Free Rome: sample itinerary

My Free Rome post has been one of my most popular – so I thought i would try and draw up a sample itinerary for those who wanted to try and cover the free sites, grouping together those that are in similar locations.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and you’re never going to see it in a day, a week or even a month. Over 7 trips, I still sometimes feel that I have only scratched the surface. One of the joys of Rome is just wandering and discovering, so as well as the suggestions below it’s great to just take it easy and build in lots of gelato and coffee breaks ๐Ÿ˜. And don’t forget, behind even the plainest church facade you can find magical interiors!

The itinerary below assumes you are going to stay for a week and that you are ready to start your sighseeing early on the first – free – Sunday of the month. I’ve added in nearby paid for attractions too as it would be a shame to miss them. You could come a week earlier and visit the Vatican Museums on the last Sunday of the month if you had the time, funds and energy! I always find that my itinerary plans never quite get completed, but half the fun is in the planning!

 

Free Sunday

There are many alternative options here, but I’ve tried to stay away from the busiest central sites. Sites are located in two main areas so a daily bus ticket is useful.

  • Baths of Caracalla
  • Galleria Borghese (pre booking required)
  • Villa Giulia Etruscan Museum
  • GNAM

Or this is the perfect day to opt to explore the Appian Way as it will be traffic free.

 

Monday

Monday can be difficult as many sites are closed. Today could be an art and church day.

  • Find a free walking tour (or make your own Caravaggio or Bernini trail)
  • Explore the Capitoline Hill for spectacular Forum Views
  • Santa Maria in Ara Coeli
  • Vittoriano and Museo del Risorgimento (spend a little extra and take the elevator to the top of the monument for spectacular views and a rooftop cafe)
  • Paid: Palazzo Valentini, Trajan’s Markets or Capitoline Museums.

 

Tuesday

  • Explore Villa Borghese (take a picnic, have a wander, hire a bike or a boat. In the summer watch some Shakespeare at the replica of London’s Globe Theatre)
  • Pietro Canonica Museum
  • Carlo Bilotti Museum
  • Trinita dei Monti
  • Piazza del Popolo including Santa Maria del Popolo and a stroll along Via Margutta.
  • paid: Explore Keats-Shelley House or Villa Medici (check times of latter’s tours)

 

Wednesday

Start off in the Colosseum area (pay to go in and you can use the ticket to visit the Palatine and Forum today or the following day), crossing the road to have a look at the remains of the Gladiator school on Via Labicana.

  • Santi Cosma and Damiano
  • Colosseum (Outside) and Arch of Constantine
  • Paid – Basilica of San Clemente (upper layers free)
  • Santi Quattri Coronati (pay extra for access to their courtyard and 12th century oratory
  • Museum of the Liberation
  • St John Lateran
  • Scala Sancta
  • Museum of the Italian Infantry
  • Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (visit on a Saturday and see mosaics daring from Constantine and Helena
  • Have a look at the Tomb of the Baker

 

Wednesday

  • Pantheon (small fee coming soon)
  • Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
  • Giovanni Baracca Museum of Ancient Sculpture
  • Piazza Navona and SantAgnese in Agone
  • Museo Mario Praz
  • Museo Napoleonico
  • Throw your coin into the Trevi Fountain

 

Thursday

  • Museum of the Walls
  • Explore the Appian Way including:
  • Church of Domine Quo Vadis
  • Villa of Maxentius
  • Parco Cafarella

This makes a good Sunday option due to the lack of traffic.

 

Friday

  • Costume museum
  • Santa Maria Della Vittoria
  • Santa Susanna
  • San Bernardo alle Terme
  • Santa Maria degli Angeli
  • Santa Maria Maggiore (spend a little extra and enjoy their museum and archaeological site)
  • Paid: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme & Baths of Diocletian on single ticket. Use the rest of the ticket to visit Crypta Balbi and Palazzo Altemps)

 

Saturday

  • Campo di Fiore Market
  • Jewish Ghetto (pay for Museo Ebraico entrance)
  • Tiber Island
  • Trastevere mooch – churches of Santa Maria and Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

There are so many other options available and this is a hard choice!

Of course, do also have a look at the advice provided by people who live/have lived in Rome for more up to date insights. Personal faves are:

  • Romewise
  • Revealed Rome
  • Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome
  • An American in Rome
  • Tiffany Parks
  • Heart Rome

What’s your fantasy Roman itinerary?

16 comments

  1. Good grief Marilyn, I need a lie down just reading this!

    Joking aside, thank you so much as always for posting this although it does make me wish I was there – October maybe?

    • ๐Ÿ˜€ It is a tad ambitious, but wouldnโ€™t be too bad as most things are quite close. I did toy with the idea of a break day. Rome in October would be lovely!

  2. Indeed, my feet hurt just reading this through. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I’m sure it will be useful for all who are fit and eager. Only church-hopping could take you more than a week.

    I’m still waiting to come across a comprehensive Rome street art self-guiding tour. I’ve only seen some bits around Testaccio and Trastevere but I can see there are many parts of Rome where it’s vibrant.

    But you’re right: no matter how often I visit, I also feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.

    • Hi Manja. Yes, I wonder has anyone ever done a church challenge – would be fun! Iโ€™ve seen paid for street art tours like @italophilia completed as part of #winterinrome, but a self-guided one would definitely be interesting to put together. Maybe one for the itinerary section on the Official tourism website.

  3. Brava! You have compiled a great list! I go to Rome every year and still have a lot of things to see! In July, i’ll be there for 2.5 days before taking the train or bus to Puglia. I have made myself a random list of things i havent’ visited. I really hate prebooking things online, but I will have to bite the bullet and do it, as I have not been to Galleria Borghese! I also need to visit the Caravaggio Madonna in S. Agostino, San Clemente, and see about making a reservation (yuk!) to go inside il Piramide. Oh and San Paolo, because I stay at a friend’s place 2 blocks away but have not visited since I was 15. Oh and I’d like to go to Mass at Santa Brigida again. My list is getting longer as I write! Buon viaggio a me! Ciao, Cristina

  4. You’ve offered my top two pieces of advice: a) just walk about and b) San Clemente. If people want to know how Romans eat I always suggest Eataly and if people want to know how (some) Romans live I suggest walking the length of Via del Pigneto.

    • Thank you. Eataly is a great suggestion – I have been to the Turin version and the smaller one in central Rome. Iโ€™ll have to try the Pigneto suggestion ๐Ÿ˜

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