This post will cover the best free things to do in Rome, including nighttime as well as friendly ideas activities and attractions.
We also include a few cheap things to do in Rome.
TOP 10 FREE THINGS TO DO
1) Take a Free Walking Tour
First, you can take free, self-guided tours of Rome and see the city at your own pace.
We have tours of the city centre, ancient Rome, Vatican City, Trastevere, the Appian Way, and more. Many come with audio as well.
There are some pretty good pay-what-you-wish walking tours that you can take. These are free to take and you can pay whatever you wish, or could afford, at the end of your tour.
These services usually focus on the city centre, providing a look at some of the more popular and notable locations in the area.
2) Enjoy Domenica al Museo
On the first Sunday of every month, several of the most popular museums and historic sites in Rome open their doors to the public for free.
This is an excellent opportunity to visit locations that usually cost at least €10 - €15 per ticket.
Here are a few of the more notable landmarks you can visit:
- The Colosseum
- The Roman Forum
- Palatine Hill
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Baths of Caracalla
- Borghese Gallery
- Capitoline Museums
- Palazzo Venezia
- Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella
- And More!
NOTE: Many of these attractions are included with at least one discount pass offered in this city.
For more details, make sure to read our post about Rome tourist passes.
3) Last Sunday at The Vatican Museums
This is one of the most popular attractions in all of Rome, but tickets are usually required for admission.
Thankfully, on the last Sunday of every month, the Vatican Museums open their doors to the public for free.
If you want to see some of the most historic artwork and artifacts in the city, this is an excellent opportunity that you won’t want to miss.
The only problem with going to the Vatican Museums on this day is that it can get very crowded.
Even if you can’t make it to the Vatican Museums on the last Sunday of the month, you might still want to check out St. Peter’s Basilica.
This historic church is free to visit and there are a lot of notable attractions to see inside.
4) The Pantheon
Although there have been discussions about charging an admission fee to enter the Pantheon, they have yet to implement any such charge.
This photo of Pantheon is courtesy of TripAdvisor.
This means that you can currently see the landmark for free and experience one of the most fantastic domes in the city.
For a full list of things to see and do, make sure to read our post about visiting the Pantheon.
5) Piazza Navona
If you’re going to be in the area of the Pantheon, you may want to consider making a stop at the nearby Piazza Navona as well.
This historic plaza was once the location of the public market in Rome.
There are three beautiful fountains here – two of which were crafted by Bernini.
You can also expect to find street artists in the area providing entertainment to visitors at the plaza.
6) See the Pope
Believe it or not, there are a few different ways that you can see the Pope for free while visiting Rome.
During special holidays, he will be on hand to celebrate both at the Vatican and in other locations in Rome.
There are also audiences held twice a week on Wednesday and Sunday.
While you will need tickets for the Wednesday Papal Audience, the Sunday Angelus is free for everyone to see in St. Peter’s Square.
Even the tickets themselves won’t cost you anything to obtain – all you have to do is request them from the Vatican.
If you want to learn more about both of these opportunities, please read our guide about how to see the Pope.
7) Take a Walk Down Appian Way
Via Appia is one of the oldest roads in Rome, and there are a lot of interesting historic sites to see nearby.
To this day, you are free to walk down the Appian Way and enjoy all of the landmarks along the road.
While some of the locations you can visit will require you to pay for admission, others are free to enter and see for yourself.
It’s worth noting that this is where you will find the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, which is just one of the many sites you can visit for free during Domenica al Museo.
8) Trevi Fountain
This is one of the largest baroque fountains in all of Rome, and it is also one of the most popular locations to visit.
The best thing about the Trevi Fountain is that it looks magnificent both day and night.
If you’re looking for more great reasons to see this beautiful fountain, there are a lot of notable and historically relevant sites nearby which are also free to visit.
For more details, make sure to read our post about going to the Trevi Fountain.
9) Spanish Steps
Whether you’re looking for poetic inspiration or you just want to see one of the most well-known sites in Rome, a trip to the Spanish Steps is an absolute must.
In addition to serving as a popular meeting location, there are also a lot of interesting things to see and do in the area.
If you visit Rome during the spring, make sure to come and see when they line the Spanish Steps with thousands of Azaleas.
This is a special event that only happens once per year, and it gives the landmark an entirely different appeal.
10) Visit Campo de’ Fiori
If you’re interested in doing a bit of shopping, this is one of the first places you should look.
Campo de’ Fiori is the main market in Rome, so you can expect to find a lot of different things on sale in the area.
This is an especially good place to look for fresh fruits and vegetables if you’re looking for something to eat.
There are a lot of interesting things to do in this part of Rome, and we actually offer a self-guided walking tour which starts at Campo de’ Fiori.
CHEAP THINGS TO DO IN ROME
In this section, we will provide a list of low-cost activities you can enjoy in Rome that is almost free.
If you’re looking for additional ideas, don’t forget that you can always take a pay-what-you-wish walking tour.
The Baths of Caracalla
This is one of the most underrated sites in all of Rome.
Many people discover the historic landmark while visiting nearby attractions like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, as it’s actually visible from each location.
In addition to seeing the ruins of the baths that still remain, you can also purchase tickets for a new VR experience which gives you an idea of what the structure looked like when it was still in use.
Tickets are reasonably priced at €8 or less per person, so it won’t cost much to add this to your itinerary.
For additional details, make sure to read our post about the Baths of Caracalla.
Visit the Catacombs of Rome
There are several different locations where you can actually enter some of the catacombs of Rome.
While some of these sites offer free admission, others require a very reasonably priced ticket. At most, you can expect to pay around €8 per person, so it’s a fairly affordable activity.
Here are a few of the more popular locations you may want to visit:
- Capuchin Crypt
- Catacombs of St. Callixtus
- Catacombs of St. Sebastian
- Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella
- Catacombe Domitilla
- And More!
NOTE: Many of these historic sites are actually located alongside Via Appia. If you want to visit the Catacombs of St. Callixtus or St. Sebastian, it might make sense to combine your trip with a walk down Appian Way.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS
This section will provide a few ideas for fun things you can do for free with your family in Rome.
Don’t forget that many popular sites are included for free with Roman tourist passes. This is a great opportunity to save money while sightseeing with your family.
Visit Villa Borghese
There are a lot of great family-friendly attractions in and around Villa Borghese, but the park itself is also a great place to visit.
Needless to say, it’s entirely free to walk through the park and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
If you have young children, you may also want to consider heading to Cinema dei Piccolo, a theatre in Villa Borghese that offers free admission for kids.
This is also where you will find the Zoo, a puppet theatre, and several notable museums such as Villa Borghese. While these attractions aren’t free, most of them are pretty affordable.
If you want to do some sightseeing while you’re in the area, you’ll find the Spanish Steps just south of Villa Borghese.
There are also other notable landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain just a short walk from this location.
TIP: Some hop-on-hop-off bus tours provide nearby stops which can make it easier to get here.
This is one of the most historic sites in Rome, and it’s entirely free to visit.
Circus Maximus was once a famous chariot racing stadium, but over time it has fallen into such disrepair that it is now used as something of a public square.
During certain holidays, Circus Maximus will often be the site of special events such as fireworks displays and live performances.
The former stadium is also often used as one of the sites included in triathlons or races.
Go on an Art Walk
Rome has been home to several notable artists throughout the centuries, so it shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise that a lot of their artwork can actually be found simply by wandering around Rome.
Not only can you find the work of creators like Bernini, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Caravaggio all over the city, but some of their most famous work is actually free to enjoy.
Check the following locations for some of the most beautiful and historic artwork in Rome.
Church of San Luigi dei Francesi
- The Martyrdom of St. Matthew by Caravaggio
Church of Santa Maria del Popolo
- The Crucifixion of St. Peter by Caravaggio
- Creation of the World by Raphael
- Feoli and Cicada Chapels by Bernini
Church of Sant’Agostino
- Madonna di Loreto by Caravaggio
- The Prophet Isaiah by Raphael
- Pieta by Michelangelo
- The Dome by Michelangelo
- Saint Longinus by Bernini
Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva
- Cristo della Minerva by Michelangelo
- Pulcino della Minerva by Bernini
- Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi by Bernini
- Fontana del Moro w/ work from Bernini
- Angel With the Crown of Thorns by Bernini
- Angel With the Superscription by Bernini
Visit the Cavalieri di Malta Keyhole
This might not be the first place that people visit when they come to Rome, but it is a great opportunity for one of the most unique views in the ancient city.
At the top of Aventine Hill, you'll find the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta.
On the gated entrance to the nearby churches, there is an old keyhole that has gained some notoriety over the years for a very special reason.
It just so happens to line up perfectly with the dome of St. Peter's Basilica across the river.
Over the years, the Cavalieri di Malta Keyhole has become a fairly popular tourist destination.
Many people come to see if they can spy the famous church through this small keyhole, and it's a great activity for both young and old visitors.
FREE THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT
The following section will cover a variety of activities you can enjoy for free after the sun goes down in Rome.
During the summer and fall, Testaccio Market extends its hours well into the night for an event they call “Open Days.”
These days, there will usually be live musical performances and some of the business owners in the area will offer additional services.
One of the things you can do is purchase fresh meat from the butcher and have it cooked on-site!
See Historic Fountains
There are a lot of famous fountains to be seen in Rome, and many of them include lighting to make it easier for visitors to enjoy after dark.
According to some travelers, these magnificent and often artistic pieces are even more beautiful at night.
We’ve already mentioned a few locations that you can see for free whenever you want, but we’ll include some additional fountains to check out below.
- Trevi Fountain (Piazza di Trevi)
- Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Piazza Navona)
- Fontana del Moro (Piazza Navona)
- The Fountain of Neptune (Piazza Navona)
- Triton Fountain (Piazza Barberini)
- Fountain of the Naiads (Piazza della Repubblica)
This is one of the most historic sites in all of Rome, and it's a great place to visit at any time of the day.
That being said, many visitors feel that the experience is even better at night, as they light up the Vittoriano Monument after the sun goes down.
While you can't go inside at this time, it's still quite nice to visit just to experience the beauty of this landmark after dark.
Also known as the Altar of the Fatherland, this structure is located right next to sites such as Piazza Venezia, the Capitoline Museums, and Complesso del Vittoriano.