After reading about the mighty Roman Empire, watching popular movies like “Gladiator” and visiting European cities like Barcelona and London which were occupied by the Romans at one point, it was only a matter of time until I planned a trip to see the Eternal City of Rome for myself.
Of course, you can spend a small fortune exploring Rome but there are also plenty of free things to do in Rome as well. This means that you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money on activities and attractions. In fact, during my weeklong trip to Rome, I spent less than €20 on fun activities. Here’s a complete breakdown of how much my trip to Rome cost and even more Italy travel tips.
With that being said, let’s get into the top things to do for free in Rome.
Free Things To Do In Rome on a Budget
Where To Leave Your Wallet Behind in Rome (on Purpose)
You might be surprised to see the Colosseum, one of the most popular Rome attractions on this list but you can visit the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill for free the first Sunday of every month.
In fact all state archeological sites, museums and attractions are free on the first Sunday of the month. However before you visit, I recommend either calling or checking their website to make sure they are open.
Not in town to take advantage of “Musei gratuiti a Roma”?
Although you’ll be bombarded by hagglers and vendors offering pricey “skip the line” tours, if you’re on a budget in Rome, you can simply join the line to enter the Colosseum and pay €12 admission any other day. Entry to the Colosseum includes admission to the Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum for two consecutive days.
If you want to take a guided tour of the Colosseum with a historian (which I wholeheartedly recommend), you’ll pay an additional €5.
And if you don’t want to pay admission at all, walking the parameter is completely free!
Visit Most Churches
In Rome most churches are admission-free. However just make sure to observe church etiquette. That means cover your shoulders and knees especially during the summer time.
In some cases, some churches may even deny you entry: it’s better to bring a scarf to cover your shoulders and remove any hats when going inside.
Via Appia Antica
Ride a bike, walk or go for a run on the oldest road into Rome. Here you’ll see catacombs, monuments, ancient churches, and Roman ruins.
The Spanish Steps
Another free attraction in Rome is the Spanish Steps.
Sit on the grand open-air staircase, people watch or take in the rooftop views from the terrace. After climbing 138 steps, at the top, visit the Trinità dei Monti, which is a small 16th-century church and convent with two bell towers overlooking the piazza.
Although tempting, be mindful that you can’t eat or drink on the newly renovated steps.
The Pantheon is a large Roman temple built in 27 B.C. devoted to past, present and future deities. Admission is free and it has an enormous dome – one of the world’s largest reinforced concrete domes with an oculus (opening to the sky).
The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is a must see in Rome. It’s one of the top free things to do in Rome.
Known as one the most beautiful fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain is a magnificent Baroque-style fountain in Rome. Here you can admire the sea god Oceanus, Tritons and mythical winged sea horses. Don’t forget to do the coin toss so you’ll find yourself back in Rome soon.
Villa Borghese is the largest park in Rome. Overlooking the city, Villa Borghese is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to ride your bike or go on a scenic run or casual stroll. Villa Borghese is my favorite spot to run in Rome. I love the scenery and tranquil ambiance.
Villa Borghese is surrounded by greenery and it has lots of sculptures, flowerbeds, water fountains and even a water-clock. There are also plenty of lookout points and balconies where you can admire Rome’s skyline which is studded with church domes and spires.
Helpful Tip: I recommend visiting the Roman gardens early in the morning around 7 a.m. since it’ll likely be less crowded.
Saint Angelo Castle at Night
At night take a stroll by the illuminated Saint Angelo Castle and walk along the banks of the sparkling Tiber River. This is yet another excellent photo spot in Rome. The scenery is so romantic!
During the day there’s an entry fee to go inside but wandering outside is free of charge.
Lastly, for a dreamy sunset make your way to the Gianicolo Hill, the second tallest hill in Rome. Gianicolo Hill is one of the best spots in the city for panoramic views of Rome all the way up to the mountains. I recommend visiting in the evening so you can see Rome during the day and at night.
Before my trip to Rome, I had the chance to visit other Italian cities like Milan and Florence (my favorite) but I still have so much more of Italy to see. I’m especially looking forward to visiting Pisa and Venice next or even go on a day trip to Siena. Only an hour away from Venice, Bibione is a charming seaside resort high on my list. With plenty of green spaces, clear water beaches, and amusement parks, Agenzia Serena is the perfect place to unwind and take a break from exploring Italy’s major cities.
Summary of Free Things to Do in Rome:
- The Colosseum
- Visiting Churches in Rome
- Via Appia Antica
- The Spanish Steps
- The Pantheon
- The Trevi Fountain
- Villa Borghese
- Saint Angelo Castle at Night
- Gianicolo Hill
Did you enjoy this list of free things to do in Rome? What would you recommend adding?
Danielle Desir is a financially savvy traveler, 5x author, and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27, and has traveled to 27 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her terms. Listen to The Thought Card Podcast here.