With the average cost of an 8-day trip to Rome being $1,500 per person, you may wish to look for ways that you can lower the cost. Rome, with its thousand-year-old buildings, rich history, world-class art, and breathtaking piazzas, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and you can still see the city on a budget by lowering your cost with free things to do in Rome.
You have several free things to do in Rome, which includes exploring the ancient ruins, seeing the churches and cathedrals, shopping at Testaccio Market, observing St. Peter’s Basilica, tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, and window shopping at Via del Corso. Rome also has a program where all the public museums are free on the first Sunday of every month.
Especially if you’d like to learn how to see Rome on a more affordable budget, keep reading as we will look at the best free activities that will save you hundreds of dollars.
The Best Things to Do in Rome That Are Free
Let’s take a look at the best free things that you can do while in Rome that will lower your cost and still give you precious memories with your loved ones.
1. Exploring Ancient Ruins
Beyond the Roman Forum, delve into the Palatine Hill, where Rome’s legendary founders, Romulus and Remus, were said to be raised by a she-wolf. This site offers a spectacular view of the Forum and Circus Maximus. Strolling through these ancient grounds, you’ll witness the remnants of grand palaces and temples, providing a tangible connection to Rome’s illustrious past. The rich history embedded in these ruins brings alive tales of emperors and ancient Rome’s glory days, making it an unmissable experience for history enthusiasts.
Insider Tip: Across the street, you can see Augustus’s Forum, and you want to check this out because they do a cool light show every night for around 40 minutes.
2. St. Peter’s Basilica
As you explore St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the many fantastic and culturally enriching experiences awaits you. Amidst the breathtaking Renaissance art and historical artifacts, don’t forget that indulging in the magnificence of this iconic site is one of the many free things to do in Rome. From the awe-inspiring Baldachin by Bernini to the intricate mosaics and masterpieces that adorn the interior, this spiritual and artistic journey comes at no cost, offering a memorable exploration for visitors without breaking the budget.
Insider Tip: Getting to St. Peter’s Basilica early like at 7 am usually gives you the shortest security line.
3. Attend the Pope’s Weekly Address
Experiencing the Pope’s weekly address at St. Peter’s Square is a unique opportunity that transcends religious boundaries, offering a glimpse into the heart of Catholic tradition. Surrounded by the grandeur of Vatican City, attendees feel a sense of connection with people from around the world. The atmosphere during these gatherings is often electric, filled with anticipation and reverence. It’s advisable to arrive early for a good spot, as the square fills quickly with pilgrims and visitors eager to hear the Pope’s message and possibly receive a blessing.
Insider Tip: Newlyweds often get the chance to meet the Pope personally for his blessing.
4. Visit Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona, with its vibrant street artists and bustling cafes, offers more than just Bernini’s masterpieces. This baroque marvel, once a Roman stadium, now hosts charming terraces and street performers, adding a lively atmosphere to its historical grandeur. The piazza’s enchanting ambiance is heightened in the evening when the fountains are beautifully illuminated, creating a magical setting. Each fountain, especially the Four Rivers with its symbolic representations of the world’s major rivers, tells a story of art and history.
Insider Tip: You can dine on some incredible traditional Italian food in this area.
5. Parks and Gardens
While enjoying the verdant beauty of Rome’s various parks like the Borghese Gardens and Giardino degli Aranci, make sure to add the enchanting Villa Doria Pamphili to your list of free things to do in Rome. As the city’s largest landscaped public park, it beckons visitors with its tranquil oasis of beautifully manicured gardens, picturesque meadows, and serene water features. This hidden gem, along with the Roseto Comunale, a fragrant rose garden near the Aventine Hill, provides a colorful and aromatic escape with stunning city views, all without costing a penny.
Insider Tip: The Giardino degli Aranci gives you an excellent view of the city, and it consists of hidden gardens, ancient churches and private homes.
6. Window Shopping at Via Del Corso
Strolling down Via Del Corso is like walking through a vibrant gallery of modern fashion and historic architecture. This bustling thoroughfare, a shopper’s paradise, is lined with a variety of stores from high-end designer boutiques to unique local shops, offering a glimpse into Italy’s renowned fashion scene. The street is also peppered with historic sites and splendid buildings, blending shopping with cultural exploration.
Insider Tip: This place has many historical buildings and many monuments worth checking out.
7. Take a Stroll in Charming Trastevere
Trastevere, known for its bohemian atmosphere, is a delightful neighborhood filled with narrow cobbled streets and medieval houses. As you wander through, you’ll find artisanal shops, cozy cafes, and vibrant murals that add to its charm. Trastevere is not just about picturesque streets; it’s also a hub for experiencing authentic Roman cuisine and lively nightlife. The area’s unique character comes alive at night when the trattorias and bars bustle with locals and tourists, offering an intimate glimpse into Roman life.
Insider Tip: Check out the fountain Fontana di Santa Maria in Trastevere. It’s the oldest fountain in Rome.
8. Head up to Hilltop Piazza del Campidoglio
In the heart of Rome, the Piazza del Campidoglio stands as a testament to Michelangelo’s brilliant Renaissance architecture. This picturesque square not only showcases symmetrical design and impressive statues, including replicas of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, but it also grants visitors a panoramic view of the Roman Forum. Incorporating a visit to this piazza into your itinerary aligns perfectly with exploring free things to do in Rome. As you enjoy the quiet retreat from the bustling city, seize the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Capitoline Museums, housing a vast collection of art and artifacts narrating the captivating history of Rome—all without spending a dime.
Insider Tip: You might come here walking, biking, or on a segway tour since many of those tours will take a stop at this piazza.
9. Browse the Market at Campo de’ Fiori
Campo de’ Fiori is a lively marketplace by day and a social hub by night. Here, you can explore stalls brimming with fresh produce, colorful flowers, and local delicacies. It’s a place to experience the everyday life of Romans. As evening falls, the market transforms into a vibrant spot where locals and tourists gather to enjoy the lively atmosphere, savoring street food and sipping on aperitivos in the surrounding bars.
Insider Tip: Come after the market closes to congregate with locals and tourists for drinks and an Italian tradition called “Aperitivo” or pre-meal drinks.
10. Toss a Coin in the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain, an iconic Baroque masterpiece, is more than just a beautiful sight. It’s a symbol of Rome’s rich artistry and tradition. According to legend, tossing a coin into the fountain ensures a return to Rome. The fountain’s grand sculptures and cascading waters make for a mesmerizing spectacle, especially when illuminated at night, capturing the eternal romance of the Eternal City.
Insider Tip: Want to return to Rome one day? Toss a coin in the fountain. According to the legend, those who undertake the journey will come back to Rome.
11. Climb the Spanish Steps to the Convent of Trinita dei Monti
The Spanish Steps, a monumental stairway of 135 steps, offer a splendid view of the Piazza di Spagna and the city beyond. At the top, the Trinita dei Monti church, with its twin towers and commanding presence, adds to the picturesque setting. Springtime is particularly enchanting when the steps are adorned with colorful azaleas, making it a perfect spot for relaxation and people-watching.
Insider Tip: If you like tea, go to the tea house here that is over a century old.
12. Explore the Via Appia Antica
Embarking on a stroll or cycling adventure along the Appian Way is not just a physical activity; it’s a captivating exploration of free things to do in Rome that immerses you in the tales of ancient history. This ancient road, lined with monuments, catacombs, and ruins, presents a picturesque route that unfolds stories of ancient Rome at every step. As you traverse this historic path, you’ll find yourself on a journey back in time, providing a serene escape from the bustling modern city. It’s a unique chance to reflect on the engineering marvels of ancient Rome, all while enjoying the beauty of this historical trail without spending a penny.
Insider Tip: The easiest way to visit the catacombs is by tour.
13. Enjoy the Sunset at Janiculum Hill
Janiculum Hill, not one of the Seven Hills of Rome, offers breathtaking views, especially at sunset. It’s a favorite spot among locals for its panoramic views of the city’s skyline, dotted with domes and spires. The hill is also home to the historic Fontana dell’Acqua Paola and a monument dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi, making it a place of beauty and historical significance.
Insider Tip: Check out the Tempietto del Bramante, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture.
14. See Michelangelo’s Moses in San Pietro in Vincoli
The lesser-known Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli houses one of Michelangelo’s greatest sculptures, Moses, part of the tomb of Pope Julius II. This impressive work of art captures Moses in a moment of contemplation, showcasing Michelangelo’s mastery in carving marble. The church itself, with its austere interior, provides a solemn backdrop that highlights the sculpture’s magnificence.
Insider Tip: Easier to come here on foot—rumor has it, it was Michelangelo’s favorite work.
15. Shopping at Testaccio Market
Testaccio Market is a hub of local life, offering a glimpse into the daily routines of Romans. Here, you can find everything from fresh produce to clothing, household goods, and unique Roman delicacies. It’s a great place to sample traditional Roman street food or buy ingredients for an authentic Italian meal. The market’s vibrant atmosphere and friendly vendors make it a delightful experience for all senses.
16. Go to the Rose Garden
When exploring the wonders near the Circus Maximus, don’t overlook Rome’s Municipal Rose Garden—a hidden gem among the free things to do in Rome. Nestled near this historic site, the garden serves as a peaceful sanctuary, home to over 1,100 varieties of roses from across the globe. Wander through enchanting paths that guide visitors through a kaleidoscope of colors and fragrances, creating a sensory-rich experience. For an especially mesmerizing visit, plan to stroll through the garden in May when the roses are in full bloom, transforming the landscape into a picturesque haven against the captivating backdrop of ancient Roman ruins.
Insider Tip: If you want to see it at its best, check it out in late spring. All of the Roman gardens are in bloom during this time.
17. Enjoy a Bike Tour Together
Rome’s varied landscape offers an exhilarating experience for cyclists. The Appia Antica, with its ancient cobblestones and historic landmarks, is a popular route. For a more leisurely ride, the pathways along the Tiber River provide stunning views and a peaceful ambiance. Cycling in Rome is not just about exercise; it’s an immersive way to explore the city’s hidden nooks and crannies, revealing lesser-known sights and sounds that contribute to the city’s unique charm.
Insider Tip: The best places for biking here are Sentiero Pasolini and Pista Ciclabile Ponte Milvio.
18. Visit Ponte Sisto: One of Rome’s Most Romantic Bridges of All Time
Ponte Sisto connects the bustling Trastevere district to the historic center, offering picturesque views of the Tiber River. This pedestrian bridge, steeped in history, is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll, especially at dusk when the city lights reflect off the water. The bridge’s serene atmosphere makes it an ideal location for couples to enjoy uninterrupted moments while soaking in the beauty of Rome.
Insider Tip: This place makes for one of the perfect photo opportunities to take with your loved one.
Free Things to Do in Rome for Families
Looking for some fun free things to do with your family? Here are a couple of great choices.
19. Visit the Cavalieri di Malta Keyhole
For families seeking a whimsical and cost-free experience in Rome, exploring the Cavalieri di Malta Keyhole on Aventine Hill is a must among the many free things to do in Rome. This peculiar keyhole offers a unique peek-a-boo view of St. Peter’s Basilica, framed by a charming garden. What makes this spot particularly enchanting is the surprise element—a stunning view of Rome’s skyline perfectly aligned through the greenery. This distinctive and memorable perspective makes the Cavalieri di Malta Keyhole a favorite among families, adding a touch of magic to their Roman adventure without spending a dime.
Insider Tip: You can easily walk here from Testaccio or Circo Massimo.
20. Go to Villa Borghese
For families seeking delightful and cost-free activities in Rome, Villa Borghese emerges as a haven with its lush gardens, playgrounds, and the renowned Borghese Gallery. This expansive park invites you to partake in various enjoyable pursuits, whether it’s renting bikes or paddle boats, relishing a picnic beneath the shade of ancient trees, or exploring the family-friendly entertainment options it offers. From puppet shows to a small cinema, Villa Borghese seamlessly combines nature and art, making it an ideal spot for families to create lasting memories without spending nothing.
Insider Tip: The Villa Borghese Gardens give you great views of Rome.
21. Go to La Bocca della Verita
The Mouth of Truth (La Bocca della Verita) offers a fun and slightly thrilling experience for kids. This ancient marble mask, famous for its legend, is located in the portico of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. According to legend, it bites the hands of liars, adding an element of adventure to your visit.
Insider Tip: You can find it on the left wall of the portico of the Santa Maria Church.
Free Things to Do in Rome with Friends
Going to Rome is a guaranteed recipe for fun, but you may wonder about all the things you can do here for free. Let’s take a look.
22. Sit by the Fountains in Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is not only a historical marvel but also a social hotspot where friends can gather and enjoy the lively atmosphere. Surrounded by Baroque architecture and street artists, it’s a great place to relax, people-watch, and enjoy the bustling ambiance of Rome. The fountains, especially Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers, provide a stunning backdrop for photos and memories.
Insider Tip: Piazza Navona is a budget attraction, and it has three major fountains in the piazza.
23. Take a Tiber River Walk
Discovering Rome from a fresh and tranquil viewpoint can be achieved through a leisurely walk along the Tiber River, making it a perfect addition to your list of free things to do in Rome. This scenic path leads you past numerous iconic sights, providing a quieter and more contemplative experience of the city. It’s an ideal activity for friends seeking casual conversations, scenic views, and the option to pause at one of the charming riverside bars or cafes. So, lace up your walking shoes and immerse yourself in the serenity of the Tiber, enjoying Rome in a way that won’t cost you a penny.
Insider Tip: Have a cocktail at one of the many bars along the Tiber.
24. Walk or Drive Via dei Fori Imperiali
Via dei Fori Imperiali, a road steeped in history, offers a direct view of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Walking this route is like traveling back in time, as it is flanked by ancient ruins and historical monuments. It’s a visually stunning journey, perfect for friends to explore Rome’s rich past and vibrant present.
Insider Tip: This is the most scenic road in Rome.
Free Things to Do in Rome Alone
Seeing the city by yourself can be an incredible experience because you can check out whatever you find most interesting.
25. Go on an Art Walk
Rome is an open-air museum, and an art walk is the perfect way to experience it. Stroll through the city’s historic streets and discover countless sculptures, fountains, and architectural masterpieces. Visiting iconic squares like Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Venezia offers an opportunity to appreciate Rome’s art and history at your own pace.
Insider Tip: Book a tour to liven up the walk.
26. Enter the Vatican Museums on the Last Sunday
Art enthusiasts in Rome have a wonderful opportunity to engage in one of the many free things to do in Rome—exploring the Vatican Museums without the customary admission charge. Every month, on the final Sunday, these renowned museums generously open their doors with complimentary access, allowing visitors to delve into their vast collections. From the ethereal beauty of the Sistine Chapel to the captivating allure of the Raphael Rooms, this initiative enables art lovers to immerse themselves in some of the globe’s most celebrated masterpieces—all without spending a penny. This generous offer adds a cultural and cost-free dimension to your time in Rome, enhancing the experience for art aficionados.
Insider Tip: Dress appropriately since all churches in Italy have a dress code.
27. Stand Beneath the Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine, near the Colosseum, is a triumphal monument that commemorates Emperor Constantine’s victory. Standing beneath this grand arch, you can admire its detailed reliefs and inscriptions. It’s a moment to reflect on Rome’s imperial history and the architectural prowess of the ancient Romans.
Insider Tip: The best view comes from a distance on the way from the Colosseum.
FAQs About Free Things to Do in Rome
Let’s take a look at the most commonly asked questions that you encounter about the free things to do in Rome.
Rome has plenty of free attractions, and this would include biking on various routes, checking out the free museums, walking around the sitting, and looking at the piazzas and the free art in the streets of the Eternal City.
On the first Sunday of every month, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and the Palatino are all free. These are the best free things to do in Rome on a Sunday, and they won’t cost you anything.
On a budget, you want to see all the important sites like the ancient Roman Forum buildings, the sculptures, the fountains, and there’s an open-air museum worth checking out.