Villa Borghese is a thriving hub of art and culture that features one of the most renowned galleries in the region, perfect for taking an hour or two to relax and reflect. If art isn’t your thing though, there’s also an impressive zoo here to keep the whole family entertained.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting and exploring Villa Borghese in Rome. We’ll look at the best exhibitions at the gallery, the animals you can expect to see at the bio park zoo, and more. Not to mention some practical info like prices and opening hours, you’ll find it all here.
How to get to Villa Borghese by train
Just like the rest of central Rome, the most efficient way to get to Villa Borghese is by using the train, tram, or metro. Rome traffic is renowned for being a little crazy, especially during peak times, so getting a taxi can often take a lot longer than using public transport. Not to mention, riding a private taxi will be much more expensive.
Which station is nearest to Villa Borghese?
The largest and most used railway station in Rome is Roma Termini. It can be reached from most major Italian regions, as well as cities from neighbouring countries. To get to Villa Borghese from Termini, hop on the metro line A towards Battistini and get off at Spagna. From there, it’s just a ten-minute walk to Villa Borghese.
If you’re packing a lot of sightseeing into your day, Villa Borghese is easy to reach from many of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions. To get to Villa Borghese from the Colosseum, hop on the tram towards Valle Giulia at Colosseo station, and alight at Galleria Arte Moderna. From there, it’s just a seven-minute walk to Villa Borghese.
To get to Villa Borghese from the Vatican Museums, walk eight-minutes to Ottaviano metro station and hop on line A towards Anagnina. Alight at Spagna and walk ten minutes to Villa Borghese.
Walking to Villa Borghese
If you’re feeling energetic and want to see some sights on the way to Villa Borghese, walking there is your best option. It’s just a 20-minute walk from Termini to Villa Borghese, and you’ll see lots of architecture and lesser-known landmarks on the way. You could even stop for a delicious Italian coffee or gelato during your journey!
Exploring Villa Borghese
If you’re looking for an idyllic place to escape the hustle and bustle for a few hours, the Villa Borghese gardens are perfect. Tree-lined paths? Check. Grassy open spaces? Check. A tranquil lake? Check. The park is sure to tick all the boxes when it comes to getting back to nature for the day, and there are plenty of nooks and crannies to discover.
But first, let’s talk about the different modes of transport you could use to explore Villa Borghese:
- Walking: a stroll through Villa Borghese is one of life’s great pleasures. Walking through the park is a peaceful, easy-going way to explore
- Cycling: renting a bike is easy at Villa Borghese as there are plenty of bicycle hire stalls scattered across the park. If you choose to rent a bike, you’ll most likely be asked to leave a small deposit, plus your driving license for security (do not leave your passport, credit, or debit card)
- Boating: for a sublime way to spend an hour or so, rent a boat on ‘Laghetto’, the park’s small but beautiful lake
- Quad biking: for an exhilarating, comfortable, and fun way to travel with the whole family, a quad bike is perfect. The electric quad bikes you’ll see speeding through Villa Borghese are run using pedals, but they’re also supported by batteries
What to see at Villa Borghese
The Borghese Gallery is located at the northeast corner of Villa Borghese. It’s an art lover’s paradise, boasting one of the world’s largest private art collections, which was once owned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 17th century. Head into what used to be the Cardinal’s garden villa to discover a wide selection of Renaissance, Roman, and Baroque artwork from the likes of Titian, Bernini, Raphael, and Caravaggio, to name a few.
Villa Borghese Zoo, or the Biopark as it’s often known, is a great place to spend an afternoon with the whole family. This urban zoo features all your favourite animals and some more unusual species too. Think big cats, camels, penguins, and loads more. It’s a beautiful place to take the kids, who can run around and play in the activity parks while you enjoy a well-deserved refreshment. If you choose to visit the zoo, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The zoo’s enclosures have been designed to replicate the animal’s natural habitat. This means that there are places for them to hide, so if you can’t see anything in an enclosure it’s worth checking back later to see if the animals have come out
- The animals are left to their own devices. This means you’ll be able to see them behaving naturally, rather than putting on a show for humans
- Feeding the animals is forbidden
- Flash photography is forbidden
Want to see the Eternal City in all its glory? The Pincio Terrace offers magnificent views of Rome from the Pincian Hill. Go at sunset, you won’t be disappointed. Or to see some incredibly impressive Roman architecture, head to the south corner of the park to Villa Medici.
Villa Borghese History and Facts
The Villa Borghese estate has been around since the 1500s when it was a vineyard for the Borghese family. The family moved to Rome in the 16th century and had ties with the Catholic faith. This meant they established themselves quickly and built out their wealth and prominence.
Cardinal Scipione Borghese was the nephew of Pope Paul V. In the early 17th century, he began designing and landscaping his land to become the grandest and most beautiful in Rome. The gardens during this time were a fraction of what they are today, as the Borghese family bought the surrounding lands over the years to expand their vision.
The Cardinal was an avid art collector, and in 1613, the garden villa was commissioned to house his impressive collection of sculptures and paintings. Despite not being an artist himself, Borghese was a big name in the art scene. In fact, he helped sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini in his rise to fame. One of the most famous pieces housed in his private collection is Bernini’s timeless Apollo and Daphne.
Why did Apollo and Daphne mean so much to Borghese? Well, it’s thought that the Cardinal suffered immensely in his life due to ridicule around his sexuality. The sculpture shows the sun god Apollo reaching for Daphne. Just at that moment, she is turned into a laurel tree by her father, the river god Peneus. Borghese saw his own life represented in the story, which is filled with longing, love, and loss.
Want to know more about Villa Borghese? Here are some fascinating facts:
- The Louvre in Paris has a Borghese collection. Why? Because, when the Borghese family began to have financial difficulties in the 1800s, they sold many pieces from their galleries to the French State
- The Borghese family-owned Villa Borghese until 1901 when the estate was acquired by the Roman government. It was opened to the public in 1903
- It’s possible to visit the gallery for free! On the first Sunday of every month, admission to Villa Borghese gallery is free – no catch
- The gallery has crowd-controlling measures in place. The Borghese Gallery is limited to just 350 visitors at one time, so we recommend booking your tickets in advance to guarantee a spot
- There are several objects to be spotted within the Villa Borghese gardens, including a Victorian Clock that still tells the correct time to this day. You’ll find Pincio’s Water Clock nestled on the island in the middle of the pond
Restaurants, Bars and Shops at Villa Borghese
If you’re feeling hungry or would like to grab a drink or two, there are plenty of options. Here are some of our favourite places to eat and drink near Villa Borghese:
- VyTA – If you want to stay within the park for your meal, we recommend heading here for a tempting selection of light bites, pastries, and pizza
- Ristorante Il Fellini – If you don’t mind a short walk, this is an excellent choice for hearty Italian cuisine with a modern twist. You’ll find a vast selection of mouth-watering pasta dishes, fresh seafood, and heavenly desserts, all washed down with an excellent wine list
- Appio Claudio Restaurant – For some of the most delicious seafood in Rome. Enjoy hearty Sardinian recipes and seriously good seafood – think fresh seabass, clams, and Catalan shellfish
- Stravinskij – A great spot for drinks, just outside the park serving some incredible cocktails. There’s lots of outdoor seating too, so you can sit back and watch the world go by as you sip on something fresh
- Hassler Bar – For an upmarket, elegant space to sip craft beers, wines, and a menu of classic and contemporary cocktails
Shopping near Villa Borghese
Want to indulge in a spot of retail therapy during your visit? Tory Burch is just a stone’s throw from the park and stocks ultra-chic, upscale women’s apparel. It can get a little pricey, but for the quality, we think it’s worth it. Or for a shopping experience that’s a little more budget-friendly, head to Outlet Multibrand Donna for a stylish selection.
Opening Times and Prices
The Villa Borghese gardens are open from sunrise to sunset and are free for anyone to visit. Still, some attractions within the park have ticket prices and set opening hours.
The Borghese Gallery is open every day except Monday from 09:00 to 19:00. On Thursdays, it has a slightly later closing time of 21:00. Standard tickets cost €13.
Villa Medici is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 09:30 to 17:30. Standard tickets cost €6, but for a guided tour it’s €12.
Villa Borghese zoo is open every day from 09:30 to 18:00. Standard adult tickets cost €16, for children under 10 years old and senior citizens it’s €13, and for people with disabilities, it’s €10.
Taking the train to Rome?
You can easily reach Rome by train from any major Italian city thanks to the frequent high-speed rail connections operated by Trenitalia and Italo. The most popular routes are from Venice to Rome (3h 15m), Milan to Rome (3h 10m), Florence to Rome (1h 18m) and Naples to Rome (1h 08m).
Need more information about travelling to Rome by train? Check out our dedicated page to trains to Rome.