7 Top Free Things to do and see in Rome
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7 Top Free Things to do and see in Rome

Rome, a city where history and modernity intertwine, offers a plethora of experiences that cater to all kinds of travelers. From the remnants of its imperial grandeur to its vibrant street life, the Eternal City has something for everyone. While Rome is known for its priceless art, magnificent ancient ruins, and divine cuisine, not everything in this captivating city comes with a hefty price tag. Many of its wonders are available to explore without spending a single euro. In this blog, we'll uncover the 7 top free things to do and see in Rome, ensuring your Rome city tour and Rome sightseeing adventure is both memorable and budget-friendly.

1. Marvel at the Pantheon

Starting with arguably the best-preserved monument of ancient Rome, the Pantheon is a marvel of engineering and architecture. Originally built as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, this iconic structure, with its massive dome and oculus, provides a breathtaking spectacle. As you step inside, the open roof casts a unique beam of light that illuminates the Pantheon's interior, highlighting its grandeur and the tombs of important figures like Raphael. The experience of standing in a building that has stood the test of time for nearly two millennia is utterly awe-inspiring and a must-do for any Rome sightseeing tour. If you want to avoid crowds, take a skip-the-line entry ticket to Pantheon and make your way at your own pace.

2. Stroll through the Roman Forum

Walking through the Roman Forum is like stepping back in time. Once the center of Roman public and political life, the forum houses the ruins of ancient government buildings, temples, and marketplaces. Although access to the site usually requires a ticket, it's worth noting that you can catch a glimpse of much of the area from the surrounding roads and viewpoints. The sight of these ancient ruins, set against the backdrop of modern Rome, is a stark reminder of the city's enduring legacy. A visit here offers a tangible connection to the past, allowing you to walk in the footsteps of the Romans who shaped history.

3. Explore the Vatican Museums for Free (On Select Days)

While the Vatican Museums typically charge an entrance fee, they open their doors for free on the last Sunday of every month. This is an incredible opportunity to see one of the most significant art collections in the world without spending a euro. Highlights include the Sistine Chapel, adorned with Michelangelo's breathtaking ceiling and The Last Judgment, and rooms decorated by Raphael. Take a self-guided tour of Vatican Museum to explore the sheer volume of art and history contained within these walls which is quite overwhelming. Plan to arrive early, as this opportunity attracts crowds eager to witness the Vatican's treasures.

4. Toss a Coin into the Trevi Fountain

No visit to Rome is complete without seeing the Trevi Fountain, one of the most famous fountains in the world. While tossing a coin into the fountain may cost you a small amount, viewing this masterpiece of Baroque art is entirely free. According to legend, throwing one coin ensures your return to Rome, two coins lead to a new romance, and three coins will lead to marriage. The fountain’s grandeur and the story behind the tradition make for a memorable experience, blending the charm of Roman mythology with the beauty of sculptural art.

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5. Visit St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica, located in Vatican City, is a monumental testament to Renaissance architecture and one of the largest churches in the world. Entrance to the basilica is free, and it offers visitors the chance to see incredible works of art, including Michelangelo’s Pietà, as well as the awe-inspiring dome designed by Michelangelo himself. The basilica's immense size, intricate details, and spiritual atmosphere make it a highlight for anyone on a Rome city tour. For those willing to wait in line, the experience of standing beneath the vast dome and walking through the ornate aisles is truly unparalleled.

6. Enjoy the Views from the Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps, a grand staircase of 135 steps, have long been a gathering place for locals and travelers alike. Climbing the steps is a quintessential Roman experience, offering spectacular views of the city from the top. The Steps lead up to the beautiful Trinità dei Monti church, adding to the picturesque setting. Whether you're people-watching, enjoying a gelato, or simply soaking in the ambiance of Rome, the Spanish Steps offer a perfect spot to relax and take in the city’s vibrant atmosphere for free.

7. Wander Through Trastevere

For a taste of Rome's more bohemian side, head to the Trastevere neighborhood. This charming area, with its narrow cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and ivy-covered walls, provides a delightful setting for a leisurely stroll. Trastevere is known for its lively atmosphere, especially in the evenings when locals and tourists flock to its many bars, restaurants, and gelaterias. While dining here might cost you, wandering through Trastevere and soaking up its eclectic vibe won't. The neighborhood also boasts beautiful churches like Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest churches in Rome, which you can visit for free.

Beyond the well-trodden path of Rome's most iconic landmarks and attractions, the city is teeming with hidden gems and lesser-known spots that are just waiting to be discovered. These additional insights and extra tips will enhance your Rome city tour, offering a deeper dive into its rich tapestry of history, culture, and beauty—all without costing a dime. Here’s a closer look at some off-the-beaten-path-free things to see and do in Rome that promise to enrich your experience.

Extra Tips for Exploring Rome

Early Mornings in Rome: One of the best tips for experiencing Rome’s famous sites without crowds is to visit them early in the morning. Not only do you get to see places like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum in a quieter setting, but the soft morning light provides a magical backdrop for photos.

Use Public Water Fountains: Rome’s streets are dotted with nasone, small public water fountains providing clean, drinkable water. Carry a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated for free while exploring the city.

Hidden Gems to Discover

The Aventine Keyhole: One of Rome’s best-kept secrets, the Aventine Keyhole offers a unique view of St. Peter’s Basilica through a keyhole on the door of the Villa del Priorato di Malta. This unexpected perspective frames the basilica perfectly, and the surrounding area of the Aventine Hill is a serene spot to wander.

The Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità): While not entirely unknown, the ancient marble mask known as the Mouth of Truth offers a fun, free experience. Located in the portico of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church, legend has it that if you tell a lie with your hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it will be bitten off. A visit here is a quirky addition to any Rome sightseeing adventure.

Parco degli Acquedotti: Part of the Appian Way Regional Park, this area is home to impressive ancient aqueducts. A stroll through this park offers a glimpse into the engineering marvels of ancient Rome, set against a backdrop of greenery and open space. It's a perfect spot for a picnic or a leisurely walk away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The Protestant Cemetery: Known for its serene beauty and as the final resting place of poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, the Protestant Cemetery (Cimitero Acattolico) is a tranquil oasis. Its lush, garden-like setting offers a peaceful retreat, and the tombstones and sculptures make for an interesting exploration of Rome’s non-Catholic history.

Basilica di San Clemente: While entry to the basilica itself is free, it's worth mentioning for its fascinating archaeological layers. The present basilica is built atop a 4th-century church, which in turn was built over a 1st-century pagan temple and Roman houses. A visit here offers a tangible sense of the historical layers that make up Rome, though there may be a fee to explore the lower levels.

Exploring Rome doesn't have to end with the traditional landmarks or even the hidden gems previously mentioned. The city is brimming with countless other free attractions and activities that allow visitors to immerse themselves in its rich tapestry of history, culture, and daily life. Here are more insights and unique spots to add to your Rome sightseeing adventure, ensuring your experience is as enriching as it is unforgettable.

Additional Free Attractions

Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Garden): This beautiful garden on the Aventine Hill is not only a peaceful retreat from the city's hustle but also offers one of the most stunning views of Rome. The terrace at the park's edge presents a panoramic vista of the city, making it a perfect spot for sunset watchers and lovers of scenic landscapes.

The Janiculum Hill: For another breathtaking view, head to the Janiculum Hill, one of Rome's seven hills. Offering a sweeping view over the rooftops, domes, and bell towers of Rome, it's an ideal place for photography enthusiasts and romantic visitors alike. Don't miss the daily firing of the cannon at noon, a tradition dating back to the 19th century.

The Churches of Rome: While St. Peter's Basilica might be the most famous church in Rome, the city is filled with over 900 churches, many of which are free to enter. These sacred sites are treasure troves of art and history. Churches like Santa Maria Maggiore, San Giovanni in Laterano, and Santa Maria in Trastevere showcase stunning mosaics, sculptures, and paintings, offering a glimpse into the spiritual and artistic heritage of Rome.

Quartiere Coppedè: Discover Rome's whimsical side by wandering through Quartiere Coppedè, a small, architecturally eclectic neighborhood that feels like stepping into a fairy tale. This hidden enclave, characterized by Art Nouveau, medieval, Baroque, and ancient Greek influences, is a delightful detour from the usual tourist path.

The Tiber River Banks: Take a leisurely stroll along the banks of the Tiber River, especially beautiful at sunset or in the early evening. The river is lined with trees and offers a quiet escape, with stunning views of the city's bridges and historical buildings. In the summer months, the riverbanks come alive with pop-up bars, restaurants, and live music, providing a vibrant atmosphere.

Tips for an Enhanced Rome Experience

Cultural Events and Festivals: Keep an eye out for free cultural events and festivals happening around the city. Rome hosts numerous free concerts, exhibitions, and festivals throughout the year, offering visitors a chance to experience the city's dynamic cultural scene.

Night Walks: Rome's monuments and historical sites take on a different character at night, beautifully illuminated and less crowded. A night walk through the city offers a unique perspective on its ancient beauty, and it's completely free.

Community Markets: Visit one of Rome's local markets to experience the daily life of its residents. Markets like Campo de' Fiori or the Testaccio Market offer a glimpse into Roman cuisine and culture, even if you're just browsing.

By incorporating these additional attractions and tips into your Rome itinerary, you'll not only save money but also enrich your travel experience with memories and sights that go beyond the conventional tourist experience. Rome's endless array of free activities ensures that every visitor can explore the depth and breadth of this historic city without spending a fortune, leaving with a heart full of memories and a deeper understanding of its timeless allure.


Rome is a city that proves you don't have to spend a fortune to experience its beauty, history, and culture. From ancient ruins and sacred sites to picturesque neighborhoods and iconic landmarks, there are plenty of free activities to fill your Rome city tour with unforgettable memories. Each of these top free things to do and see in Rome offers a unique glimpse into the heart and soul of the Eternal City, allowing you to immerse yourself in its timeless allure without breaking the bank. So pack your walking shoes, and prepare to explore Rome's treasures, each telling a story of glory, art, and the indomitable spirit of the city.

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