Best Free Things to Do in Rome (25+ FREE Activities!)

Rome is probably one of my favourite cities in the world. Between the architecture, food, and sites to see, there seems to be endless things to do in Rome. But did you know there are tons of things to do in Rome for free?

One of the things I always do when travelling is to source out free things to do. Even some of the top attractions offer free admission during certain days of the month!

You could easily spend days or weeks exploring all of the activities and sights – without spending a penny! 

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If you haven’t been to Rome yet, you need to add it to your bucket-list. Nothing quite compares to this incredible city!

Save your money to indulge in all of the amazing things you can eat, like pasta and gelato! All of these activities are within walking distance of one another, so many sure you bring a sturdy pair of shoes with you.

This insider’s guide walks you through 25+ totally free things to do in Rome!

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Visit the Mouth of Truth

One of the attractions in Rome with a wonderful legend behind it is the Mouth of Truth! As the name says, this monument was supposed to test whether people were lying or telling the truth. Citizens used to believe that this stone sculpture would bite off the hands of anyone who told a lie. To test their integrity, citizens used to take people to the Mouth of Truth to see whether they told the truth.

These days, this stone sculpture is a frequently visited tourist attraction and located at the Santa Maria de Cosmedin Church. Most people come to take a picture with their hand in the Mouth of Truth. Would you dare to tell a lie with your hand in the mouth?

Mouth of Truth in Rome, Italy

Tour the Water Fountains throughout town

One of the best tips for when you’re visiting Rome is to make use of the free water fountains that are dotted throughout the city.  These nasoni, which translates as ‘large noses’, were first erected in Rome in the mid 1800s and today there are nearly 3000 of them. There’s a very particular way to use them though. 

While many tourists will cup their hands under the falling water, locals know to block off the hole the water is cascading from with a finger, allowing it to spurt out higher up and making it much easier to drink. 

This water is from the same source as the Romans used and if you’re taking a family holiday in Italy,  kids will love to experience a bit of the city’s history in this way. For everyone it’s a chance to connect to the past and have a refreshing drink as you sightsee.

Wander the Streets of Trastevere

Wandering the cobblestone streets of the Trastevere neighbourhood in Rome is one of the best free things to do in the city. This beautiful spot is located on the west side of the River Tiber and just south of the famous Vatican City. Start at the top of Villa Della Lungara and pass through the ancient gate, Porta Settimiana. 

Meander through the quaint, vine-covered shops and buildings, stopping in to see local makers and food purveyors. Pick up a traditional gelato and enjoy on the steps of Piazza di Santa Maria, or sit in one of the many open-air cafes and sip on a delicious Italian espresso. 

This area is steeped in history and has many free things to do along the way. Getting lost in the picturesque pathways of Trastevere is one of the best things to do in Rome.


Visit the Pantheon

A real insider tip for Rome is a free visit to the Pantheon. It is the best preserved of the antiquity and only a few people know that this amazing attraction can be seen for free! Already impressive from the outside, it is also interesting from the inside, with the huge dome and Raphael’s tomb.

The highlight of the Pantheon is actually the dome, which with a diameter of 43 meters is even larger than that of St. Peter’s Basilica! Many kings were buried in that place, and also the famous Renaissance artist Raphael has chosen the Pantheon as his final resting place. Various sculptures show the original burial places.

Related: Most Romantic Places in Italy

Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour along the Tiber River

Going for a walk along the Tiber River in Rome, taking in all the famous Italian landmarks all around you, is one of the best free things to do in the city as it doesn’t cost you a thing!

Along the way, you will come across several notable bridges, such as the St. Angelo Bridge – an ancient Roman bridge built by Emperor Hadrian in 134 A.D.

If visiting the Vatican City first thing in the morning, then head east towards the river afterwards for an afternoon walk along its edges. 

Before beginning your walk south towards the Ponte Sisto footbridge, grab a sandwich or some gelato to enjoy before or during your afternoon stroll. 

The walk from the Vatican City to Ponte Sisto is about 30-40 minutes, depending on how fast you walk and how often you stop for some insta-worthy shots of the River and its surroundings.

Tiber River in Rome, Italy
Photo courtesy of Michelle Lee

Visit St. Peters Basilica

St. Peters Basilica – this 2,000-year-old basilica is the symbol of the Vatican and Rome. The admission to this world-famous destination is free and not even a ticket is required. Located on the western side of the Tiber River it is right next to the Vatican Museums. 

The best time to visit is between 7 and 9 am before the line becomes too overwhelming. Like many other church sites remember to dress covered up, no shorts, skirts or tank tops. 

Once inside you can climb the stairs to the top of the cupola. In addition, you can go to the Vatican grottos where the tombs of countless popes are located.


Stroll through Piazza Campo De’ Fiori

In the heart of Rome, next to the more famous Piazza Navona, Piazza Campo De’ Fiori has a special role in the city’s everyday life.

Have a stroll in the morning to find a thriving food market, visited by tourists as well as mammas shopping for family dinners. 

Have a go at tasting some of the local specialities and wander around getting lost in the loud and friendly marketplace vibe. 

Many stalls sell Italian food specialities that make perfect souvenirs to bring home. 

In the evening, the market leaves space for outdoor tables from cafes and restaurants which serve delicious traditional Roman dishes. 

Later in the night, the square transforms into one of the busiest nightlife hubs in Rome, where young people gather to drink, be merry and eat at the many open-til-late take out spots. 

There’s a reason to visit this beautiful square at any time of day!

campo de fiori Rome
Photo courtesy of Jules’ Trails

Visit Largo di Torre Argentina

Rome is a city of many wonders, packed as it is with history, culture and many impressive archeological sites. At a stone’s throw from Piazza Venezia, Largo di Torre Argentina is free to visit. 

This impressive site is the place where Julius Caesar was stabbed to death. Nowadays, it is famous for being the home of one of Rome’s most famous cat sanctuaries. 

If you happen to visit, you’ll be able to spot many cats sleeping in the shade of ancient trees; resting on top of the remains of a column; or playing around the garden. You are welcome to walk in and the volunteers will take you around the sanctuary. 

Donations to support the cats are accepted – or you can simply buy one of the gadgets as a souvenir.

Largo di Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

One of the best free things to do in Rome is to see the incredible Trevi Fountain. This stunning piece of architecture is one of the oldest water sources in Rome. 

The fountain dates back to 19 B.C. and has been dazzling visitors ever since. Trevi Fountain features Neptune, the god of the sea, in a sea-shell-shaped chariot being pulled by two horses. One horse is calm and one is unruly – representing the moods of the sea. 

The fountain is made of the same material as the Colosseum located nearby! Legend has it if you face away from the fountain and toss a coin over your left shoulder, you’re guaranteeing a return trip to Rome. 

Even if you don’t, the money tossed in the fountain goes to charities in Rome. 

Walk up the Spanish Steps

Touted as one of the best cities in Italy, Rome is brimming with fun and free things to do. The Spanish Steps, also known as Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti, are definitely worth exploring. 

There are 136 stairs on this famous staircase and they were constructed to connect the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to the Trinità dei Monti church. The infamous Spanish Steps provide a gorgeous backdrop for photos with their terraces, vistas, curves, and other intricate designs. 

You’ll find La Barcaccia Fountain at the bottom of the stairs. It’s a striking marble boat so don’t forget to snap a photo here too. 

The best way to enjoy the Spanish Steps is to grab a cup of coffee early in the morning and enjoy it while sitting on the steps. Be sure to climb the steps because it’s not difficult and the views are beautiful.

Spanish Steps in Rome at dawn
Photo courtesy of Paolo Margari

Related: Where to Get the Best Views of Rome for FREE!

Marvel at San Pietro in Vincoli

There are dozens of cathedrals in Rome, but one that stands out above the rest is San Pietro in Vincoli. This relatively small cathedral is free to enter and not nearly as crowded as many others in the city.

Inside the cathedral, the most popular piece of art to admire is Michelangelo’s Moses. This towering statue is nearly eight feet tall and a majestic sight to behold. It truly is one of the most incredible Michelangelo pieces there is.

In addition to Moses, San Pietro in Vincoli houses chains that were allegedly around the apostle Peter when he was in jail in Rome, which makes this a pilgrimage site for Christians.

Whether visitors are interested in art or religion, San Pietro in Vincoli offers a unique experience that can’t be found anywhere else when traveling around Italy.

Michaelangelos Moses

Visit Museo Napoleonico

One of the best places to visit in Rome for free, the Museo Napoleonico boasts a collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, and many other items that were donated to the city of Rome by Count Giuseppe Primoli, the son of Carlota Bonaparte and a descended of the Bonaparte family. 

It’s one of the best Napoleonic museums in the country, most of which are found in northern Italy and Isola d’Elba.

The museum, which is housed in the 16th-century Primoli Palace, aims to tell the story of the Bonapartes by showcasing Napoleonic relics from the actual Napoleonic period to the Second Empire period.

Visit the monument of Vittorio Emanuele II

One of the best free things to do in Rome is visiting the monument of Vittorio Emanuele II. This monument is dedicated to the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II. It is a very large monument in the neoclassical style made with white stone. Furthermore, there are lots of great statues on the monument.

You find the monument of Vittorio Emanuele II close to many other sights in the city, such as the Trevi Fountain, the Roman Forum, and the Colosseum. More specifically, it is located at Piazza Venezia. From the city center of Rome, you can easily reach it on foot. Moreover, there are great public transport connections.

When you are in Rome, you should definitely go here. The monument is very impressive to see and it is a great place to learn more about Italian unification. Also, the statues are great to see in detail. The monument is another thing about Rome that makes Rome one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

Piazza Venezia
Photo courtesy of Fabrizio Russo

Explore the Rione Monti neighbourhood

Ancient buildings, archeological sites, churches, the historic Roman centre with its incredible maze of narrow streets surprises at every turn. It is easy to forget that Rome is not only a city for tourists with its rich history, but it is also lived intensely by the Romans. Many neighborhoods lend themselves to being explored to appreciate their vitality, but the “Rione Monti” is one of those that fascinates the most. 

You must venture on a walk to discover an eclectic cross-section of daily life lived between ancient and modern that captures all who enter it. Start from Santa Maria Maggiore and let yourself be guided by instinct, but do not miss a visit to San Pietro in Vincoli for a tribute to Michelangelo’s Mose, and an exploration of the gardens of Colle Oppio where you will have enchanting views of the Colosseum. 

End the day enjoying the view of some beautiful vintage boutiques with an aperitif in one of the trendy bars around via del Boschetto!

Piazza della Madonna dei Monti
Photo courtesy of A Princess Travelling With Twins

Wander through Piazza Navona

One of the best free things to do in Rome is to take a stroll at the magnificent Piazza Navona. During the day, this beautiful square in the historic center is bustling with artists and street performers. Walking around, you can find lots of artists drawing portraits of the tourists that roam by, as well as clowns and other performers entertaining families with kids. Needless to say, the atmosphere there is super vibrant and cheerful, making it an incredible place to relax with a gelato. 

You can also see Piazza Navona on one of the many night tours of Rome. One advantage of that is there will be fewer tourists around, which will allow you to truly take in the beauty of its statues and fountains.


Get a view of the city from Terrazza del Pincio

Watching the sunset over Rome from Terrazza del Pincio is a sure way to make your Italy itinerary extra memorable. This nineteenth century terrace offers free, panoramic views over the Eternal City and is a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike.

The terrace sits a mere ten minute walk north of the Spanish Steps and is best visited after already completing some sight-seeing in Rome. This way, you can have fun locating landmarks from a distance that you have already visited up close. The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vittoriano monument are the two attractions that stand out tallest, but budget enough time at Terrazza del Pincio to retrace your own steps and truly appreciate all you have been exploring in Rome.


Stroll through gardens at Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese is the third largest park in Rome. Located on the Pincian Hill, close to Spanish steps and Piazza del Popolo, a visit to Villa Borghese is a great way to escape the buzz of Rome city, and relax. The park spreads over 80 hectares and houses an array of interesting things that includes an artificial lake, museums, fountains and monuments.

The park was owned by Borghese family until 1901, when the state acquired and opened it to public on 1903. Some of the top things to see inside Billa Borghese include a visit to Borghese Gallery, Rome Zoo,  Pincio’s Water clock (a 19th century engineering which is still in a working condition today), a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Temple of Aesculapius to name a few. 

One can easily spend 2-3 hours , or even an entire day inside the park exploring the 90 odd attractions inside!  If you are looking for free things to do in Rome, then you should certainly add Villa Borghese to your itinerary.

Photo courtesy of Matt Kieffer

Take a free walking tour

One of the best way to experience Rome is through a free walking tour! Free walking tours are common in many major European cities as a way to learn about the culture and historical significance of a place. 

There’s a wide selection of companies to choose from when picking a walking tour. Some give general tours of the main sites in Rome, while others focus on certain areas or topics within the city. Some specific tours that you can pick include ancient Rome, Rome city center, Trastevere, Vatican, or a food tour

The average walking tour is about two hours full of sightseeing and learning. While the tours are technically free, they are well-known as pay-what-you-want tours. If you enjoyed the tour, it is suggested that you tip the tour guide what you think they deserve. This is not a requirement, but it will help to ensure that these walking tours remain available for future tourists!


Peer through the Aventine Keyhole

One of the most intriguing views in Rome can be found behind a nondescript door on Aventine Hill.  The Aventine Keyhole gives a unique view of three different countries: Malta, Italy and the Vatican City.  The only thing that identifies the location of the door is the queue of people, waiting for their turn to peer through its keyhole.  

This free thing to do in Rome is situated in Piazza dei Calvieri di Malta and the door belongs to the Priory of the Knights of Malta.  The land behind the door is the sovereign entity belonging to Malta under international law but the most incredible thing about this is the expertly-pruned hedges that perfectly frame St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.  

The tiny masterpiece enables a view from Malta, across Rome to Vatican City; certainly worth waiting for.  

Aventine Keyhole

Go searching for Obelisks

Walking through the streets and piazzas of Rome, you may be surprised to see so many obelisks. It’s a strange fact that the city of Rome, with thirteen of them, has more ancient Egyptian obelisks than the eleven in the whole of Egypt. Nowhere else has more than one or two.

It’s fascinating to wander  through Rome’s streets, finding these obelisks and learning their history. In fact ancient Egypt was just as ancient to the Romans  as the Romans are to us.  These obelisks were plundered by the Romans from the ruins of Egypt to adorn the Imperial city. With the collapse of the empire, many of the obelisks collapsed too and were forgotten.  With time they were rediscovered and reinstated as landmarks in modern Rome. For example the main feature of Vatican square is a pre-Christian obelisk from Alexandria. 

Obelisk spotting on foot is a super way to explore Rome for free.

Roman obelisk
Photo courtesy of The Travelling Twins

Stroll through the Orange Gardens at Sunset

Enjoying the sunset by the Giardino degli aranci (Orange Garden, also known as Parco Savello) is one of the most beautiful free things to do in Rome. 

The park is a good 20 minutes’ walk from The Colosseum and tends to fill up quickly. If you are looking to get one of the best sunset spots, with the view over the city, try and arrive at least one hour before the sun starts to set. 

The park is filled with fragrant orange trees, lively musicians and couples sneaking in furtive glances at each other or indulging in a tasty aperitivo together. If Rome is part of a larger Italy roadtrip be sure to check out other amazing sunset spots in the North-East of Italy.

orange gardens in Rome
Photo courtesy of Christian Hattich

Wander through the former Roman Ghetto

One of the loveliest free things to do in Rome is strolling through the streets of the former Roman Ghetto. The area is located close to the Tiber River and is home to the Synagogue of Rome. It is not on every tourist’s radar yet even though it is a very lively area full of restaurants that specialize in Jewish cuisine, making it particularly accommodating if you’re vegan in Rome.

For centuries, the area was the only part of Rome Jews were allowed to live. Due to the poor living conditions, most buildings were torn down when Jews were given citizenship and the right to live in other parts of the city in 1870.

Via del Portico d’Ottavia is the busiest street and is pedestrianized so you can walk around without worrying about cars or scooters. Make sure to wander further though and explore the back streets as well.


Get panoramic views of the city from Gianicolo Hill

Known as having one of the best views in Rome, Gianicolo Hill (also known as Janiculum Hill) is just outside of the ancient city.

It’s free to wander through 24/7, and if you’re coming from the historic centre of Rome, it’s about a 40 minute walk.

The sweeping views (and the silence) will take your breath away. Janiculum Hill became popular also due to its historical role in the defence of the city, when Garibaldi repelled an attack from the French.

Paths are lined with marble sculptures of heroes (84 of them!), including Garibaldi on horseback, with the inscription which translates to “Rome or Death”.

If you time your visit right, you’ll be able to hear the cannon fire off at 12:00 pm daily – a tradition that has been in effect since 1847.

Photo courtesy of Diana Robinson

Stroll through Piazza de Popoplo

Piazza del Popolo is a large town square is a fun hang out place in Rome, with lots of history behind it. The square is very large, almost similar to the Vatican square and have large gatherings and street activities ongoing throughout the day. It is the “People’s Square” as translated to English.

The square has almost identical churches, Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto and Basilica Santa Maria del Popolo opposite to it. Piazza del Popolo was the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire, and you can see a city gate here. Another remarkable sight here is the Egyptian Obelisk.

There are steps directly from the square to climb up the Pincio hill and you can also walk to the Villa Borghese from here. This is definitely one of the top attractions in Rome not to miss.


Other things to do for free!

  • Vatican Museums are free on the last Sunday of each month and on World Tourism Day (September 27). Be sure to get there very early or near the end of the day – you certainly won’t be alone!
  • Visit a library. Angelica Library in particular is stunning and is located by Piazza Navona. Open since 1609, this library contains significant documents from the Reformation and Counter Reformation (history buffs – you must visit!). Plus, the view inside will take your breath away.
  • It costs you nothing to marvel at the Colosseum from outside – go snap some photos and take in its beauty (and history!)
  • Visit Tazza d’Oro right at the Pantheon – where a scene in Eat, Pray, Love was filmed! If you can spare a few euros, their espresso is the perfect way to start the day!

Pin it for later!

free things to do in Rome
what to do in Rome for free


  1. Krista
    March 3, 2021 / 11:13 am

    I absolutely fell in love with Rome when I went in 2019. I was surprised by how many things on this list we did. It’s a great city to walk around and explore, there is just so much to see! Great post!

    • Sarah
      March 3, 2021 / 1:50 pm

      Isn’t it an incredible city? I can’t wait to go back. Our trip last fall got cancelled – it’ll be one of the first places we go!

  2. March 3, 2021 / 12:29 pm

    So many wonderful things to do ….and better yet…for free! I didnt know there was such a big lovely river around. The gardens look so relaxing with the boats and everything.

    • Sarah
      March 3, 2021 / 1:51 pm

      Yes!!! Love that there are so many free things to do – need to save that $$ for food haha!!!

  3. Tiffany
    March 3, 2021 / 4:40 pm

    World Tourism day is 2 days off of my birthday! We’ve always wanted to go to Rome and Free stops will help us get there sooner budget wise!

    • Sarah
      March 3, 2021 / 6:56 pm

      Omg you will loooooove Rome! I fell in love instantly as soon as I saw the Colosseum! I hope you get to visit soon when we’re able!

  4. Erin from Pina Travels
    March 3, 2021 / 9:54 pm

    I love how there is so much to do in Rome without having to spend much money! The first time I visited I was a budget backpacker, and I basically spent my whole 5 days there wandering around, admiring architecture and people watching. It was marvellous. Can’t wait to go back, and I’m pinning this post for when I do! Great ideas.

  5. Erin from Pina Travels
    March 3, 2021 / 9:56 pm

    I love how there is so much to do in Rome without having to spend too much money! The first time I visited I was a budget backpacker, so I didn’t splurge on many things. I have really fond memories of simply wandering around Rome, taking in the sights, admiring architecture, eating delicious food and people watching. It was amazing. Can’t wait to go back, and I’m pinning this post for when I do!

    • Sarah
      March 4, 2021 / 2:24 pm

      Wandering around Rome is one of the best things to do – you take so much in! I can’t wait to go back either!

  6. Cristina
    March 5, 2021 / 6:54 am

    This guide is super useful! I went to Rome a few years ago, but I didn’t know about some of these free things to do. I am definitely saving it for the future. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sarah
      March 5, 2021 / 7:32 am

      Thanks Cristina! Can’t wait to go back!

  7. Taylor
    March 5, 2021 / 10:15 pm

    This is such an amazing list Sarah! I cannot wait to get to Rome. It’s funny because I have been to Italy twice and haven’t been to this city yet. You definitely added more to my Italy bucket list. 🙂

    • Sarah
      March 6, 2021 / 10:56 am

      Thank you Taylor! Omg you simply must – you would love it and your photos would be amazing!!! 🙂

  8. March 5, 2021 / 11:24 pm

    What an incredible city! We haven’t been to Rome yet but I dream of exploring the neighbourhoods, visiting the museums, eating at the cafes and stuffing my face with gelato 🙂 The fountains are absolutely beautiful!

    • Sarah
      March 6, 2021 / 10:56 am

      You would love it. Everyone needs to visit Rome at least once!

  9. March 6, 2021 / 1:25 am

    I missed Rome somehow when I was in Italy… I must go back! I’ll save this for future reference!

    • Sarah
      March 6, 2021 / 10:57 am

      Oh my! You must visit. I’m sure you’d fall in love with it like I have!

  10. March 6, 2021 / 4:11 am

    Great list! We only spent a day here, and there is clearly so much more to see. I do love wandering through the beautiful squares and gardens. The architecture is just magnificent. Looking forward to exploring some of the places on this list when the world reopens.

    • Sarah
      March 6, 2021 / 10:59 am

      Me too – we can’t wait to get back. Our trip this past fall was (obviously) cancelled and now I’m itching to get back as soon as we’re able!

  11. March 6, 2021 / 11:28 am

    I haven’t been to Rome yet unfortunately, so all of these tips on free things to do there will really come in handy when I’m trip planning in the future!

    • Sarah
      March 6, 2021 / 1:06 pm

      You will love it – it’s such an incredible city!

  12. February 9, 2023 / 10:33 am

    I have been to Rome and just love you gave all the information. Definitely taking this one as a guide for the next time I visit It.

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