Rome is unconditional love. There is generally everything that your heart desires. The best museum collections, ancient ruins, beautiful churches. Not to mention that all across the city you can smell delicious carbonara and see fashionable Italians walking the streets. There is no other city like it.
If you are willing to avoid tourist traps and overpriced excursions, then there is even a way to fully experience Rome for free. Without spending a euro. Too good to be true?
When you go to Rome, no doubt you are making a list of the places you want to see. Let us save you time and name the very best places, which will cost you nothing and surely leave an unprecedented impression.
This huge and majestic ancient temple has stood here for 1895 years, which makes it almost as old as Rome itself!
Among the Roman streets, you can easily find the echoes of the ancient city. Like the majestic Pantheon. Its proportions amaze even modern engineers. It's not just round, it's a perfect circle. Inside, a sphere with a diameter of 43 meters could be inscribed. Not to mention the dome, which was built with no computer but pure human genius – Romans, how did you manage to do all this?
The impressive dome of the Pantheon was once all covered with bronze, which was stripped away when Bernini had to design the bronze Baldachin of St. Peter’s Cathedral. What still remains today, is the oculus at the top of the dome. This is an open hole in the roof, through which light and rain can pass. It is designed so that on the founding date of Rome, the stream of light shines exactly on the entrance of the Pantheon. This particular phenomenon was used by Emperor Augustus, when he entered the temple on the birthday of Rome on April 21. Coming through the entrance, the emperor was completely surrounded by light. The people present were flabbergasted seeing this phenomenon, as they understood it as the light of God shining down on the emperor. An Italian show of magic, made possible by the cunning astronomical calculations of the builders and the emperor’s love for theatricality.
According to the legend, everyone who throws a coin into the fountain returns to Rome. At least a million euros are caught here every year!
On a trip to Rome, you cannot miss a visit to the most beautiful fountain in the world! The Trevi fountain is shining brightly in the heart of Rome for already for 289 years. The large-scale and spectacular landmark reminds of a scene from an antique play made in stone, rather than a source of pure water. The architect vividly managed to convey the movement of water in the stone. Involuntarily, holding your breath, you wait for the figures to continue their movement forward. The statue of Neptune is so realistic that it seems it will descend from the stage directly to us.
Is staying in Trastevere a good idea for you? With the layers of our travel map you will quickly know!
With such an amazing background, the Trevi fountain is the perfect selfie spot. Consider going there in the middle of the night, as you may have the entire scene! And besides, the illuminated fountain looks even more magical.
True architectural grandeur housing priceless treasures under its dome, like Michelangelo’s Pietà and the fabulous bronze Baldachin by Bernini.
As the heart of the Vatican and the entire Catholic world, the St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the main attractions in Rome, created by some of the most outstanding masters of Italy.
When you enter St. Peter’s Square, the symbolic hands of the Catholic Church greet you. These are two massive colonnades designed by the great master Bernini, following the idea of Pope Alexander VII. The Pope wanted to convey the idea that the Church will always accept anyone in its arms, both a true believer and a repentant heretic. And today, St. Peter’s Basilica is still open to anyone, and completely free.
Inside the St. Peter, you will be surrounded with gold, masterfully done carving, frescoes, paintings and sculptures from the hands of masters like Michelangelo and Bernini. It may all seem very overwhelming, but with our guide to the St. Peter’s Cathedral you will be totally prepared for your visit as it highlights the masterpieces you cannot miss, shares invaluable tips and fills you in on the history and legends of the greatest cathedral in the world.
As the heart of the Catholic Church, St. Peter’s Basilica is saturated with history and legends, but it is certainly not all Rome has to offer. On nearly every corner, you can find the most beautiful basilicas, some with even works by Michelangelo and Caravaggio, which can be all admired for free.
But how do you know which churches you definitely need to visit? Our guide to Rome contains the answer, as it lists the most magnificent basilicas in the Italian capital.
Appearing like a medieval fortress from the outside, the interior of the basilica looks very elegant together with its beautiful inner courtyard.
Want to see only the very greatest basilicas in Rome? Then focus on the four Papal Basilicas. Besides the St. Peter’s Cathedral, the San Paolo Fuori le Mura has also made it to this special shortlist of basilicas. Located in the neighborhood of Ostiense, the San Paolo Fuori le Mura is located out of the city centre – as its Italian name already suggests.
From the outside the San Paolo Fuori le Mura resembles an ordinary fortress, keeping its main decorations and treasures inside its walls. Atop the elegant colonnades inside the basilica, you can see images of all the Popes in the history of the Catholic Church, starting with the Apostle Peter. A portrait of each new Pope fills an empty medallion, and as you can see there are a little more than 20 empty spots left right now. They say that when all the voids are filled and the last Pope pictured on these walls dies, the end of the world will come...
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There is no better place to feel Rome, than in its historical centre. You can wander endlessly through the old lanes, passing narrow streets to end up at squares that remember the steps of Caesar, legionnaires, Popes and all the great minds that forever imprinted their memories in books and paintings.
The endless maze of streets and alleys leads to new discoveries every time, whether it would be a cute little square or a beautiful church.
The area that you see on our map of Rome is the historical core with tiny romantic streets, great to explore on foot. Stroll the little streets and enjoy the smell of fresh food and the best coffee in the world. Get lost, until you suddenly arrive at iconic Roman squares, such as Piazza di Spagna, Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona.
One of the finest baroque squares in Rome today once was a huge stadium. The unusual elongated shape of Piazza Navona is one of the most obvious hints of this athletic past.
At Piazza Navona, you can see masterpieces of the ever competing architects Borromini and Bernini. Right in front of Borromini’s Church of Saint Agnes, you will see the Fountain of the Four Rivers, as designed by Bernini. One of the figures depicted on Bernini’s fountain, the one facing the church, is closing his face with his hand. Many believed that Bernini depicted himself there, as if he is expressing extreme discontent with the looks of the church. Though this may seem very real, it is all just a legend, as the church was built after the fountain.
If you are down for more secrets and legends, check out our article about the treasures of Piazza Navona.
The cosy little streets of historic Rome are basically built around ancient ruins, like the Forum Romanum, Imperial Forums and the Colosseum. Fortunately, not all ancient sights are paid, what to think of Teatro Marcello?
It is believed that it was this structure that was the prototype of the Flavius amphitheatre, which the whole world knows as the Colosseum.
This ancient theatre is often mistaken for the very Colosseum. But interestingly, it was built much earlier. It is located in perhaps one of the most picturesque and oldest places of Rome, which once used to be a Jewish ghetto.
Today, you can walk freely along the walls of Teatro Marcello, stroll the curved streets in Ghetto, or take a close look at the ruins of the Portico of Octavia. This is a tiny but fine piece of ancient Rome that you can visit entirely for free.
Something that everyone who comes to Rome for the first time learns, is that Rome was built on seven hills. You are not required to learn them all by heart, just don’t forget that Roman hills offer beautiful panoramas of the Eternal City. We will introduce you here to the two very best views.
Climbing the first hill can be challenging, as you’ll need to ascend a slightly difficult staircase. But the rewards for climbing Campidoglio are ample, as you will not only find the Capitoline Museums on top of this hill, but also some of the greatest views of the Roman Forum. For that, you will just have to continue straight and walk behind the museum buildings, where the entire Forum Romanum will open up within arm’s reach. The view is even better than from the forum itself!
At the top of Campidoglio, you can see the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the Forum Romanum, the forefather of current Rome.
Climbing our second hill will be more scenic, and less exhausting. Pincio Hill is especially recommended for your perfect sunset picture. Its summit, towering over the beautiful baroque Piazza del Popolo, is perhaps the best terrace with a view over the city. They say that admiring the sun setting down with your loved one here is one of the most romantic gifts one can think of – indeed, totally free.
Climb Pincio Hill along the barely visible steps covered with greenery and enjoy the view of the Eternal City.
Due to the variety of vegetation, Pincio Hill has also been called collis hortulorum, or hill of gardens. Whether it is the treacherous steps leading up from Piazza del Popolo, or Villa Borghese with its lush gardens next door, there is indeed a lot of greenery here. It is not for nothing that this is the favorite place of Romans to relax.
Exploring Rome would be incomplete without the gastronomic delights of the Italian land. Among all the colorful markets that you can find in our travel guide to Rome, we suggest to visit at least Campo de’ Fiori, which is the oldest and most famous market in the city. Its name is translated as “flower field”, which is what it used to be until the 15th century.
The oldest Roman kingdom of fruits and vegetables is still flourishing as it was a century and a half ago.
Campo de’ Fiori is officially open throughout the week, except Sunday, from 7h till 14h but actual life here starts already at 6h when sellers arrive, unload fresh produce and chat among themselves. Italian scenes in their purest form!
This historical market mainly offers fish, vegetables, beautifully folded fruits, spices, and delicacies. Fruit stands prepare smoothies and fruit salads, to be eaten sitting under the statue of Giordano Bruno, who in fact was executed on this square. Would you dare to taste Italian food in the shadow of this innocent man?
Staying near Campo de’ Fiori means a place in the heart of Rome. Historic streets, a cute daily food market and restaurants for any taste.
If you want to see the local life of the city and try Roman cuisine, be sure to come to Trastevere. Narrow cobbled streets, old houses, entwined with ivy and grapes, and the smells of pizza and pasta are everywhere. There are numerous trattorias and osterias, where the average bill is 20% lower than in the centre, and the food is often much tastier here.
Can you resist the smells of fresh pizza, pasta amatriciana or artichokes alla Romana?
Trastevere and other great areas with restaurants and bars in Rome, can easily be found with our interactive map of Rome. Simply check the layer Bar & Café area, and the greatest bar areas in Rome will show up, such as Trastevere, Monti, or the area around Piazza Navona. Visiting these places, you will have a hard time not spending any euros – but after all, we need to eat?
Can you imagine Rome without fashion and shopping? Of course not! Here you will find international brands and luxury clothing, hand-made and vintage, shoes and hats for all tastes. And do you know what is most important? You don't have to buy all of these. You can just window shop, or drop in and look for something, stroll along the fashion streets and get some nice inspiration for your wardrobe!
Here, in the shade of old ivy-covered houses, you can find old workshops and curious artisan shops.
Among the variety of places, we would like to highlight Via Margutta, one of the most picturesque streets in Rome. It is unique in that it houses small independent Italian shops. Here you can buy handmade clothes and accessories, crystal products, as well as paintings and furniture. If you are lucky, you can even see the craftsmen at work in their workshops.
One of the most beautiful areas in Rome, but often missed by visitors. Maybe that's the reason why it's still so beautiful?
Away from the bustling streets of central Rome, there is another great shopping spot, the Monti area. Hidden in alleyways and quiet corners, you will discover gems of artisanship, design and fashion here. Today Monti is an enclave of young artists, the creative centre of the city. A place of worship for lovers of vintage and original creations. Want to know more? Try the small and charming shops along the Via del Boschetto. Easily find the Monti shopping area with our travel map of Rome.
Laocoön and His Sons is one of the jewels at the Vatican Museums. What other masterpieces to see there? Check here our guide of the best exhibits!
Having visited all the above places, you can definitely say that you have experienced Rome. But that does not mean that Rome has no other fantastic places to offer – in fact, the list is almost endless. For example, you can plunge into the thousand-year history of art in the Vatican Museums. And – by the way – you can get there for free as well, but just one day per month and you will have to stand in a queue for several hours. A better option may be to check out our guide to the Vatican Museums where you can immediately inspect the highlights of the collection, and also for free!
There must be more to Rome! Check here for a list of local experiences and great attractions. Just not free.
Or perhaps you are a fan of unusual architecture. Then you will definitely like the art nouveau corner of Rome, called Quartiere Coppedè. A completely different Rome will open up before you, with small villas decorated with beautiful natural ornaments, smooth curves and stunning architectural details.
Not to mention the dozens of pleasant places for an aperitif or dinner that you can also find with our free travel map of Rome. The magical Rome has wonderful options for any type of traveller.