Rome Italy, the Eternal City, is known for its rich history, iconic landmarks, and delicious food. However, visiting this beautiful city doesn't have to break the bank. There are plenty of free things to see and do in Rome that will leave you with lasting memories without spending a single Euro. So, grab your walking shoes and get ready to explore the streets of Rome without spending a dime. Here are some of the best free things to see in Rome, Italy.
Some free info for the Best of Rome Italy
I am including info on paid tours for some of these free locations in Rome Italy, just in case you would like a deeper dive into the site then just the free visit. These will cost you some money, but if you just pick a couple tours it will not cost you an arm and a leg. The map above shows you the basics of where these are located. If you would like it personalized for your own visit, give me a yell. I just started doing my blog in no particular order, just my top 15 places that were free and the best for me to see.
As you can tell from the map of Rome, some places are close together and are best to just walk between. Others need a taxi ride, or Metro. Personally, I liked using Romes's version of Uber called FREE NOW. It's not free like the name suggests. lol, but easier than catching a taxi. Also, it's cheaper than a taxi or hiring a private driver with Viator.
I found most Italians know English or know enough to communicate with me, since I only know 5 words. Buongiorno, Ciao, No, Si, and Grazie. The Italians do appreciate you using some Italian and it helped me being able to use these few words. Honestly, I was quite impressed at how well some spoke English, in fact a few spoke better English than half of the American population. lol. You think I am joking but I am not. The major tourist spots on this best free list will always have people from Italy working that can speak enough English for it not to be a worry for you. Rome is such a wonderful city.
A- The Colosseum
No visit to Rome, Italy is complete without seeing the iconic Colosseum, which is also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. Built over 2,000 years ago, this ancient arena was used for gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, and other events. While entrance to the Colosseum requires a ticket, you can still admire this impressive landmark from the outside for free and it will give you the best view for pictures. I love the views of my pictures from the street beside it that goes uphill (Viale di Parco del Celio). Honestly, I thought my pictures of the Colosseum were the best in Rome, Italy. If you would like to buy tickets to get inside, I recommend skip the line tickets. This place is always packed with people and has huge lines. For the best skip the line Colosseum, click here. This tour is $21.20. If you are wanting to bundle his tour with Palantine Hill and the Roman Forum, use this tour, at around $56.09 per person.
Another free must-see landmark in Rome is the Trevi Fountain. Located in the heart of the city, this stunning fountain features a grandiose Baroque design and is one of the largest fountains in Rome. It's also a popular spot for tourists to throw a coin into the water, as legend has it, this will ensure your return to Rome Italy. Did you know that over 3,000 Euros are tossed in the fountain daily? Yes, it is true. City officials scoop out the money often and the money is donated to church charities. This is a free location but always so full of people. The best time to pay a visit when it is not crowded is between 3am.-6am. If you are here during the day, be mindful, this is a common place for pickpockets because it is so crowded. At the corner of fountain and Via Poli is the best Cannoli I have ever had, and it was only 5 Euro. Wish I could remember the name of the business, but look for it, it's so worth it.
The Pantheon, meaning "temple of all gods," is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings. This former temple now serves as a church and has Mass on Sundays. You'll find the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome and stunning architecture that will leave you in awe. You can observe from the outside area for free like I have in the picture. If you are interested in going inside it's 5 Euros, which is a cheap ticket that can be purchased online through the Ministry of Culture of Rome, or you can buy it out front (just bring Euros). Pantheon website click here which will give you other options for tours. Until this year it was free to visit. If you go inside just know if you visit on Sunday it will have to be after Mass. Pay close attention to the roof and the hole that has always been there, Also, there are famous burials here. 2 Italian Kings, a queen, Voltaire, Marie Curie, Victor Hugo and Raphael, just to name a few. This is another location that is packed with people so watch your wallets.
D- Piazza Navona
Just a 7-minute walk from The Pantheon, Piazza Navona is another must-see destination in Rome. This lively square is lined with beautiful Baroque buildings and is home to three stunning fountains, including the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). It's also a great place to people-watch and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of Rome. Plus, you can enjoy live music and street performers throughout the day and night. So, make sure to add these free attractions to your list. If you are here near Christmas (usually after December 8th) you will also see a Christmas Market set up. As for some history of this place, back 2000 years ago this area was an Olympic Stadium area. Of course, the ruins are below the square now, and there are tours to get under the square and see the ruins if you would like, but the layout of the square kept the same template as years before on how the buildings are set up and the shape of the square. I will toss this little note in here if you want another 7-minute walk, Campo De Fiori. It is a wonderful food market with lots of great restaurants nearby.
E- Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps are another iconic landmark in Rome Italy that shouldn't be missed. This famous staircase connects Piazza di Spagna to Piazza Trinità dei Monti and is a popular spot for tourists to gather and take in the beautiful views of the city. There is nothing Spanish about these steps, it's just referred to as the Spanish steps because it's easier to pronounce then the phrase I typed earlier. lol. In fact, the cathedral at the top is French. Climbing the 135 steps to reach the top is free, and it's a great way to get some exercise while exploring Rome. If you climb the steps and then up the hill you will end up in Villa Borghese Garden. Nearby there is some great shopping, or window shopping if you have my kind of budget. Every famous store you can think of is located in this area. At Christmas you will also see Christmas Decorations and a light display on a building made by Dior
F- Villa Borghese Gardens
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by visiting Villa Borghese Gardens. This peaceful oasis offers stunning views of Rome's skyline and is the perfect place for a relaxing picnic or a leisurely walk. The gardens are also home to several museums, including the Galleria Borghese, which houses an impressive collection of artwork. This is a great place for people watching, while observing locals running and walking in the park. There are also amusement rides for the kids too. It is located just past the Aurelian Walls and Porto Popolo if you are driving up here. If walking, come up past the Spanish Steps. This is one of the best views of Rome, Italy, plus it is free to visit the park.
If you would like to watch my 2 YouTube Golf Cart Videos. Click the links below.
For a quieter and more off-the-beaten-path experience in Rome, head to Aventine Hill. This hill offers breathtaking views of the city, including a unique perspective of St. Peter's Basilica. You'll also find the peaceful Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Garden) at the top, where you can relax and enjoy the scent of orange trees. The Malta Keyhole is also in the Aventine Hill area and gives you a unique picture of the Vatican. The Rose Garden and Santa Sabina Church are also located up here. Just take a walk around Aventine Hill, it is so relaxing and beautiful.
H- The Trident
This absolutely beautiful area, with fountains on each side, a 3000-year-old Obelisk that was moved from Egypt to Rome when it was 1000 years old. The gated entrance area, the place to walk in, gives you the feeling that you have finally arrived in Rome. This is one of the original entrances to Rome and is the best. You can easily tell why this is called the Trident because of the 3 streets that you face when you walk in the gate, and it is optically pleasing with the Identical churches on each side. This year the city of Rome placed their city Christmas tree in the Trident area. Normally it is at the Wedding Cake...... (Wedding Cake is next)
I- The Wedding Cake
Vittoriano or Altare della Patria, but I know it as the Wedding Cake. That is why it is known as the wedding cake, much easier to pronounce and it makes sense. A wedding cake symbolizes the joining of or marriage. and this building is a memorial of that for Italy. The wedding cake building is a monument built in honor of King Victor Emmanuel II – the first king of unified Italy. Construction began in 1885 and was completed in 1935, making it one of Rome’s most recent additions to its iconic skyline. The design for the building was selected through a national competition, and architect Giuseppe Sacconi’s proposal won him the prestigious commission. This might not be an ancient building, but boy does it pack a punch. Usually, the Christmas Tree is located here but this year there is tons of construction due to the building of a new Metro Station. Climb the steps and take in the great view of Rome from the Wedding Cake.
J- Appian Way
Take a step back in time by visiting the ancient Appian Way, one of the first roads built by the ancient Romans. This historic road is now a pedestrian and bike path that stretches for miles, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Along the way, you'll also find several ancient tombs and ruins to explore. Originally this road extended all the way south to the boot of Italy. This was a main ancient road. If you want an escape from people and the city center, this is the place to come. There are also many historic things to visit here too. Catacombs and Aqueducts are among these beautiful walkways.
K- Saint Paul Cathedral
I love Saint Paul more than the Vatican. There are 2 Basilicas owned by the Vatican located in Rome and not the Vatican and Saint Paul is one of them. So next on your free tour of Rome should be the awe-inspiring Saint Paul Cathedral. This grand basilica, officially known as 'Basilica Papale San Paolo Fuori le Mura', is one of Rome's four major basilicas and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its majestic façade, adorned with mosaics, greets you with its undeniable grandeur. Inside, the church houses the tomb of St. Paul, making it a significant pilgrimage site. The beautifully maintained garden surrounding the cathedral makes for a perfect spot to pause and enjoy the serenity. Remember, entry into the basilica is free, but remember to respect the sanctity of the place. Don't forget to check out the stunning mosaic portraits of all the popes in chronological order! My personal opinion if you are taking a private driver from the airport instead of the train or shared shuttle. Request a stop here. It is on your way, and this is the easiest way to see it since it is located just as the name states (outside the wall). You will be blown away by all its beauty.
L- Saint Maria Majjorie Basilica
This is the other Vatican owned Church and I fell in love with it. Not only is it located in the Esquiline area of Rome, near Termini Train Station but it has a wonderful history and is absolutely stunning. Built in the 5th century, this ancient church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is believed to be one of the oldest churches in Rome. It was built on top of an existing temple dedicated to Juno, which adds a layer of history and significance to this magnificent structure. The basilica is a perfect blend of Byzantine and Romanesque architecture, with its intricate mosaics, striking columns and grand domes. As you step inside, you are immediately struck by the sheer scale and beauty of this masterpiece.
The best part is it is not crowded like Saint Peters in the Vatican. You will have plenty of time to explore all corners of the cathedral and even see the Golden Crib, which claims to have originally carried pieces of Jesus's original crib.
M- The Vatican
Technically it is its own country that is surrounded by the city of Rome. Saint Peter's Square and Saint Peter's Cathedral are free to visit. But the Sistine Chapel and museums have a fee and if you want those you will need a skip the line ticket. Lines are crazy long here, as is the whole Vatican area is super crowded. Here is the best skip the line and museums, Sistine Chapel and even though you can get in for free at Saint Peters it will help you there. Did you realize you could book a ticket to Saint Peters to attend Mass for free.? Tickets are available on their website 60 days in advance. Click here for the Saint Peters Website. Also, if you would like a chance to meet the Pope or at least get a good glimpse of him, check out the same website and sign up for a Papal Audience. It's available every Wednesday at around 9 am except for the month of July, when the Pope takes a break from doing the audiences. Just remember to book these things 60 days in advance because of limited quantities.
N- Sant’Ignazio di Loyola
Sant’Ignazio di Loyola, also known as the Church of St. Ignatius, was built in the seventeenth century by Pope Gregory XV. It is dedicated to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who was the founder of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. The church was built on the site where St. Ignatius died and was buried in 1556. Sant’Ignazio di Loyola is not your typical grand cathedral with intricate artworks and elaborate decorations. Instead, it boasts a unique architectural feature that will leave you in awe - the magnificent ceiling fresco. This masterpiece was created by Andrea Pozzo, a renowned Baroque artist, and it creates an optical illusion that makes the ceiling appear to be a grand dome. As you walk in you will see a line, don't bother jumping in line, unless you want a selfie with a mirror that is a trend right now with this cathedral. Just walk in and look at the painted hole in the ceiling and as you walk to the right while looking up you can tell it is a flat ceiling instead of a domed ceiling. Still, it is a brilliant piece of art. Just remember that it is free to pay this church a visit, just remember you cannot visit during Mass on Sunday.
O- Torre Argentina (Cat Sanctuary)
This is a free, wonderful sight. If you are standing on the sidewalk and the street Vie Florida is behind you, you are looking at Torre Argentina. To the left of this view (which you cannot see because it is street level), this is where Julius Caesar was murdered. So, take the steps down, explore the area, and be sure to visit the cats. The cats are very well taken care of here and tend to hang out on a bright sunny day sunning themselves on parts of the ancient ruins. Rome loves their cats because they keep away rodents. Now when you are back to street level with Vie Florida behind you, turn around, cross Vie Florida, and get the best pizza in Rome. Locals love it and it is very reasonably priced.
There are so many wonderful places to visit, and I only covered my top 15. Take a look at some othe tours offered on my Viator link and it will give you deals on any tour or activity in Rome besides the ones I mentioned. There is just so much to see and do here. I hope you have enjoyed this blog; I sure did love my trip to Rome and would love to help you travel to your bucket list places. If Rome is one of them, I am the girl that can help you out. Whatever sights and tours you see in Rome you will not be disappointed.
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