8 Free Things to Do in Rome

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.

Visit the Basilica di San Pietro - 8 Free Things to Do in Rome2.    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.

Explore the Forum - Free Things to Do in Rome

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.Explore Villa Borghese - 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.

 

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8 Free Things to do in Rome

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Steph

Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! She is the co-founder and editor of Why Wait To See the World. Learn more about her here.

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10 thoughts on “8 Free Things to Do in Rome”

  1. As you mentioned in this post, churches in Rome almost always look to tourists for a small donation. There are certainly plenty of giving opportunities from when you walk in the door, lighting a prayer candle, paying hommage to a saint, or through buying a souvenir postcard. Rarely do I find myself giving to these churches as my encounter with these magnificent buidlings is always too momentary to make me think of the costs of upkeep. That being said, there is certainly one church in Rome that is worth every euro left in your pocket after buying that behemoth gellato. On the north side of Piazza del Popolo, situated beside the Porta Flaminia, is the rather subdued church of Santa Maria del Popolo. As you enter the dark, musty church, head to the back left where you will find the Cerasi chapel and the of the greatest paintings in the world – The Conversion of Saul (my favorite paintings of all time) and the Crucifixtion of St. Peter by Caravaggio, and the Assuption of the Virgin Mary by Carraci. By dropping a euro coin into a little metal box the visitor can illuminate the entire Cerasi chapel, giving themselves an intimate, light-filled experience with two Italian masters that is nothing but spiritual. It has taken my breath away every time and I continue to crave the experience. If you need to save that euro coin for dinner then it is worth hanging around for someone to light up the chapel for you.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion! I haven’t been to that church but the Piazza Del Popolo is my favorite piazza in Rome.
    My favorite way to donate is to light a candle (usually 50 cents to a euro). It’s a nice semi-spiritual way to participate and it always reminds me of my very-catholic late grandmother.

  3. Great post. I absolutely loved the Pantheon when I was in Rome. (I’m an architecture dork.)
    .-= Nancy´s last blog ..New Social Network for Travelers: Kungaroo =-.

  4. Thanks for the post, Basilica de San Pietro was my favorite. I can also suggest that a good and free way to enjoy Rome is to walk along the banks of the Tiber River.

    Btw, I hope you don’t mind that I linked this entry to my blog post on Rome.
    .-= Jerick´s last blog ..Tangier =-.

  5. Nice list but you’re missing something important:

    Visit the many food markets in Rome! Great way to try new foods and if you want to do it on a budget, you can always just take photos. But I dare you not to buy anything!

  6. For those who are curious to see what is outside the city, a short bus ride away is enchanting Palestrina, a town built on the ancient temple of the goddess of fortune. There are many free archeological ruins throughout town (although both the national archeological museum and the home of the famous composer for the SIstine Chapel Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina both have a 5 euro entrance fee). Just following the many cobbestone paths around town is fun, every corner offers great views of historical homes and the museum steps are incredible for watching the sunset and taking photographs…

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