The top free things to do in Rome

Best Free Attractions and Experiences to do in Rome

Rome is a city filled to the brim with historical sights, cultural events and impressive exhibitions. What makes the Eternal City even more remarkable is that you can experience so much of its great beauty without breaking the bank. Here are some of the top free things to do in Rome.

Admiring Caravaggio’s masterpieces

The top free things to do in Rome

Caravaggio, one of Italy’s greatest painters, lived and worked in Rome in the late 16th and early 17th century. He became widely known for his exceptional use of light, and unsettling realism, and also gained a notorious reputation for his tumultuous private life. So tumultuous in fact, that he’s said to have fled Rome after killing a man during a brawl!

Today one can admire many of his masterpieces in churches, with free admission, all across the Eternal City-this is definitely one of the best free things to do in Rome.

One of the must-see churches is the church of San Luigi dei Francesi near Piazza Navona, featuring his famous frescoes of St. Matthew: The Calling of St. Matthew, The Martyrdom of St. Matthew and St. Matthew and the Angel.

Not far from this church, is the church of Sant’Agostino, where you can find his Madonna del Loreto.

His Crucifixion of Saint Peter and the Conversion of St Paul you’ll find inside the Basilica of  Santa Maria del Popolo, in the square of the same name.

Read more about Caravaggio in Rome

Taking a peek through the Knights of Malta keyhole

The top free things to do in Rome

Perched on top of the lesser known, but no less impressive, Aventine hill is the keyhole of the Knights of Malta. It’s one of the city’s most enchanting off-the-beaten track sights and can be visited any time of the day, for free. The reason for trudging up a hill and peering though a keyhole might seem obscure to some, but once you’ve glimpsed the view, it makes complete sense. The keyhole is perfectly aligned with trimmed hedges, which then leads the eye to the perfectly framed St. Peter’s Dome. Once there, don’t miss a visit to the enchanting Orange Garden.

Read more about Rome’s Aventine Neighbourhood

Free museums on the first Sunday of the month

The top free things to do in Rome

One of the best free things to do in Rome is visiting one of the city’s museums on the first Sunday of the month. Running since July 2014, Domenica al museo, or Sunday at the museum, offers free admission every first Sunday of the month (from October to March) to anyone wanting to visit any state-owned museums, galleries, archaeological sites, monumental parks or gardens, in Rome.

These places include, but aren’t limited to, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, Colosseum, the Borghese Gallery (booking required), the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Capitoline Museums and Caracalla’s baths. It can get incredibly busy on these first Sundays, so head out early to avoid the crowds, and check if the sights you would like to visit have an online reservation system or if it’s ‘first come, first serve’.

For more information, and a full list of which places you can visit for free, head over to the Beni culturali website.

Enjoy an afternoon of classical music every Sunday at one of the largest palaces in the world

The top free things to do in Rome

The Palazzo del Quirinale, or Quirinal Palace, hosts a free classical music concert in its Paolina chapel every Sunday at 12pm. Booking is mandatory. You can either book online, or phone their call centre. The only cost is the €2.50 charged for making the reservation, which also covers entry into the palace.

For more information you can visit the Quirinal Palace website.

Read more about The Grand Palaces Of Rome

Go on a free, guided walking tour of Rome

The top free things to do in Rome

Without a guide we can sometimes miss a lot of the stories behind the places we visit, but paying for one isn’t always possible, especially if you’re traveling on a tight budget. Luckily there are a few tour companies, like Rome Free Walking Tour, Guru Walk and Free Tour Rome that offers free Rome walking tours.

Some companies ask only that you tip your guide, and others ask that you make a reservation online. For more information head over to their websites.

Visit St. Peter’s Basilica

The top free things to do in Rome

Visiting the largest church in Christendom is a must-see for anyone visiting Rome. Entering the impressive basilica is free, but the lines to get into St. Peter’s can sometimes be just as impressive as the basilica itself, so make sure you get there early.

The Basilica is open every day from 7am to 7pm. Also make sure that you’re dressed appropriately. Men and women’s shoulders and knees should be covered; otherwise you’ll be turned away at the door, no matter how long you’ve been waiting.

Although visiting the basilica is free, the dome and treasury museum have entrance fees. Click here to buy your tickets for St.Peter’s Dome

Book a Vatican Museums Tour

Vatican Museums are free on the last Sunday of the month

Top Free Things to do and see in Rome

Explore one of the most important sites in the world, the Vatican Museums, which feature incredible art collections, including masterpieces of inestimable historical and artistic value: undoubtedly one of the most famous museums in the world. On the last Sunday of each month the Vatican Museums are free of charge, it may be necessary to wait at the entrance during this special opening as it is not possible to book online. The opening hours are from 9am to 2pm, last admission at 12:30 pm: visit the official website of the Vatican Museums for more information.

Read more about The Vatican Museums

Take a street art walking tour throughout Rome neighbourhoods

Top free things to do in Rome

Street art has become an important phenomenon all over the world, and Rome is no exception. W-alking in almost every district of the city you can admire a series of murals and graffiti created by a series of artists, some even internationally renowned. Discover the thousand identities of the many different neighborhoods of the city: Garbatella, San Basilio, Quadraro, San Lorenzo, Pigneto: a real open-air museum, with no entrance fee!

Read more about Street Art in Rome

Visiting the Italian Senate on the first Saturday of the month

The top free things to do in Rome

The Italian Senate has been housed in the imposing, and tightly guarded, palace called Palazzo Madama, since 1871. The building, which is located within walking distance of Piazza Navona, is usually closed to the public. However, the Senate opens the palace up to the public on the first Saturday of every month, except in August, from 10am to 6pm.

Senate staff members give visitors a free, guided tour of the grounds, which includes the main halls, most significant rooms and other points of interest at the palace. The guided tours are free, but visitors must pick up a pass from the palazzo’s entrance at Piazza Madama on the day it’s open to the public. Booking in advance isn’t possible.

Visit the Italian Senate’s website for more information about the free guided tours.

Throw in a coin at the Trevi Fountain

Guide to Rome's Centro Storico Neighbourhood

The Trevi Fountain is the most famous fountain in the world, attracting over 10 million tourists per year. This extraordinary baroque fountain is an ensemble of mythical figures and wild horses occupying the entire side of the 17th century Palazzo Poli. When visiting the Fontana di Trevi, it’s tradition to toss a coin over your shoulders, ensuring your return to the Eternal City.

Fontana di Trevi is always open and you can visit it any hour of the day. Finding yourself in the piazza while facing the most beautiful fountain in the world will be one of the highlights of your trip to Rome.

Enjoying a picnic or a bike ride along the Parco degli Acquedotti and Ancient Appian Way

parco degli acquedotti

Just outside the city center is one of Rome’s most famous parks – the Parco degli Acquedotti. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the city you’ll find a park with pathways filled with streams, pine trees, and ancient aqueducts. The park is a great historical site and an excellent location for  running and cycling. Plus, entry is free! And just a short bike ride from the park you’ll find the Ancient Appian Way – one of the most famous ancient roman roads. Along Via Appia Antica you’ll encounter numerous monuments, milestones, basilicas and tombs. During ancient Roman times, the road was essential in transporting troops down Brindisi’s port in southeast Italy.  

The park is open from sunrise to sunset, where the sun rays lay over the massive aqueducts, framed by pine trees. If instead of visiting the Ancient Appian Way and Parco degli Acquedotti on your own you’d rather visit them with a group or with a guide, we recommend you reserve a guided bike ride tour here or a golf cart tour on the Appia Antica.

Get a stunning panoramic view from the Pincio terrace

terrazza del pincio

Rome is well-known for its remarkable history and architecture. And the Pincio Terrace in Villa Borghese is the perfect spot to view Rome from the top. From the terrace you can admire the view of beautiful Piazza del Popolo, the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica and much more. The Pincio terrace sits right above Piazza del Popolo, at the end of Via del Corso, and is open to the visitors every day, at all times. The best time to come is at sunset.

Exploring the architectural and artistic masterpieces of the hundreds of churches in Rome


Visiting the many churches in Rome is a must for anyone. Did you know that Rome is home to more than 900 churches (including some of the oldest in the world)? So there’s no doubt the Eternal City is the most interesting place on Earth when it comes to visiting basilicas, cathedrals and churches. But it’s not just the religious aspect that draws millions of people to visit churches in Rome – each one is unique and boasts architectural or artistic masterpieces, some are even the burial site of some true greats. Among the most beautiful churches to visit there’s the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere – the oldest church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary – featuring six golden mosaics by Pietro Cavallini; the glorious church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola in Campo Marzio with frescoes by Andrea Pozzo; and the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains) home to the relic of Saint Peter’s chains when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem and Michelangelo’s Moses.

Enjoy a stroll or bike ride along the Tiber River

Free things to do in Rome
Photo by Daniele Dorelly

The city of Rome has the Tiber River to thank for making it into the developed area it is today–this vital resource is said to be where the city truly began. Today you can enjoy a peaceful walk or scenic bike ride along the water. The bike trail starts from the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura and extends all the way to the Stadio Olimpico, covering a total distance of nearly 10 km along the banks of the Tiber River. The path traverses some of the city’s most popular areas, yet it remains below street level, away from traffic and intersections.

Pay tribute to the former Jewish Ghetto

free things to do in Rome
Photo by Daniele Dorelly

In 1555 the Catholic Church choose to revoke all rights of Italy’s large Jewish population and have them confined to this area in Rome. This was just one of many mandates that allowed the Church to establish more control over the Jewish population. In this ghetto people were not allowed to carry out any kind of trade or own any land. Despite the circumstances, the population persisted and survived. Today the Synagogue and the Jewish Museum are some of the most popular tourist attractions as it represents the perseverance and fortitude of an oppressed population.

This destination is of course meaningful in a historical and religious sense, but that is not all it has to offer its visitors. The area is considered one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Rome and offers an excellent culinary experience from the many restaurants throughout the area.

Read more about Rome’s Jewish Ghetto

Take in the views from the Janiculum Hill

free things to do in Rome
Photo by Daniele Dorelly

Taking in the stunning views of the capital is definitely one of the best free things to do in Rome. The Janiculum Hill (or Gianicolo) consists of two large avenues that offer gorgeous scenes of the city of Rome. The two paths are lined with beautiful trees and border Villa Aurelia. They merge into one path in the Piazzale Garibaldi that descends down toward the church of Sant’Onofrio. 

The Janiculum Promenade offers views of historic Rome that you cannot get anywhere else. Walking along this path you will also encounter 84 statues of the notable Garibaldi soldiers, the equestrian statue of Garibaldi, the equestrian monument of Anita Garibaldi, and the Lighthouse donated by a community of Italians in Argentina. If you reach the Belvedere del Gianicolo at 12:00pm you can experience a tradition that has been held since 1904, in which three soldiers will load a blank howitzer and fire the cannon shot. 

Visit one of Rome’s free museums

free things to do in Rome
Photo by Daniele Dorelly

For art and history enthusiasts on a budget, there are fantastic opportunities to indulge in culture without spending a dime – the city offers several free museums. In the south of Rome, alongside the Appian Way, lies the Villa di Massenzio, a spectacular ancient running track built in the 4th century. At the beginning of the Appian Way, you’ll find the Museum of the Walls housed in the Porta San Sebastiano building. Just a minute away from the Trevi Fountain is the Accademia di San Luca, and within Villa Borghese, the Aranciera (Orangery) awaits you, where you can discover the Carlo Bilotti Museum.

Read more about Rome’s Free Museums

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