20 + Best Free Things to do in Rome, Italy
Heading to Rome, Italy, and in search of some of the best free things to do? In this Rome guide, I am covering some of the best free things you will actually want to do during your vacation to Rome, the eternal city! I was shocked to learn how many attractions in Rome were completely free to do, so let’s jump in!
Have you been to Italy before? Check out these Italy travel tips!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links to which I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. Disclosure
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- 20 + Best Free Things to do in Rome, Italy
- 1. The Pantheon
- 2. The Trevi Fountain
- 3. The Spanish Steps
- 4. Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola
- 5. Piazza Navona
- 6. Altar of the Fatherland
- 7. The Roman Forum
- 8. The Colosseum
- 9. Arch of Constantine (Arco di Costantino)
- 10. Trajan Forum
- 11. Pyramid of Caius Cestius
- 12. Largo di Torre Argentina
- 13. St. Peter’s Basilica
- 14. Cross the Ponte Sant’Angelo Bridge to Castel Sant’Angelo
- 15. The Jewish Ghetto Neighborhood
- 16. Circus Maximus
- 17. Piazza del Campidoglio
- 18. Rome Free Sunday
- 19. Stroll Down the Appia Antica
- 20. Explore The Trastevere Neighborhood
- Top Free Things to Do in Rome Italy Wrap-up
1. The Pantheon
The Pantheon is an incredible attraction in Rome that is completely free to visit! If you are unfamiliar with the Pantheon, it is a famous Ancient Roman ruin and landmark. Until 609, this ruin was used as a temple to the Roman gods. Since then, it has been used as a Catholic Church.
Additionally, the Pantheon is the largest unsupported dome in the world! When visiting the Pantheon, just line up to walk inside. From the marvelous marble floor to the captivating ceiling art, the Pantheon is one of the best free things to do in Rome!
You can enjoy visiting the inside of the Pantheon from Monday – Saturday: 8:30 AM – 7:15 PM and Sundays from 9 AM – 5:45 PM.
Even after the Pantheon is closed at night, they still light up the exterior, which is also lovely to see!
UPDATE: The Pantheon may no longer be free during the summer of 2023 with an entrance charge of 5 euros.
Address: Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
2. The Trevi Fountain
Another one of the best free things to do in Rome is to throw your coin into the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)! Notably one of the most famous fountains in the world, it belongs on every Rome itinerary!
Construction on the Trevi Fountain was started in 1732 and completed in 1762. Did you know the Trevi fountain’s water is sourced from ancient Roman aqueducts?
The Trevi Fountain is open 24 hrs Monday – Sunday, and the best time to visit is early in the morning to avoid crowds and in the afternoon to see the fountain lit up.
Oh, and make sure to come with a few coins to toss into the fountain. Toss your coin with your right hand over your left shoulder. They say one toss brings you back to Rome, 2 coins bring you love, and 3 tossed coins will bring you marriage.
This fun tradition coin-tossing tradition accumulates to an estimated 3,000 euros each day into the fountain. This is then donated to those in need living in Rome.
Address: Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
3. The Spanish Steps
Another top Rome bucket list attraction that is totally free to visit and enjoy is the Spanish Steps. Located in the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square), tourists and locals alike would come to hang out on the staircase.
However, to preserve the stairs’ integrity, you are no longer allowed to sit on them, but you can still go up and down them.
The stairs lead to the beautiful Trinità dei Monti church. In fact, the stairs were originally named after the church but then changed to the piazza name. Make sure to pay a visit to the Convent of Trinità dei Monti, which is a 16th century Roman Catholic church.
Address: Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
4. Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola
One thing that you will come to notice in Rome is that there are tons of magnificent churches, most, if not all, are free to visit.
The Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola is right near the Pantheon, and wow, is it beautiful. The church was built between 1626 and 1650. My favorite part of this church is the incredible Fresco on the ceiling.
During our visit, they had a large mirror in the middle so you could get a better look without having to look up!
Address: Via del Caravita, 8a, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Piazza Navona is easily one of the best piazzas in Italy! It is also likely one of the best free things to do with a visit to Rome! On the weekends, enjoy street performances throughout the piazza or relax by one of the 3 fountains, Fontana del Moro, Fontana de ‘Calderari, and Fontana dei Quattro Rivers).
Additionally, don’t forget to check out the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, a 17th-century Baroque church that is also free to enjoy.
Rome Tavel Tip: This is a great place to get an Aperol Spritz, and a great gelato place, Frigidarium is nearby.
Address: Via di Santa Maria dell’Anima, 30/A, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
6. Altar of the Fatherland
The Altar of Fatherland was built in 1885 in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy. This marble monument is known by several names, including The Victor Emmanuel II National Monument, the Mole del Vittoriano, The Wedding Cake, and The Typewriter.
Enjoy this magnificent monument from afar or climb to the top for views of Rome. It is located between Piazza Venezia and Capitoline Hill. Furthermore, you will be near some other top Rome attractions you can visit for free that we will dive into below!
Address: Piazza Venezia, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Hours of Operation: Monday-Sunday 9 am – 7 pm
7. The Roman Forum
So technically, there is a price to walk around the Roman Forum, but what you will quickly notice is that you can see a ton of it by just walking by. The main difference here is that you are not walking up to the monuments, but you are still getting a pretty good view of these ruins.
For example, from the back of the Capitoline Museums and the Senatorial Palace (which you should also see), you will be able to view ruins, including the Septimius Severus Arch, Lapis Niger, Milliarium Aureum, and Temple of Vespasian and Titus. With a good camera, you can make it seem as if you were standing right there.
An address you can use to get near the backend is 3 Via del Tulliano Rome, Lazio.
Furthermore, if you make your way down the right side of Via dei Fori Imperiali heading towards the Colosseum, you will see a ton of additional ruins in the Roman Forum. It is basically like a giant open-air museum of ruins.
You can put in Via dei Fori Imperiali, 00186 Roma RM, Italy, to get over here, which is also the Statue of Julius Caesar.
8. The Colosseum
Like the Roman Forum, you technically can’t get inside for free, but you can basically walk right up to this World Wonder.
At one time, you could visit for free on Rome Free Sunday, but currently, this is no longer the case. I will cover this more under Rome Free Sunday.
Personally, I would recommend going inside, however, if seeing the outside is good enough for you, this is easily achieved from a ton of different angles. In fact, the best Rome Instagram photos come from the outside of the Colosseum! Furthermore, the Colosseum is great to visit at night!
Address: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
9. Arch of Constantine (Arco di Costantino)
Next to the Colosseum, you can also marvel at the Arch of Constantine. This triumphal arch is dedicated to the emperor Constantine the Great. It commemorates Constantine’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in AD 312. If you haven’t noticed by now, Rome is a giant free walking museum of history!
Address: Via di San Gregorio, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
10. Trajan Forum
Walking back down the Via dei Fori Imperiali heading towards the Altar of Fatherland, you will find the Trajan Forum among many other Roman Ruins. Like the Roman Forum, you will not be able to walk up to them, but you will have a pretty epic view.
Some other notable ruins along this road you will see include the Forum of Augustus, House of the Knights of Rhodes, Trajan’s Market, Trajan’s Column, and the Imperial Fora.
Address: Via dei Fori Imperiali, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
11. Pyramid of Caius Cestius
One of the most unique places we visited during our 4 days in Rome was most certainly the Pyramid of Caius Cestius. You must walk through a graveyard accompanied by cute cats to reach the Pyramid. Believe it or not, this Egyptian-inspired burial was built sometime between 18-12 BC.
While inside, make sure to follow their wishes and not post any photos to social media.
Address: Via Raffaele Persichetti, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
12. Largo di Torre Argentina
Largo di Torre Argentina is easily another one of the best free things to do in Rome. For one, you will get to see 4 ancient Roman ruins, called A, B, C, and D. More importantly, this is the square where it is believed that Julius Caesar was murdered.
And if both of those are not enough reasons to stop by this square, you will also be likely to see a bunch of cats roaming around, and who doesn’t love a cute cat?
Address: Largo di Torre Argentina, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
13. St. Peter’s Basilica
Another one of the best free things to do in Rome is to visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world. Located in San Pietro Piazza City inside of Vatican City, you will definitely want to see this church in person! During your visit, you might have the opportunity to see the Pope on Sundays giving mass!
The church started construction in 1506 and was completed in 1626. The inside of St. Peter’s Basilica is incredibly beautiful with artwork from Michaelangelo, covered in marble, and also has the tombs of many other popes.
Several important buildings can be found here, including the Capitoline Museums, Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli, Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus ruins, Palazzo dei Conservatori, and Senatorial Palace.
Address: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City
14. Cross the Ponte Sant’Angelo Bridge to Castel Sant’Angelo
This epic bridge was constructed in 134 AD to cross the Tiber River. You will also get a great look of Castel Sant’ Angelo. The bridge and Castle were both commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian and are equally impressive.
Castel Sant’ Angelo now acts as a museum with a restaurant at the top. The Castle used to be a part of Rome Free Sunday. I couldn’t confirm if it still is, but even walking around the outside of the castle is still really nice!
Address: Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma RM, Italy
15. The Jewish Ghetto Neighborhood
I would say the Jewish Ghetto is one of the most underrated neighborhoods to explore in Rome. With colorful allies and ruins, it is a perfect budget-friendly place to stroll while taking in the history.
Some of the Roman ruins you can see include the Marcello Theater (started by Julius Caesar), Portico of Octavia, and the Temple of Apollo Medicus Sosianus.
As the name depicts, this area was also once an “enclosure” for Jewish people during holocaust times. As you make your way through the neighborhood, you will likely find gold-colored cobblestones throughout the area. They mark the homes of Jewish people that were killed in the Holocaust.
Address: Via del Teatro di Marcello, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
16. Circus Maximus
Another place to put on your Rome radar is The Circus Maximus! The site is now a public park, but it was originally built as a Roman chariot-racing stadium and mass entertainment venue. In fact, it was the first and largest stadium that could accommodate over 150,000 people.
During a visit, you can still see Ancient Roman ruins that have survived fire and demolition. The park often has events and concerts happing here, as it did when we visited.
The Circus Maximus is also right next to the Mouth of Truth, a popular tourist attraction due to the legend. It says if you put your hand in the mouth and are lying, you will be bitten. To take a picture with it requires a donation, or you can see it right through the iron gate and not worry about waiting in line.
Address: Via del Circo Massimo, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
17. Piazza del Campidoglio
Known as one of the most beautiful squares in Rome, make sure to check out Piazza del Campidoglio. Believe it or not, the square was designed by Michaelangelo, although because the execution of the square took so long, little was actually done during his lifetime. Workers continued his vision of the square, which was finally completed in the 17th century.
18. Rome Free Sunday
On the first Sunday of the month, many museums and sites can be visited for free in Rome. The kicker, the museums and archeological sites are owned by different organizations in Rome, so it can be a little difficult to know who is participating.
Pre-pandemic, the Colosseum, the Vatican, Palantine Hill, and other notable sites were a part of Rome Free Sunday, but it doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
However, it was recently announced that Rome Civic Museums will be participating. So if you happen to be visiting Rome on the first Sunday, you can expect to see some of the below places/museums for free.
Additionally, the Vatican Museums offer free admission on the last Sunday of the month from 9 AM – 12:30 PM.
- Capitoline Museums
- The Trajan’s Markets
- Museum of the Imperial Forums
- The Ara Pacis Museum, the Centrale Montemartini
- The Gallery of Modern Art
- The Giovanni Barracco Museum of Ancient Sculpture
- The Carlo Bilotti Museum Villa Borghese Orangery & The Pietro Canonica Museum in Villa Borghese
19. Stroll Down the Appia Antica
Another fun and budget-friendly thing to do in Rome is to stroll down Appia Way, known as one of Rome’s oldest roads. Named after Consul Appius Claudius Caecus, it was constructed in 312 BCE. A walk down any stretch of the road will greet you with giant cobblestones and Roman Ruins.
20. Explore The Trastevere Neighborhood
Known as a more under-the-radar neighborhood, the Trastevere neighborhood offers charming alleys covered in draping plants. Some things to do around the area for free are seeing the The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, The Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, and the Basilica Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.
Top Free Things to Do in Rome Italy Wrap-up
This concludes some of the best free things to do in Rome, allowing your travel budget to really work for you! We are lucky for places like Rome that offer so much history and beauty at a very reasonable cost.
Some other guides you might enjoy include: Sorrento & Amalfi Coast Itinerary | 4 Days in Rome Itinerary
Where to stay in Rome: Hotel Domus Tiberina | Pantheon Inn | Hotel Locarno | VRBO Vacation Rentals | Hostel World
Additional Rome Resources: Rome Tours & Skip the line | Skyscanner for best flights | Protect your Rome vacation with travel insurance