Visiting Rome is a bucket list item for many people, and for good reason – the city is full of history and culture. But what if your budget is tight?
Don’t worry – there are plenty of free things to do in Rome that will allow you to enjoy the city without spending a fortune. From walking around the Colosseum to admiring the Trevi Fountain, here are some of the best free things to do in Rome.
- 1 Best Free Things to Do in Rome
- 1.1 Walk around the Colosseum
- 1.2 Admire the Trevi Fountain
- 1.3 Visit the Pantheon
- 1.4 Explore Trastevere
- 1.5 Pop into St. Peter’s Basilica
- 1.6 Visit the Vatican Museums
- 1.7 Check out Castel Sant’ Angelo
- 1.8 Climb the Spanish Steps
- 1.9 Visit Piazza Navona
- 1.10 Marvel at the Egyptian Obelisks
- 1.11 See the sunset from Terrazza del Pincio
- 1.12 Stroll around Villa Borghese
- 1.13 Visit Altare della Patria
- 1.14 Take in the views from Giardino degli Aranci
- 1.15 Check out the Circus Maximus
- 2 Conclusion
- 3 Author Bio
Best Free Things to Do in Rome
Walk around the Colosseum
The Colosseum is one of Rome’s most iconic landmarks and it’s a must-visit on every Rome itinerary. What’s even more special is that it’s possible to visit the exterior for free, making it one of the best free things to do in Rome.
The massive structure was built over 2,000 years ago and is a remarkable feat of engineering. Despite being almost destroyed several times during the centuries, the Colosseum has survived and is now considered one of the world’s seven new wonders.
While the interior of the Colosseum requires a ticket, you can explore the outside at your leisure. Be sure to walk around to the back of the Colosseum to see the Arch of Constantine – one of Rome’s most famous triumphal arches.
Admire the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions, and it’s easy to see why. The stunning fountain is the largest in all of Rome and is truly a work of art.
Designed by Nicola Salvi and completed in 1762, the Trevi Fountain features an intricately carved central sculpture surrounded by smaller statues and bas-reliefs. The fountain is a popular spot for tourists to take photos and make wishes, and it’s one of the most Instagrammable places in Rome.
The best time to visit the Trevi Fountain is early in the morning or late at night when there are fewer people around. During the day, the fountain can be very crowded, so it’s best to admire it from a distance.
While the fountain is free to admire, you’ll need to pay a few cents if you want to throw a coin into the water – a tradition that is said to guarantee a return trip to Rome.
Visit the Pantheon
One of the most well-kept ancient structures in Rome, the Pantheon is definitely a must-see. The impressive structure was built as a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome and features a massive central dome with an oculus (open hole) at the top.
The interior of the Pantheon is surprisingly simple, with a marble floor and columns arranged in a perfect circle. But it’s the exterior of the Pantheon that really impresses, with its towering columns and grand facade.
The Pantheon is free to enter and is open daily from 9 am to 7 pm. Be sure to get there early to avoid the crowds.
Trastevere is one of the most charming and atmospheric neighborhoods in Rome. The name Trastevere comes from the Latin trans Tiberim, meaning “beyond the Tiber.” And that’s exactly what this neighborhood is – it’s located on the west bank of the Tiver River.
Trastevere is known for its cobbled streets, quaint churches, and lively nightlife. It’s also one of the best places to stay in Rome for foodies as it’s home to countless amazing Italian restaurants.
To really experience Trastevere, wander around the narrow streets and pop into the small shops and cafes. This is a great neighborhood to explore if you’re looking for free things to do in Rome.
Pop into St. Peter’s Basilica
Being one of the most famous churches in the world, visiting the St. Peter’s Basilica is a must on any trip to Rome. The basilica is located within Vatican City – the smallest country in the world – and it’s free to enter.
While you can explore the exterior of St. Peter’s Basilica at any time, the interior is only open during specific hours (generally 7 am to 7 pm). Even if you don’t go inside, there’s plenty to see outside, including Bernini’s impressive colonnades and Michelangelo’s Pietà sculpture.
If you want to visit the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica, be sure to dress modestly – shoulders and knees must be covered. You’ll also need to go through a security check before entering.
Once you’re inside, you can choose to go up to the top of the dome for a stunning view of Rome. Although it’s not free, the tickets cost only 6-8 EUR depending on how many steps you’re willing to climb up, making it one of the absolutely best budget things to do in Rome.
Visit the Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are some of the most famous museums in the world, and they’re definitely worth a visit. The museums are located within Vatican City and contain a vast collection of art and artifacts from throughout history.
Some of the highlights of the Vatican Museums include the Sistine Chapel – with its iconic ceiling painted by Michelangelo – and the Raphael Rooms, a series of four rooms painted by Raphael.
While normally there is a charge to enter the Vatican Museums, the good news is that it’s possible to visit for free on the last Sunday of every month! Although you can expect to share the experience with a big crowd, this is still an incredible opportunity if you’re visiting Rome on a budget.
Check out Castel Sant’ Angelo
Castel Sant’Angelo is an imposing castle located on the banks of the Tiber River. The castle was originally built as a mausoleum for the Roman emperor Hadrian but was later used as a fortress, barracks, and papal residence.
Nowadays, Castel Sant’Angelo is open to the public and makes for a great place to explore. The highlight is definitely the panoramic terrace which offers incredible views over Rome.
If you want to visit the interior of Castel Sant’Angelo, there is an entrance fee of 14 EUR. But if you’re happy to just admire the exterior, it’s free!
Climb the Spanish Steps
If you’re looking for the best free things to do in Rome, you can’t miss the Spanish Steps. The 138 steps were built in the early 18th century and connect the Piazza di Spagna with the Trinita dei Monti church.
The Spanish Steps are one of the most popular spots in Rome, so be prepared to share the steps with plenty of other people. But despite the crowds, the steps are definitely worth a visit for their incredible views.
Although it can be inviting to sit down on the steps after a full day of exploring, it’s actually not allowed anymore and comes with a hefty fine if you do so. The Spanish Steps are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and sitting on the steps is strictly prohibited in order to preserve them.
Piazza Navona is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions, and it’s also one of the best free things to do in the city. The square is located in the center of Rome, and it’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike.
Piazza Navona is home to several important landmarks, including the Fountain of the Four Rivers. The square is also a great place to people-watch or grab a bite to eat.
Marvel at the Egyptian Obelisks
Most people don’t know this but actually, Rome is home to more ancient obelisks than the whole of Egypt! You can find 13 obelisks in the city in total and 8 of them were transported to Rome directly from Egypt.
The two most famous obelisks are located in the Piazza del Popolo and the Piazza San Giovanni.
The obelisk in Piazza del Popolo was brought to Rome from Egypt by Augustus in 10 BC and originally stood at the entrance to the Circus Maximus. The obelisk was moved to its current location in 1589 and is now surrounded by four fountains.
The second obelisk is located in Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano and was brought to Rome by Constantine in the 4th century AD. The obelisk is the tallest in Rome and is decorated with a cross on top.
Both of the obelisks are free to see, and they make for interesting photo opportunities.
See the sunset from Terrazza del Pincio
If you’re looking for one of the best free things to do in Rome at night, head to the Terrazza del Pincio for a sunset view like no other. The terrace is located at the entrance of Villa Borghese and offers panoramic views over Rome.
As the sun sets, the city lights up and you can see all the way to St. Peter’s Basilica in the distance. The Terrazza del Pincio gets busy around sunset, so be sure to arrive early to get a good spot.
Stroll around Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese is a large public park located in Rome. The park is home to several museums, including the Galleria Borghese – one of the most important art museums in Rome.
In addition to the museums, Villa Borghese is also a great place to take a stroll, go for a run, or just relax in the gardens. The park is huge, and there’s plenty to see and do, making it one of the best free things to do in Rome.
Visit Altare della Patria
Altare della Patria, also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, is a massive monument located in Rome. The monument was built to honor Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy.
The monument is composed of a central statue of Victor Emmanuel II flanked by two statues of soldiers. There are also several fountains and an eternal flame burning at the base of the monument.
Visitors can take an elevator to the top of the monument for panoramic views over Rome. Admission to the monument is free, but there is a small charge for the elevator.
Take in the views from Giardino degli Aranci
Giardino degli Aranci, or the Orange Garden, is a small park located on the Aventine Hill. The park is famous for its stunning views over Rome.
The best time to visit the Orange Garden is at sunset when the views are particularly beautiful. The park is also a great spot for photography lovers as it’s one of the best places to get panoramic views of Rome.
Admission to the park is free, and it’s open daily from 9 am to sunset.
Check out the Circus Maximus
The Circus Maximus is a large ancient stadium that was once used for chariot races and other public events. These days, the stadium is mostly used as a park, but it’s still an impressive sight.
The Circus Maximus is a great place to go for a walk or a jog, and it’s also one of the best spots in Rome for people watching. You can also see the ruins of the ancient stadium, which are still partially preserved.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Circus Maximus, there are several tours available. Or, you can just explore on your own – it’s free to enter!
Rome is a beautiful city with plenty of things to see and do. And, the best part is that many of the best attractions are free! From world-famous sights to lesser-known gems, there’s plenty to keep you busy in this incredible city without spending a dime.
Hopefully, this guide has given you some ideas for the best free things to do in Rome. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below!
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Kriszti is a Budapest-based travel blogger with a never-ending wanderlust who is passionate about content creation, travel photography, and discovering new destinations, one place at a time. Her goal is to help her readers turn their travel dreams into reality by sharing her practical travel tips and detailed travel guides on her blog, She Wanders Abroad. You can follow her adventures in real-time on Instagram here.