30 Free Things to Do in Rome

By Briana Seftel


See the Eternal City on the cheap!

From people watching at piazzas to tossing coins in storied fountains, Rome has many offerings for those hoping to save a few euros.

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The best people watching

A feast for the eyes.

They say people watching is an art, and there is no better city than Rome!

1. Piazza Navona

Stroll Central Rome's elegant square with extravagant fountains, baroque mansions, and a colorful mix of street artists, tourists and hawkers.

2. Piazza del Popolo

Literally meaning "people's square," Pizza del Popolo may be a tourist-friendly place now, but up until 1826 it was used for public executions!


3. Spanish Steps

Take a seat on the Spanish Steps, the ultimate perch for people watching. Built between 1723 and 1725, the square around the steps was once considered Spanish territory, hence the name.

4. Piazza del Campidoglio

This is one of Rome's most beautiful squares, designed in the 16th-century by Michelangelo and laid out between two points of the Capitoline Hill.


5. The Vatican

The Pope's place of residence is not only a pilgrimage for Roman Catholics, it's also a splendid place for people watching! Strolling the holy grounds doesn't cost a dime.


Spiritual awakenings

Explore a few holy sites.

From grand basilicas to tiny temples, Rome's places of worship are some of the finest in the world.

6. St. Peter's Basilica

Rome's famous Renaissance church in Vatican City is a must-see for any visitor, and it happens to be completely free to enter! To avoid long lines, arrive early in the morning.

7. Basilica of San Clemente

This church on Via San Giovanni is a living testament to Rome's historical past. The ground-level 12th-century basilica sits atop a 4th-century church which stands over a 2nd-century pagan temple and 1st-century Roman house.

8. Basilica of Santa Prassede

A hidden gem just steps from Santa Maria Maggiore basilica, this tiny 9th-century church is famous for its stunning Byzantine mosaics.


Roman icons

Monuments you simply can't miss.

Once you've seen the Colosseum, check out these Roman ruins both large and small.

10. Pantheon

Built as a temple to the gods of ancient Rome, the Pantheon is one of the finest examples of Roman architecture and also the best preserved. It's used as a Catholic church today and holds mass daily.

11. Tempietto

Squeezed into the courtyard of the Chiesa di San Pietro in Montorio, the Tempietto (Little Temple) is considered one of the finest buildings of the High Renaissance.

12. Teatro di Marcello

Like a smaller version of the Colosseum, Teatro di Marcello is an open-air 20,000 seat theater planned by Julius Caeser and completed in 11 BC by Augustus.


13. Trajan's Column

The story of Emperor Trajan's victory over a barbarian empire is told in 155 scenes carved in a spiral frieze on this monumental column.

14. Arch of Constantine

Situated between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill, this triumphal arch celebrates Constantine's victory over his rival Maxentius at the Battle of Ponte Milvio.


Fountains

Iconic Rome!

See Rome's extravagant fountains without spending a dime.

15. Fontana di Trevi

Made famous in Fellini's 1960 film "La Dolca Vita," Trevi Fountain is a must on any trip to Rome. Legend says if you toss a coin to the fountain, you will return to the Eternal City!


16. Fontana dell'Acqua Paola

This monumental fountain is more commonly known by locals as the "fontanone" or big fountain. Stand in front of its grandeur then admire the sweeping views from Janiculum Hill.

17. Quattro Fiumi

Bernini's showy fountain in Piazza Navona depicts Gods of the four great rivers: the Nile in Africa, the Ganges in Asia, the Danube in Europe and the Rio de Plata in America. Sprouting from the fountain is an Egyptian obelisk.


Parks, gardens and more

Escape the hustle and bustle.

Rome doesn't shy away from plenty of green space to relax or stroll around.

18. Villa Borghese

Escape the city at Villa Borghese, Rome's largest public park. Rent a bike and peddle through the park as you pass several museums.

19. Parco del Gianicolo

Rising above Trastevere, Giancolo (Janiculum Hill) is a verdant hill dotted by monuments to Garibaldi and his army. It's also Rome's highest hill and offers spectacular views, especially at night.

20. Villa Ada

This large rambling park is popular with locals for its tall Cypress trees, shady paths, and lakes. Outdoor concerts are held in the summer during the Roma Incontro il Mondo festival.

21. Villa Pamphili

This park is perhaps Rome's best kept secret. It doesn't show up on most Rome maps, so you will have to hunt for this blissfully uncrowded green space in the Monteverde neighborhood.

Best neighborhoods

See the different sides of Rome.

Rome is more than its center. Get lost in its fascinating and historic neighborhoods!

22. Jewish Ghetto

The Roman ghetto, hidden in the heart of the city, is the home of the oldest Jewish community in Europe and is central to the city's Jewish history. The once cramped and dirty quarter is now one of the most desirable in Rome.

23. Trastevere

Stroll across the Tiber River to this charming medieval neighborhood. Head to Piazza di Santa Maria and then get lost in Trastevere's charming narrow streets.

24. Quartiere Coppede

Rome's smallest district tucked between piazza Buenos Aires and via Tagliamento is a magical place to stroll around. Admire the jumble of architectural styles from Gino Coppede.


Markets

Italy's bounty at your disposal.

Peruse these markets in search of the perfect plump tomato and the freshest mozzarella!

25. Campo de' Fiori

Admire the ruby red tomatoes and smell fragrant basil at Rome's most famous market on Campo de' Fiori. At night, the square turns into a gaggle of bar goers and locals spilling out from restaurants.

26. Mercato di Trionfale

Mercato di Trionfale is arguably one of Rome's oldest farmers markets, opened in the late 19th-century. The market is a stone's throw from Vatican City and sells all sorts of delectable Italian goodies.

27. Piazza San Giovanni di Dio

If you want an authentic Roman market experience, head to San Giovanni in the Monteverde neighborhood. More gritty and less atmospheric than Fiori, this is where Romans come to shop for fresh produce, meat, fish, and more.

Picturesque bridges

Stroll across history.

Cross Rome's Tiber River for unforgettable photo ops!

28. Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II

Connecting Rome's historic center with the Vatican City and rione Borge quarter, this bridge was completed in 1911 and dedicated to the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II.

29. Ponte Sant'Angelo

The "Bridge of the Angels" was built in 134 AD by Hadrian to connect the center of Rome with his new mausoleum Castel Sant'Angelo. Ten angel sculptures by Bernini line the pedestrian-only marble bridge.

For the best view in Rome...

30. Roma dal Cielo

Take the elevator to the top of Il Vittoriano for the best 360 degree view of Rome!

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