Italy is not the cheapest destination for budget travellers, but the good news is that a visit to the capital of Rome doesn’t have to break the bank.
If you know where to look, there’s a handful of sightseeing activities that will be kind on your wallet.
Check out my favourite free sights in Rome.
The Pantheon is the one of two key sights in Rome where you can get a look inside for free.
The Pantheon was once a temple – and is now a church. It’s nearly 2,000 years old and is considered to be the best preserved building from ancient Roman times.
Check out the impressive dome and the decorated walls, and marvel at the architecture prowess of the ancient Romans.
St Peter’s Basilica
St Peter’s Basilica is located on the west bank of the Tiber River in Vatican City. The Basilica is the second key attraction in Rome that you can get into for free.
But you have to get there early to avoid a long queue. The basilica opens daily at 7am. Remember the basilica is a religious monument and you must cover your shoulders and knees (no singlets or short shorts) to enter.
Did you know that on the outskirts of the city centre lies the ruins of massive aqueducts?
The aqueducts are located inside a park called Parco degli Acquedotti and it’s free to enter.
Aqueducts were used to bring water into cities using gravity. Aqueducts were built both above and below ground.
The above ground aqueduct ruins in this park stretch for kilometres so you can easily spend an hour or two walking alongside the aqueduct.
While entrance to the park is free, it will cost you a return metro ticket (€3) to get to the park unless you fancy a 9km walk each way from the centre. But that’s less than the price of a gelato!
From Termini Station, take the blue Line B to Subaugusta station then make the 15 minute walk to the park along Viale Tito Labieno.
The longest stretch of the aqueducts that remains mostly intact is located on the left-hand side of the park as you approach from the metro station.
Gianicolo Hill viewpoint
Did you know that Rome has seven hills? These hills offers some of the best views in Rome – and the good news is they are all free.
My favourite is the view from Gianicolo Hill, followed closely by the Roman rooftops you can see from Aventine Hill.
Gianicolo Hill is located in the trendy neighbourhood of Trastevere, on the opposite side of the Tiber River to most of the key sights.
From Termini Station, you can easily walk there in about an hour or take the metro to Circo Massimo or Colloseo stations, walk across the river, and then up Passeggiata del Gianicolo.
From Gianicolo Hill, you’ll get a good panoramic view of St Peter’s Basilica and other key points in the city.
Aventine Hill is located close to Circo Massimo and you can also check out the famous Aventine Keyhole – which has a view down a garden and onto the dome of St Peter’s Basillica.
When you’re done checking out the view, take the time to explore the pretty laneways of the Trastevere neighbourhood, and try out one of the many restaurants and bars.
You’ll find the prices are cheaper for food and drink on this side of the river.
Rome’s landmarks from the outside
Rome is a living museum, and in my opinion, many of the key sights are just as good from the outside as the inside.
The Colosseum is one of them. You can walk around the entire perimeter of the Colosseum to admire the imposing structure.
You also get a pretty good view walking around the outside of the Roman Forum.
Then there’s all the fountains. It doesn’t cost a cent to admire Trevi Fountain and the fountains in Piazza Navona (unless you find yourself craving a gelato!)
One of the most appealing parts of Rome to me is that the whole city is beautiful. You never know what you’ll come across as you wander around and uncover buildings dating back hundreds, even thousands, of years.
So lose the map and go exploring. It’s hard to get lost in Rome. You can easily navigate by the key landmarks such as St Peter’s Basilica and the Colosseum. And if you do happen to take a wrong turn – you’ll probably come across a sight you never knew existed.
The Tiber River
The Tiber River makes for a scenic stroll that offers you a unique view of Rome.
You can join the locals jogging or walking along the riverside – which stretches for kilometres.
Enjoy the panoramas of the many beautiful bridges and don’t forget to catch a view of Castel Sant Angelo from the river.
Things You Should Know
- Rome is best explored on foot. You never know what beautiful buildings you’ll come across next in your pedestrian adventures.
- Rome’s metro network is easy to navigate. Tickets cost €1.50 per ride or you can buy a 24 hour ticket for €7 if you plan to take many trips on the metro.
- Most of the key sights are located on the Termini Train Station (Rome’s central station) side of the river. Termini makes for a good landmark as many of the sights fan out from there and there’s lots of budget accommodation options in the area.
- Rome is a year-round destination and you’ll always encounter crowds of people. However, it gets very busy in July and August, and also very hot and humid. The best time of year to travel in southern Italy is in the shoulder months of March, April, September and October. Accommodation is also cheaper over the winter and shoulder season months.