Italy is so near and dear to my heart. In 2016, I jet off to Italy and lived in Bologna as an au pair. On the weekends, I took off to different cities in Italy and Rome was (obviously) one of them.
Rome is such a beautiful city with so much to offer. It’s perfect for couples, solo travelers, and families. Even better, there is a wide variety of free things to do in the city.
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- Read this list of budget travel tips.
Here is a list of the 10 best free things to do in Rome.
The Pantheon is the most complete ancient building still standing in Rome. It’s a must-visit and absolutely stunning in person.
The interior and exterior architecture of this building is incredible. The building has a sphere, cylindrical shape and is 142 feet high. There are monumental tombs in the Pantheon’s walls, including the renowned painter Raphael.
The Pantheon is completely free to go into and has no queues.
You must remain silent at all times while in the Pantheon. You are allowed to take photos.
Once you’re finished visiting the Pantheon, you’ll want to hang out in the square for a bit. This area offers a variety of restaurants, shops, and a beautiful fountain to admire.
The Colosseum is one of the most well-known places to visit in Rome. This structure was built between 72 A.D. and 80 A.D. in the heart of Rome. It’s made from stone and concrete and is the largest amphitheater in the world. This ancient sports arena is about 12 stories high and has over 80 entrances.
The Colosseum could seat over 50,000 people who would come watch games like gladiatorial combats, wild animal hunts, and more. The history can actually be kind of sad when you look at the statistics of how much death occurred here (10,000 animals being hunted in one day, including dogs, lions, elephants).
The Colosseum isn’t free to get into, but it does offer stunning views on the exterior. I originally went to the Colosseum expecting to not go inside, but once I got there, I realized I had to find out more. The structure has not kept up as time has gone on, with about two-thirds being destroyed from earthquakes, fires, and vandalism, but honestly, it adds character.
If you want to go into the Colosseum, it costs roughly $13 U.S. dollars. Trust me, it’s worth going inside. Rick Steves has a free self-guided walking tour in the Colosseum. All you have to do is download his app and then find the Colosseum tour.
3. Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps are one of the must-see spots while visiting Rome. For my Lizzie McQuire fans, these are the same Spanish Steps Lizzie goes to after her makeover with Paolo’s stylist.
This is a great spot to relax and take in the beauty of Rome.
You can people watch and get great views of the city and admire the stunning architecture in the area.
This area is particularly busy as everyone wants to take photos here, but that also makes people watching even more enjoyable!
4. Trevi Fountain
Something that really surprised me about Rome was how many fountains there are! There are over 2,000 fountains in Rome and obviously, the Trevi Fountain stands out from the rest.
The Trevi Fountain was my favorite part of Rome. Italian architect Nicola Salvi designed the Trevi Fountain and obviously did an incredible job. I actually got goosebumps when I arrived and highly recommend visiting at night!
There are several restaurants and ice cream shops in the area, so this is a great spot to buy a piece of pizza or enjoy a gelato.
Fun fact: The Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain are made of the same material.
5. Villa Borghese Park
Villa Borghese is Rome’s largest public park. Similar to Central Park in New York City, Villa Borghese offers a quiet place to escape to in Rome. This park has so much to offer, which makes it a must-see while you’re visiting Rome.
This park has a variety of restaurants, ice cream vendors, and you can opt to walk or ride a bike here.
Villa Borghese is a great place to go on a picnic or simply relax and take in the beautiful scenery.
Related: 12 Week Travel Savings Plan
6. St. Peters Basilica
My jaw literally dropped when I walked into St. Peters Basilica. Whether you’re religious or not, you must visit and take in the architectural beauty. The history of St. Peters Basicila is just as amazing.
St. Peters Basilica is actually situated in the Vatican City, which is also in Rome. Visiting St. Peters Basilica is free, although there are certain parts that have an entry fee.
Fun fact: The Statue of Liberty, including the base, could fit into St. Peters Basilica and there would still be a ton of room at the top.
7. Piazza Campo de’ Fiori
Some of the best spots to visit in Rome are in piazzas. Piazza Campo de’ Fiori has a huge open market filled with produce, vibrant colored flowers, fresh bread and pizza, and so much more.
At night, this area turns into a lively and romantic area for people as there are cinemas and outdoor cafes.
This is a great spot to purchase local produce and flowers and go for a picnic.
8. Free walking tours
There are several free walking tours in Rome, either self-guided or by an actual guide. If you go with an actual guide, tipping at the end is ideal or paying what you think the walk was worth.
Rick Steves also offers free guided audio tours.
I actually enjoy these because you can go at your own piece and skip or pause at certain parts of the tour. You can view all of his Rome self-guided tours here.
Rick Steve has several self-guided audio tours, including the: Colosseum, Heart of Rome Walk, Pantheon Tour, Sistine Chapel Tour, St. Peters Basilica Tour, and more. If you’re traveling to other major cities in Italy, he has self-guided tours for those cities as well.
9. Via Appia Antica
If you enjoy walking or getting some exercise in, walking the Via Appia Antica is a great way to spend a few hours. The Via Appia Antica is one of the oldest roads in Rome. In ancient Roman times, this road was used for transporting troops.
Visiting on a Sunday is the best day to visit because the Via Appia Antiac is closed to traffic. It makes for a lovely quiet nature walk. While on Via Appia Antica, there are several tourist attractions along the way including the Catacombs of San Callisto and Catacombs of San Sebastiana.
10. Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is such a stunning area to relax and enjoy lunch or dinner. It’s one of the largest piazza squares in Rome and has three incredible fountains including Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro, and Fontana di Nettuno.
There’s also an incredible church, Church of Sant’Agnese that adds a majestic feel to the area.
The square also has street artists, musicians, painters, which adds to the lively scene in the piazza.
I spent a lot of time here taking in all the beautiful architecture and people watching.
As it goes with anywhere, be aware of your surroundings and if something doesn’t feel right, peace out. Keep your belongings in sight at all times.
Enjoy your stay in Rome because it’ll be a trip you’ll remember forever.
What do you recommend doing in Rome?
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