Rome is an incredible and extremely popular city both as a place to live and as somewhere to visit. In fact, ancient Rome was the first place in the world to reach a population milestone of one million citizens back in the 2nd century BC. Rome has a rich history and an interesting past, and has held an immense amount of power throughout most of its time, dominating Europe for at least 700 years.
If you are one of the fortunate people to travel to beautiful Rome, you will be happy to know that the city offers lots of fun attractions and activities. Traveling can be expensive, and if you are vacationing on a budget and want to save money, you'll love this list of free things to do in Rome.
Whether seeing the sights after a business meeting or making a museum stop on your way home from shopping, stow your belongings at a luggage storage locker in Rome. Travel light and enjoy every minute!
Make Your Way to the Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps are an impressive piece of Rome and walking around the area is completely free. It is the biggest and most iconic staircase in the whole city, and the surrounding area has been developed for tourism with great shops and cafes to browse as well.
If you make your way to the top of the steps, you will find the Chiesa della Trinità dei Monti, which boasts some amazing artwork definitely worth seeing. Spending time in this charming part of the city can give you a unique taste of Rome and you have nothing to lose from checking it out.
Toss Coins at Trevi Fountain
You just can't vacation in Rome without stopping by the famous Trevi Fountain. In the center of the structure, you will see intricately carved displays of horses, people and mythical beings that are just as impressive to see at night as they are in the day. When the sun goes down, the beautiful fountains are lit up by spectacular lights, and if you can visit it at both times of the day you definitely should.
Local myth states that if you toss a few coins over your left shoulder using your right hand then you will have a safe return to Rome; a tradition that was started back in ancient times. Thousands of euros are gathered by the fountain every day, and the money is now collected and put towards feeding the poor.
Spend an Afternoon at Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese is Rome's most popular park and home to an impressive green space that is perfect for walking, biking, playing sports or just relaxing. There are lots of shaded paths for you to explore or nice seating areas to meet with friends and catch up.
In the area, you will see a Roman Temple that was designed and landscaped by the talented Giardino del Lago as well as a nice terrace on Pincio Hill. Found on-site are also several great museums, although some of them may cost money to enter.
Visit the Pantheon
This ancient Roman temple dates back an impressive 2,000 years and still stands as one of the best-preserved monuments in the city. It was constructed around 125 CE by Emperor Hadrian and is a truly impressive piece of architecture that is free to visit.
You will stand in awe at the beautiful bronze doors at the entrance of the building, and even more amazing is the domed roof that you will see inside. It is the largest of its kind and is reinforced only by the walls, which doesn't allow for any windows, and is why there is a hole in the center of the ceiling.
Explore Piazza Navona
One of Rome's highlights that attracts the most visitors is the beautiful Piazza Navona, which is stunning at all times of the day. In the early morning or late night, it is illuminated with lights and during the busiest time of the day, you can see some talented and entertaining street performers put on a show.
This place has always been a favorite among locals, and now tourists are welcome to gather here as well. It used to be home to the city's biggest market, but now only hosts seasonal markets along with events and festivities throughout the whole year.
See the View at the Priorato dei Cavalieri di Malta
This place stands as the Roman headquarters for the Knights of Malta and boasts one of the best views in the city. The building is always closed, with the rare exception of special occasions, so you probably won't be able to enter but this is still a wonderful spot to stop by.
Once you reach the piazza on top of Aventine Hill you can look through the keyhole of the villa to see a stunning view of the St. Peter's dome. The area itself is also worth exploring, as the buildings follow a beautiful ornamental theme and have some truly impressive detailing. For more amazing views, read our guide on hiking in Rome.
Go to St. Peter's Basilica
This activity is found in St Peter's Square and is another great thing to do while visiting Rome. It is known to be the biggest and most amazing of all the churches found in modern day Rome and is home to some popular masterpieces known around the globe as well.
This is the location of Michelangelo's Pieta, which is a world-famous sculpture, as well as his intricately designed domed roof. In the same building, you can see the baldachin which was created by Bernini and stands 29 meters high above the church's papal altar. Be aware that you might have to stand in line to enter the church, but with so many amazing things to see it is definitely worth the wait.
Browse the Campo de' Fiori
The Campo de' Fiori is one of the busiest and most lively areas in the city and is definitely worth stopping by. The plaza's name translates to Field of Flowers, which was decided as a reference to the meadow that the square was built upon.
You will find things to do here both during the day and at night so stop by whenever you have a chance. By day you will find a popular market selling some great things like drinks, pastries and other foods and if you come at night you will find yourself in a different setting, with lots of bars and restaurants open and ready to serve you.
Visit the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria
The area of Piazza Santa Maria is home to some great landmarks, including Bernini's Ecstasy of St Teresa. You can find this chapel on the north side of the area and the building is beautiful, especially in the afternoon light.
Once you enter the 17th-century church you will be amazed by what you find inside. Although it was partially destroyed during a fire in 8133, the structure and its interior have now been fully restored to their former glory.
Walk Around Via Margutta
This beautiful city street is a peaceful place to visit or spend a quiet afternoon. The cobblestone streets of Via Margutta can be great for an afternoon walk, and the picture perfect spot is quite romantic as well.
This area in the city has been frequented by several important people as it was the first ever meeting spot of Italian Futurists back in 1917 and the former place of living of Federico Fellini, known as one of the greatest film directors of his time. His most famous movie was La Dolce Vita, which came out in 1960.
Participate in a New Rome Free Tour
If you want to learn all about the history of the city straight from the experts, you will be happy to hear that you can find New Rome Free Tours in the historic center of the town. They are offered several times throughout the day, and you can follow along free of charge.
The experienced guides on the walking tour will bring you to some of the top places in the city all while giving an interesting and enthusiastic narration. You will see Renaissance palaces, architectural wonders and ancient ruins while walking through the cobblestone alleyways.
Visit the Piazza del Campidoglio
The Piazza del Campidoglio is known to be one of the most beautiful squares in Rome as well as one of the most important. Throughout its lifetime the square was used as a place of worship and later on during the Empire it was a place of power for the Senate.
In the center of the square, surrounded by three palaces, you will find a copy of the beautiful equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius created by Michelangelo. The statue became the central attraction of the piazza and serves as an important landmark in Rome.
Go to Chiesa di San Pietro in Vincoli
This old church was originally built for the purpose of holding the shackles of St. Peter, which you can still see today underneath the altar. Even more interesting is the famous statue of Moses which was sculpted by Michelangelo back in the 5th century.
This sculpture by Michelangelo also serves as Pope Julius III's mausoleum. On the other walls of the church, you will see frescoes of skeletons and other unique images that make it stand apart from other local churches.
Check Out the Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi
If you haven't seen enough beautiful churches yet you can still visit the Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi which is home to several monumental art pieces. Here you can find three different religious works done by the famous Caravaggio, including the Saint Matthew Cycle, a trio of Caravaggio paintings.
These Caravaggio paintings, as well as his others, depict his unique style of realism and bold contrasting that is well worth a visit in person. Also found inside the church are the frescoes of St. Cecilia, which date back to the 17th century and were created by Domenichino.
Stop by the Vatican Museums
There is no way that you can visit Rome and not go to the Vatican Museums in Vatican City. They usually cost money to enter, but if you happen to be visiting during the last Sunday of the month then you are in luck because entry is offered for free.
This is where you can see some of the most impressive pieces of Rome like the greatest artwork collection in the world, amazing Greek and Roman statues, Egyptian relics and more. While exploring the museums you will be walking the halls of the ancient Vatican palaces which were used as the homes of Popes since the 1200s. The unforgettable Sistine Chapel, which houses the Last Judgment of Michelangelo, is also part of these museums.
Seeing the Best of the Eternal City for Free
There are many sites worth spending money for in this ancient city, like trying some of the delicious Italian meals or paying for guided tours in some of the most famous landmarks. But if you have a quiet afternoon and want to find something to do with free admission the city can provide a lot of exciting options.
Like the Vatican Museums, other activities are offered for free at the end of each month including the National Gallery of Contemporary Art, the Roman Forum and the Borghese Gallery. Many of Rome's churches allow free entrance and are actually where you can find some of the most important artworks from ancient history.
If you are looking for other free things to do in Rome, you can also explore the incredible city on foot to see all of the beautiful scenery and street art up close. If you want more places to discover, try visiting a Pagan temple, the Piazza di Spagna, Palatine Hill, Piazza Venezia, the Capitoline Museums or the Palazzo Poli.