There are many reasons to visit Italy, and food and culture are two of the most popular. If Italian dishes are famous among top chefs and foodies, the museums in Italy are the reason why in-the-know travelers, researchers, students, and culture lovers plan their trips to the Belpaese.
Whether you are into history and archaeology, Renaissance and Baroque art, classic Roman sculptures, or modern art, the most important and famous Italian museums cover it all.
My article wants to be an easy guide and reference point to start exploring the museums in Italy and delving deeper into our history, artistic expression, and culture that make the country so popular.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Arguably one of the most famous museums in Italy is the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Not only one of the main highlights and something visitors hardly skip even if they are exploring Florence in a day, but the Uffizi Gallery also hosts a huge collection of paintings and sculptures created between medieval times and the modern age by the most important Italian and European artists.
Some of the names you will find wandering the rooms and corridors of the Uffizi in Florence are Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raffaello, Caravaggio, Mantegna, Correggio, Piero della Francesca, and Beato Angelico.
You can either book a single ticket or a tour of the Uffizi where a guide takes you directly to the main highlights of the museum.
The prices of attraction tickets are quickly increasing all over Italy so, whenever you can, it’s a good idea to consider the city cards. The Florence Pass includes entrance to the Uffizi, the Accademia Gallery, and Florence Cathedral, as well as 10% off other attractions and the city’s audio guide app. If you are staying in Florence for at least a couple of days and planning to visit as many landmarks as possible, this can be a good solution.
- Where: Piazzale degli Uffizi 6, Florence.
- When: Tuesday to Sunday 8.15 am-6.30 pm, last entrance at 5.30 pm. Closed on Monday.
- How much: 25€ + 4€ pre-booking.
- How to book: You can either stand in line and purchase your entrance directly at the ticket office or book online here and skip the queue.
Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence
The Accademia Gallery of Florence is another of the world-famous museums in Italy mainly for one masterpiece, the stunning David by Michelangelo. Fans of Michelangelo will be happy to know that the Accademia Gallery hosts the world’s largest number of sculptures of the genius artist.
Among the other artists displayed at the Accademia are Botticelli, Giottino, Mariotto Albertinelli, Lorenzo Bartolini, Lorenzo Monaco, Perugino, Il Ghirlandaio, and Filippino Lippi. A section of the exhibition shows a fascinating collection of historical musical instruments including pieces by Antonio Stradivari.
This is one of the main highlights of Florence and you will often find a queue at the entrance. This is why you can either purchase your ticket online with priority entrance or join a tour that includes also the Accademia such as this one or this one.
- Where: Via Ricasoli 58/60, Florence.
- When: Tuesday to Sunday 8.15 am-6.50 pm, last entrance 6.20 pm. Closed on Monday, January 1st, December 25th.
- How much: 12€.
- How to book: You can buy a skip-the-line entrance online or choose among other types of tickets, including a last-minute reservation.
Vatican Museums, Vatican City
The Vatican Museums are among the most famous museums in Rome and one of the first places new visitors head to in the Vatican. Even though the most popular highlight is the Sistine Chapel with the incredible Last Judgement by Michelangelo, the Vatican Museums are packed with art masterpieces gathered over some 500 years of donations and commissions.
Some of the sights you shouldn’t miss include Raphael’s Rooms, the Gallery of the Maps, and the carts pavilion on the ground floor, which never attracts many visitors even though it’s extremely interesting.
Just like for other crowded attractions, unless you are exploring Rome on a budget and trying to save as much as you can, it’s a good idea to buy your skip-the-line ticket online beforehand or join one of the many private tours that always include a VIP entrance, like this one or this more complete one.
- Where: Viale Vaticano, Rome.
- When: Monday to Saturday 9 am-6 pm, last entrance 4 pm.
- How much: Single ticket 17€.
- How to book: You can either book from the official website or one of the other ticket-selling websites such as Tiqets or Get Your Guide.
Capitoline Museums, Rome
The Capitoline Museums hosts a fantastic exhibition to learn about Roman history from its inception to now. Visiting these important Italian museums you will see art, objects, decorations, statues from the Roman civilization, starting with the Etruscan and the republican times to cross all ages of the local history.
The museum is divided into themed rooms all well explained with written panels and also some multimedia installations. On the top floor is also a nice cafe and a panoramic restaurant where you can enjoy your lunch with a fantastic 360-degree view of the city.
If you wish to have an expert or a historian enrich your visit with deeper knowledge than the museum’s boards, there are several tours you can choose from. Such as this one on Civitatis or this multimedia experience on Tiqets.
- Where: Piazza del Campidoglio 1, Rome.
- When: Every day 9.30 am-7.30 pm.
- How much: 16€.
- How to book: There is hardly a long line to enter the Capitoline Museums, so you can easily buy your ticket at the entrance.
Museo Nazionale Romano in the Diocletian Baths, Rome
Scattered in four venues, Museo Nazionale Romano is what you need to visit to know more about Roman history, art, and culture. The museum set in the Baths of Diocletian near Termini station hosts probably the world’s largest collection of Roman classic sculptures and objects.
I loved visiting Museo Nazionale Romano in the Diocletian Baths because it seamlessly combines the modern part of the museum with beautifully preserved ancient Roman ruins.
If you want to visit all the four venues of Museo Nazionale Romano, you can purchase the combined ticket that is also valid for a week. Apart from the museum set in Diocletian Baths, the other venues are Crypta Balbi (Via delle Botteghe Oscure 21), Palazzo Altemps (Piazza S. Apollinare 46), and Palazzo Massimo (Largo di Villa Peretti 2).
There are also guided tours to Museo Nazionale Romano in the Baths of Diocletian such as this 3-hour experience that includes also a visit to Santa Maria degli Angeli Basilica.
- Where: Via Enrico de Nicola 78, Rome.
- When: Tuesday to Sunday 11 am-6 pm, last entrance 5 pm. Closed on Monday.
- How much: 10€ single ticket, 14€ collective ticket including all four venues of Museo Nazionale Romano.
- How to book: You will hardly find any queue here, so you can easily buy your ticket at the booth at the entrance. If you like some multimedia support during your visit, you can buy this entrance with audio guide and 25-minute video.
Borghese Gallery, Rome
The former residence of the Borghese family, Galleria Borghese is located in the beautiful Roman park of Villa Borghese. This is a large selection of important paintings and sculptures dating between the 15th and the 19th centuries.
Among the main artists on display are Caravaggio, Canova, Raphael, Titian, and the incredible Bernini’s sculptures “Apollo and Daphne”, “David”, and “Rape of Proserpine”. There is also a selection of bas-reliefs and ancient mosaics.
- Where: Piazzale Scipione Borghese 5, Rome.
- When: Tuesday to Sunday 9 am-7 pm, last entrance 5.45 pm. Closed on Monday, January 1st, and December 25th.
- How much: 13€.
- How to book: Prior reservation is mandatory for groups. Individuals can purchase the ticket at the entrance but it’s likely to find a long line, especially in busy months. You can buy a reserved entrance online at Tiqets and Get Your Guide. When you book it, you need to pick a date and a time slot because entries are every 2 hours.
Egyptian Museum, Turin
Museo Egizio is truly one of the attractions of Turin I enjoyed the most. This is the world’s oldest museum of Egyptian art, history, and culture, and its collection stems from decades of research and excavations led by Italian archaeologists such as Ernesto Schiaparelli and Giulio Farina.
Turin’s Egyptian Museum is huge, laid out in several rooms and several floors. You can choose to either read the panels or view each piece and room with the aid of an audio guide. A huge section is obviously devoted to the incredible funerary culture of ancient Egypt, their religion, and daily life. You will also see an incredibly fascinating collection of papyruses.
If you wish to have a guide to make sure you don’t miss anything important and get deeper explanations, you can book a private tour inclusive of skip-the-line entrance.
- Where: Via Accademia delle Scienze 6, Turin.
- When: Tuesday to Sunday 9 am-6.30 pm, Monday until 2 pm.
- How much: 18€.
- How to book: You can buy the ticket directly at the entrance, even though on the high season, it’s likely that there will be a long line. You can also buy your ticket online from the museum’s official website.
Musei Reali, Turin
Along with the Egyptian Museum, also the Royal Museums are among Turin’s top highlights impossible to miss if it’s your first time in the city. This is where you can experience the royal status and the majesty of the city, former capital of the Italian Kingdom and city of the Savoy family.
Turin’s Musei Reali is a complex made of several buildings and exhibitions. Naturally, the first building you are going to visit is the Royal Palace and carry on to the Library, the fascinating Royal Armoury, the Savoy Gallery with its collection of artwork, and the Archaeological Museum. It used to be part of the Musei Reali also the chapel where the Holy Shroud was preserved but not anymore because the shroud was moved to Turin’s Duomo, the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, where it still is.
There is the possibility to join a tour of Turin’s Royal Museums to have a local guide explain the different areas and recounting the past life of these stunning palaces such as this one.
- Where: Piazzetta Reale 1, Turin.
- When: 9 am-7 pm, last entrance 6 pm.
- How much: 15€.
- How to book: To skip the line, you can book your ticket from the museum’s official website.
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
Boasting an impressive art collection, Pinacoteca di Brera is one of the most well-known museums in Italy and one of the attractions to visit in Milan. Among the most famous masterpieces, you can admire the Dead Christ by Andrea Mantegna, The Marriage of the Vergin by Raphael, Pietà by Giovanni Bellini, and Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio among others.
In the same complex of the Pinacoteca di Brera are also other landmarks such as the Braidense Library, the Astronomic Observatory, and the Botanical Gardens.
- Where: Via Brera 28, Milan.
- When: Tuesday to Sunday 8.30 am-7.15 pm, last entrance 6 pm. Closed on Monday, January 1st, December 25th.
- How much: 15€.
- How to book: You can purchase your ticket directly at the entrance, even though prior reservation is recommended and you can do it through the museum’s website.
Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venice
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is one of the world’s most famous exhibitions of modern art that displays hundreds of European and American 20th-century artwork.
Along with the personal collection of Peggy Guggenheim, this important Italian museum hosts also masterpieces from the Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Collection, the Raymond D. Nasher Sculpture Garden, and the Patsy R. The museum hosts also several temporary exhibitions.
- Where: Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, Dorsoduro 701, Venezia.
- When: Wednesday to Monday 10 am-6 pm. Closed on Tuesday.
- How much: 17€.
- How to book: You can purchase the ticket on the spot or easily online if you want to skip the line, or this one where also an audio guide is included.
MUSE Science Museum, Trento
One of the highlights of Trento, the MUSE is a top choice for both adults and kids. This fantastic science museum is arranged in six floors, each of them focusing on a different theme and all topics presented in a way to tickle anyone’s curiosity and engage children and kids with multi-sensory activities, interactive positions. There are activities even for children aged between 0 to 5 to be enjoyed with the parents.
Some of the themes you will find in the museum cover prehistory and dinosaurs, sea and marine creatures, nature, mountain, glaciers, a tropical greenhouse, alpine biodiversity, and more.
- Where: Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza 3, Trento.
- When: Tuesday to Friday 10 am-6 pm, Saturday, Sunday, and holidays until 7 pm. Monday closed.
- How much: 11€.
- How to book: You can book directly at the entrance or from the official website.
South Tyrol Archaeological Museum, Bolzano
Otzi the Iceman is probably what makes this one of the most famous museums in Italy. Bolzano’s South Tyrol Archaeological Museum is entirely focused on Otzi, the Copper-age mummy found by chance by two mountaineers in the Senales Valley in 1991.
The exhibition is a fascinating reconstruction of this man, his life more than 5000 years ago, his health conditions, what could have been his activities and diet, and his death, that was probably violent as it seems he was killed.
Your visit will begin by viewing the mummy and then you proceed to see the exhibition showing his clothes and working and hunting tools. This is the very first attraction we visited in Bolzano.
- Where: Via Museo 43, Bolzano.
- When: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am-6 pm. Monday closed except if it’s holiday or in July, August, September, and December.
- How much: 13€.
- How to book: You can buy the ticket directly at the entrance. If you wish, you can also make a reservation not earlier than 3 days before from the official website. On the same website, you can also book a guided tour.
National Archaeological Museum, Naples
The origins of Naples’ Museo Archeologico Nazionale date back to the rule of Charles III Bourbon of Spain. Upon his nomination as the king of Naples in 1734, he started to promote the production of art and culture including the excavations in Pompeii and Ercolano and the foundation of this history museum.
The rich collection of incredible and important relics and artifacts, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples is one of the most important museums in Italy and one of the world’s oldest.
Its permanent exhibition includes a collection of Egyptian objects and art, the Farnese collection rich in Roman antiquities, ancient mosaics, frescoes, coins, and precious stones.
For a more meaningful visit, you can book a tour of the museum with an archaeologist.
- Where: Piazza Museo 18/19, Napoli.
- When: Wednesday to Monday 9 am-7.30 pm. Closed on Tuesday except if it’s a holiday. In this case, the museum likely closes on Wednesday.
- How much: 22€, valid for 2 days.
- How to book: You can either buy the ticket on the spot or from the official website that sends you to Coopculture portal. You can also book your entrance with Gety Your Guide, included also a postcard of the museum. On Tiqets, there is also the possibility to book a combined entrance to the museum and to Pompeii here.