How to see Rome for free

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The famed architecture and history of the Italian city of Rome attract travelers from around the world, but you don’t need to spend a pretty penny to experience the city. Here are a few ways to see Rome without going over your travel budget.

Sightseeing

Lucky for the thrifty traveler, many of Rome’s famed landmarks are free to visit. Start with an icon like the Pantheon, once a temple for the ancient Roman gods and now a Christian church. The painter Rafael is entombed here, and you can even attend mass on Sundays.

The Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna are a testament to Roman architecture. Climb the 138 steps of the double staircase to reach the church of Trinita dei Monti and enjoy clear views of the city. Another of the city’s most famous – and free – landmarks? Trevi Fountain, a famous Baroque fountain that’s only cost is the coin you throw in to ensure your future return to the city.

Bocca della Verita (Image: a_marga used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)
Bocca della Verita (Image: a_marga used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

For a quirky stop, take your chances at the Bocca della Verita, or Mouth of Truth. According to local lore, if you tell a lie with your hand in the marble carving’s mouth, the mouth will close on your hand and leave you with only a stump.

Tours

Pantheon (Image: melissa.delzio)
Pantheon (Image: melissa.delzio)

A handful of free walking tours help travelers experience Rome for just the cost of a tip. New Rome Free Tour, for example, meets everyday at 5:30 p.m. at the Spanish Steps and includes the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Square, Pantheon, Saint Andrew Church and Queen Margherita’s tomb. Another organization, Rome Free Walking Tour, offers free morning tours of the Vatican and afternoon tours of the Colosseum Mondays through Saturdays. And if you’d like to enjoy the Pantheon in the evening with a local as your guide, Angel Tours offers a free half-hour Pantheon tour (outside only) in the evenings.

Museums

Whether you need a coin to toss into the Trevi Fountain or are simply interested in how Italian coins are made, you can stop by the Numismatic Museum of the Italian Mint for free and take in the museum’s impressive coin collection. History buffs will want to stop by the Historic Museum of the Liberation of Rome, which chronicles Rome’s occupation and liberation during World War II.

The ceiling at the Vatican Museums (Image: Walter Rodriguez used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)
The ceiling at the Vatican Museums (Image: Walter Rodriguez used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

If the Vatican is high on your bucket list, keep in mind that the Vatican Museums are free to visit on the last Sunday of each month.

What are your tips for seeing Rome on a shoestring budget?

(Main image: cfwee)

How to see Rome for free was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Marissa Willman
Author: Marissa Willman (786 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.