If you like big cities, really, really vast cities than you will probably love Rome. It is a sprawling metropolis full of beeping scooters, ringing church bells and the constant and jarring juxtaposition of ancient Roman ruins nestled next to vibrant shopping avenues. Thousands of years of history just burst out of every corner; complimented by the free-wheeling modern Italian culture. Surprisingly, for such a larger modern European capital Rome is actually quite affordable and surprisingly, there are so many free things to do in Rome.
Here are some great free things to do in Rome:
1. The Basilica di San Pietro
One of the best things to do in Rome and a can’t miss experience is a visit to Vatican City, the home of the pope. While touring the museums and gardens will set you back, visiting the lavish church is free. Designed by Michelangelo and containing beautiful and priceless sculptures and paintings, the experience is awe-inspiring, like walking into an art history textbook. Unlike many churches, you are free to take pictures here.
2. The Vatican Museum
The Vatican Museum is actually quite pricey unless you go on the last Sunday of the month when admission is free. The stores of art and antiquity housed here are terrific, even if the Sistine Chapel is somewhat underwhelming.
3. The Pantheon
The Coliseum is an expensive but worthwhile excursion, however, you can wander around another landmark piece of Ancient Roman architecture for free (and this one is actually still intact). The Pantheon was built in the 2nd century AD and originally intended as a temple to all of the Roman gods. In the 7th century, it was converted into a Catholic Church. It’s a marvel of ancient engineering and contains the tomb of one of the original Ninja Turtles, Raphael. It is one of the best free things to do in Rome!
4. The Forum
Just across the street from the Coliseum, the Forum is a can-not-miss peek into the heart of Ancient Rome. Here you can wander the iconic ruins of about a dozen beautiful temples, arches, and buildings. I would suggest springing for the audio tour to help make sense of what you are seeing, which is available for 4 Euros.
5. La Bocca della Verità
Most famous for being visited by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, The Mouth of Truth is tucked away Santa Maria de Cosmedin on the aptly named Piazza della Bocca della Verità. Be sure to get a photo op acting out the famous scene: La Bocca Della Verita
6. Villa Borghese
Rome’s largest public park was originally the grounds of a 17th-century palace, and it still retains that elegance now. When you can’t stand the hectic pace of downtown anymore, the park is a quiet and peaceful escape. There are several museums here that you can visit (which do charge admission fees) but it’s lovely just to perambulate the park and appreciate the sculptures, gazebos and the Romans at leisure. If you wander up via La Piazza De Popolo there is a great view of the entire city and be sure to catch the sunset from the Pincio Terrace.
7. The Fountains
All across the city famous fountains designed by Bernini, Borromini and other great sculptors. The Trevi Fountain is perhaps the most famous. It is gorgeous and always swamped with tourists, but it’s worth a stop to throw some pennies for luck. Other not to miss fountains include the Fontana di Quattro Fiumi in the Piazza Navona and the Fontana della Barcaccia at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. All are terrific spots for people watching and always make our list of amazing free things to do in Rome.
8. All of the churches
Every church in Rome is free (although many will request a small donation or will sell a guide for a small fee). Rome has a ridiculous number of gorgeous and historic churches, which contain priceless works of art. The churches in Rome are basically like free museums dotted all over the city!
Do you have any favorite free things to do in Rome?
Headed to Rome? While You Can’t Sleep at the Coliseum, You Can Sleep At These Places
The Generator Hostel in Rome is a modern, cool hostel in the heart of the Eternal City. Relax and unwind at this cool hostel with its coffee bar, in house restaurant and modern lounge.
Stay in the heart of Medieval Rome and feel like a true Roman with a stay at Relais Le Clarisse. Relax on the private courtyard with an espresso and in their elegant rooms.
If you are traveling in a group the Crispi Luxury Apartments are calling your name! Located near the Spanish Steps these apartments are centrally located and right next to the luxury shops of Spagna.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means that if you click and purchase something through these links, Steph and I make a commission at no extra cost to you.