Heading to Rome but looking for some free or cheap things to do between tours and museum visits?
Things guide will detail will list out some great cheap or even free things to do to keep your travel costs down!
What this article covers
Absolutely Free Things to Do in Rome
1. The St Peter’s Basilica & All of Rome’s Churches
That is right, every church in Rome is free to enter. There is also a ton of extremely famous artwork you can see for no cost in these churches. From Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini all without a steep admission cost. You can even see La Pieta by Michelangelo in St. Peter’s Basilica for no cost at all.
Amazing right? In the center of Christiandom, they can’t charge admission to visit holy places. Great for your wallet but consider a few coins for maintenance. The local churches in Rome do a lot for the homeless community and donations will go to preserving these churches for future generations.
- Top # Works of Art You Can See for Free in Rome (Coming Soon)
- Rome’s Top Free Churches (Coming Soon)
2. The Pantheon
The Pantheon was one of Rome’s greatest structures and the best-preserved structure from antiquity without argument. It is currently used as a church, Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyres, but was originally built as a pagan temple.
The name is believed to me “Of All The Gods”. The building was built at the beginning of the 2nd century under the rule of Emperor Hadrian. The facade reads, “Marcus Agrippa, Son of Lucius, Built This in His 3rd Time Console.” Marcus Agrippa did in fact build the original structure, but it was like comparing a barn to the Eiffel Tower.
The original structure burnt down twice since it was built out of wood. Hadrian commissioned the current structure out of stone. While it is unknown who the architect was, it is commonly believed that the only architect talented enough to construct the interior dome would have been Apollodorus of Damascus.
See our related articles for more information on visiting, getting inside, and other facts and history:
- The Pantheon: History, Facts & Everything You Need to Know
- Best Places to Eat Near the Pantheon
- Rome in a Day Tour Including the Pantheon
Address: Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6
3. The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is an outdoor fountain connected to Palazzo Poli. Palazzo Poli is a museum that houses engravings and other important artifacts.
The Trevi Fountain was meant to be constructed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 17th century. The plans were never acted on and over a hundred years later Nicola Salvi got the job by losing a competition for best drawing. Yes, Salvi lost to a Florentine Alessandro Galli.
Romans were not happy about a Florentine getting the commission and revolted. Eventually, Salvi was handed the job.
‘Construction began in 1732 and was completed in 1762 eleven years after Salvi’s death. The job was handed to an architect Giuseppe Pannini who worked with multiple sculptors to finish the project.
The fountain’s facade tells a gripping story of its history. Read more about it and tips on visiting in our related articles:
- Visiting the Trevi Fountain: Facts, History & What Not to Miss
- Why is the Trevi Fountain so Famous?
- Best Restaurants Near the Trevi Fountain (Coming Soon)
Address: Piazza di Trevi
4. The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna should be pictured next to the definition of high-end shopping. Italy’s most famous shopping street, via Condotti, is directly opposite of the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna.
The Italian name for these steps is La Scalanita di Trinita di Monti which means the Steps of Three Tiers. A very straightforward name that describes their architectural form. Simply but beautifully, three tiers of steps.
How did they come to be known as the Spanish Steps? The Spanish Embassy is located about a hundred meters south of the steps in Piazza di Spagna or The Square of Spain.
There is a lot to do and see in this area. Be sure to read our other articles with facts, history and what to see in the area:
Address: Piazza di Spagna
5. Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is a very unique piazza and a must-visit site. It is completely pedestrian and lined with restaurants and cafes. You can stroll through on foot to admire its three fountains with its famed central Four River Fountain by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Bernini’s fountain is framed by the breathtaking church of St. Agnus in Agony which was designed by a father & son Rainaldi team along with Francesco Borromini. There are wife’s tales about the relationship of this church and Bernini’s fountain which were undoubtedly created out of the bitter rivalry between Borromini and Bernini.
Bernini was chosen for a commission of Palazzo Barberini over Borromini which was likely to be where this rivalry derived. The story is that Bernini’s statue representing the Nile river is holding its hand out towards the church as if bracing for its fall due to architectural incompetence.
It is very unlikely that this was the hidden meaning. The fountain was built years before the church was begun.
- Rome in a Day Tour Including Piazza Navona
- 5 of the Best Restaurants Near Piazza Navona: Look No Further!
- How to do a DIY Rome Walking Tour
- Top # Things to See in Piazza Navona
Address: Piazza Navona
6. The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are not free every day, but on the last Sunday of each month they are free to the public. That said, I’d rather go inside any other day and pay the admission price. Expect these museums to be crowded to the max.
For more info on tickets, hours, artworks, and facts read our other articles specifically on the Vatican.
- The Best Vatican Tours to Take and Why + Map
- Top 10 Things to See at the Vatican Museums
- Visiting the Vatican: All the Tips & Tricks You Need
- Do You Need a Passport to go to Vatican City?
- How to Climb the Dome St. Peter’s Basilica
- Ultimate Guide to the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican: Look No Further!
- Ultimate Guide to the Gallery of Maps in the Vatican: Look No Further
- Ultimate Guide to The Gallery of Tapestries in the Vatican: Look No Further!
- Ultimate Guide to the Pio Clementino Museum in the Vatican: Look No Further
Address: The Vatican City Museums Entrance
7. Visit View Points
Rome has many viewpoints and these three are completely free to see:
- Belvedere Gianicolo
- Giardino degli Arance
- Villa Borghese
- Villa Doria Pamphili
- Park of the Aqueducts
Rome Geography & Facts
If you are headed to the Eternal City, you might as well know more about where it is.
- Rome is the Capital of Italy and the President normally takes resident in the city on the Palazzo Quirinale.
- Ancient Rome was in fact built on 7 hills
- Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Equiline, Palatine, Quirinal & Viminal Hills
- History ties Rome being founded in 753 BC but this is a loose estimation
- Rome is 496 sq miles and home to between 3 and 4.3 million people making it the 93 largest city on our little planet.
- The Tiber River runs through Rome and has one island named the Tiber Island. The river empties into the Mediterranean Sea which is 21 miles (34 km) away.
- Rome is located in the region of Lazio which borders Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, and Campania.
I Want More Italy!
- If you want us to arrange the entertainment in Rome (and beyond!), contact our Trip Planning Team to coordinate an unforgettable Italian experience.
- Check out our YouTube video and step-by-step guide about how to do Rome in a Day. If you’d rather let us guide you, check out our Rome tours.
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