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Free Things To Do in Rome

If you have extra time, Pantheon is worthwhile.

#1

#1 in Rome

Free
A must-see on many travelers' itineraries, the Trevi Fountain is situated amongst a high concentration of hotels, shopping and nightlife. Finished in the mid-1700s, the Trevi is a powerful example of a baroque design with a distinctly mythological character. The god of the sea, Oceanus, emerges from the pool, flanked by his trusty Tritons. The fountain underwent an extensive, mutlimillion euro restoration and reopened in its full splendor in November 2015.
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)
A must-see on many travelers' itineraries, the Trevi Fountain is situated amongst a high concentration of hotels, shopping and nightlife. Finished in the mid-1700s, the Trevi is a powerful example of a baroque design with a distinctly mythological character. The god of the sea, Oceanus, emerges from the pool, flanked by his trusty Tritons. The fountain underwent an extensive, mutlimillion euro restoration and reopened in its full splendor in November 2015.
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#2

#2 in Rome

Free
The epicenter of Roman Catholicism, St. Peter's Basilica is centered in Vatican City and open daily for free. (Though it's closed on Wednesday mornings for pope appearances.) Many visitors enjoy trekking to the top of the dome. For a fee of 6 euros (about $7.50), you can climb the 551 steps to the summit; for a fee of 8 euros (about $10), you can take an elevator to a terrace where you'll climb just 320. Regardless, you'll take in a panorama of Rome's spectacular landscape. If you've come hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope, you should consider attending the Wednesday General Audience, when he address the crowd in St. Peter's Square with prayers and songs. It's free to attend, but tickets are required. You'll also want to make sure he is in residence; check the Vatican website to view the schedule. No ticket is required to see the pope on Sundays, when he usually address the crowd in St. Peter's Square at noon.
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)
The epicenter of Roman Catholicism, St. Peter's Basilica is centered in Vatican City and open daily for free. (Though it's closed on Wednesday mornings for pope appearances.) Many visitors enjoy trekking to the top of the dome. For a fee of 6 euros (about $7.50), you can climb the 551 steps to the summit; for a fee of 8 euros (about $10), you can take an elevator to a terrace where you'll climb just 320. Regardless, you'll take in a panorama of Rome's spectacular landscape. If you've come hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope, you should consider attending the Wednesday General Audience, when he address the crowd in St. Peter's Square with prayers and songs. It's free to attend, but tickets are required. You'll also want to make sure he is in residence; check the Vatican website to view the schedule. No ticket is required to see the pope on Sundays, when he usually address the crowd in St. Peter's Square at noon.
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#3
Pantheon Free

#3 in Rome

Free
The Pantheon, a former Roman temple and now a present-day church, is known for its perfect proportions, which is amazing, seeing as it was raised in A.D. 120. While you're there, you can also pay your respects to Raphael, as well as Italian kings Victor Emmanuel II and Umberto I, who are all buried there.
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Pantheon
The Pantheon, a former Roman temple and now a present-day church, is known for its perfect proportions, which is amazing, seeing as it was raised in A.D. 120. While you're there, you can also pay your respects to Raphael, as well as Italian kings Victor Emmanuel II and Umberto I, who are all buried there.
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#7

#7 in Rome

Free
If you're a fan of Caravaggio, you'll want to visit the San Luigi dei Francesi. Inside this church in Piazza Navona are three of the baroque artist's works, including the "The Calling of St. Matthew" (one of his most famous paintings), "Saint Matthew and the Angel" and "The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew."
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Church of San Luigi dei Francesi
If you're a fan of Caravaggio, you'll want to visit the San Luigi dei Francesi. Inside this church in Piazza Navona are three of the baroque artist's works, including the "The Calling of St. Matthew" (one of his most famous paintings), "Saint Matthew and the Angel" and "The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew."
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#8

#8 in Rome

Free
This featured chapel from Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" is now heavily trafficked by Robert Langdon wannabes. But baroque art fans might want to brave the crowds for a look at Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Cornaro Chapel, which features the Ecstasy of St. Teresa statue.
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Santa Maria della Vittoria
This featured chapel from Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" is now heavily trafficked by Robert Langdon wannabes. But baroque art fans might want to brave the crowds for a look at Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Cornaro Chapel, which features the Ecstasy of St. Teresa statue.
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#9

#9 in Rome

Free
If you want a look at the real Rome, experts and travelers strongly recommend you visit Trastevere. Located south of Vatican City, this neighborhood is home to the Santa Maria in Trastevere, as well as numerous restaurants and neighborhood shops (it's often compared to New York City's Greenwich Village or Paris's Left Bank thanks to its charming cobblestone streets and narrow roads). 
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Neighborhood/Area Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Trastevere
If you want a look at the real Rome, experts and travelers strongly recommend you visit Trastevere. Located south of Vatican City, this neighborhood is home to the Santa Maria in Trastevere, as well as numerous restaurants and neighborhood shops (it's often compared to New York City's Greenwich Village or Paris's Left Bank thanks to its charming cobblestone streets and narrow roads). 
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#10

#10 in Rome

Free
Archaeology buffs might find the Basilica di San Clemente interesting as it's a veritable nesting doll of churches. It's a second century pagan temple, underneath a fourth-century church, which is underneath a 12th-century church. Enter the 12th-century church from the street level, take stairs down to the fourth-century one and finally end up at a shrine for Mithras, the god whom was known to gain popularity in the second and third centuries. The oldest structure is believed to have been an ancient mint.
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Basilica di San Clemente
Archaeology buffs might find the Basilica di San Clemente interesting as it's a veritable nesting doll of churches. It's a second century pagan temple, underneath a fourth-century church, which is underneath a 12th-century church. Enter the 12th-century church from the street level, take stairs down to the fourth-century one and finally end up at a shrine for Mithras, the god whom was known to gain popularity in the second and third centuries. The oldest structure is believed to have been an ancient mint.
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#11

#11 in Rome

Free
Perhaps one of the best known of Rome's public squares, the Piazza Navona dates back to the end of the 15th century. Today, it fills with modern people sipping coffees while watching street performers and artists. Cafes abound, and there are a number of shops too, although recent visitors said both tend to be expensive. You'll also find a number of impressive monuments, including one by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Fountain of the Four Rivers) and another by Francesco Borromini (Sant'Agnese in Agone). 
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Piazza Navona
Perhaps one of the best known of Rome's public squares, the Piazza Navona dates back to the end of the 15th century. Today, it fills with modern people sipping coffees while watching street performers and artists. Cafes abound, and there are a number of shops too, although recent visitors said both tend to be expensive. You'll also find a number of impressive monuments, including one by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Fountain of the Four Rivers) and another by Francesco Borromini (Sant'Agnese in Agone). 
... more
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#12

#12 in Rome

Free
To the west of the Tiber River (near another top attraction, Trastevere), Gianicolo Hill, or the Janiculum, is just waiting to be climbed. Although a hike, the site provides unobstructed, panoramic views of the Eternal City. Once at the top, visitors will be able to spot some of Rome's most famous buildings, including St. Peter's Basilica and the Altare della Patria. Interestingly, since it sits outside the ancient city, it's not considered one of the Seven Hills of Rome. Along with the spectacular views, you'll also spot a few monuments, including the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola, or Il Fontanone, which was originally built in the early 1600s.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Gianicolo Hill (Passeggiata del Gianicolo)
To the west of the Tiber River (near another top attraction, Trastevere), Gianicolo Hill, or the Janiculum, is just waiting to be climbed. Although a hike, the site provides unobstructed, panoramic views of the Eternal City. Once at the top, visitors will be able to spot some of Rome's most famous buildings, including St. Peter's Basilica and the Altare della Patria. Interestingly, since it sits outside the ancient city, it's not considered one of the Seven Hills of Rome. Along with the spectacular views, you'll also spot a few monuments, including the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola, or Il Fontanone, which was originally built in the early 1600s.
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#13

#13 in Rome

Free
The Campo de' Fiori is worth visiting twice in a trip – once during the day for its bustling market, and again as the sun sets for its convivial nightlife. According to travel experts, the Campo de' Fiori looks much the same as it did in the early 1800s, except for the numerous pizzerias, cafes and gelaterias that line the periphery.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Campo de' Fiori
The Campo de' Fiori is worth visiting twice in a trip – once during the day for its bustling market, and again as the sun sets for its convivial nightlife. According to travel experts, the Campo de' Fiori looks much the same as it did in the early 1800s, except for the numerous pizzerias, cafes and gelaterias that line the periphery.
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#14

#14 in Rome

Free
Porta Portese is a Sunday morning market (about 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.) in Trastevere that travel experts say fashionistas won't want to miss. While vendors sell everything from books to antiques (and antique lookalikes), the market's main focus is clothes – both new and used.
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Porta Portese
Porta Portese is a Sunday morning market (about 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.) in Trastevere that travel experts say fashionistas won't want to miss. While vendors sell everything from books to antiques (and antique lookalikes), the market's main focus is clothes – both new and used.
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#15

#15 in Rome

Free
Found at the Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Steps (which get their name from the nearby Embassy of Spain among the Holy See) are another must-do for many travelers. Here, visitors can tread the same stairs that writers Balzac and Byron climbed for inspiration in the 19th century. The steps are especially alluring come spring when they're flanked by blooming azaleas.
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna)
Found at the Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Steps (which get their name from the nearby Embassy of Spain among the Holy See) are another must-do for many travelers. Here, visitors can tread the same stairs that writers Balzac and Byron climbed for inspiration in the 19th century. The steps are especially alluring come spring when they're flanked by blooming azaleas.
... more

#18

#18 in Rome

Free
The Ancient Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) has a history that dates back to 312 B.C. and includes the 71 B.C. execution of Spartacus' army, the burial of Caecilia Metella, and many a Roman military march. These days, it makes for a good walk with numerous monuments to stop and see along the way.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Ancient Appian Way
The Ancient Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) has a history that dates back to 312 B.C. and includes the 71 B.C. execution of Spartacus' army, the burial of Caecilia Metella, and many a Roman military march. These days, it makes for a good walk with numerous monuments to stop and see along the way.
... more
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