19 Famous Museums in Italy + Map & Tips

Italy has the highest number of UNESCO Heritage Sites in the world. Everywhere we look, we are surrounded by art, history, and beauty, so it’s no wonder that famous museums in Italy hold some of the world’s greatest treasures.

Let’s take a look at Italy’s most famous museums – andiamo!

19 Famous Museums in Italy

MuseumTypeCity
Accademia GallerySculptures & PaintingsFlorence
Uffizi GallerySculptures & PaintingsFlorence
Palazzo PittiPaintings, royal treasures and fashionFlorence
Palazzo VecchioRenaissance history Florence
Bargello National MuseumSculptures & PaintingsFlorence
The Doge’s PalaceGothic government palace Venice
The AccademiaFine art gallery with a focus on Venetian artVenice
The Guggenheim MuseumContemporary 20th-century artVenice
The Vatican MuseumsPapal treasures, statues and paintingsRome
Galleria BorgheseExtensive park, sculptures and paintingsRome
The Roman ForumAncient ruins, Roman HistoryRome
The ColosseumAncient ruins, Roman HistoryRome
Santa Maria delle Grazie (The Last SupperConvent and frescoMilan
The Brera PinacotecaArt GalleryMilan
The National Archaeological Museum of NaplesAncient HistoryNaples
PompeiiAncient Historynear Naples
The Royal PalaceItalian and military historyTurin
The Egyptian MuseumEgyptian historyTurin
The Venaria RealeRoyal Palace and groundsTurin

Famous Museums in Italy – Florence (Firenze)

Accademia Gallery

The Accademia Gallery is a small, recently-renovated museum in the historic center of Florence with a showcase sculpture – Michelangelo’s David.  While it’s worth visiting just to see David, inside you’ll also find Michelangelo’s Prisoners and an interesting display of musical instruments inside.

Want to see some of Italy’s incredible art but you can’t fathom wandering museums for hours?  The Accademia Gallery is perfect for you. Come in, admire David and see some other Renaissance masterpieces.  

Location: Florence, Tuscany
Type: Sculptures & Paintings
Best For: Michelangelo fans, families
Nearby: Uffizi Gallery, Duomo
More Info: Accademia Gallery official website
How To Get There: It’s located in the walkable historic center of Florence

The Uffizi Gallery

The Gallery occupies the whole of the first and second floors of a building built in the 16th century and designed by Giorgio Vasari. It has an incredible collection of ancient sculptures and paintings (from the Middle Ages to the Modern period).

It’s one of the world’s first ‘modern’ museums with works by Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and Raphael. Explore the labyrinth of corridors and don’t miss Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and Leonardo’s “The Annunciation.”

Location: Florence, Tuscany
Type: Sculptures & Paintings
Best For: Leonardo and Caravaggio fans
Nearby: Accademia Gallery, Duomo
More Info:  Uffizi Gallery official website
How To Get There: It’s located in the walkable historic center of Florence

Palazzo Pitti 

The enormous and imposing 15th-century Pitti Palace was home to one of Florence’s most powerful families, the Medici. It was also a power base for Napoleon and was even a royal palace for the King of Italy in the early 20th century.

It’s the largest museum complex in Florence and is packed with paintings, jewelry, and other treasures. Don’t miss the Royal Apartments and the costume gallery. 

Location: Florence, Tuscany
Type: Paintings, royal treasures and fashion
Best For: Fans of Titan, Raphael and the history of Italian Fashion
Nearby: The Arno River, the Boboli Gardens
More Info: Palazzo Pitti official website
How To Get There: Just cross the Ponte Vecchio bridge over the River Arno

Palazzo Vecchio 

Also known as Palazzo della Signoria, it is Florence’s ‘town hall’ and has been a center of the city’s power for over seven centuries. It has a network of hidden tunnels that the Medici family used to escape from their enemies, a meeting room that is the largest room in the whole city, a copy of Michelangelo’s David out front, and the adjacent open-air Lanzi sculpture gallery. 

It is also home to the “Museo dei Ragazzi” (Kids’ Museum) with activities for children of all ages.

Location: Florence, Tuscany
Type: Renaissance history 
Best For: History buffs, families
Nearby: The Uffizi Gallery, Florence’s Cathedral (Duomo)
More Info: Palazzo Vecchio official website
How To Get There: It’s right in Florence’s historic center 

Bargello National Museum

Courtyard of the Bargello National Museum in Florence, Italy.

Italy’s first national museum – established by royal decree no less! It is housed in an ex-prison and army barracks, which has been the site of all sorts of Renaissance shenanigans, from uprisings to fires, sieges, and executions. 

See Luca della Robbia’s ceramic sculptures as well as the symbol of Florence itself – the Marzocco (a lion with a shield and the ‘fleur de lys’).

Location: Florence, Tuscany
Type: Sculptures & Paintings
Don’t Miss: the incredible ceramics, works by Donatello
Nearby: Uffizi Gallery, Duomo
More Info: Bargello National Museum official website
How To Get There: It’s located in the Florence city center

Had your fill of Florence’s museums? Check out our post on Things to Do in Tuscany!

Famous Museums in Italy – Venice (Venezia)

The Doge’s Palace

Doge's palace at sunrise in Venice, Italy.  The streets are empty of visitors.

Venice is an open-air museum. Everywhere you look in this fantastical city on the water you’re surrounded by beauty. But if you must go inside (even if just to get out of the cold in the winter!) then make it to the Doge’s Palace. The Doge was Venice’s all-powerful ruler and this masterpiece of Gothic architecture was the seat of power through the centuries.  

As well as its beauty, there is a torture chamber, an inquisitor’s chamber, and its famous prison cells, “the Leads”, where one notable escapee was Giacomo Casanova.

Visiting the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is one of the best things you can do in Venice at night.

Location: Venice, Veneto
Type: Gothic government palace 
Don’t Miss: the incredible interiors, gorgeous wood paneling, and the “Bridge of Sighs”
Nearby: St. Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge
More Info: Doge’s Palace official website
How To Get There: It’s in the most beautiful square in the whole city – St. Mark’s 

The Accademia

The Accademia Gallery in Venice, Italy as seen from the Grand Canal.

Venice’s own Accademia is a gallery of fine arts where everything is pre-19th century. It used to house the city’s school of art and contains works by Titian, Tintoretto, Canaletto and Leonardo Da Vinci (including the famous sketch “The Vitruvian Man”)

Location: Venice, Veneto
Type: Fine art gallery with a focus on Venetian art
Don’t Miss: Vittorio Carpaccio’s “Healing of a Madman” for a real view of 15th century Venice
Nearby: St. Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge
More Info: Accademia official website
How To Get There: It’s in central Venice near the Grand Canal 

The Guggenheim Museum

The front of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, Italy, as seen from the Grand Canal.

Now for something completely different. In the beautiful Palazzo Venier dei Leoni is Peggy Guggenheim’s personal collection of 20th-century art. This self-confessed ‘art addict’ amassed works by Jackson Pollock, Mondrian, Chagall and Picasso. 

If you’re in Venice with kids, check out the museum’s program for children.

Location: Venice, Veneto
Type: Contemporary 20th-century art in a beautiful setting
Best For: Surrealist, cubist, and abstract art
Nearby: St. Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge
More Info: Guggenheim official website
How To Get There: It’s right on the Grand Canal. Public boat number 1 or 2 stops nearby.

Famous Museums in Italy – Rome (Roma)

The Vatican Museums

Huge museums in the world’s smallest state. The seat of Popes through the centuries, the Vatican Museums house an incredible collection of treasures, including Michelangelo’s Pietà, one of the finest marble statues in the world. One of the main draws is the incredible ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Location: Rome, Lazio
Type: Papal treasures, statues and paintings
Don’t Miss: The Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s frescoes
Nearby: The Vatican Gardens, the Tiber River
More Info: The Vatican Museums official website
How To Get There: Metro Line A from Rome central station 

Galleria Borghese

Amazing gardens and 20 rooms filled with a superb private art collection.

One of the world’s best in fact, with paintings by Caravaggio, Rubens, Leonardo and Raphael and sculptures by Bernini.

Location: Rome, Lazio
Type: Extensive park, sculptures, and paintings
Don’t miss: Bernini’s sculptures and Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro
Nearby: Villa Borghese, the National Etruscan Museum
More Info: Galleria Borghese official website
How To Get There: Metro Line A then climb the hill! 

The Roman Forum

An empty Roman Forum in Rome, Italy.

Once the bustling heart of Roman life, home of the Vestal Virgins and supposedly the tomb of Romulus, founder of Rome. These are the incredible ruins of public buildings that it is estimated to date back to 500 B.C.! 

Location: Rome, Lazio
Type: Ancient ruins, Roman History
Best For: History buffs.
Nearby: The Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon 
More Info: The Roman Forum official website
How To Get There: It’s right in the center of Rome

The Colosseum

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy at sunrise.

Unleash your inner Maximus Decimus Meridius (or Russell Crowe) at the Roman empire’s largest amphitheater.  Built at the behest of Emperor Vespasian by Jewish slaves. In the days before Netflix, this was the epicenter of Roman entertainment with wild animal hunts, mock sea battles, and gladiator fights.

Location: Rome, Lazio
Type: Ancient ruins, Roman history.
Best For: Families – kids love gladiators!
Nearby: The Arch of Constantine, the Roman Forum 
More Info: The Colosseum official website
How To Get There: It’s right in the center of Rome

Famous Museums in Italy – Milan (Milano)

Santa Maria Delle Grazie (The Last Supper) 

The Dominican convent of Santa Maria Delle Grazie is the home of Leonardo Da Vinci’s fresco the Last Supper. Fittingly for a picture of a meal, it’s located in the old refectory where the monks used to eat and across the road from Leonardo’s own vineyard!

Location: Milan, Lombardy
Type: Convent and fresco
Best For: Leonardo Da Vinci fans (and who isn’t?)
Nearby: Leonardo’s Vineyard, the Civic Archaeological Museum.
More Info: The Last Supper official website
How To Get There: Tram 16 or 20-minute walk from Milan’s Cathedral

The Brera Pinacoteca 

Statue of Napolean as Mars outside the Brera Pinacoteca in Milan, Italy.

The Pinacoteca (national art gallery) is located one of Milan’s loveliest areas. The Brera district is the artists’ quarter, home to a famous art school and filled with delightful little streets. The Gallery itself houses the greatest masterpieces of art from the 13th to the 20th centuries.   

Location: Milan, Lombardy
Type: Art Gallery
Don’t Miss: Mantegna’s Lamentation Over the Dead Christ, Hayez’s The Kiss
Nearby: Milan Cathedral (Duomo), the Sforza Castle
More Info: Brera Pinacoteca official website
How To Get There: It’s in the city center, a short walk from the Cathedral 

Check out our Quick Guide to the Brera District in Milan.

Famous Museums in Italy – Naples (Napoli)

The National Archaeological Museum of Naples

The side of the Naples National Archaelogical Museum in Italy.

Forget dry, dusty relics…this is a fascinating journey into the ancient world of Greece and Rome, it is home to the treasures of the destroyed city of Pompeii.  

Location: Naples, Campania
Type: Ancient history
Best For: History buffs
Nearby: Piazza Dante, the San Severo Chapel
More Info: National Archaeological Museum official website
How To Get There: Metro Line 1 from Naples’ central station

Pompeii

The first thing that strikes you about the ‘open-air museum’ of Pompei is its sheer size. It is indeed an entire city. Destroyed by the Vesuvius volcano in AD 79, it’s an incredible privilege to walk its ruined ancient streets. 

Location: near Naples, Campania
Type: Ancient history
Best For: History buffs
Nearby: Mount Vesuvius, the Amalfi Coast
More Info: Pompeii official website
How To Get There: By the Circumvesuviana train from Naples’ central station

Famous Museums in Italy – Turin (Torino)

The Royal Palace

Front of the Royal Palace in Turin, Italy.

The powerful Savoy dynasty ruled both Northern Italy and France. Its 18th-century royal palace has a self-portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci in the library and one of the largest collections of historical armories in the world.  

Location: Turin, Piedmont
Type: Italian and military history
Best For: Military history enthusiasts, royalty buffs
Nearby: The Egyptian Museum, the Mole Anontelliana
More Info: The Royal Palace official website
How To Get There: It’s right in Turin’s walkable historic center

The Egyptian Museum

Egypt in Italy? It may sound strange but Duke Charles Emanuel I of the House of Savoy loved Egyptian history and began collecting relics. What started as a small collection now has the largest display of artifacts anywhere outside Egypt.

Location: Turin, Piedmont
Type: Egyptian history
Best for: Families, ancient history lovers
Nearby: The Royal Palace, the Madama Palace
More Info: Egyptian Museum official website
How To Get There: It’s in Turin’s walkable historic center

The Venaria Reale

A Versailles-esque Savoy family court and hunting estate 6.5 miles from the city of Turin. This gigantic palace and park are a testament to just how powerful the Savoy rulers were.  Don’t miss the incredible Hall of Diana, the goddess of hunting.

Location: Turin, Piedmont
Type: Royal Palace and grounds
Best for: Families, royalty buffs
Nearby: The city of Turin
More Info: Venaria Reale official website
How To Get There: By car, shuttle bus or train from Turin

Tips for Visiting Museums in Italy

Guide explaining something to children at the Palazzo Vecchio museum in Florence, Italy.

Check the Museum’s Schedule

It would be a bummer if you’re in town on Monday, and it’s the only day the museum is closed.

Buy Tickets in Advance

You never know what will sell out.  You may not be aware of every Italian (or European) holiday, or a big group could choose that particular day.  And, some museums require advance booking.

Have a Plan

Choose works you’d like to see and stay focused on seeing them. Trying to see too much will be exhausting!

Get a Guide

Whether you listen to an audioguide, join a group tour, or hire a private guide – having someone point out interesting details will make your visit so much more meaningful and memorable.

Eat Before Your Visit

Looking at art while you’re starving is not fun.

Dress Appropriately

Some museums request respectful attire (cover shoulders, knees, chest) for religious reasons.

Other museums may or may not have air-conditioning.  Plan appropriately and have a layer (scarf) with you.

Pack Well

See the museum’s website for rules about what you can and cannot bring in.  For example, some museums don’t allow backpacks or only allow a small (500ml) bottle of water. 

Take Advantage of Cafes

Museum cafes often have gorgeous views.  It’s also a nice chance to take a short break and avoid being overwhelmed!

Respect the Rules

Museum rules are clearly displayed at entrances.  They may include requests for low voices, no flash photography, etc.  

FAQ