From Michelangelo masterpieces to ancient ruins, you can spend days (or weeks) in Rome and keep discovering treasures. While some of the most famous sights—namely, the Vatican Museums, Colosseum and Forum—call for advance planning and upwards of 20€ per person in entry fees, Rome has a surprising number of gems that offer your wallet a break.
Here are six memorable sights that won’t cost a dime (unless you spring for gelato):
St. Peter’s Cathedral
This massive Vatican cathedral is a "must see" for many visitors to Rome. Security is tight; the line to enter is often intimidating, but it moves quickly, so don’t let it deter you. Once inside, be sure to find the staircase down to the crypt (to the left of the altar) to see where centuries of popes are buried.
Photo from Flickr by Daniel X. O'Neil
Tucked in Rome’s Centro Storico
, the historic city center, it’s easy to stumble upon this archaeological marvel. This well-preserved ancient building, complete with a coffered dome and oculus, dates back to the 2nd century.
Viacheslav Lopatin / Shutterstock.com
Church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola
Wander into this Jesuit church and look for a disc in the middle of the marble floor. Gaze up at the ceiling from this spot, said to be the best vantage point for taking in the church’s ornate frescoes.
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This landmark just reopened after a Fendi-sponsored $2.4 million restoration. The marble sculpture gleams. Toss a few coins into the emerald waters—or hang onto them for an afternoon espresso.
The Spanish Steps
Currently closed for a restoration funded by Bulgari (sense a theme?), the Spanish Steps is slated to fully reopen this spring—just in time for the peak tourist season. Channel your inner Audrey Hepburn as you climb this marble staircase with a cone of gelato in hand.
Villa Borghese gardens
The by-reservation-only Borghese Museum brings many here, but this green space is worth a daytime visit whether or not you have museum tickets. Head to the southwestern edge of the garden for a spectacular view of the Piazza del Popolo and beyond.