It can be pricey to travel and stay in Rome, luckily there are tons of things to do in this beautiful city that won’t cost you a dime! Check out some of the top free things to do in Rome below!
The Trevi Fountain is the popular fountain in Rome and one of the most famous in the world. Located in the ‘Trevi’ neighborhood and stands 86ft tall and a whopping 161 ft wide. Trevi means three and refers to the intersection of three main roads in Piazza dei Cruciferi which also had aqueducts which supplied water to Rome.
This fountain is beautiful and shows the scene of the sea god (Neptune) with two sea horses (literal horses in the sea not the seahorse animal) and mermen. One Merman is struggling with the Sea Horse which represents how rough the sea can be. The other Merman is leading a calm sea horse which represents the serenity of the ocean.
The fountain was completed in 1762 by Pietro Bracci and designed by artist Nicola Salvi. Legend has it if you through a coin in the Trevi Fountain you will return to Rome. Fun fact- the original legend was if you ‘drank’ water from the fountain you would return to Rome- but that is not recommended now. 🙂
You have to see this thing both during the day and lit up at night!
Altare della Patria- The Wedding Cake
Located near the Roman Forum- the Altar della Patria, also called The Wedding Cake and Il Vittoriano Monument, is a monument built to honor Victor Emmanuel, the first king of unified Italy completed in 1925.
The structure houses the museum of Italian Unification and its exterior has tons of corinthian columns, large wide staircases, fountains and sculptures. Rightfully so, the monument is nicknamed the wedding cake because of all the various ‘levels’ of the structure.
We saw the Wedding Cake when driving into Rome at night (completely lit up!) and had to find it in the coming days to see it up close and personal.
Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi
Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi translates to The Fountain of Four Rivers and completed in 1651. This fountain is less popular than the Trevi Fountain but definitely worth the visit. Located in Piazza Navona, you can walk all the way around this gorgeous fountain which depicts the four river gods for the four major rivers on large stones and a tall Egyptian obelisk in the center. This was my favorite fountain in Rome.
Hang out outside the Colosseum
Visiting the Colosseum is something everyone should do when visiting Rome, however it can be pretty time consuming and involve a ton of planning. (see the best way to see the Colosseum- here) Our AirBnB was right at the foot of the Colosseum and we found ourselves simply gazing at it from the outside. All times of the day we say tourists and locals alike sitting on the stone walls and benches around the Colosseum taking in the views. At night it is lit up and is the perfect place for a romantic stroll.Climb the Spanish Steps
After going through the Capuchin Crypt- aka Bone Church (no pictures were allowed so I have no visual documentation to share- it was creepy but really cool to see) the family and I headed over to Piazza Trinità dei Monti and walked down the Spanish Steps to Piazza di Spagna at the base of the steps. A big rain storm was coming through so we did not have much time to hang out here. Tons of people were hanging out here by late afternoon. The Spanish Steps have 135 steps and was built in 1725 and gets its name because of the Spanish Embassy nearby.
As I mentioned here– Trastevere is the Brooklyn of Rome. Although Trastevere is home to some of the best food in Rome, its charm is enough to appease you without spending a dime. Here, you will find cobbled stone streets (little Peter’s as they call them), beautiful homes with climbing ivy and the magnificent Tiber River. Trastevere is budget friendly and is worth a bite to eat and night out on the town if you decide you want to shell out some money!
The Roman Pantheon is one of the few free ‘buildings’ in Rome and is the best preserved ancient structure. It was originally constructed in 128 AD and was built as a temple for ‘all gods’. The structure is an architectural mystery as it was way ahead of its time with its round shape. It also is a phenomenon how it has stood the test of time and has not massively deteriorated over time. This is mostly because of the unknown building material which is similar to modern day concrete. The large dome in the center of the building has a large circular opening in its ceiling. This place was interesting and enchanting with its large pillars and marble flooring- I couldn’t because it was free!
Free Samples at Artisan Shops
All around Rome are craft food shops and artisan shops with tons of free samples! This is a great way to taste test various Italian foods to either buy for a picnic (tons of meats, cheeses and bread) or take home with you (preserves, oils and vinegars). My Dad and I had a ball going from shop to shop. I loved taste testing the wines!
Piazza People Watching
All of the monument sites mentioned above are located in beautiful Piazzas and there are a TON more in Rome both big and small. You can explore all the various neighborhoods in Rome and find Piazzas surrounded by restaurants and shops. Almost all of them have some type of monument or fountain in the center of the Piazza. During our visit, we frequently found benches and watched all of the people come and go. I could people watch for hours. In many Piazzas, there were food stand vendors selling great street foods such as roasted chestnuts- which smelt amazing!
Wanting more Italy? Check out some of our time in Venice – here (more coming soon), visit to the islands of Burano – here and Murano – here, Climbing Florence’s Duomo- here, Tuscany’s Vignamaggio Winery- here, Tuscany’s Montefollonico, Tuscany’s Montalcino, Rosewood’s Castiglion del Bosco, Tour of the Vatican with Walks of Italy – here, Food Tour in Trastevere Rome With Eating Europe- here, the best way to see the Colosseum in Rome – here, Roaming the hidden gem of Aqueduct Park in Rome – here, a quick trip to the island of Capri- here; a Rainy Day in Positano – here , Exploring the Lost City of Pompeii – here, Sunsets at Ponte Vecchio- here, Our relaxing time in Sorrento- here , How to Conquer Venice’s St. Mark’s Square , Visiting The David at Galleria dell Academia, The Steep Tuscan Town of Montepulciano (here) and Visiting the Ancient Roman Forum- here.