Rome is a mystical and charming city with its immense offering of artistic, archaeological, and historic treasures. It also doesn’t hurt that the panoramic views are nothing short of breathtaking.
Combine all of the above with the city’s unique traditions, and you have yourself a true bucket-list destination. After all, it is the 11th most visited city in the world. The Colosseum and Vatican City alone garner more than four million visitors each year–and don’t even get us started on the incredible food.
Of course, there is a downside to such a gem of a city, and that’s the cost of visiting. Rome is arguably one of the most expensive cities to visit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it without spending money.
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That’s right–there are dozens of free things to do in Rome!
So, if you’re a tourist on a tight budget, this article is for you (P.S. Be sure to pack light. There’s a lot of walking involved!).
These are the best FREE things to do in Rome.
Take a Free Walking Tour
Free walking tours are becoming increasingly popular and can be experienced in almost every popular city in the world.
Free walking tours are arguably better than your run of the mill private tours. They’re given by real locals who have studied relevant topics that give them a vast and cultured insight into the places and things they’ll show you.
Because the tour itself is free, it’s customary to tip what you can (between 2 and 25 Euros). Trust us, those tour guides will make it worth your while, and you can easily book and reschedule online. We suggest booking a walking tour with Rome’s Ultimate Free Walking Tour guides.
Test Your Integrity at The Piazza Bocca Della Verita
The Piazza Bocca Della Verita–Square of the Mouth of Truth–is a town square between Via Della Greca and Luigi Petroselli. It’s famous for its Mouth of Truth disk, located right in front of Santa Maria Church.
According to a local legend, if you move your hand between the Mouth of Truth, it’ll bite it off if you’re a liar. This famous attraction usually draws a long line, and it closes by 5:50 pm.
There’s also more to see here, including two ancient Roman temples–the Tempio di Portuno and the Tempio di Ercole Vincitore!
Throw a Coin or Three into the Trevi Fountain
You can’t leave Rome without paying a visit to the iconic Fontana di Trevi. Nicola Salvi created the magical piece of late Baroque waterworks art in 1732. However, the fountain itself dates back to 19 B.C., when the Roman aqueduct was first built.
This is how free-flowing water was brought into the Roman baths and various fountains. The Trevi was built at the end of the aqueduct, where three streets–tre vie–meet. Hence the name, Trevi, or the Three Street Fountain.
Don’t forget to toss a few coins into the fountain to guarantee your return to the Eternal City.
Conquer the Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps is another iconic must-see. The steps extend from the Piazza di Spagna to the Trinità dei Monti, and the view at the top is unreal.
At the foot of the steps, you’ll find the Keats-Shelley Memorial House among restaurants, cafes, designer shops, and bars. The Spanish Steps were once the spot to sit and have lunch, but this has changed since the steps’ 2016 restoration. Now you may incur a fine for lunching on the steps.
Stroll The Villa Borghese Gardens
While you’re walking the Spanish Steps, make sure to venture into the Villa Borghese. The Villa Borghese is the largest public park in Rome, and its garden grounds are free to explore. Around the park are plenty of restaurants and gelato vendors, as well as bikes for rent.
If you want to spend a bit to explore the Villa Borghese Gallery, go for it; just keep in mind the number of people they allow inside per hour is limited.
Admire the Art at Galleria Nazionale Di San Luca
At the Piazza dell’Accademia di San Luca, you’ll find the Galleria Nazionale, which is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and the last Sunday of each month.
The Accademia di San Luca was founded by an association of artists in the late 1500s. Its purpose was to elevate the artists’ work within the community. Here you’ll enjoy the works of many famous artists, including Raffaello, Van Dyck, and Canova.
Wander the Trastevere
The “Italian Quarter” of Rome is a well-traversed neighborhood filled with narrow, sometimes winding roads. These roads eventually lead back to the Piazza Santa Maria, which is the heart of the Trastevere and home to one of Rome’s oldest churches: The Church of Santa Maria.
The church is famous for its Byzantine mosaic that sits behind the altar. There’s a light box in which you can drop a few coins and watch the mosaic light up for about 60 seconds.
As you venture through Trastevere, you’ll end up passing through the old neighborhood of Testaccio, which is popular for its trendy nightclubs, shops, and restaurants, all carved out of the base of its hill of amphora.
Testaccio is where you’ll find some real Roman eats, and if you walk to the Northeast corner of the quarter, you’ll see Aventine Hill. From Aventine Hill, you’ll get to see the Porta San Paolo Gatehouse, the Museo Della Via Ostiense, the Basilica of St. Paul, and the Pyramid of Caius Cestius.
Plan Ahead For “Free Sundays”
On the first Sunday of every month in Rome, there’s a nice long list of Roman museums you can enter free of charge. However, this list excludes the Vatican, which is governed by Vatican City, and offers free entry on the last Sunday of each month.
You can view the full free Sunday list here.
There are plenty more free things to do in Rome as well as Italy’s other incredible cities. For more tips and advice on what to do in Rome check our article here.