also quite close to Piazza del Popolo, so you might want to consider doing some sightseeing while you’re in the area. 


Globe Theatre

Based on Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, this circular theatre provides a lot of great shows throughout the year. As you might expect, many of the theatrical performances they offer are based on beloved tales written by none other than William Shakespeare.

This open-air theatre is only open during the warmer months, so if you’re visiting during the Spring/Summer, you may want to drop by and see if there are any tickets available.

  • Tickets: €12 – €30 per person
  • Standing Room Tickets: €10/Adults | €8/Reduced
  • Couples are entitled to reduced tickets every Sunday
  • On Wednesdays, seniors can B1G1 ticket for just €5
  • Visitors under 20 can get reduced admission on Friday
  • Children under 5 are free

You’ll find the Globe Theatre of Rome at the Northern end of Villa Borghese, quite close to the Museum of Pietro Canonica. You can reach this theatre from either Viale Pietro Canonica or Viale di Valle Giulia. The closest bus/tram stop is at the National Gallery of Modern & Contemporary Art. 


Cinema dei Piccoli

After a long day in the park, your kids might be interested in taking a break and enjoying a movie at this famous theatre. Cinema dei Piccoli is well known for providing family-friendly viewing in Villa Borghese since 1934.

Shortly after opening, a wooden figure of Mickey Mouse holding a camera was placed on the roof of the building. Although it had to be removed because of copyright infringement, many locals still call this location “Cinema Mickey Mouse.”

This theatre was practically designed with kids in mind, as the screening rooms are all pretty small. Despite its age, Cinema dei Piccoli remains a popular location for children to enjoy films.

You’ll find this wonderful little theatre in the South-Southwest area of Villa Borghese. The closest bus stops are just down the street from Piazzale Brasile, just a few steps from Casa del Cinema, which is yet another great place to see movies in the park. 


La Casina di Raffaello

This historic building may not appear to be a great place for family fun, but looks can be deceiving. Although it was once called Palazzina dell’Alboreto dei Gelsi and used as a church, today it houses a municipal playroom called La Casina delle meraviglie.

Children from the ages of 3-14 can enjoy a library of books, storytelling events, educational workshops, temporary exhibits, summer camp activities and much more. If you’re looking for a place to take the kids so that they can wind down, this is an excellent option.

Exhibits and workshops require a ticket, but everything else is free!

  • Exhibit/Workshop Ticket: €7/Adults | €5/Reduced
  • Availability: Tuesday – Sunday
  • Hours: 10 am – 6 pm
  • Learn More Here

La Casina di Raffaello is close to Piazza di Siena and you will find it near Tempietto di Diana and Cinema dei Piccoli. The closest bus stop is on Viale San Paolo del Brasile near the Casa del Cinema movie theatre.

 


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SELF-GUIDED TOUR

If you’re interested in doing some sightseeing, there are a lot of notable sites to see in Villa Borghese. This section will provide information about some of the more significant locations you may want to visit while you’re in the area. The following information can be used as a free self-guided tour of this historic park.


Tempio di Esculapio

As we previously explained, this historic temple can be found near the Villa Borghese playground. Tempio di Esculapio is surrounded by a small lake which you can travel across with small boats that are available to rent at Laghetto Di Villa Borghese.

Also known as the Temple of Aesculapius, this building is one of the most beautiful landmarks in the entire park. Built in 1786, the architectural style of this structure may have been based on the ancient temple to the God of Medicine on Tiber Island.

Even if you choose to enjoy the view of this temple from across the river, this is definitely one of the best places to visit in Villa Borghese. 


Fontana di Esculapio

In addition to the temple, there is also a very beautiful fountain nearby which is accented by a large arch with an eagle perched on top. The main fountain is located at the centre of a small island which is surrounded by tranquil water. While there used to be a statue of Aesculapius, it has since been removed.

The Fontana di Esculapio is right down the street from the Villa Borghese playground, and it’s very close to the bus stops on Viale Fiorello La Guardia.


Propilei Egizi

This structure is sure to stand out, as its architecture is far different from most of the other sites in the park. Built in the Egyptian style that was popular during the 19th century, this landmark was designed to connect the ancient parts of Villa Borghese with new areas purchased by Prince Camillo Borghese. Sadly, part of the building was demolished in 1938 to make way for a wider roadway.

The Propilei Egizi, also known as the Egyptian Propylaia, is right down the road from Fontana di Esculapio. There are bus stops nearby along Viale Fiorello La Guardia, and you will find this site alongside the road.


Fontana Rotunda

There are a lot of fountains in Villa Borghese, but this one has the largest basin of them all. You’ll find a walkway surrounding the fountain, so it’s not hard to find a good spot to take in the view. Sadly, the small rocky ledge at the centre is all that remains of what designer Giovanni Battista Falda had originally intended. At one time, there were two cups, twelve statues, four seats and more atop this structure.

Fontana Rotunda can be found near the Northwestern section of Villa Borghese. The fountain is close to the Carlo Bilotti Museum and the closest bus stop can be found on Viale Fiorello La Guardia.


The Pincio Promenade

Completed between the years of 1811 and 1823, this area was one of the most popular areas with a direct connection to Villa Borghese. Since the 19th century, the Roman people have been coming here to enjoy concerts and live events aimed at all types of audiences.

At the Southern end of the promenade, you’ll find the Terrazza del Pincio which provides an excellent view of the city. Casina Valadier is South of the terrace, and it is currently the site of a fantastic restaurant with some of the best views available in all of Rome.

You’ll find a Statue of the Goddess Roma right across the street from Casina Valadier. There is also a nice clock at the centre of a pool of water near the Northern end of the Pincio Promenade. With so many different things to see and do in the area, this is definitely a great place to spend some time in Villa Borghese.


Portico dei Leoni

Construction of this beautiful portico began at the end of the 18th century, but it wouldn’t be completed until early in the 19th century. The structure includes a reflection pool outside of a small porch with two sculptures of lions standing guard. This attraction is an excellent example of Roman architecture and artwork.

You’ll find the Portico dei Leoni near the Museum of Carlo Bilotti toward the Northern end of Villa Borghese. The closest bus stop is on Viale Fiorello La Guardia, but you can also reach this location from Viale dell’Aranciera or Viale Pietro Canonica.


Piazza di Siena

Located in the center of Villa Borghese, this horse racing stadium has been the site of several equestrian competitions over the years. In 1960, it would become the test site for the Olympic Games in Rome. Today, it serves as the home of CSIO and FEI Nations Cup events. Although you can purchase tickets for seats, admission to the entire area is free to the public.

You’ll find Piazza di Siena near sites such as the Globe Theatre, the Rectory Church of Villa Borghese and La Casina di Raffaello. You can reach the stadium from Viale Pietro Canonica and the closest bus stops are on Viale Fiorello La Guardia near the Carlo Bilotti Museum.


Tempietto di Diana

This small temple was built in 1789 by Antonio Asprucci, who is well known for working on several of the buildings in this area of Villa Borghese. The neo-classical temple owes its name to the statue of Diana which was once housed on the marble base at the centre of this structure. You can now see this statue at the Louvre Museum.

Tempietto di Diana is very close to La Casina di Raffaello and it’s not too far from Cinema dei Piccoli. The closest bus stop can be found on Viale San Paolo del Brasile near the Casa del Cinema movie theatre.


Fontana dei Cavalli Marini

Also known as the Fountain of the Sea Horses, this beautiful attraction is definitely worth a visit. Built in 1791, the fountain depicts four horses coming up out of the water. This is one of the larger fountains in Villa Borghese, and it’s a great place to stop and take a rest after walking around the park for a while.

Fontana dei Cavalli Marini is just a short walk from Tempietto di Diana on Viale dei Pupazzi. If you keep walking down this path, you will eventually reach Viale dell’Uccelliera which leads directly to the Borghese Gallery.


Parco dei Daini

If you’re looking for a more tranquil place to take a break and enjoy a picnic, consider stopping by this small enclosed garden. Although it was originally given this name because there used to be deer and gazelles living in this area of Villa Borghese. You’ll find the Acqua Marcia Reservoir inside, and there are a lot of different trees in the area such as oak, pine, cypress, and even olive trees.

Parco dei Daini is at the Northern end of the park, between the Borghese Gallery and the Zoo. The closest bus stops are on either Via Pinciana or Via Saverio Mercadante.


Theatre Perspective

While you’re in the area of Parco dei Daini, you may notice that there is an interesting wall on the Northern end. This is actually a perspective wall which used to separate the theatre in the park from the zoo on the other side. To this day, the remaining walls have statues, sculptures, busts, and other fantastic decoration.

You’ll find this wall along Viale dei Due Sarcofaghi, which is directly behind the Rettilario at the Zoo. The closest bus stops are on Via Saverio Mercadante, but you can also easily reach this location from the Bioparco stop at the Northern end of Villa Borghese. 

 


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