Some of you may know how much I love Rome. So much I’ve already been there 3 times. And this place was my first-time solo trip and my first time staying at a hostel. So.. yeah. I love Rome. It is a magnificent city that you can visit as it is filled with exciting and fascinating things that you can do. The city is also a great place to go if you are on a budget as you will find a ton of free things to do whether you want to explore historical sites in Rome, try out mouth-watering cuisines, or get the best views in the city. In this article, I will share with you some of the best free things for me to do in Rome.
Go on a Walking Tour
Walking tour is a great activity to try out if you want to learn about the history of Rome. There are varieties of walking tours that you can join from paid to completely free tours. If you are on a budget, it is best to go on a self-guided tour of Rome where you will get to explore the city at your own pace. As I did. Last time I managed to walk on foot 60km in 3 days. Some of the sites not to miss on tour are of course Colosseum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain. There are also some free audio tours of many historical sites that you can get while exploring the city.
Enjoy Tiber and Rome at night
This was my main activity the last time I went to Rome – enjoying the city at night. Just like in Paris, the banks here are a great place to go for a walk, for a run, or to take time off. If you are a photographer, you can use this place to take some fantastic nighttime photos of the city without tons of tourists around you. I could spend hours observing the reflection of Rome in the water.
Visit the Trevi Fountain
This fountain is among the most popular spots that you must not miss while in Rome, and the best part is that it is also one of the free attractions here. It gets crowded most of the time, and it is best to avoid peak times or weekends if you want the fountain all to yourself. You can also come here very early in the morning before it gets full of tourists.
There is this tradition of throwing a coin into the fountain for luck(or to make sure you will come back) which you can also take part in. I didn’t do it on purpose the first and the second time because I knew I would be coming back again and again.. who needs magical fountain for that. :D
Go sightseeing at the Vatican Museums
This one is usually a paid attraction. To enjoy it for free, you can visit on the last Sunday of every month, which is when the museum is opened to the public without a fee. This is a great place to go if you want to see some of the most famous artworks in the city and the only problem is that it is usually crowded. After exploring the museum, you can also visit St. Peter’s Basilica, which is a historic church that has a free entrance all the time. You will also find some iconic attractions inside the church. So far, I’ve managed to visit only the church. Last time I was lucky to be in Rome on the last Sunday of the month, BUT my legs were done. Completely done!
Go to the Pantheon
Ahh, I love this one. Just Love it! How it looks and its architecture…The Pantheon is among the best places to go in Rome for free, and it is a great place to experience one of the most magnificent domes in the city. For more fascinating experience, you can visit it when it is either snowing or raining. This is because the Pantheon features an open dome which allows weather of all kinds to fall in and you will be mesmerised with the sight of raindrops or snowflakes falling from the ceiling. There is this myth that the hole in the roof is magical, and when it rains, it’s not entering the Pantheon.. obviously not right. But it’s worth viewing it. You are also going to find some mind-blowing pieces of art on display here.
Visit the Spanish Steps
This is a perfect place to go if you want to see some of the most popular sites in Rome or you are seeking a poetic inspiration while in the city. The Spanish step is a hotspot for both the locals and the tourists as it is filled with varieties of things to do in the area.
If you are lucky to be in Rome during the spring, make sure you don’t miss the Spanish steps filled with thousands of Azaleas. This magnificent event only happens once a year, and you should try to experience it. I was that lucky to see it on my first visit, and it was amazing.
The place is crowded during the day so if you want to take some beautiful lonely shots just wake up early and be there before everyone else. It is totally worth it!
Go see the Colosseum
When you hear Rome, the first association with the city is the Colosseum, of course. So we can’t pass it here either. Even though if you want to enter, there is a fee, you can enjoy the whole vibe of it outside as well. And if I have to be honest, I have more photos of the Colosseum from outside than from when I visited it. If you insist on entering this massive amphiteathre, you have your chance on the first Sunday of the month or if you are under 18(all year long). There is a reduced price of the tickets if you are under 26 as well.
Relax at Piazza Navona
This vibrant square is among the focal points of Rome, and it is a great place where you can stroll around in the afternoon. The square is dotted with magnificent buildings and lovely Italian cafes that you can visit. This makes the square a great place to go for people watching activity and also to soak the atmosphere of the city. You can head to one of the cafes and try out their espresso while you chill out there.
The Villa Borghese Gardens
Another top favourite place of mine in Rome. Villa Borghese is the largest public park there, and access to gardens is completely free. There are a couple of ways to access the gardens, but most of the visitors like the approach from the Spanish Steps. The gardens are open from dawn to dusk. And from Terrazza del Pincio you can watch one of the most amazing sunsets in Rome.
The Villa Borghese Gallery is worth a visit as well, but there is a fee. There is a limit to the number of people per hour, so it is necessary to buy a ticket online.
Wander through the Neighborhoods
Trastevere, as known as the actual “Italian Quarter” of Rome, is a huge recommendation from me. The streets are narrow and full of romantic vibe, and most of them will lead back to the Piazza Santa Maria. There you can see one of the oldest churches in Rome. This piazza is the heart of Trastevere, full of every kind of person imaginable—both stylish and unsavoury.
The keyhole of the Priorato dei Cavalieri di Malta
And you’ll see St Peter’s dome perfectly framed at the end of a hedge-lined avenue. Not a full day attraction but so worth seeing and photographing it.
Take advantage of free admission days
On the last Sunday of the month, you can visit a long list of Roman museums for free. Some of them are the Vatican Museums, the Roman Forum, the Borghese Gallery, the National Gallery of Modern Art and Terme di Caracalla. On the first Sunday of the month, you can visit for free Colosseum(as I mentioned above), Palatino, and Roman Forum again.
And there you have it – my list with best free things to do in Rome! I hope this article can help you plan a budget-friendly trip to this fantastic city – and if you know other FREE things to see or do in Rome that you think should be included – just let me know in the comments below so I can add them to this list!
Where to stay in Rome:
- Find the best price for hotels in Rome
- Sign up to Airbnb with this link and receive a US $30 off your first booking.