There are numerous ways to save money when traveling. And in an expensive country like Italy every euro counts. So, clever travelers and proud tightwads should consider incorporating three key saving opportunities into their Rome trip: Free first Sundays, free last Sundays at the Vatican and free for anyone under 18 years old.
Domenica al Museo: Free First Sundays…for now
The easiest way to see Rome’s top tourist draws for cheap? Book your trip during the first Sunday of the month. Every first Sunday is known as “Domenica al Museo,” which simply means “Sunday at the Museum.” Almost all state-sponsored museums and archeological sites are totally free to the public on this one day. Yes, that means sights as iconic as the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are 100-percent gratis!
While you might think of using this day to get into popular sights like the Colosseum, think again. It’s far wiser to use Domenica al Museo to explore lesser known, and therefore less crowded, Roman sites that are equally stunning. Instead, consider the National Museum of Rome, Castel Sant’Angelo, Palazzo Barberini and the Baths of Caracalla. Plus, sights do not offer reservations on first Sundays, making them even more of a zoo.
Unfortunately, the new Italian government has announced it will stop funding Domenica al Museo by the summer of 2019. In Italian politics, that’s virtually a lifetime away. Several more governments may come and go in that timespan. There’s still no official word if this policy will be carried through, but it’s better to take advantage now if you can.
When are the Vatican Museums Open for Free?
The Vatican Museums are apparently too cool to join the other museums on Domenica al Museo. Though they still dangle a freebie. But instead of the first Sunday, the Vatican Museums open for free on the last Sunday of every month.
Of course, you’d better believe there are humungous lines waiting to get inside. The Vatican Museums also throw open their doors for free on certain religious holidays, which also invariably draws the crowds.
Free & Discounted Entry for Under 18s
If you’re young and in Rome, you’re in luck! And I’m jealous! Most of Rome’s state-sponsored museums and archeological sites offer free entry to anyone under the age of 18. Though generally restricted to EU citizens, some museums also offer free or discounted access to students between the ages of 18-25. And remember: Even if the site you want to visit is free for your age bracket, you still might have to reserve your spot in advance.