Parks and gardens in Rome
For all its ancient sites and attractions, Rome has an equal number of beautiful parks and gardens. They may not make the front of as many postcards, but these green spaces carry just as much character, history and beauty as the city’s famous buildings. From landscaped lawns and botanical greenhouses to the stunning estates of noble manor houses, discover the best parks and gardens in Rome with this two-day itinerary.
Start the day with a 25-minute drive to Vatican City.
Gardens of Vatican City
Behind St Peter’s Basilica lies the lesser-known Gardens of Vatican City. Used since the 13th century by Popes and cardinals as a peaceful refuge, the beautiful gardens now cover around a third of the state. They are largely private, but visitors can enjoy an exclusive sneak peek of the grounds by booking a guided tour.
Then, take a 10-minute drive to the American Academy.
The Gardens at the American Academy
Atop Janiculum Hill you’ll find 11 acres of organically-cultivated gardens. The two main gardens are those surrounding the Mercedes and Sid R. Bass Garden and Villa Aurelia. Bass is a typically Roman space surrounded by 17th century defence walls and filled with fruit trees and flowers. Villa Aurelia is best known for its grand fountains and impressive city views.
Walk down the hill to Orto Botanico, at its base.
Bringing a hearty dose of greenery to Rome’s city centre is Orto Botanico. Maintained by the Sapienza University of Rome, the 12-hectare park showcases and cultivates thousands of species of rare and tropical plants. A highlight for nature lovers, the garden offers guided tours for those who wish to delve a little deeper.
Choose from a 15-minute drive or a 20-minute walk to Villa Doria Pamphilj.
Villa Doria Pamphilj
The largest landscaped public park in Rome, the grounds of Villa Doria Pamphilj is an essential stop on the itinerary. The large Renaissance-style garden is exceptional when it comes to both architecture and nature, with a 17th century classic Italian design featuring tree-lined paths, wide lawns and a charming lake overlooked by the grandiose 17th century Fontana del Giglio.
Next, take a 10-minute walk to Villa Sciarra.
Once the private estate of the Barberini family, and subsequently Maffeo Sciarra, Villa Sciarra has been a public park since the 1930s. It’s quiet and peaceful and is filled to the brim with romantic statues and historic fountains. At its heart lies the Casino Barberini, the headquarters of the Italian Institute of Germanic Studies. Climb the tower for fantastic panoramic views of the city.
To get back to the hotel, it’s a 25-minute drive from Villa Sciarra.
Begin the day with a 10-minute walk to Palazzo Barberini.
Palazzo Barberini may be known for its ancient art, but look a little closer and you’ll also discover a beautiful garden that’s hidden in plain sight. Restored to its original design, it features immaculately manicured lawns with trimmed shrubbery creating a striking pattern on the grass. Best of all, you don’t need to buy a ticket to the museum to enter the gardens.
Next, take a 15-minute drive to The Orange Garden.
The Orange Garden
As its name suggests, The Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci or Parco Savello) is an urban orange grove overlooking the River Tiber. The shady space offers respite from the glaring sun in the summer and uninterrupted panoramic views of the city from its terrace. At the entrance is a distinctive fountain by Giacomo Della Porta, thought to be the face of river god Oceanus.
Choose between a 10-minute drive and a 25-minute walk to Villa Celimontana.
Standing proudly atop Monte Celio (Caelian Hill) is a beautiful manor called Villa Celimontana, which is best known for its gardens. Travel up the palm-lined driveway and explore the picturesque park, which surrounds the Palazzetto Mattei, to discover marble monuments, luscious lawns, an Egyptian obelisk and striking views.
Then, take a 30-minute drive to Villa Ada.
Formerly the estate of King Vittorio Emanuele III, Villa Ada is now the second-largest park in Rome and attracts visitors with a variety of interests. Nature lovers can discover a wide array of plant life and trees; animal lovers can spot myriad species of animals and birds, from rabbits to parrots; while visitors looking to get active can enjoy canoeing on the lake, cycling or even horse riding.
The final stop is a 20-minute drive from Villa Ada.
Located close to Villa Borghese, the 16th century Villa Medici and its gardens reflect the classic landscaping style of its larger neighbour. Visit to explore the intricate gardens, discover ancient statues and fountains and witness some of the best panoramas of the city from the terrace. Visitors can take a tour of the house and gardens to learn more about its history and architecture.
Bring the day to a close with a 15-minute walk through the beautiful Villa Borghese to the hotel.
All journey times are approximate and subject to variation.