Free Rome: a guide for the budget traveler
Free Rome

Free Rome: a guide for the budget traveler

Every year Rome ranks among the top ten most expensive tourist cities: hotels and restaurants here are not much cheaper than in Paris, London and Zurich. However, you can save money on entertainment here too. In this article, I have gathered everything I know about free tourist opportunities in Rome.

Free guided tours of Rome

You can also explore the Eternal City on your own using a guidebook, but it is better to have a guide. Those who speak English or Spanish can find free excursions in any major city. There are also in Rome. You should sign up in advance through the official websites.

FreeWalkingTour runs two different free tours each day in English and Spanish:

  1. Morning from 10 o’clock. Includes visits to Marcus Aurelius Column, Spanish Square, Hadrian’s Temple, Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Castel Sant’Angelo overlooking the Vatican.
  2. Evening from 4 pm. The Colosseum and the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Venezia, the Roman Aqueduct will be shown from the outside.

NewRomeFreeTour offers tours every day in English. The route takes you through the center of Rome: Pantheon, Tomb of the Kings, Trevi Fountain, etc.

Freetour offers 4 free guided tours of the center: 3 in English and 1 in Spanish.

Trevi Fountain: to get close, you have to fight your way through the crowd
Trevi Fountain: to get close, you have to fight your way through the crowd

Free Wi-Fi in Rome

In the center of Rome, there is wi-fi almost everywhere in piazzas, popular tourist areas and public transportation stops. It has a rather low speed and is available for only 2 hours of use per day per device.

Free drinking water

Being in Rome for the first time and walking around Villa Borghese without water in the heat, we paid 2 € for a 0.5 liter bottle of water. It was the most expensive water I’ve ever had in all my travels. Had I known that small fountains with free drinking water could be found all over the city, I would have brought an empty bottle with me.

Stock up on containers and look for low fountains with spouted faucets labeled Aqua Potabile.

Free museums and attractions in Rome

All of Rome’s public museums are free on the first Sunday of the month from October to March. Some museums have long queues on these days, so you can’t see much in one day. If you’re not in a hurry, you can save money. The line at the Colosseum took us 2 hours because they let you inside in small batches. In fact, on a normal day in the season, the queue is not much smaller.


All of Rome is a free museum that can be explored for weeks. But if you get bored walking the streets or want to hide from the heat, save this map of free museums and attractions. Admission is always or almost always free.

Free attractions and museums of Rome on the map

St. Peter’s Cathedral (Basilica di San Pietro)

The main temple of the Catholic world can be visited free of charge at any time. However, you will have to wait in a huge queue. But for museums and the Sistine Chapel, in most cases, you will have to pay.

  • Cathedral opening hours: Mon-Fri: 7:00—18:30 (October 1-March 31), 7:00—19:00 (April 1-September 31).

Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani)

The minimum ticket price for the museums and the Sistine Chapel is 17 €, but on the last Sunday of the month and on Tourism Day (September 27) the Vatican Museum complex: art, sculpture, history, is free of charge. In total, 54 halls are available for visiting. The famous Raphaelo Stanzas and the Sistine Chapel are also located here.

  • Free admission: every last Sunday of the month from 9:00am-12:00pm.
  • Museums website
St. Peter
St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican
Pieta: this masterpiece is on display in St. Peter
Pieta: this masterpiece is on display in St. Peter’s Basilica and can be viewed for free any day.

Museo Storico della Liberazione (Liberation Museum)

The exhibition commemorates the end of the Nazi occupation of Rome and the memory of its victims. Open free of charge every day except Monday.

  • Museum website
  • Hours of operation are Tues-Fri, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., 2:15 to 8:00 p.m.

Museo delle Anime del Purgatorio (Museum of Souls in Purgatory)

Perhaps the most unusual museum in all of Europe with a spooky display. It is therefore surprising that it is free of charge.

Located 10 minutes from St. Peter’s Basilica. The exposition consists of artifacts allegedly left by the ghosts of the dead, whose souls are in Purgatory. The purpose of the exhibit is to prove the existence of the immortal soul. No admission fee is charged, but you must ask permission from a priest to get inside. In lieu of an entrance fee, it is encouraged to leave any donation to the church, although this is left to your discretion.

The museum doesn’t have a website, but you can see samples of artifacts right here.

  • Hours of operation: daily 7:00—19:30.

Burcardo Theater Museum and Library (La Biblioteca Museo Teatrale Siae)

This museum contains exhibits related to the theater: marionette puppets, stage costumes, playbills and programs of performances, etc. The theater museum was first opened in 1932.

  • The museum is open Tuesday and Thursday from 9:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Museum and library website


Its second name is «The Temple of All Gods». The Pantheon was built during the heyday of ancient Roman architecture and today is considered one of its iconic and unique structures. It was once the place where the seven main Roman gods were worshipped, but in 609 AD it was consecrated and became the Christian temple of St. Mary and the Martyrs. This saved it from destruction: while Christian services were held here, other ancient Roman temples were dismantled for bricks and marble columns for the benefit of building new churches and palaces.

The architecture of the Pantheon is unique not only for ancient Roman temples. Its dome is made of unreinforced concrete and is believed to have stood for 2,000 years without restoration or rebuilding. This is incredible: modern engineers believe that a dome of such construction and materials could not exist at all. But it does. The only window is located in the roof and is called «Oculus». During the day, the sun’s ray passes around the circle and manages to illuminate about half of the temple.

In the Pantheon there are several tombs. Here lies Raphael and the first kings of Italy: Victor Emmanuel II and Umberto I. You can see Victor Emmanuel II, the unifier of Italy, in almost every Italian city: his equestrian statues are as common throughout the country as Lenin statues are in Russia.

  • Working hours: Mon-Sat: 9:00—19:15, Sun: 9:00—17:45.
Oculus Pantheon
Oculus Pantheon

National Academy of St. Luke (Accademia di San Luca)

The «Accademia di St. Luke’s Academy» artists' association appeared in Rome back in the XVI century. Today the Academy has a free art gallery with canvases by Italian, French and Flemish masters of the XVII–XVIII centuries. Despite the fact that the entrance is free, the collection is considered quite strong.

  • Working hours: Mon-Fri from 10.00 to 12.30.
  • Academy website

Napoleon Museum (Museo Napoleonico)

A free exhibition dedicated to the personality of the legendary commander. 13 halls will thoroughly tell the story of the Bonaparte family and allow you to feel the whole era.

  1. Hours of operation: Tues-Fri from 10.00 to 18.00.
  2. Museum website

Villa Borghese Park (Villa Borghese)

The Borghese Gallery is free to enter, but the nearby park is free of charge. It is considered to be the most romantic garden: its shape resembles a heart. Here you can relax both body and soul and enjoy peace from the hustle and bustle of Rome. The total length is 6 km.

  • Hours of operation: W — V from 9:00 to 19:00.
Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese

Military History Museum of Military Equipment (Museo Storico della Motorizzazione Militare)

This free museum is located on the territory of an active military base and is only open on Saturdays. You must bring your passport for registration at the checkpoint. The museum collects the achievements of the Italian military industry for the last 100 years. Among the exhibits are more than 300 types of cars and motorcycles, more than 60 models of armored vehicles.

  • Hours of operation are Saturday 9:00—12:00.
  • Website

Free parking lots in Rome

During the daytime, parking lots with white stripes are free. Parking times are usually very limited and «free» depends on the day of the week. When you see the white stripes, look around for a road sign, it gives details.

All parking lots in the city between 8pm and 8am are completely free, even those marked in blue.