Getting to Rome can be expensive, but staying there doesn’t have to be. While Rome certainly has a lot to offer for the luxury traveler bent on five-star hotels and three-star restaurants, it has a lot to offer for the penny conscious traveler. And yes, the two experiences are widely different, but Rome doesn’t hold back any of its wonders just because you happen to be staying in a hostel instead of in the Hilton. Here are some amazing (and free) attractions so you can save your money for that extra helping of gelato.
One of the best preserved buildings in Rome, the Pantheon has been in consistent use since its construction in 125 AD. It’s a stunningly beautiful building that offers protection from the sun and rain and is completely free. You can walk in and out of it as many times as you like without paying a dime. Stop by the nearby, Caffè Tazza d’Oro for the quintessential Italian espresso experience.
Ok, technically this is not free, but since it’s under two dollars, we’re including it anyway. While it can be difficult to include a write up on bus routes (they have an annoying habit of changing routes), bus line 116 in Rome is worth writing about anyway. If you can’t afford a guided bus tour of the city, try hopping on this city bus which passes through Campo de Fiori, behind the Pantheon, through Piazza Barberini, and onto Villa Borghese. For 1 Euro (check pricing and route beforehand to make sure), you can get a (relatively) relaxing tour of some of the city’s most prominent sites.
No visit to Rome is complete without gelato or a visit to one of the most iconic fountains in the world. The Trevi Fountain has become ubiquitous with Rome and is always surrounded by tourists throwing coins into its waters. Legend has it that if you throw a coin with your back to the fountain, it will ensure you return to Rome. Can’t hurt. The coins are collected every night by city workers and donated to various charities. After getting your fill of the fountain, swing by San Crispino Gelateria. As far as gelato goes, it’s a little pricier, but the amazing flavors definitely make it worth the splurge.
This picturesque and charming neighborhood should make it on everyone’s list of “things to do in Rome.” Full of small shops, attractive cafes, and plenty of quaint cobblestone avenues to explore, it also offers a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of some of Rome’s other popular destinations (and long lines). If you want to try some of the best pizza in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by Ivo A Trastevere.
Campo de Fiori
This square near the Piazza Navona is home to a farmer’s market in the morning and a place to congregate in the evenings. The old fountain full of flowers, the bright colors of the produce against the old stones, and the steady stream of shoppers and tourists makes it a pleasant place to sit and enjoy a cappuccino while people watching for an hour or two.
St. Peter’s Basilica
This beautiful Basilica can mean long lines and metal detectors, but it is 100% absolutely free and should not be missed. If you brave only one long line to see something in Rome, this should be it. Note: if you want to climb all the way up into the dome, it will cost you 7 Euros (for the elevator) and 5 Euros (for the stairs). The rest of the Basilica is free.