10 FREE Things to do in Rome!

free things to do in rome

10 FREE things to do in Rome! Plus some ways to save money on meals, accommodation and transport. 

Rome is one of our favourite European cities. It has everything: The weather is wonderful, the food is fantastic and everything is so pretty! 

But it's very easy to spend a lot of money in Rome - most of the main sites charge an entry fee, there are people trying to sell you things on every corner and you're not going to want to miss out on anything! Don't worry though, we've put together a great list of 10 free things to do in Rome - which take the main sites into consideration too:

1. The Colosseum 

rome colosseum

It's no wonder the Colosseum is one of the seven new wonders of the world. We were astounded by the architecture and even more amazed when we remembered it's around 2,000 years old. I mean, if people nowadays are astounded by it, imagine what the people back then thought of it!! 

rome colosseum

You have to pay to go inside the Colosseum - and how much it costs depends on if you want to jump the queue/if you book online etc, but a stroll around the circumference is completely free and still awe-inspiring!
rome colosseum outside

It's nice to sit and stare at it (and the people),  but the guys selling things (junk) can get a bit annoying. My approach was to be rude and shout 'no' any time they came close, so they'd back off. Tanbay's approach was to try and sell them things (his sunglasses, my plastic bracelet etc.) Both approaches worked well (mine was more effective, Tanbay's more entertaining). 

2. Roman Forum 

roman forum

Situated next to the colosseum is the Roman Forum. It is an impressive bunch of ruins originally used as a marketplace, but over the years hosted many important events including elections, trials and gladiator fights! 

It's completely free to walk through, and so cool! 

3. Altare della Patria 

altare della patria

In terms of age, Altare della Patria is super-duper young compared with most of the other sites in Rome (it was completed in 1925)! Is it worth seeing?

Firstly, it's the largest monument in Rome. It also holds the unnamed soldier - a soldier picked at random after WW2 to commemorate all the unnamed and lost soldiers. 

It is also pretty controversial (the locals hate its newness and its whiteness). Hence it's earned a fair few harsh nicknames such as the wedding cake. 

We thought it was impressive though, and worth a look on your way to the Colosseum.

4. Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

torre argentina cat sanctuary

Less controversial and far cuter is the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. This was one of my absolute favourites in Rome because it's where
archaic Rome meets cute, caring Rome.

torre argentina cat sanctuary

Torre Argentina does what it says on the box and cares for cats. They collect the strays, neuter them and debug them. Then they are free to roam the ruins and wait in comfort for an adopter. 

torre argentina cat sanctuary

They were so friendly and so gorgeous! Seriously! Most stray cats we've met have been (understandably) grumpy/stand-offish /scared but these guys were just so lovely and sweet :)

Want to make more friends in Italy? Check out Showaround

5. Trevi Fountain

trevi fountain
Photo credit: pixabay

Okay this one was a bit of a disappointment because it was under renovation! Yes the above photo credit goes out to pixabay.com. This is what it looked like when we were there:

trevi fountain rome

There are two bits of bad news here, a) it looked bad and b) we didn't get to throw in a coin! Legend has it that if you throw in a coin you are destined to return to Rome (I did it when I was seven and it clearly worked). 

Luckily we believe in making our own fate, and will return to Rome! And see the Trevi Fountain!

Read more:  Exploring Rome in 3 days for €150.

6. The Pantheon

pantheon rome

This was my other favourite thing, we'd never heard of the Pantheon, but a couple of people recommended that we go there and it was easy enough to find on the map so off we headed. I'm so glad we went there, it is SO beautiful!

You can go inside, which looks great too.

pantheon rome

But for me it was the outside that was marvellous. 

7. Piazza Navona

piazza navona

Piazza Navona is a great little spot. If you go in the morning it will be completely deserted and you can fully appreciate the fountains.

If you go in the evening it will be packed and you can enjoy the street artists and people watch. 

piazza navona

8. The Tiber

tiber rome

The Tiber is the main river in Rome, it's so beautiful! And not just the cute little bridges, even the water itself is a nice colour. Well done Tiber. Lovely to take a stroll along.

9. Castel Sant'Angelo 

castel sant angelo rome

Like the Colosseum, Castel Sant'Angelo has an entry fee, but is free to observe from the outside and, like the Colosseum, it has a good looking exterior.

Castel Sant'Angelo was built by/for emperor Hadrian! (Think wall.) I think it's cool. 

10. The Vatican City

vatican city

Okay, okay our final free thing to do in Rome is actually not even located in Rome, because despite it feeling like you're still in Italy, and the border being just a tiny gate, when you're in the Vatican City you are in a whole other country! 

It's the smallest independent state in the world, and it's beautiful. You can wonder around and, if you're anything like me, feel tickled that you're in a new country. 

Despite being such a tiny place, there are lots of religious sites squished in - like the Sistine Chapel, which does cost to enter, but the city itself is gorgeous and free to hop in and out of. Another religious site in the Vatican City is St Peter's Basilica. If you loved the architecture, history and even spirituality of these places, then you will probably also love Duomo Florence which, you guessed it, is in Florence. There is a paid ticket to enter but if you just want the cathedral then it's free :)

So these were our 10 free things to do in Rome, 10 free things that will easily fill up about two days and leave you in love with Rome. But what about everything else? How can you save money in other areas? 

Tips on how to save money in Rome: 


Like most trips, your accommodation is probably going to be your biggest expense in Rome. Here are a few helpful tips:

The first time we stayed in Rome we stayed at a lovely Airbnb. Airbnbs are often cheaper than hotels in Rome, and you save more money by having your own kitchen (and thus making some of your meals at 'home').

rome airbnb

House sit
House sitting is definitely a possibility in Rome and it means free accommodation!! (In return for looking after someone's pets and home. We've never house sat in Rome, but we have house sat in other capitals like Berlin, Helsinki and the Gold Coast; and we've house sat in other areas of Italy - the East Coast and Sicily. Check out our favourite house sitting website: Trusted Housesitters to see if there are any house sits in Rome at the moment. 

Cheap (but nice) hotels
Last but not least: hotels. Here are some great hotel like rooms with hostel prices in Rome:

  • Blue Hos(t)el - boutique rooms, hostel prices 
  • iRooms - insanely instagramable rooms
  • Retrome Rome - B&B right next to the colosseum
  • Beehive - eco-friendly hotel/hostel, centrally located. 


rome pizza

We have two tips here, the first one of which may or may not apply to you, so let's get that one out of the way first:

1. If you're staying at a House Sit or an AirBnB, you can make at least one of your meals at home (and save some dough). Eating home-made sandwiches at the Colosseum can't be the worst thing that's ever happened to you, right?

Of course, if you're only going to be in Rome once you're  probably going to want to have all of your meals out and soak up as much of that yummy Italian food as possible.

But for us (and maybe for you too) travelling long term means that our wallets (and growing bellies) can't cope with three meals out a day. 

So yes, if you are staying in Italy for a long time and/or have plans to return (we're here for a month and coming back in October), then consider having a few budgety meals in your AirBnB/House Sit. 

2. This one is for everyone: 

Eat away from the main sites wherever possible.

Like buying a croissant next to the Eiffel Tower, any quick, 'cheap' food bought next to the Colosseum will be a) over priced and b) not great for your taste buds. 

If you walk just a few blocks away, the prices will be cut almost in half, and the tastes will double in tastiness. 

Our favourite meal in Rome was at Carlo Menta. The pizzas there cost between 4 and 6 Euros, are massive, and are so, so, SO delicious!!

We are massive advocates of public transport, and we love going on the underground, but when it comes to Rome, please AVOID TRANSPORT! You won't see half as much as you will if you just meander along at your own pace, get completely lost, and discover more fantastic ruins that certainly can't be found if you're on the bus/tube. 

But if you really, really hate walking, then we can highly recommend renting a bike and cycling round the city, you will still discover all the cool bits, and hopefully work up a bit of an appetite for more pizza. We really liked the company Bim Bim Bikes - why not give their wheels a whirl?

As always, don't forget your travel insurance! And if you have one, your EHIC card 

It's so important to take a map with you wherever you go. Especially a map of Rome because it can get a little confusing!

Okay so what do you guys think? There is so much to do in Rome and 3 days is a great amount of time to get a good taster - we hope you enjoyed our highlights of a few of the things you can do for free!

We will be going to Rome again soon so watch this space and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more Rome tips! 

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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