Rome, and Italy in general, has a reputation of being one of the most expensive destinations in Europe. However, this does not mean you can’t visit The Eternal City on a budget! With a few of these savvy tips, you can even see Rome for as little as $50 a day.

Here’s a helpful guide to visiting Rome on a tight budget.

Free Things To Do in Rome

One way to make your travel budget go further is by taking advantage of free things to do. Thankfully there’s an abundance of free things to do in Rome. That means you can see a lot of what the city has to offer without spending a penny! (Which also gives you more money for pasta, wine and gelato!)

The Colosseum:

See the colosseum for free

Let's start with Rome's most famous attraction, the breath-taking Colosseum. Built between 70-80 AD, this famous structure is certainly a sight to behold. Tickets to enter and tour the Colosseum can be quite expensive, and they sell out fast.
However, the central square surrounding the Colosseum is free to visit. You can get a real sense of the scale, grandeur and history of the Colosseum just by admiring it from the outside. Therefore, while touring the inside of the Colosseum is an amazing experience, it’s not something I believe that you ‘have to do’, especially when visiting Rome on a budget.

Pantheon:

The Pantheon - ways to see rome for cheap

Out of all the Roman ruins, my personal favourite attraction in Rome, is the Pantheon. It's said by many to be the best persevered ancient Roman monument. This is because the structure is actually an ancient church, which has saved it from being stripped of much of its precious materials. Its stayed pretty much the same over 2000 years. Comparatively, over the years, parts of the Colosseum have been dismantled and used in other buildings throughout Rome. For example, its marble façade was used for the construction of St Peter’s Basilica!

Although the Pantheon is most famed for its impressive front façade, its true beauty can only be seen from the inside! Thankfully you can enter the Pantheon for free! Long queues tend to form during the summer months so be prepared to wait. 

Trevi Fountain:

Trevi Fountain - free things to do in Rome to stay under $50 a day

Another iconic site in Rome is the stunning Trevi Fountain, which I’m sure you’ll recognize from Instagram, or any film that’s ever been shot in Rome. The fountain is really quite beautiful in person, but the small square it’s in is probably one of the busiest places in Rome, as everyone jostles to get a perfect photo of the fountain. To avoid the chaos, I suggest visiting Trevi Fountain as early in the day as you can. 

Spanish Steps:

The Spanish Steps - Free things to do in Rome

Made famous thanks to popular culture, the Spanish Steps (which have featured in movies such as Eat Pray Love) have become another a must-see site in the city. Again, try to visit in the morning to avoid the worst of the crowds. But, even if it’s busy, I highly recommend climbing to the top of the steps. You’ll be treated with spectacular views over Rome's rooftops.

Villa Borghese Park:

how to see rome on $50 a day - go to Villa Borghese Park

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of central Rome, a great place you can visit for free is Villa Borghese park. As the largest green space in Rome, the park features many different areas that you can enjoy, and its home to many impressive sculptures and fountains.

In addition to the always free park, there is a fabulous art museum inside the Galleria Borghese building that is free on the first Sunday of each month.

Altare Della Patria:

Altare della patria - free attractions in rome - rome budget travel

This huge monument right in the heart of Rome is hard to miss. It’s dedicated to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy. Made of pure white marble, the monument is elaborately decorated, with several fountains at its base, and two chariot sculptures crowning the top.

The Altare Della Patria is therefore a truly unique and impressive attraction to visit. What’s more, if you climb the seemingly endless amount of steps to the panoramic terrace at the top, you’ll be treated to amazing views over Rome, including some uninterrupted ones of the Colosseum.

The Roman Forum:

The Roman Forum- free things to do in Rome

While you have to pay to visit the majority of the Roman Forum, sections can be seen for free from the Via Dei Fori Imperiali, a road that leads from Rome’s modern city centre straight to the colosseum. This road is flanked by many amazing roman ruins, and information plaques explain the significance and history of each, which for a free sight, is quite impressive.

I truly believe you should set aside at least a week to properly experience everything Rome has to offer. If you need more tips on how to make a week-long trip to Rome, here is my itinerary to use.

Where To Eat in Rome on a Budget

All the above free things to do in Rome mean it’s very easy to fill your days in the city without having to spend any money, which is pretty amazing! But, as well as the famous sites, one of the best things to do in Rome is to simply enjoy its amazing food, which is some of the best in Italy.

Sadly sampling fine Italian food can’t be done for free, but you can get cheap high quality meals in Rome if you know where to look. My top tip would be to avoid eating in central locations, so anywhere near the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and Vatican, as restaurants here charge premium tourist prices!

Therefore, for authentic and affordable restaurants, you want to eat with the locals. This means heading out towards the city’s quieter neighbourhoods, such as Trastevere, Monti and Pigneto. These are all fantastic places to visit in their own right, so heading here for food just gives you another excuse to tour the beautiful neighbourhoods.

Top Budget Restaurants in Rome:

Pasta Chef Gourmet Street Food – Monti

Pasta starting at 5.50 ($6.25 USD) and huge glass of wine for 4 ($4.50)

Location: Via Baccina, 42, 00184 Roma
Pasta Chef's Site/Menu

Eat cheap in Rome at The Pasta Chef Monti

Pizzeria La Boccaccia – Trastevere

Get 3 slices of pizza for around 5 ($5.75 USD)

Location: Via di Santa Dorotea, 2, 00153 Roma
La Boccaccia's Site/Menu

Pizza La Boccaccia in Rome - cheap restaurants in rome

Vitaminas 24 – Pigneto

Vegan. Grab a veggie burger with side for only  $7.30 / €6.50

Location: Via Ascoli Piceno, 40, 00176 Roma
Vitaminas 24 Site/Menu

Best vegan restaurant in Rome - Vitaminas 24

‘Gusto

Serves amazing pizzas from $7.80 / €7

Location: Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 28Largo dei Lombardi, 16
‘Gusto's Site/Menu

'gusto restaurant in rome has cheap pizza

Where To Stay in Rome on a Budget

Because Rome is such a popular city to visit accommodation tends to be expensive. If you want to get the most for your money, I’d suggest visiting out of peak season if you can (November-March). This also means that the crowds at the city's top attractions won’t be as intensive!

Nonetheless, whatever the time of year you visit Rome, the two best accommodation options to use when you’re on a budget are Airbnb’s or Hostels.

There are several different Hostels in Rome, which offer relatively cheap shared rooms. A perk of these is that they tend to be in central locations, and staying in a hostel is always a great way to meet like minded travellers.

One of the best (and affordable!) hostel in Rome is Legends. This is centrally located, with attentive staff, and even a free breakfast: all for as little as $25 a night (€22).

Legends Hostel in Rome is cheap, free breakfast and centrally located
Legends Hostel

If you value a bit more privacy, then Airbnb offers the opportunity to rent private rooms or apartments at relatively affordable prices. While great for solo travellers, Airbnb is a particularly fantastic option for groups, as splitting the costs provides even greater value for money!

While the most affordable places on the site tend be located a little out of the city centre, Airbnb can provide ‘luxury on a budget’. For example, on my last trip to Rome I stayed in a stunning triple room, which was only a 15 minute walk from the Spanish Steps, for $98 a night ($32 each for three people).

In Rome, Look to split airbnb accommodation with others to keep costs low

I hope this post provides you with a good overview of how to visit Rome on a budget! If you take advantage of all the free things to do, local restaurants and affordable accommodation then it’s totally possible to explore what Rome has to offer for as little as $50 a day!

About The Author – Rachel Clarke
Rachel Clarke - Travel Blogger

Hi there, I’m Rachel Clarke, a young British Adventurer and the founder of Earth’s Magical Places, a travel blog that’s dedicated to documenting my voyages to as many of our planets ‘magical places’ as possible. Follow me on Insta @earthsmagicalplaces Twitter @magplaces
and my Travel Blog Earth's Magical Places

How to see Rome on a budget

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