Free things to do in Rome

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Rome is a city where the doors of the art-filled churches are thrown open to everyone, where ancient architectural marvels are around every corner, and where it is completely free to wander the city’s parks, piazzas, and streets. We can show you how to visit a surprising number of the world-famous attractions and free things to do in the lovely capital city of Italy.

Consider the ceiling of the Pantheon

man in blue waistcoat and white dress shirt standing near pantheon
Photo by A. M on

The best preserved of Rome’s ancient monuments is this 2000-year-old temple, which is now a church. The Pantheon, built by Hadrian over Marcus Agrippa’s earlier 27 BCE temple, has stood since around 125 CE.

Entering the Pantheon’s massive bronze doors and gazing up at the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome is an unforgettable and exhilarating experience. A visit to the Pantheon should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Rome, if only to be reminded that before Rome became the seat of Catholic power, the people here worshiped a different set of gods.

Admire the splendors of St. Peter’s Basilica

majestic dome ceiling with fresco paintings in catholic cathedral
Photo by Bastian Riccardi on

Take a look at the street artists on Piazza Navona

Come early in the morning before the crowds or late at night when the fountains, such as Bernini’s iconic Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, are illuminated to experience Piazza Navona at its most enticing. Come when it’s busy to watch the street performers and tourists come and go and hang out until dusk.

woman standing near white dome building
Photo by Polina Kostova on

Piazza Navona, Rome’s main market, has been a hub of local life for nearly 300 years. During the holiday season, there is a Christmas market, and there is plenty of activity all year.

Planning Hint: Do you need to quench your thirst? Fill your water bottle at the nasone (big nose) drinking fountain in the piazza’s northwestern corner.

Check here for the top places to stay in Rome!

Some of Rome’s most popular attractions are free at certain times

If you time your visit correctly, you could be seeing some of Rome’s most expensive attractions for free. The Colosseum, Palatino, and Roman Forum are free to visit on the first Sunday of each month. The Vatican Museums are free to visit on the last Sunday of each month.

Quartiere Coppedè has atmospheric architecture and is one of free things to do in Rome

Quartiere Coppedè, one of Rome’s most extraordinary neighborhoods, was designed and built between 1913 and 1926 by the little-known Florentine architect Gino Coppedè. The magnificent Piazza Mincio is surrounded by palazzos with Tuscan turrets, Liberty sculptures, Moorish arches, Gothic gargoyles, frescoed facades, and palm-fringed gardens.

Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain

The stunning, extravagant rococo Trevi Fountain features wild horses, mythical figures, and cascading rock falls. It’s a breathtaking sight at any time of day, but it’s especially captivating after dark when it’s all lit up. Tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain is said to ensure your return to Rome.

white concrete structure
Photo by Michael Giugliano on

It’s a rite of passage for tourists to throw a coin into the fountain – on an average day, about €3000 is thrown over shoulders into the water – but with all that money comes crowds, so expect to be jostled for space. If you go late at night, it might be a little quieter.

Take a look at the Via Appia Antica

The Via Appia Antica, the most renowned route in antiquity, has been a prestigious location in Rome since 312 BCE. Walking is the most enjoyable form of exploration, making it ideal for a cost-free experience. It is a lovely cobbled street flanked by grassy fields, Roman ruins, and tall pine trees. Spartacus and 6,000 of his slave rebels were crucified here, and early Christians interred their dead here.

Planning advice: Visit the Service Center Appia Antica at the northern end of the route for more details and a map of the area.

Explore the Campo de’ Fiori market

The vibrant and always active Campo de’ Fiori is a significant hub of Roman life. During the day, it is home to one of the city’s most well-known marketplaces, and at night, it is bustling with clubs and restaurants. The open meadow that once stood here before the piazza was created in the middle of the 15th century is referenced in the piazza’s lyrical name, “Field of Flowers.”

At Tempietto del Bramante, see the architecture of the Renaissance era

The Little Temple by Bramante is regarded as the first truly outstanding structure of the High Renaissance. On the alleged site of St. Peter’s crucifixion, in the courtyard of the Chiesa di San Pietro in Montorio, it is a lovely little surprise. Its classically inspired style and excellent proportions perfectly capture the spirit of the Renaissance.

A good stop on a walking tour in Gianicolo is the church, despite the steep climb up to it. The Spanish Royal Academy entrance, which is located to the north of the church, leads to the tempietto. There are stunning views of Rome from the academy’s higher level, if you can gain access there.

Get involved in the passeggiata it is one of best free things to do in Rome

Rome’s customary nighttime stroll, or passeggiata, is a must-do activity. It’s especially vibrant on the weekends when groups of friends, families, and lovers stroll around the streets while chowing down on gelato and window-shopping.

a stairway on a church facade
Photo by Natasa Dav on

To participate, go to Via del Corso at 6 o’clock. As an alternative, take in the drama on Piazza di Spagna.

Visit Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli to learn about tales

The shackles of St. Peter, which are on display under the altar, were the reason for constructing this church in the fifth century. However, Michelangelo’s muscular Moses, which has its own intriguing mythology involving a mistranslation and an intentional “error,” is the major attraction at Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli.

Getting there: From Via Cavour, climb a steep flight of stairs that pass beneath a short arch to get to the chapel.

Navigate via Arco degli Acetari to the hidden square

Visit this gloomy archway off Campo de’ Fiori for one of Rome’s most stunning sights and free things to do in Rome. The arch itself isn’t particularly noteworthy, but as you pass through it, you’ll find yourself in a little medieval plaza surrounded by rust-orange buildings and flowing plants. Cobblestones are covered in cats and bicycles, and washing is dangling from lovely, flower-lined balconies above.

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