Rome is an immense city, chaotic and incredibly loud. The good news is that no matter where you are in town, you’ll find yourself within short distance from a park or a garden. Indeed, there are many gorgeous parks in Rome.
Some of the best parks of Rome are found in the historic center of town – they are world famous places that all tourists go to when in town. Others are outside the center and perhaps lesser known, but equally pleasant and definitely worth visiting, especially if you wish to get out of the tourist track. And all of them are free to visit.
In this post, I select the nicest gardens and parks of Rome. Have a walk there, rent a bike, bring a book and set out for a relaxing afternoon!
19 Must Visit Parks In Rome
Parco degli Acquedotti
Part of the much larger (but no less historic) Appian Way Regional Park, the Parco degli Acquedotti is situated on the southeastern outskirts of Rome and one of the most famous parks in Rome. It’s named after the ancient aqueducts that cross through the landscape here, the towering ruins of which can still be seen to this day.
It’s amazing to think that, thousands of years ago, drinking water was carried from the mountains all the way to the city.
Spanning 240 hectares, this sprawling park encompasses countryside well away from the busy streets of central Rome, allowing visitors to get a taste of history and nature with a backdrop of wide-open skies. There are numerous paths winding through this Roman park, with multiple aqueducts to see.
For a guided tour of Parco degli Aquedotti, the Appian Way and the Catacombs, click here or here.
Make sure to read my post A Guide To Rome’s Parco Degli Acquedotti.
Parco di Torre del Fiscale
Also part of the Appian Way Regional Park, the Parco di Torre del Fiscale is another of the top parks in Rome that offer a window into the past. Located between the third and fourth mile of the Via Latina (another of Rome’s ancient roads), the park is overlooked by the 30-meter-tall Torre del Fiscale.
The tower, situated at the crossroads of two ancient aqueducts, is a 13th-century watchtower, originally part of a castle. But there are actually six aqueducts in the area of the park, the remains of which can still be seen today, as well as villas from the late era of the late Roman Republic (510-27 BC). To learn more, you can visit the small museum in the park. There’s also a restaurant and play park.
The park also conveniently connects up to the Parco degli Acquedotti.
Parco della Caffarella
Another park within Appian Way Regional Park, this one is located in the Caffarella Valley, in the southern boundaries of the city, crossing through some suburbs that were built along the Appian Way. In the past – during Rome’s heyday – the area actually belonged to a Roman senator. Head all the way there to spot ancient ruins and a working farm – the Casale della Vaccareccia. It’s not uncommon to spot sheep!
Parco di Villa Ada
The second largest park in Rome (around 180 hectares), Villa Ada – once the private estate of King Vittorio Emanuele III – is situated in the northeast of the city. It’s a veritable oasis of a park, and it’s often dubbed “the green lung of Rome”.
Villa Ada is particularly popular with Roman locals in the summer months, when the weather is warm, and when outdoor concerts and festivals are regularly held here. Visitors can enjoy walking along shaded pathways, through woodlands, and picnicking alongside the lake. You’ll also have the option of renting bicycles, going horse riding, or renting canoes to explore the lake.
Giardino degli Aranci
Also known by its English name, the “Orange Garden” (or officially, Parco Savello), this beautiful natural oasis is situated atop the Aventine Hill – one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome. It’s a romantic location, with leafy grounds as attractive as the views of the city down below – definitely one of the most charming parks in Rome.
Constructed in 1932, the garden is named after the many bitter orange trees that grow in the area. Symmetrical in design, with a central avenue leading up to the viewpoint across Rome, there’s also an attractive fountain near the entrance.
With no cafes or any street vendors nearby, it’s a relaxing, unhurried spot – perfect for a picnic with your partner as you enjoy 180-degree views of Rome, complete with the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in the background.
Probably the most famous of all the gardens in Rome, those boasted by the Villa Borghese also happen to make up one of the largest urban parks in the whole of Europe. This huge, 80-hectare area encompasses a variety of gardens linked by landscaped pathways, boasting fountains, grottoes, unique buildings, and even a smattering of ancient ruins. You’ll even find Rome Zoo here.
Situated near the famous Spanish Steps, the gardens opened up to the public in 1903, having been acquired by the Italian government from the Borghese family in 1901. But the history of Villa Borghese reaches back centuries, with the current iteration of the gardens remade in the English style in the 19th century. Though popular, it’s free to enter and can be explored for hours on end.
For a guided tour of Villa Borghese Gallery and Gardens, click here. For skip-the-line tickets to Borghese Gallery, click here.
Make sure to read my post A Guide To Villa Borghese Gardens.
Pincio Hill Gardens
Though today named after the Pinci family, in the Roman era the Pincian Hill was named “The Hill of Gardens.” Situated to the north of the more famous Quirinal Hill, it was here on the Pincian that many wealthy ancient Roman families owned villas and gardens – an aqueduct which was built to this area in 19 BC helped make it a lush oasis.
The proliferation of gardens seems something that is still the case to this day. A shady spot lined with avenues and paths, the Pincio Hill Gardens are well loved by locals and visitors alike. It overlooks the Piazza del Popolo, and requires some effort to reach the top, but once there you’ll be repaid with views of St Peter’s Basilica, and the Janiculum Hill.
Villa Doria Pamphilj
The villa was built in 1630 by the Pamphilj family who used the majestic villa and its gardens as their countryside residence until the 18th century. It was then passed to Prince Giovanni Andrea VI Doria which explains the name of this Roman park.
One of the most eye-catching parts of the park is the Casino del Bel Respiro. It’s here you’ll find a secret garden that will whisk you away to another era completely.
The Villa Doria Pamphili has the accolade of being the largest landscaped park in Rome, boasting 187 hectares of manicured natural goodness. Birdwatching and jogging are the order of the day, but it’s also fairly busy at the weekends when Romans come to find some relaxation during their downtime.
You should also read my post A Guide To Visiting Villa Doria Pamphilj, Rome.
Pineto Regional Park
Spanning an impressive 240 acres, the protected natural area of Pineto Regional Park is located northwest of the city and is one of the largest parks in Rome. It was much larger in years gone by and once it extended all the way to the walls of the Vatican City – land which was owned by the family of Pope Pius V.
Home to 650 species of plants and over 70 bird species, today the sizable park is split into several areas based on vegetation, including ones with pine trees that soar up to 30 meters tall. It’s great for joggers, cyclists, or nature-enthusiasts who will enjoy a long stroll in what feels very much like the countryside.
Rome’s botanical garden is among the largest in Italy and one of the best parks in Rome. Owned and maintained by the University of Rome, the gardens are located along the slopes of the Janiculum Hill. Once part of the private gardens of the Palazzo Corsini, today the Orto Botanico contains a wide variety of garden styles and plant species – 3,000, to be more precise.
Visitors can stroll through the Japanese garden and walk among a bamboo grove – learn about the 300 species of medicinal plants in the Giardino dei Semplici. Alternatively, wander inside the tropical greenhouses to see the impressive selection of cacti and carnivorous plants. Though the garden was established in 1883, the history is much older – in fact, they are seen to be the successor to the Papal Botanical Gardens, dating back to the Renaissance.
Roseto di Roma Capitale
The Roseto di Roma Capitale is easily one of the most beautiful parks in Rome. This space overlooking the Circus Maximus was once home of the city’s the Jewish cemetery, which was however moved in the 20th century.
The park is actually small, but gorgeous. Unfortunately you’ll only be able to visit between May and mid-June, when the beautiful rose flowers that make it famous are in bloom.
Parco del Gianicolo
Possibly better known by its Latin name, the Janiculum, this hill may be tall (the second-tallest of Rome’s hills, in fact), but it is not counted among the traditional Seven Hills of Rome. That’s because it’s outside the boundaries of the ancient city.
But this eighth hill provides a breath of fresh air away from the hustle and bustle of central Rome, and the more popular hills. It’s a relaxing spot, but it’s got some fierce history – it’s here, in 1849, that Garibaldi fought back against French troops during Italy’s struggle for unification. There are several monuments to Garibaldi to be found on the hill.
Situated on the left bank of the Tiber, Giancolo is a lush and leafy spot, a mix of well-tended gardens and dotted with benches, cafes, and food vendors. The views out across the city are not to be missed.
Just 10 minutes from the Colosseum, you’ll find the Villa Celimontana. Situated on the Caelian Hill, it was landscaped in the 16th century by the Mattei family and was updated in the 19th century.
Villa Celimontana later became a public park in 1926. It has, for many years, played host to a series jazz festival. But on normal days, with its green spaces and attractive corners to discover, it’s a pleasant spot for a picnic.
While the villa itself is situated on the summit of the hill, the boundaries of the park extend down into the valley between it and Aventine Hill. One of the most striking elements of this park is the presence of an ancient Egyptian obelisk, which was given to the Mattei family in 1582.
Make sure to read my post A Complete Guide To Villa Celimontana.
Regional Park of Decima-Malafede
Established in 1997, the Regional Park of Decima-Malafede lies to the southwest of the city. Truly an area of wild nature, this park is home to a population of wild boars who live among the park’s 6,000-plus hectares of land.
This huge natural wonderland, a protected area, boasts sulphureous lakes, striking for their eerie pale blue waters. It’s also home to the largest surviving area of woodlands in the Roman countryside, which comprises the largest plain forest in the Mediterranean basin.
Alongside its rich nature, the park tells the tale of the Roman countryside, from prehistoric human remains found here, to Imperial Roman villas, and medieval farmhouses.
Sandwiched between Trastevere, Gianicolo, and Monteverde Vecchio, this attractive Roman park is crowned by a beautiful 17th-century villa. However, it was given to Mussolini in 1932, on the condition that the grounds would be transformed into a public park. And that’s what happened.
The lesser visited, but still charming, gardens at Villa Sciarra, remain a much-loved part of Rome’s green oases. There’s even a compact botanical garden to discover here, as well as fountains to admire, an aviary and statues of mythological creatures.
Rome’s Non-Catholic Cemetery
In the past, cemeteries were a favorite spot for a walk within the city. The resting place of Romantic English writers Keats, Shelley and others, the cemetery is a very pleasant place for a walk, not to mention a famous cat sanctuary. You’ll also be able to spot the Pyramid of Cestius.
Oppian Hill Park
Known in Italian as Parco del Colle Oppio, Oppian Hill is basically a hill on top of a hill. It is the name of the southernmost spur of the Esquiline, one of the foremost of Rome’s Seven Hills. Here you will find the Oppian Hill Park. Though it was a public garden prior to the 20th century, it was during the Fascist era that the park was developed into its current state, complete with fountains, marble statues, and a central avenue.
But it’s not all manicured, leafy pathways. The park is actually considered to be an archaeological park, due to the high concentration of ancient ruins located here. Much of Nero’s Domus Aurea (“Golden House”) is still buried here, plus the impressive ruins of the Baths of Trajan – and those of Titus too – can be found within the boundaries of the park. Views from the park are also historic, with the Colosseum directly visible from here.
The Vatican City itself may be its own state, but more than half of its tiny landmass is taken up by private gardens and parks. They are fairly diverse too with landscaped forests, floral designs, and sculptures. In fact, there are three distinct styles of garden – English, Italian and French – to admire.
And not only are these parks nice places to relax, but they also offer insight into the daily life of the Vatican City. However, they can only be visited with Vatican staff, so you’ll need to book a tour or hire a guide. You can book your tour here.
Make sure to read my post A Guide To The Vatican Gardens.
Once owned by the Torlonia family, Villa Torlonia and its grounds were completed in the 19th century. The land was bought from the Colonna family by banker Giuseppe Torlonia, and construction began on a grand neoclassical palace, finished under his son, Alessandro.
The grounds were beautifully transformed into an eclectic garden. It includes ornamental lakes, exotic plants, wide avenues, and a selection of strange buildings. There’s the Moorish Grotto, the Tournament Field and the “House of Little Owls” (Casina delle Civette). Today, the park is part of the Musei di Via Torlonia.
But the Torlonia family were not the most famous residents of the villa. From 1920 until 1943, Mussolini rented the villa and its grounds from the family for 1 lira per year, making it his principal residence. There’s the option today to tour Mussolini’s bunker, a later addition to the subterranean makeup of the park.
For a guided tour of Quartiere Coppedé that also goes to Villa Torlonia, click here.
Make sure to read my other posts:
- The Most Famous Landmarks In Rome
- Where To See The Lovely Cats Of Rome
- The Most Beautiful Squares In Rome
- The Nicest Monumental Fountains In Rome
- The Seven Hills Of Rome
- The Most Interesting Facts About Rome
- The Best Virtual Tours Of Rome
- The Best Markets In Rome
- Where To Go Running In Rome