Rome: Free Activities

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Rome can be a large city. The things you should do in Rome are so numerous that it’s difficult to see everything in one trip. The good news about this is that you won’t have to pay a penny for any of the top-notch museums or monuments.

It’s great that many of these world-class attractions can also be enjoyed for free in Rome. Yes, really.

This is a list that shows you the things that are always free in Rome. There’s no admission fee to enter, and some offer hours that are free on specific days. Save money and get an extra scoop of gelato.

Rome has many free things to do:

  • St. St. There are security checks to be passed, so you might have to wait in line. However, there is no charge.
  • Pantheon– Without a doubt, the Pantheon is my favorite building in Rome. I feel very fortunate that it’s open to all and I can go in and out whenever I want. Although there is talk of charging an entry fee for upkeep in 2018, it’s currently free.
  • Trevi Fountain– Rome’s most renowned fountain is free to view. However, you will need to throw in a coin in order to guarantee a return trip from Rome.
  • Spanish Steps Recently reopened after a lengthy renovation, the Spanish Steps look stunning and are free to walk up and down. It’s forbidden to eat while you’re on the staircase.
  • San Pietro In Vincoli Not all Michelangelo statues can be found in museums. A large statue of Moses was sculpted by Michelangelo for the tomb of Pope Julius II at St. Peter in Chains. Although the tomb was never completed, the statue is a great reason to visit the church.
  • Borghese Garden – This vast park is free to the public and open during warm weather. It’s great for picnics, biking rides and simply enjoying a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
  • Papal Basilicas There are three churches with the Papal status in Rome (St. Peter’s Basilica also has that status, but it’s in Vatican City). All three churches can be viewed for free. Santa Maria Maggiore (5th century) is home to beautiful 5th century mosaics as well as the tomb of Gianlorenzo Bernini, a celebrated sculptor. Officially Rome’s cathedral, the 4th-century San Giovanni (St. John in Lateran), is where you will find the Scala Sancta or the Holy Stairs. San Paolo Fuori le Maua (St. Paul Outside the Walls), dates back to the 4th Century and houses the tomb of St. Paul.
  • Knights of Malta keyhole A row of carefully-trimmed cypress trees is located behind the large doors of Knights of Malta headquarters. You can only see it by looking through the keyhole. It perfectly frames St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • Gianicolo hill – The Gianicolo Hill (Janiculum) is the highest point from which to see the Eternal City. The terminus of an old aqueduct is also visible at the top of this hill.
  • Santa Maria della Vittoria – If you are still unsure about the Bernini craze, visit Santa Maria della Vittoria and marvel at the master’s magnificent sculpture “The Ecstasy Of St. Teresa.”
  • Largo Di Torre Argentina This site has the remains of several ancient Roman temples as well as Pompey’s Theatre, where Caesar is believed have been killed. It is also home to the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. This shelter provides a safe haven for cats.
  • San Luigi dei Francesi – Bask in Caravaggio’s trio of large paintings devoted to the life of St. Matthew within the church of San Luigi dei Francesi – “The Calling of St. Matthew,” “The Inspiration of St. Matthew,” and “The Martyrdom of St. Matthew.”
  • Capitoline Hill This square was designed and built by Michelangelo. However, the main attraction is the magnificent view of the Roman Forum from the Palazzo Senatorio.
  • Piazza Navona This “square” is used by street performers as a stage. It was once the location of an ancient Roman circus. Borromini designed the fountain at the center, the “Fountain of the Four Rivers,” and the church of Sant’Agnese is located in Agone.
  • Santa Maria del Popolo – This church is located on busy Piazza del Popolo and houses masterpieces by Caravaggio (“Conversion On the Way To Damascus”) and Bernini (Crucifixion of St. Peter”), respectively in the Cerasi Chapel and in the Chigi Chapel.
  • Pincio Hill– For breathtaking views of the city, climb up from the Piazza di Popolo to the nearby Pincio Hill.
  • Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is located just around the corner of the Pantheon. It has a Gothic church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with an adorable (and very popular) elephant statue by Bernini. There’s a statue of Christ with a cross by Michelangelo inside, as well as a series frescoes of Filippino Lippi and the tomb at Fra Angelico.
  • Trastevere– Trastevere is one of the areas in Rome that gives you an idea of how the historic city was like. It is a peaceful area during the day and can be a popular spot for nightlife.
  • Via Appia– Not all roads lead to Rome anymore. However, the Via Appia did lead to Rome – and continues to do so. This Roman road, which dates back to the Roman Empire, is best visited on Sundays. It’s closed to cars and is therefore safe for pedestrians and cyclists. The cobblestone road is lined with ancient catacombs, and aqueducts.
  • Campo De’ Fiori In the mornings, Campo de Fiori is bustling with people, which is when the square is most interesting. It can be noisy at night with drunken young travellers.
  • Piazza del Popolo This enormous piazza revolves about an Egyptian obelisk and Bernini’s 17th-century city gate (Porta del Popolo).
  • Protestant Cemetery The actual name of this cemetery would be “The Non-Catholic Cemetery”, since it isn’t restricted to Protestants only. However, it is commonly still known as the Protestant Cemetery. John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley are among the graves. Both of them died in Rome. They appreciate donations, but it’s free to visit.

Guided Tours of Rome

There are many free things to do in Rome

Yes, lines can get insanely long when attractions are open for free one day per month. Personally, I would prefer to skip the line.

  • Vatican Museums Free on the Last Sunday of Every Month
  • Colosseum Free every Sunday.
  • Palatine Hill Free every Sunday.
  • Roman Forum Free every Sunday.
  • Weekly Papal address – The pope gives a weekly address on Wednesday mornings in St. Peter’s Square at 10:00 AM. You have two options: you can either try to get a seat or just stand behind the barricades. There are jumbotron displays that will show him wherever he goes.
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7 Responses to “Free Things to Do In Rome”

  • Wow! This is an amazing photo through the keyhole.

  • Greg Speck said:

    We will be in Roma during the month of September and you have provided one of our best guides. We are grateful. I really enjoy your blog.

  • Excellent list, Jessica! People think they can do Rome in 3 days.

  • This is a great list. Thank you for mentioning Trastevere. It was great fun to finally take a stroll over the river to this section last summer. It was like a street fair, with many young people enjoying summer nights and hanging out. It was one the highlights of my trip.

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