Magnificent monuments, outstanding museums, and long-lived archaeological sites: Rome is jam-packed and full of unique attractions that are simply too good to miss. With such a delightful array of things to see and do, you could be tempted to squander your cash while exploring the Italian capital.
Fortunately, the Eternal City is brimming with dazzling sights that won’t cost a cent, meaning you don’t have to hit your wallet hard during your trip!
From idly strolling in colorful street markets and people-watching in leafy piazzas to visiting world-class museums, here are the nine best free things to do in Rome, Italy.
The Best Free Things To Do In Rome
Commissioned in 86 CE by emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus as a gift to the people of Rome, Piazza Navona is one of the most stunning squares in the city. This baroque-style piazza features three alluring fountains — Fontana del Moro, Fontana de ‘Calderari, and the spectacular Fountain of the Four Rivers —as well as architectural treasures such as the 17th-century Sant’Agnese in Agone and the Pamphili palace.
Surrounded by mansions, monuments, and lively restaurants, the square provides a gorgeous setting for a casual afternoon stroll in Rome.
Address: Piazza Navona
Fontana di Trevi
Immortalized by several big-name movies like Frederico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, the Trevi Fountain is a real treat for sore eyes. This dreamy fountain was built between 1732 and 1751 on the site of an ancient aqueduct and was masterfully designed by Italian sculptor and architect Nicolò Salvi.
The fountain stands 86 ft high and 161.3 ft wide and boasts a collection of achingly beautiful sculptures of mythological and allegorical figures, including Pietro Bracci’s statue of Oceanus, as well as whimsical statues representing Abundance and Health.
While catching a glimpse of Fontana di Trevi is completely free of charge, it is believed that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you will return to Rome one day!
Address: Piazza di Trevi
Holding court as the best-preserved building from ancient Rome, the Pantheon has remained practically intact through the centuries. This spectacular construction served as a Roman temple during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), and it was rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian in 126 AD. Since the 7th century, it has been a church dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyr, also known as “Santa Maria Rotonda.”
Aside from providing visitors with a sneak peek of Rome’s history, the Pantheon dazzles thanks to its impressive architectural features. The building has a massive domed ceiling — the largest when it was built — monolithic Corinthian columns of Egyptian granite, and enormous bronze doors. Inside are tombs of notable personalities such as Raphael, the painter and the Renaissance architect.
Access to Pantheon is free.
Address: Piazza della Rotonda
Arch of Constantine
Named one of the top attractions to visit in Rome, the Arch of Constantine is a monumental triumphal arch commissioned by the Roman Senate to celebrate emperor Constantine the Great’s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in AD 312.
The Arch of Constantine is majestically just a stone’s throw away from the Colosseum. Due to its glorious location, and the fact that it’s the last monument of Imperial Rome, it’s one of the city’s most photographed spots.
Address: Via di San Gregorio
Piazza di Spagna & the Spanish Steps
Bursting at the seams with passing Romans and visitors, Piazza di Spagna is an extraordinary sight. The centerpiece of this charming square is the Baroque-style Fontana Della Barcaccia, sculpted by Pietro Bernini and his son, Gian Lorenzo Berni. Rising up from the piazza, you’ll find a picture-perfect Rococo-style staircase named “Spanish Steps”, which provides locals and travelers alike with the most gorgeous views of the city.
Both the square and the staircase are great spots for stretching your weary legs and watching life go by in Rome while indulging in creamy gelato!
Address: Piazza di Spagna
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo is another worth-visiting square in Rome. Used for public executions and horse races in the 18th and 19th centuries, this piazza has grown into a beauty of destination featuring an array of artistic and architectural treasures.
While meandering through this treasure trove square, you’ll come across its eponymous church, the Renaissance-style Santa Maria del Popolo, which features two splendid canvases by Caravaggio. There’s also the mighty Porta del Popolo, a 16th-century Roman triumphal arch that used to be the access gate to the city along Via Flaminia, and an Egyptian obelisk dedicated to Ramesses II.
If you’re a wide-eyed traveler who loves exploring less touristic sites, the Appian Way is a great destination. Built in 312 BC, it connected Rome with Capua; Via Appia Antica was one of the most important Roman roads of the ancient republic, as it was essential in transporting troops to the port of Brindisi in southeast Italy.
Along the Appian Way, you’ll come across various historical sites, such as the Catacombs of San Callisto and Catacombs of San Sebastiano, as well as several basilicas and tombs.
The stretch close to Rome of the Via Appia Antica is part of the nature and archaeological park, the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica. It is a lovely location for a scenic nature walk.
Did you know you can visit the best museums in Rome at no cost? Yes! On the first Sunday of the month, there is the so-called “Domenica al Museo,” an initiative that allows locals and travelers to enjoy free admission to all state museums and archaeological sites, including the Colosseum Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum.
On the last Sunday of the month, between 09.00 and 12.30, the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, are also free to visit.
Campo De’ Fiori Market
Exploring the spectacular farmer’s markets in Rome is one of the top budget-friendly activities in the city. The traditional Campo de’ Fiori Market is a must-visit, the oldest farmer’s market in the Italian capital, and a veritable profusion of sights, sounds, and smells.
Located in the heart of Rome, Campo de Fiori is filled with stalls selling fruit and vegetables, meat, walnuts, fresh fish, lovely flowers, and delicious seasonal treats like fried artichokes, one of the top foods to try in Rome.
St Peter’s Basilica
Located at the center of The Vatican, in St Peter’s Square, the majestic St. Peter’s Basilica is the second-largest religious building in Christendom. Built during the 4th century over the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle and designed mainly by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the basilica is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture.
The St Peter’s Basilica is entirely free to visit, though you will need to pay for the view at the top. Also, expect long queues of around two hours.
What are the best free things to do in Rome?
The 9 best free attractions in Rome are:
- Piazza Navona;
- Fontana di Trevi;
- The Pantheon;
- Arch of Constantine;
- Piazza di Spagna & the Spanish Steps;
- Piazza del Popolo;
- Appian Way;
- Via Appia Antica;
- Rome’s Museums;
- Campo De Fiori Market.
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