If you’re a traveler, then Rome is definitely on your list of must-visits! And it should be…for so many exciting reasons. From ancient wonders to modern day inventions, Rome is a city that has it all. No wonder its on every traveler’s bucket list.
There are many ways to explore this eternal city; if you happen to be on a tight budget, but you still want to soak in Rome just like Audrey Hepburn did in A Roman Holiday, then you absolutely can. That’s the charm of this city…it lets you experience it in entirety; all you need is a willingness to explore, walk and discover the very best of Rome!
Sights and sounds that come to life right before you
Rome is steeped in history… a lot of history! It always helps to do a bit of homework on what you want to cover in Rome, and accordingly set aside a number of days in Rome. To explore the city entirely, and in a pace that is not too rushed, even a week can fall short. But if you have just a few days, keeping in mind a tight budget, you can see Rome in 2-3 days. Just pick up a free map and get walking!
The Mighty Coliseum and Roman Forum
Roman history comes to life in the Coliseum, at the very heart of the city. This ancient amphitheater belonging to the Flavian dynasty is a true treasure. Right beside it is the Arch of Constantine, dating back to AD 315. Get a seat on the hill opposite the arch; it’s a perfect spot from where you can view both the Coliseum and the Arch. And guess what, this priceless view is absolutely free! There’s an entrance fee to enter the Coliseum, but there’s no fee to savor this architectural wonder from the outside. So instead of getting caught up in long queues and paying a hefty entrance fee, get yourself a free seat on the hill and take in both these sites.
A short walk from the Coliseum is the Roman Forum. Here too, the view is better from an elevated point. Walk up to the Capitoline Hill, also known as the Campidoglio, and one of the Seven Hills of Rome, from where you can soak in the Roman Forum below, the Coliseum and the Arch and beyond. Try and catch a sunset from here.
Piazza Venezia is the heart of Rome
Towards the city center, a short distance from the Coliseum is the National Monument or Altar of the Fatherland at Piazza Venizia. The grand monument holds national significance, and though its one of the newer buildings (completed in 1935), it is stunning indeed. And yes, it’s free! Walk up the steps and see the eternal flames. And from the top of the steps turn around and check out the Piazza Venezia in front of you; the very same spot from where the Italian dictator Mussolini made many public speeches.
The world’s most famous fountain
Walk on towards the next treasure of Rome, Trevi Fountain. This baroque-styled fountain is perhaps the most photographed fountain in the world. Don’t forget to throw in a coin and make a wish; and try a gelato (just for a euro!) at the shops around the fountain. You only need to pay for your gelato, not the view of the fountain! A few steps from Trevi Fountain will bring you to the Spanish Steps, known as the widest staircase in all of Europe. Climb up the stairs to the Church of Trinity, and when you reach the top, turn around and take in the breathtaking views of Rome below you. It’s magical and free!
Temple of Roman Gods, Fountain of 4 Rivers and The Tiber
Less than 4 km from the Spanish Steps is the Pantheon, one of the most unique temples in all of Rome. With architecture unlike any other Roman relic, the Pantheon is a true wonder. It’s a well-preserved building dating back to AD 117-138. Look up to the dome of the temple…there’s a huge opening. Makes you wonder of the architectural brilliance! There is no entry fee to the Pantheon. Two short lanes away from the Pantheon is the gorgeous Piazza Navona, one of the largest squares in Rome. In the center of the square sits the Fountain of Four Rivers, designed by Bernini in 1651. To the left of the fountain is the beautiful Church of St. Agnes. The square is full of life with musicians, painters, artists and performers there to regale you. All for free! Once you’ve soaked it all in, exit the square and head towards the ancient Tiber River. Stroll alongside the river under the canopy of tress, away from madding crowds, and soak in all the magnificence you’ve just witnessed!
St. Peter’s Basilica
Leave the best for the last! A visit to Vatican City on your roman adventure is a must. The headquarters of the Catholic faith is by the richest area in terms of artistic treasures. While there is an entry fee to the Vatican Museum, entry to Saint Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica is absolutely free! You read that right! And even though you’re in another country (Vatican is a different country within the city of Rome), you don’t need a passport or visa to enter. Just walk on in and marvel at the grand basilica. Queue up to enter the basilica and once you’re in, spend time exploring the sculptures, statues and St. Peter’s Baldachin or the bronze sculpted Baroque canopy that covers the altar. Don’t miss one of Michelangelo’s most famous works of art, the Pieta, a sculpture of Mary carrying Jesus.
Once you exit the Basilica, don’t forget to take a look at the Swiss Guards who stand at the entrance to the Vatican quarters. Walk to the extreme end of St. Peter’s Square and marvel at this structure from a distance!
So there you go! You’ve seen nearly all the structures that make Rome one the most visited city in the world, and all for free.