The 5 Best Borghese Gallery Tours In Rome [2020 Reviews]

The Borghese Gallery is one of the world’s most important art museums, containing famous masterpieces by Barocci, Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio, Raphael, Rubens, and Titian. However, with entry restricted to only 360 people at any one time, it’s also one of the world’s most exclusive.

The only way to ensure entry into this popular museum is to book in advance, and the best way to explore the gallery is on a Borghese Gallery guided tour. But there are many Borghese tours to choose from.

Some Borghese Villa tours focus on the gallery, while others also explore the beautiful gardens that surround the villa. The gardens are filled with neo-Classical temples and artworks that are almost as impressive as the exhibits within the gallery.

I’ve selected the 5 top-rated Villa Borghese tours to help you choose. Read through the reviews below and see which tour best suits your interests.

Best Borghese Gallery Tours In Rome

 Rome: Borghese Gallery and Gardens Skip-the-Line TourBorghese Gallery Masterpieces & Gardens: Skip-the-Line TourFull-day Borghese Gallery & Colosseum and Roman Fora
editors choice
Departure PointOptional hotel pick-up or museum entrance, Piazzale del Museo BorghesePiazzale del Museo BorghesePiazzale del Museo Borghese & the Arch of Constantine
Departure Time9:00 AM11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM (7:00 PM excludes garden tour)9:00 AM
Duration3 hours3 hours6 hours
IncludesEnglish speaking guide, skip-the-line entry tickets to the Borghese Gallery, walking tour of the gallery, and audio headsetEnglish speaking guide, audio headsets, skip-the-line entry into the Borghese Gallery, and tour of the Villa Borghese GardensEnglish speaking guide, headphones to hear your guide, skip-the-line tickets to the Borghese Gallery, and skip-the-line tickets to the Colosseum

Quick Answer: The 5 Best-Rated Borghese Gallery Tours In Rome

  1. Rome: Borghese Gallery and Gardens Skip-the-Line Tour
  2. Borghese Gallery Masterpieces & Gardens: Skip-the-Line Tour
  3. Full-day Borghese Gallery & Colosseum and Roman Fora
  4. Rome: 3-Hour City and Villa Borghese Authorized Segway Tour
  5. Borghese Gallery Reserved Entrance Ticket

Borghese Gallery Tours In Rome Reviewed

#1 Rome: Borghese Gallery and Gardens Skip-the-Line Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Optional hotel pick-up or museum entrance, Piazzale del Museo Borghese
  • Departure Time: 9:00 AM
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: English speaking guide, skip-the-line entry tickets to the Borghese Gallery, walking tour of the gallery, and audio headset
This is a great Villa Borghese tour for anyone interested in art history. You will love this guided tour of one of the world’s best art galleries.

What’s more, the strict entrance policy means that the galleries are never too crowded, so you can take your time and learn all about the gallery’s many artworks from your knowledgeable guide.

The art inside comes from many periods, from an amazing mosaic of gladiators dating to c. 320 CE to much more modern masterpieces, such as the famous Venus Victrix sculpted by Antonio Canova between 1805 and 1808.

The villa was built for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who also commissioned many of the major works of art found inside. Most of the artworks he collected are displayed in the position he intended when designing the building.

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The building itself, designed by Flaminio Ponzio following sketches by Scipione Borghese, is breathtaking. Its painted ceilings and ornate plasterwork rival those found in any palace across Europe.

You’ll explore the building in a group of no more than 15 people, enabling you to interact freely with your guide and learn more about the artwork and the building’s history.

borghese gallery tours rome reviews

Outside, you’ll also enjoy a walking tour of the beautiful gardens. The Villa Borghese Gardens are a popular destination for locals who want to enjoy the flowers in spring. There are picturesque lakes, neo-Classical temples, and many monuments.

Attractions within the park range from a 17th-century “hen house” transformed into a faux fortress to a recently constructed replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre used for performances of his plays in both Italian and the original English along with other productions.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#2 Borghese Gallery Masterpieces & Gardens: Skip-the-Line Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Piazzale del Museo Borghese
  • Departure Time: 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM (7:00 PM excludes garden tour)
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: English speaking guide, audio headsets, skip-the-line entry into the Borghese Gallery, and tour of the Villa Borghese Gardens
If you’re an art lover, this Villa Borghese tour will be the highlight of your visit to Rome. Unlike other art galleries in Rome, strictly controlled entry means the galleries are never crowded and you’ll have the time and space to truly admire the fantastic masterpieces held in this world-renowned collection.

The Villa Borghese and its gardens are as much a work of art as the many exhibits within. They were built for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a powerful and rich patron of the arts.

Many pieces of art are positioned where he envisioned when designing this party villa. Artworks include Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, Canova’s Pauline Bonaparte, Raphael’s Entombment of Christ, Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love, and Caravaggio’s Saint Jerome Writing.

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Your guided tour of the gallery will enable you to learn about Cardinal Borghese and his passion for art. You’ll also discover the history of the Borghese family and its links to Napoleon Bonaparte and the Popes.

No Borghese tour is complete without a visit to the Villa Borghese Gardens. The gardens were originally Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s private park, but now they form the 3rd-largest public park in Rome.

Within the park are many neo-Classical temples and fountains. The view from the Pincio Terrace is one of the best vistas in the Eternal City.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#3 Full-day Borghese Gallery & Colosseum and Roman Fora

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Piazzale del Museo Borghese & the Arch of Constantine
  • Departure Time: 9:00 AM
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Includes: English speaking guide, headphones to hear your guide, skip-the-line tickets to the Borghese Gallery, and skip-the-line tickets to the Colosseum
Rome has dominated Europe twice in its history — when it was the heart of the Roman Empire and when it spearheaded the Renaissance. If you’re interested in seeing tangible evidence of both important historic periods, this is the best Galleria Borghese tour for you.

With a Galleria Borghese guided tour, you’ll learn all about the Borghese family and their connection with the Popes and Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Borghese Gallery contains many masterpieces by famous artists, such as Rubens, Bernini, and Caravaggio. The famous neo-Classical sculpture of Bonaparte’s sister, Venus Victrix, is one of the highlights of your tour.

This masterpiece created by Antonio Canova is one of the most stunning portraits you’ll ever see.

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The Villa Borghese Gardens are an attraction in their own right.

Within the formal gardens, you’ll find neo-Classical temples that occasionally use statues recovered from archaeological sites, such as the statue of Aesculapius in the Temple of Aesculapius.

The lakes and tranquil walkways provide an escape from the busy streets of modern Rome.

During the afternoon, your tour will explore the key monuments of Ancient Rome. The Roman Forum was the heart of Classical Rome.

It’s where elections were held and important announcements made. It was the meeting place of the influential during the classical period.

For many, the Colosseum is the most iconic extant structure from Ancient Rome. Built to hold up to 80,000 spectators, it still takes one’s breath away.

From the high galleries, you can shudder as you think of all the people who died here to entertain the masses.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#4 Rome: 3-Hour City and Villa Borghese Authorized Segway Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Near Saint Angelo Bridge
  • Departure Time: 10:00 AM, 3 PM, 5 PM
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: English speaking guide, 3-hour Segway rental, ponchos, and helmet
This Villa Borghese Segway tour is a wonderful way to explore Rome and see some of its most beautiful parks and views. You’ll also learn how to steer this modern means of transportation that is becoming so popular.

Unlike other Borghese Gallery tours, this Segway excursion provides a guided tour of the fantastic gardens surrounding the Villa Borghese Princiana, which form the 3rd-largest public park in Rome.

There are many unique monuments and buildings within the park, including the Villa Borghese and La Fortezzuola.

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La Fortezzuola began life as a “hen house” in the 17th century. Toward the end of the 18th century, its façade was transformed so that it resembled an ornate fortress. After a fire in 1919, the building was abandoned.

However, in 1926, the sculptor Pietro Canonica moved in and repaired the faux fortress, transforming part of the structure into exhibition rooms. Today, the building houses the Canonica Museum.

Your tour guide will lead you to great viewpoints where you can enjoy breathtaking vistas of the Eternal City. You’ll also see ornate follies constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries in imitation of classical temples, such as the Temple of Diana and the Temple of Aesculapius.

Rolling around the park on a Segway makes this one of the most memorable Borghese gallery tours in Rome.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#5 Borghese Gallery Reserved Entrance Ticket

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Ticket Office, Museo Borghese
  • Departure Time: 11:00 AM, 3 PM
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes: Reserved entrance ticket
This is an essential Borghese Gallery and Gardens tour for anyone who is interested in 17th-century architecture and landscaping.

The Borghese Gallery is homed inside the Villa Borghese Princiana, a party villa built by Scipione Borghese, an Italian Cardinal and patron of the arts.

Scipione Borghese amassed a great art collection, and later members of his family added other great works of art.

Because of its size and the immense value of the works of art, only 360 visitors are allowed inside the villa at any one time. This means that tickets frequently run out, and you should take advantage of a reserved entrance ticket to guarantee entry.

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The building is a work of art in itself. Admirers of classical proportions and palatial structures will love to tour Villa Borghese. You’ll be amazed by the beautifully painted ceilings with ornate plasterwork.

Inside you’ll find priceless masterpieces painted by Caravaggio and Titian alongside examples of courtly dress preserved over the ages and displayed here on mannequins.

The villa’s formal gardens extend across 198 acres and constitute Rome’s 3rd-largest public park. The park took on its current design during the 18th century and contains many breathtaking views, such as the Temple of Aesculapius built between 1785 and 1792 that overlooks a picturesque pond.

The park also contains many unexpected features, such as a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and a large water clock.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



Rome Travel Guide

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Some visitors to Rome plan their visit specifically around the Vatican and related locations, such as the Sistine Chapel. However, you’ll still want to be aware of accommodations, the expected weather, and even other attractions you may want to visit while visiting Rome.

As you learn more about vacationing in Rome, you may want to plan for a few extra days to truly get the most out of your time in this ancient city.

What attractions are you looking forward to the most when you visit Rome? Where do you plan on staying? We’d love to hear about your plans! If you’ve already visited Rome, let us know what you enjoyed the most.

Airports & Entry

When headed to Rome, you’ll most likely land at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport. This airport is the largest in Italy. Most foreign tourists, no matter their final destination in Italy, land in Rome. This means the airport is usually very crowded. However, this airport is also fairly easy to navigate.

To visit Italy, you must have a valid passport that has at least six months remaining before expiration. You can stay up to 90 days in the country for business or tourist reasons without a visa so long as your passport is valid.

Planning Tips

Before you start packing your bags, you’ll want to know how to make your trip easier and how to get the most out of your time in Rome. These top 5 planning tips can help you do just that.

Tip #1: Dress Appropriately for your Visit to the Vatican

Because the Vatican Museums, as well as the Sistine Chapel, are religious places, you’ll need to dress appropriately. Your shoulders, knees, and abdomen should be completely covered.

Your clothes should not have inappropriate graphics or sayings. If security personnel believe you are dressed inappropriately, you won’t be allowed in. This is true even if you are on a private tour.

Tip #2: Plan Everything in Advance

There are millions of visitors to Rome and the Vatican every year. This means that some of the attractions you are looking forward to may be sold out or closed by the time you arrive.

The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are a great example of this. If you are traveling to Rome around the time of religious holidays, these attractions may be closed to the public as well as to guided tours.

While many guided tours have backup plans in the event a scheduled location is closed unexpectedly, you should research your trip to make sure the places you wish to visit should be open.

Tip #3: Choose a Tour of the Vatican

If you plan on visiting the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and other popular places within Vatican City, purchasing a guided tour is a good idea.

The lines for general admission to many of these places can stretch for blocks and getting in may not be guaranteed. With a guided tour, like the ones we’ve reviewed above, you are guaranteed access so long as it isn’t closed for religious reasons. Plus, you will be able to skip the long lines.

Tip #4: Only Carry What You Need

While this is true wherever you are visiting within the city of Rome, it is especially true when visiting the Vatican. Large bags, umbrellas, camera tripods, and other cumbersome items aren’t allowed within the Vatican Museums and related locations.

You can store them in the cloakroom provided for free, but you may end up having to leave your tour early to retrieve them before closing time. It’s best to carry only what you need when touring the Vatican.

Tip #5: Visit on a Wednesday

If you’re looking forward to seeing the Pope and to the papal audience, you’ll want to plan your visit for a Wednesday.

While there are occasional deviations from the Wednesday schedule, you’ll most likely be able to see the weekly message on that day.

In fact, the Papal Audience and Vatican Museums tour we reviewed above guarantees you will see the Pope as part of the papal audience as long as he delivers his message on schedule.

Restaurants & Eating Out

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Right? There is no better time to follow this rule then when it comes to dining. Eating out in Rome is probably much more affordable than you would’ve thought.

Of course, you’ll want to savor a true Italian pizza. The best place for this is La Gatta Mangiona. This casual restaurant is well known for its thin crust pizzas and may very well have been the start of the pizza craze in Rome.

If you’re looking for lighter fare, stop by Il Forno Campo de’ Fiori. The restaurant serves up delicious soups, sandwiches, salads, and light snacks.

The bakery next door produces delicious biscuits, pastries, and more. Both the restaurant and the bakery offer take out so you can avoid the long lines.

While there are many places to get your fill of gelato in Rome, the Gelateria del Teatro is one of the most popular. You’ll find all the traditional flavors and occasionally come across an experiment or two. Have you ever tried raspberry and sage gelato?

NOTE: When it comes to leaving a tip at a restaurant, it’s important not to be too generous. Tipping more than 10% is often frowned upon.

Also, you’ll rarely have an opportunity to leave a tip when using a debit or credit card. You’ll want to have a few euros on hand for tips as well as small purchases.

Nightlife & Entertainment

The nightlife in Rome is just as mixed as the combination of both ancient and modern seen all over the city. The Antica Enoteca has one of the most extensive wine lists in Rome and offers a rustic and casual atmosphere. If you’re looking for a traditional bar, you’ll want to stop by the American Bar at the Hotel Forum.

When it comes to cocktails, Rome offers ingenuity and imagination. Take the Carbonara Sour at Co.So Cocktail & Social, for example.

This delicious cocktail might be a little different, containing black pepper and egg whites along with other ingredients, but is one of their most popular drinks.

If cocktails aren’t your thing and you’d rather sit down with a craft beer, stop by Brasserie 4:20. This small pub is warm and welcoming, and so is their list of craft beers on tap, plus a selection of whiskeys, bourbons, and other fine drinks.

Getting Around

While there is a great public transportation system in place, it’s often easier to get around in Rome by walking. You can get nearly everywhere you need to go by lacing up your tennis shoes and going for a stroll.

If you’re going a longer distance, you might want to take a bus. A 100-minute bus ticket is quite affordable, as is the day pass.

Renting a car in Rome isn’t a good idea. Those unfamiliar with the city can have a difficult time maneuvering. If car travel is best, you’ll want to take a taxi. You can only grab a taxi in designated areas.

Hailing for a cab outside of these areas is frowned upon. Taxis can be on the expensive side but if you’re going a fair distance and you’d rather not take a bus, a taxi can be quite effective.

Accommodations

When it comes to accommodations in Rome, you’ll see inexpensive hotels and luxury resorts. The cheaper places to stay are often farther away, very small, or offer very few amenities.

Most of these hotels aren’t recommended for tourists. There is no shortage of luxury hotels in Rome, however. The G-Rough is located inside a 16th-century palazzo and epitomizes the history and art that Rome is famous for.

While staying at a luxury resort is ideal, it may not always be feasible. A great mid-range hotel that offers many of the benefits of a luxury resort without the price tag, is the Nerva Boutique Hotel.

With just 19 rooms, guests can enjoy modern design, great food, as well as a great location.

Weather

July and August are the hottest months in Rome. The average temperature is somewhere around 78°F. For many, the 48°F average temperature in Rome in January is very mild.

However, if you want to enjoy Rome with better chances of great weather, you’ll want to visit in the spring or the fall.

Attractions

Rome is full of attractions you can visit around your tour of the Vatican. The National Roman Museum is family-friendly and houses many interesting artifacts.

The Basilica of San Clemente is not just a church, but also an archaeological site. The newer building at the entry level dates back to the 12th-century while you can head downstairs to the original basilica built in the 4th-century AD.

If you’d like to see some of the more ancient attractions around Rome, you have several options. The Roman Forum is the location where Romulus made the founding of the city of Rome official.

It was once the epicenter of Roman life. Ostia Antica is just 25-minutes away by train. This location was once a thriving center of commerce. Today, you can explore over 100 acres of ancient shops, baths, temples, and even apartment buildings and houses.

The Vatican’s Treasures: Both Seen & Felt

A tour of the Vatican is a must if you’re planning a vacation to Rome. The arts, architecture, and history contained within Vatican City simply can’t be experienced anywhere else.

Whether you choose a short, 3-hour tour to see the basics or you opt for the VIP Vatican Experience, it’s guaranteed this is a trip you’ll never forget.

Notice:

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Robert Baker

I had the good fortune to be born in a first-world country at a time when fast international travel became possible for average people. Having shared meals with families in huts with no electricity and dirt floors, I appreciate the "little" things that my fellow Englishmen take for granted. Over the years I've worked in many different fields. I've been an archaeologist in the Scottish Hebrides, an accountant in London, and taught English in China. However,I've never enjoyed any other job as much as writing.

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