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10 free things to do in Rome

Hello fellow budget hunters,

Today I am missing travel and really want to be on holiday or at least in the sun. (It’s grey and overcast once again in the UK) So I decided I would do a freethings to do post about one of the Capital cities that I went to on our grand trip last summer!

I have mixed feelings about Rome, which I plan on writing a whole separate post about my opinions.

sunshine travel blogger

Rome is a crazy city, there is so much history there – the Romans influenced such a big part of Europe, but Rome is obviously where it all was centred.

There’s so many things to see and do in Rome, although the biggest attractions are expensive – Think Vatican Museum and Colosseum, I was surprised at the amount of things we could do for free in Rome. (I was expecting it to be a super expensive city, and was surprised)

So here’s a run down of my top 10 free things to do in Rome : –

  1. Pantheon –

    This is one of the most famous free exhibits in Rome, but I have heard there are plans to include an entrance fee. Over 7 million people visit the Pantheon, to see the former Roman temple which is now a church. The roof is the most famous part, with the hole and how it was constructed.

    I will be honest, I sat in the Pantheon after read the signs about the ceiling being all one piece. And couldn’t get my head around the fact the Romans could build that 1900 years ago, and yet we didn’t real develop technology for another 1750 years. I just couldn’t get over how society just plateaued for so long and then suddenly increased.
    free things rome

  2. Spanish Steps

    – I had no idea what these were before I went to Rome. Turns out they were built around 1723 to link the church at the top with the square at the bottom. They get their name from the Spanish embassy nearby.

    These get super super busy, so try and visit early evening or first thing in peak season. We went in July and this was as quiet as we could get.

  3. Trevi Fountain

    – You can’t go to Rome without visiting the Trevi Fountain. The legend states, that you must throw a coin into the fountain and you will return to Rome again. I threw in a 1 cent coin, so they probably don’t want me to return to Rome!

    Over 1 million Euros are donated to charity through the coins from the fountain, which are collected 3 times a week with a water vacuum!!

  4. Basilica San Giovanni –

    This is a bit further out that the rest of the tourist areas. We stayed around the corner from here for our last night and it was insane. I have never seen so much gold in one place! I found the ceilings in there was just as breathtaking as the Sistine Chapel!

  5. St Peter’s Basilica – This is obviously the most famous Cathedral in the World. It is in the Vatican City, which is a separate country from Rome. However, you don’t have to pass border control, so I am counting it on this list. There are massive queues and you will have be prepared to stand in them.

    Also you can see the free Pope’s address here, twice a week in summer on Sundays and Wednesdays.
  6. The Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo

    – If you love art, you need to go here. It is home to two works by Caravaggio available to visit for free. They are insane and worth a visit on this free list of things to do in Rome.

  7. Piazza del Popolo

    – Next to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is the square that everyone loves to sit in. A key part of Italian culture is sitting in squares and having a relaxing time. This is in my opinion my favourite of the squares to sit in and to enjoy.

  8. Piazza Navona

    This is another amazing square, this one is full of street performers and crowds. In the summer it gets super busy, but the vibe is similar to summer in covent garden, London.

  9. Terrazza del Pincio

    This is just up the steps from the Piazza del Popolo is one of the best views of Rome’s skyline. We just felt like wondering up there and the steps were super hard to climb in the baking heat of July.

    The steps look like this…

  10. Free walking tour and the free days each month –

    So most places in Rome have a free day each month to visit places. This includes the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums, but they will be super super busy!!

    I also had planned to go on a free walking tour, which left from the Spanish steps at 10am every day  .
    However, we decided to go at our own pace and have an adventure, also by day 2 in Rome.. we were sick of tour groups kind of being EVERYWHERE, so it would have been a little hypocritical to join one. I think tour groups are great, but July in Rome is insanely busy, never mind 40 people following a selfie stick around the narrow streets is difficult to navigate around!

    After all that you can save all your money for pizza and gelato which is worth it obviously!!
    sunshine travel blogger

Thank you for enjoying my 10 free things to do in Rome, I also wrote a 72 hour itinerary for Rome, so I hope this comes in useful for people heading to Rome.

Until next time,

The Great Ambini

x x x

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32 thoughts on “Free things to do in Rome

  1. I had the same thought when I went to the Pantheon – how is this 2000 years old, when nothing at home is older than 300?!? Rome is awesome though, and there really is so much that you can do for free! Great round-up 🙂

    1. Thank you! Yes there’s a lot of free things if you know where you’re looking! Glad you enjoyed!

  2. Really great list of free things to do – I did not realize at all! I’m going to Rome in the Fall so this will be super helpful. Thanks 🙂

  3. That’s one of the best things about Rome: So much history, a feast for your eyes without having to spend a dime from your pocket (other than to get there, and for all of the Gelato, of course.)

  4. I am so pleased you included the view above the Piazza del Popolo as this was also undoubtedly my favourite view of Rome! wonderful list and it just shows how many things are free in Rome. You were lucky you were able to see the Trevi fountain as when I visited it was under construction 🙁

  5. Rome is such a great city for budget travellers as so many of the key sites are free to visit. I think a guided walking tour is a great idea as an introduction, as it will give some historical context that’s puts everything into place.

  6. Love your list of free things to do in Rome – I’m guilty that I completely missed visiting the Pantheon when I went 2 years ago. But always a great excuse to go back right?! (btw your 72 hours post is perfect too!)

  7. Perfect timing—I’m heading there later this year! I hope I get those same blue skies you did—looks divine. Is it true that there’s a McDonalds right near the Spanish Steps?

    1. I think there is.. there’s definitely one by the Trevi fountain, as we had the standing joke on our holiday after every time we saw a mcdonalds.!

  8. Rome is probably one of the most charming cities in Europe and these are some exceptional things to do without breaking the bank. Is it also possible to find some affordable accommodation and do a budget trip to Rome?

  9. Being Italian I can only say you’re right: Rome can be crazy expensive, so it’s a great idea to have a list of free things to do over there! The Spanish steps is indeed one of the most iconic ones, but I would avoid also the early evening in peak season because it will be crowded anyway! Your best bet is to go quite early in the morning!

  10. I love the fact that there are so many free things to do in most major cities of Europe! I was not aware there were so many options in Rome. Will keep this in mind 🙂

  11. Rome can be such an expensive city, the euros add up quickly if you aren’t careful. I think that these ideas are super. I loved the pantheon too, and was also struck at how advanced the architecture was. If only all that gelato was free too lol.

  12. I just love Rome and your post took me right back there exploring. I completely forgot that these places do not cost anything to see and this would be a great guide for someone visiting Rome for the first time especially if they want to head to the Spanish step or the Pantheon.

  13. The architecture is just amazing! I love the carvings. Thanks for this list of free things to do in Rome. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to afford Europe but good to know that there are free things to do too. Plus there’s gelato!

  14. I haven’t been to Rome yet, and I always appreciate tips on free things to do while traveling. I’d love to see the Pantheon and St Peter’s Basilica. I heard from another traveler that the time to go to the Basilica is when the Pope is giving his address as everyone is there and you have it almost to yourself. I think I would avoid the free days as I wouldn’t want to deal with the crowds, but I think that is great they offer that.

  15. Have not yet been to Rome — seen so many other places in Italy, and can’t believe I have not made it to Rome yet. Your tips / checklist of what to see will be so helpful as I do expect to make it there in the next year. Wait … did I just read in the comments that there is a McDonalds near the Trevi Fountain? Nooooooooooooooooooo! 😉

  16. I have not been to Rome but looking at your pictures, they all look inviting! But of course, I’d gladly visit here knowing the fact that St Peter’s Basilica is located here! I’m a Catholic so I make sure to visit beautiful cathedrals around the world! Love the Spanish steps, too! You got a lovely smile there! 🙂

  17. I didn’t realize Pantheon was free to visit – thanks for the tip! Still haven’t made it to Rome but if I ever do, I’d like to take myself on a sort of “Roman Holiday” tour that will most certainly feature the Spanish steps 🙂
    And a day spent in Italy without having a gelato is a wasted day.

  18. So cool to know that some of my bucket list places to visit in Rome are free! The Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain are definitely high on my list including the St. Peter’s Basilica. Thanks for the heads up about the long queue too. As a Catholic, I’ll definitely visit. 🙂

  19. So cool to know that some of my bucketlist places to visit in Rome are free! The Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain are definitely high on my list including the St. Peter’s Basilica. Thanks for the heads up about the long queue too. As a Catholic, I’ll definitely visit. 🙂

  20. Sitting in squares is definitely one of my favourite things to do in Rome, that and seeing the ancient sites to marvel at just how they could have been constructed.. And I had no idea how much was donated via the Trevi; I’ll have to throw more in next time!

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