LOS ANGELES, USA - DECEMBER 23 2015: The Getty Villa  is one of two locations of the J. Paul Getty Museum which is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.; Shutterstock ID 355379339; Your name (First / Last): Josh Vogel; GL account no.: 56530; Netsuite department name: Online Design; Full Product or Project name including edition: Digital Content/Sights

Shutterstock / MR. INTERIOR

Getty Villa

Top choice in Malibu & Pacific Palisades

Stunningly perched on an ocean-view hillside, this museum in a replica 1st-century Roman villa is an exquisite, 64-acre showcase for Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities. Dating back 7000 years, they were amassed by oil tycoon J Paul Getty. Galleries, peristiles, courtyards and lushly landscaped gardens ensconce all manner of friezes, busts and mosaics, along with millennia-old cut, blown and colored glass and brain-bending geometric configurations in the Hall of Colored Marbles. Other highlights include the Pompeii fountain and Temple of Herakles.

The upper balcony has the best view of the lovely courtyard garden surrounding a reflecting pool – and down to the ocean – and there are plays and events in the more modern amphitheater.

When the Getty Villa reopened in 2006 after a seven-year renovation, the institution immediately found egg on its face when allegations of illegally obtained treasures surfaced. Although dozens of items have since been returned to Italy, there are plenty left.

Admission is free, but a timed ticket is required, and parking costs $15 ($10 after 3pm). Walk-ins are not allowed, so if you arrive by bus, be sure to ask the driver to hole-punch your villa ticket.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Malibu & Pacific Palisades attractions

1. Villa Aurora

0.51 MILES

Built in 1928 in the hills above Sunset Blvd, this was the home of Jewish-German novelist and intellectual Lion Feuchtwanger (1888–1958) and his wife…

3. Eames House & Studio

2.84 MILES

In Santa Monica Canyon, the striking Eames House and Studio, built in 1949 by design deities Charles and Ray Eames, resembles a Mondrian painting in 3-D…

4. Will Rogers State Historic Park

3.07 MILES

This park sprawls across ranch land once owned by Will Rogers (1875–1935), an Oklahoma-born cowboy turned humorist, radio-show host and movie star (in the…

5. Will Rogers Ranch House

3.07 MILES

The 31-room home where cowboy-turned-entertainer and humanitarian Will Rogers lived from 1928 until his untimely death in 1935 opens for tours. It's in…

6. Inspiration Point

3.11 MILES

One of the highlights of Will Rogers State Park, with views across the city and ocean.

7. Palisades Park


Perhaps it’s appropriate that Route 66, America’s most romanticized byway, formerly ended at this gorgeous cliffside park perched dramatically on the edge…

8. Santa Monica State Beach

4.28 MILES

There are endless ways to enjoy this 3.5-mile stretch of sand, running from Venice Beach in the south to Will Rogers State Beach in the north. Sunbathing…