Villa Borghese Walking Tour

Gardens of the Borghese Gallery in Villa Borghese Park
Gardens of the Borghese Gallery in Villa Borghese Park

By Vicky · Published Feb. 27th, 2024

This walking tour around Villa Borghese Park visits all the best sights, including viewpoints, a lakeside temple, and the Borghese Gallery.

How do I get to Villa Borghese?

The easiest way to get to Villa Borghese is to walk up the steps from Piazza del Popolo. In addition to entering the park, this route will bring you to a couple of great viewpoints. This self-guided walking tour of Villa Borghese starts here, from Piazza del Popolo. There are several buses which stop nearby, or you can walk here through the centre of Rome.

Villa Borghese Walking Map

Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the bookmarks.

Tips for Villa Borghese Park Walking Tour

  • It’s just €1.50 on the metro (and/or bus) to the start and end points of this walk.
  • In busy periods tickets to the Borghese Gallery can sell out weeks in advance. Book advanced tickets here!* Closed Mondays.
  • Apart from the Borghese Gallery, there are two small but free museums within the park (both closed on Mondays).
  • There’s not too much shade so remember to bring a sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and water.
  • For other great walks in and around Rome, walk along Via Appia Antica, check out Ostia Antica, discover the Park of the Aqueducts, or for more walking tours and hikes see our Italy page.

Top Things to See and Do in Villa Borghese Park

This self-guided walking route around the Villa Borghese brings you to all the best sights in the park. The route is almost 5 km long, and you could spend a couple of hours walking around the park if you take it slowly. Allow additional time to also visit the Borghese Gallery, at least two hours, which is highly recommended!

  1. Viewpoints of Rome
  2. Water-Powered Clock
  3. Museums in the Park
  1. Tempio di Esculapio
  2. Piazza di Siena
  3. Borghese Gallery

Villa Borghese Walking Tour Route

This walking tour starts from Piazza del Popolo. From here, head to the other side of the square from the symmetric churches and turn right just before the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. Head up the steps to the road, around the bend, and continue up the steps. This pathway will bring you through a little forested area to the Piazzale Napoleone Primo. This is a large paved area on the edge of the Villa Borghese Park.

1. Viewpoints of Rome

View from Terrazza del Pincio Viewpoint on the edge of Villa Borghese park in Rome
Terrazza del Pincio Viewpoint
View from the Terrazza Viale del Belvedere of Rome
Terrazza Viale del Belvedere

From this square, head right to get to the Terrazza del Pincio viewpoint. From here you have a great view over Piazza del Popolo below, with the Basilica of St Peters in the background. After admiring the view from here, continue to the other side of the square and out along the paved path.

Take the smaller, upper road, which leads directly in front of the Casina Valadier, a restaurant with a great terrace. At the end of the road you’ll reach anotoher viewpoint, the Terrazza Viale del Belvedere. From here you can see more of Rome, including the grand Vittorio Emanuele II Monument.

Turn left along the edge of Villa Borghese park. You’ll see lots of carved busts of famous old men in this area. Look out for that of Scipio Africanus, the Roman General who defeated Hannibal around 200 BC on the edge of the restaurant area. After this, take a left, head across the road, and then turn righ to the clock in the pond.

2. Water-Powered Clock

Water-Powered Clock, one of the things to see in the Villa Borghese Park.
Water-Powered Clock

This Water-Powered Clock is one of the more intriguing attractions of Villa Borghese park. It looks like a grandfather clock and stands in the middle of a little pond. Designed in 1867, two basins of water are continuously filled and emptied of water, which keeps the pendulum moving. This pendulum then winds the clock up, and it’s surprisingly accurate.

Head back to the road and left across the bridge into the main section of Villa Borghese. Take the second left on the paved path which leads down towards a small pond. Continue to the museum on the other side.

3. Museums in the Park

Museo Pietro Canonica, a free museum in Rome
Museo Pietro Canonica

Apart from the famous Borghese Gallery, there are two small museums within the park. The first is here, the Museo Carlo Bilotti, located in the former Orangerie of the Borghese Villa grounds. It’s a small little museum displaying artworks. It’s free to enter, so you may as well have a quick look around.

Later on this walking tour of Villa Borghese, you’ll come to the other museum, the Museo Pietro Canonica. This displays statues by the Italian sculptor of the same name. This museum is also free, and perhaps the more interesting of the two. It includes the artist’s workshop and models of the sculptures he made of world leaders and recent events.

From the first museum, turn right up the road. You’ll see the Portico dei Leoni (Portico fo the Lions) on your left, a lovely monument with several lion sculptures and a little fountain. Turn left at the roundabout and then take the path immediately on your left. After a few hundred meters, you’ll see a small lake on your right. Head right to walk around the lake and for good views of the temple.

4. Tempio di Esculapio

Tempio di Esculapio, a modern immitation of an ancient Temple by a lake in Villa Borghese and one of the top things to see in the park

This temple, an imitation of an Ancient Greek or Roman temple, was built in 1786. It’s dedicated to Esculapio, or Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing and medicine. There are many birds on the lake, and you can also rent a boat for €5 per person for 20 minutes.

Once you’ve walking just over half the way around the lake, take the steps all the way down to your right to the small road below. Head left from here to detour to some large museums, or turn right continue with the walking tour of Villa Borghese.

Detour: More Museums

National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art

The National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (open Tue-Sun, 9 am-7 pm, tickets €10/2) contains a mix of old statues plus famous art from the 19th and 20th centuries. The exhibition space is very nice and there are works by van Gogh, Picasso and Cezanne amongst others. The museum cafe is also highly recommended.

National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia

The National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia (open Tue-Sun, 8:30 am-7:30 pm, tickets €12/2) is located in a 16th-century palace and displays many Etruscan artefacts. The Etruscans lived in Italy before the Romans, who gradually conquered them.

When the road bends left, take a right along a path. You’ll pass a reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and then reach Piazza di Siena, the heart of Villa Borghese Park.

5. Piazza di Siena

Piazza di Siena, a great spot for walking in the centre of Villa Borghese Park.

Piazza di Siena is a large grassy area in the centre of the park. It’s often busy with dogwalkers, though sometimes they have events here such as show jumping. To your right you’ll see the La Casina di Raffaello, an old building that’s now a children’s centre. To your left is the Casino dell’Orologio, once a farmhouse, with a clocktower.

Once you’ve walking around the Piazza di Siena, head past the Museo Pietro Canonica with the statues outside and turn right along the lower road at the next junction. Follow this main trail as it bends left towards the famous Borghese Gallery itself. First you’ll reach the walled gardens of the villa. Head to the far side of the gardens and turn right to walk alongside the wall. On this side, you can peer into the lovely gardens to see the flowers, waterfeatures, historic buildings and orange trees. You’ll soon reach the open, free section of the villa gardens, and can walk around these to the front of the building.

6. Borghese Gallery

Gardens of the Borghese Gallery on a walk through the park
Gardens of the Borghese Gallery on a walk through Villa Borghese

Key Information: Open Tue-Sun 9 am-7 pm, or until 10pm Wed and 9pm Thu.  Tickets cost €13/2 for adults/under 25s from EU. Book tickets well ahead of time* (up to a few months in advance in the summer) as they do sell out.

Visiting the Borghese Gallery and Museum is a highlight of the Villa Borghese Park. The Gallery is one of the most popular in Rome and displays famous artworks in a fabulous setting. There are sculptures by Bernini and paintings by Caravaggio, and the rooms themselves are also highly decorated. A guided tour is well worth it, as it’ll enhance your visit to know what you’re looking at. Book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment and to avoid the sometimes long queue at the entrance.

Book a guided tour of the Borghese Gallery*

Porta Pinciana, a gate in the Auralien Walls from Roman times
Porta Pinciana

After visitng the gallery, head along the main path opposite the museum entrance. After about 500 metres you’ll reach a road. To your left is the exit to Villa Borghese park. From here you can see Porta Pinciana, a 5th century gate built in the slightly older Roman walls that surrounded the city. To return to the centre of Rome or your accommodation from here, there are several bus stops nearby.

Best Guidebooks for Exploring Rome

Lonely Planet Rome*

DK Eyewitness Top 10 Rome*

Lonely Planet Italy*

For other great walks in and around Rome, walk along Via Appia Antica, check out Ostia Antica, discover the Park of the Aqueducts, or for more walking tours and hikes see our Italy page.

FAQS: Walking in Villa Borghese

Can you enter Villa Borghese for free?

Villa Borghese is the name of a park in Rome, and entry to the park is free. To enter the Borghese Gallery, an art museum within the park, you have to buy a ticket, costing €13.

Is Villa Borghese worth a visit?

Villa Borghese is a lovely park, and a great place to visit if you have the time. The Borghese Gallery, which displays famous artworks, is definitely worth a visit if you are interested in art or seeing the beautiful villa from the inside.

How do you get into Villa Borghese?

There are several entrances to Villa Borghese Park. You can walk up quite a few steps from Piazza del Popolo to get there, or take a bus to the Pinciana/Museo Borghese bus stop, or any of several other bus stops surrounding the park.

How long do you need for Villa Borghese?

To walk around Villa Borghese takes 1-2 hours, and to visit the famous Borghese Gallery takes at least another 2 hours.

Do you need to book Villa Borghese in advance?

Villa Borghese is the name of the park in which the famous Borghese Gallery is located. The park is often not crowded and you can freely wander in, while the Borghese Gallery is often fully booked in summer so booking in advance is recommended. Out of season, or if you arrive early, you may be able to get a ticket at the entrance to the museum if there’s space left.

Can you walk in the Borghese Gardens for free?

You can walk around Villa Borghese, a large park surrounding the famous Borghese Gallery, for free. The Borghese Gardens are adjacent to the Gallery are partly freely open to the public, and partly behind stone walls and not available to visit.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *