I remember the first time we went to Rome a lot of people would say ‘Ah, bet that was expensive whilst there!’ and yes, there are some things that are a little over priced but you get that wherever you go. There are ways to make your money go a little further in Rome – tricks like eating just outside of the popular hot spots – finding somewhere a little off the beaten track. The amazing thing about this stunning city is the history and culture you can take in without spending a penny. There’s so much to do and so I want to share with you my favourite top 10 Free things to do in Rome.
1. The first Sunday of every month
If you happen to be in Rome on the first Sunday of the month then get up early and visit as many sights as you can. All state museums and sites are free entry – yep… that include the Colosseum and Castle St. Angelo. Just be aware that it gets very busy so it’s a good idea to get there as early as you possibly can. The queue will grow and grow throughout the day – we didn’t realise just how big it would be but once in the line it goes down pretty fast.
2. Villa Borghese Gardens | Free things to do in Rome
This was a highlight of our second trip to Rome – we completely missed it first time round (HOW!?). Villa Borghese is the largest public park in Rome and access to gardens is free of charge. You can hire a bike (which we did and highly recommend), have a bite to eat, get some ice-cream, find some parks and some stunning viewpoints. It’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of tourist fuelled streets – see my post here. It’s definitely one of my favourite Free things to do in Rome.
3. A walk through Trastevere neighbourhood
Trastevere is known as the actual “Italian Quarter” of Rome. It is a highly recommended place to explore! The streets are narrow and sometimes winding, although more often than not they will eventually lead back to the Piazza Santa Maria, home to one of the oldest churches in Rome.
4. Piazza Navona
With its three majestic fountains and surrounding mansions, Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful squares in Rome. Built over the 1st-century Stadio di Domiziano, it was paved over in the 15th century and for almost 300 years hosted the city’s main market. Have a wander about, grab a coffee and get some ice-cream whilst taking in Rome for it’s pure beauty. There are two super cute little top shops either end of the piazza and usually lots of street artists to ponder by.
5. Take a walk past Castle St. Angelo along the Tiber River
The famous Tiber River that runs throughout Rome is stunning. Take a walk past Castle St. Angelo and enjoy the everyday hustle and bustle of Rome. We loved taking it slow around this area and appreciating the beauty of the castle. It’s definitely one of my favourite spots and a wonderful addition to this list of Free things to do in Rome.
6. Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain
Why not follow the Roman tradition of throwing a coin into the fountain to guarantee a return to the Eternal City? We did this on our first visit and found ourselves back again this year – so I’m going to go ahead and say it must work 😉 Out of all the Free things to do in Rome Daisy seemed to enjoy this one the most. She said she made a wish for lots and lots of toys. A few hours later she was upset because it hadn’t come true yet. Kids!
7. Marvel in The Pantheon | Free things to do in Rome
Originally a pagan temple converted into a church in 608AD, the Pantheon is definitely one to visit whilst in Rome. The building is open to walk into and absolutely stunning. You are asked to be quiet and respectful whilst inside and to be honest there are no words to be said. Look up at the gorgeous open dome (and perhaps avoid it when raining!).
8. St. Peter’s Basilica
The famous dome of St Peter is a distinctive landmark to head for, wherever you are in the nearby. There is a dress code when visiting – Men must wear long trousers (no shorts) and cover their shoulders, women must not have either bare shoulders or skirts shorter than knee length. St Peter’s Basilica is deemed to be one of the Holiest sites in all of the world by many Christians and the principal church of one of the most powerful men on earth – the Pope. There’s a lot of history here – it’s worth reading into it more!
9. The Spanish Steps | Free things to do in Rome
I wouldn’t say the Spanish Steps are amazing, but if you’re in Rome it’s worth wandering past them and perhaps stopping by for a photo before carrying on with a little shopping. (There’s some fab shops around that area) The steps had a major restoration in 1996, and the once popular art of lunching on the steps is frowned upon and fines may be levied. If you head to the top of the steps you can find an entrance to Villa Borghese Gardens.
10. Vatican Museum (Free last Sunday of every month)
Whenever you go the Vatican museums, it’s going to be busy. But it’s worth it for a peek into this beautiful world that is a country in itself. Daisy couldn’t quite understand that we had stepped foot into another country – I mean, it’s a pretty surreal feeling. Head on down to see the famous Sistine Chapel – you won’t be disappointed. Just be prepared that it’ll be busy – especially if you’re visiting on the free entry day (last Sunday of every month)