Though visiting Rome can be quite expensive when compared to other European capitals, there are plenty of things to see and do in the capital that won’t break the bank.
Sometimes, in fact, our favorite places to visit, wander and explore in Rome are absolutely free!
Rome hotels: Our favorite affordable accommodations
25 Free things to do in Rome
Here’s a list of 25 activities that won’t cost one euro cent:
Some of Rome’s finest artwork and architectural design on display can’t only be found in museums. In fact, the creative masterpieces of some of the Bel Paese’s finest, Michelangelo, Bernini, Borromini and many others are actually found inside the churches of Rome and can be visited for free.
There are an endless supply of fountains in Rome and seeing them will cost you nothing (unless you toss some coins in, of course)! Some favorites are the Fontana di Trevi, the Fontana di Quattro Fiumi (Piazza Navona), Fontana delle Tartarughe (Piazza Mattei), Fontana del Tritone (Piazza Barberini) and Fontana delle Api (Via Veneto).
A special note about the Trevi Fountain: No one comes to Rome without making a stop at the grandiose Fontana di Trevi. Whether it be day or night, it’s hard not to admire the sheer beauty of the fountain that Federico Fellini chose as his backdrop for his masterpiece La Dolce Vita. Tourists flock in herds to the fountain, to throw a coin in as legend has it you’re sure to come back to Rome one day soon.
A favorite Italian pastime is to meet up with your friends in the piazza and shoot the breeze. Some of the more popular piazzas with both tourists and locals alike also happen to be very picturesque. These are at the top of your must-see list: Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Novona, Santa Maria in Trastevere, Piazza Venezia, Piazza del Popolo and Piazza della Repubblica.
There are a number of Ancient Egyptian and Roman relics scattered in piazzas around the city. The most famous obelisks are those located in Piazza San Giovanni in Lateranno, Piazza Minerva, Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Navona.
Wander up the Via dei Fori Imperiali and see Trajan’s Market (Mercati di Traiano), Arch of Constantine (Arco di Costantino), Roman Forum (Foro Romano) and the Palatine Hill (Palatino). This is the heart of what is left of Ancient Rome.
Note that you have to pay to get inside the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, but wandering along their peripheries and taking snapshots from outside won’t cost a thing.
The Colosseum is one of the seven wonders of the world and the unofficial mascot of Rome. To get inside this gargantuan monument where some of the bravest gladiators gave their best battle, you’ll have to wait in line and buy a ticket. However, it won’t cost you a dime to wander around it, taking in its immense beauty and snapping a perfect picture.
Related: Rome’s best free parks and gardens
8. Villa Borghese
Dubbed the “Central Park of Rome”, Villa Borghese is one of the few green spaces in the Ancient City where you can truly relax, take a stroll and plan a picnic away from all of the hustle and bustle of the city. Hike up to the spot called the “Pincio” for a bird’s eye view of Piazza del Popolo and the Roman skyline. Paradiso!
9. Villa Torlonia
A beautiful villa and garden that was also the Mussolini family residence, the Villa Torlonia then fell into disrepair and is now being restored. The garden contains many exotic plants and large trees. There’s also a nice museum called the Casina dellle Civette that’s remarkable for its stained glass windows. Open daily 7 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., Via Nomentana, 70.
10. Appia Antica
All roads lead to Rome and what better way to enjoy a peaceful stroll than taking the old path to Rome on a Sunday when all cars are banned? The Appian Antica way makes for a lovely walk with (literally) tons of ancient ruins to see along the way. The park has detailed routes with maps for the best walking routes.
11. Street Markets
Experience first hand how Romans shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, or how they bargain down the price of that shirt they always wanted! Rome’s street markets are absolutely free to visit unless you buy something of course!
The best open-air food markets are: Mercato di Trionfale (Via Andrea Doria), Campo de’ Fiori (Centro Storico) and Piazza San Giovanni di Dio (Monteverde).
Best flea markets are Via Sannio Market (San Giovanni) and Porta Portese Market (Trastevere).
12. Gianicolo Hill
For breathtaking views of the city, head up the Gianicolo Hill from Trastevere. At the top of the hill, there is also a lovely 17th-century fountain and a statue of the Italian national military hero Giuseppe Garibaldi. It’s one of our favorite romantic spots in Rome.
13. The Teatro di Pulcinella in Rome
Casa di Pulcinnella is home to wonderful open-air puppet shows. The shows are free (although a small donation is appreciated). What’s more, the Gianicolo Hill, home to the theater, provides fantastic views of the city.
14. Galleria Nazionale di San Luca
Located near the Trevi Fountain at Piazza dell’Accademia di San Luca #77, the Galleria Nazionale di San Luca is open on select days, but always free. Bernini famously got his start at this academy. Browse works by famous and not so famous artists here (Van Dyck and Raphael to name a few).
Wander the streets and lose yourself in the winding cobble-stoned alleyways that make Trastevere, Rome’s oldest neighborhood, so charming. Don’t miss a chance to meander these streets. Remember, a passeggiata won’t cost you a thing!
16. Innamorati dell’arte (Valentines Day only)
On Valentine’s Day throughout Italy, couples and friends can get two-for-one tickets at National museums, monuments and archaeological sites. (Includes: National Musuem of Villa Giulia, Galleria Borghese and the National Musuem of Castel S. Angelo. (February 14th only)
17. Piramide (Pyramid)
Believe it or not, Rome has a pyramid. The piramide was originally built as a tomb for for Gaius Cestius in 12 BC, and is located in bustling piazza right near the Piramide Metro stop (Line B). While it’s free to visit, you can only appreciate the outside of the pyramid.
18. Art Galleries on Via Margutta
The small, tucked away art market on Via Margutta has held a reputation since the 17th century of being a notorious haunt for bohemians and starving artists. In the 1950s, its studios and bars were frequented by the likes of Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando. Why not drop by? It’s free!
19. Crypts and Bones
Creepy for some, yet cool for others, the Santa Maria della Immocalata Concezione church, or best known as the “Rome’s Capuchin Crypt” has a tiny crypt underneath it where the skulls and bones of more than 4,000 Capuchin monks have been artfully arranged to decorate the walls of several tiny chapels. It’s located on Via Veneto near Piazza Barberini.
20. Aula Octagona
Considered to be one of Rome’s hidden treasures, the Aula Octagona is a well-kept secret in Piazza della Repubblica that houses ancient Roman sculptures. The room was part of the Baths of Diocletian, and is today the only part of the Roman National Museum that is free to visit.
Along with the Colosseum, the Pantheon is one of Rome’s best preserved ancient buildings. Originally constructed as a pagan temple, the Pantheon was later converted into a church. The immense monument located in Piazza della Rotonda, is a historian’s (and photographer’s) paradise, and costs nothing to visit.
The piazza also happens to be a favorite hangout for young people and becomes quite lively with its outdoor cafés and street performers.
22. La Bocca della Verità
If you zip by the outside of this church (Santa Maria in Cosmedin), you might see a long line of tourists and wonder what all the fuss is about. Tourists, it turns out, love taking a kitschy picture with their hand in the Bocca della Verità (mouth of truth). Legend has it, if you’re untruthful, the mouth will bite off your hand!
23. The Vatican Museums (last Sunday of the month)
On the last Sunday of every month, the Vatican Museums are open to the public for free. Unsurprisingly, the line is much longer on this day than most, so be prepared to wait or get there super early.
24. St. Peter’s Basilica
There’s nothing quite as remarkable in all of Rome as St. Peter’s Basilica. The road and square leading up to the church are just as magnificent. Though there’s no cost to get inside, there is a dress code that is strictly enforced. No shorts and skirts above the knees and no bare shoulders.
Be sure to check out the Vatican Grottoes underneath the church, where several Popes (including Pope John Paul II) and St. Peter are buried. Don’t forget to snap a picture with one of the Swiss Guards standing outside as well!
25. Papal Mass
Whether or not you’re a practicing Catholic, standing among hundreds of pilgrims and while listening to Pope Francis give his Sunday mass can be a moving experience for anyone. Catch a glimpse of the Pope giving his mass from his window or shown live on the big screen TVs every Sunday in Piazza San Pietro at 10 a.m.
Best affordable hotels
Searching for ways to save on sleeping in Rome? Check out this list of the best budget-friendly hotels, all of them located in central Rome within an easy walk of the city’s biggest sights. Need fewer choices? Check out this list of our 10 favorite budget hotels in Rome.
Source: Euro Cheapo