Rome with Kids: Tips for Visiting the Eternal City

Rome with Kids Colisseum

A visit to the Coliseum on our Roman holiday

Rome holds a special place in my heart. I spent a glorious three days there during my honeymoon and enjoyed every moment. It shouldn’t be surprising then that we decided to take a family trip there not too long ago. Since my first trip was decidedly romantic, I worried that Bella might not enjoy it as much as I hoped. I also feared that the museums and archaeological exhibits might not hold her attention. I was wrong. Experiencing Rome with kids is an incredible experience. The food is kid-friendly; the people love children; and there’s more for kids to enjoy there than you think. Here are our top travel tips for an unforgettable Roman holiday with your family.

Where to Stay in Rome with Kids

Rome is a very walkable city, if you stay in the right location. If you can afford it, stay in the city center. Our top neighborhood picks for visiting with kids are the area around the Piazza Navona and the area around the Piazza del Popolo.

The Piazza Navona is centrally located, so you won’t need public transport or taxis to get anywhere. Famous sites like the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain are all in this area, and there are some great places to grab some gelato nearby (including our favorite, Gellateria della Palma). It can get a little loud near the Piazza Navona at night because it’s a major hangout area. The nearby Campo de Fiore market can also get noisy in the morning. If noise is a big issue, look for a hotel that’s not directly on the Piazza itself.

My favorite area to stay, though, is near the Piazza del Popolo. This neighborhood has the Borghese Gardens and Zoo, the Spanish Steps, and tons of restaurants and shopping. It’s also a 15-20 minute walk to the Piazza Navona area. And, if you don’t want to walk, there are several convenient Metro stops nearby.

Where we Stayed

We stayed at the River Palace Hotel on Via Flaminia. The rooms, though typically European in their small-ness, were large enough for us not to feel cramped. Despite being near the busy Piazza del Popolo, we had no issues with noise, either. The staff were also incredibly helpful. One even went out of his way to help find Bella’s lost teddy bear (it was found!). We never had to walk far to find food, and there was even a bakery and gellateria right across the street. And, since most attractions were so close, we rarely had to make use of the Flaminia Metro stop that was down the street.

When booking, choose a rate that includes breakfast. The selection was was great, and it was a great way to fill up before starting the day. We didn’t have to eat again for hours. They also serve prosecco, so you can make your own mimosas if you are so inclined.

Eating in Rome with Kids

Rome with kids eating

Every meal was awesome on our trip to Rome!

Of all the countries we’ve visited with Bella, Rome was the easiest when it came to food. So many typical kids’ favorites (pasta, pizza) are on the menu at just about every restaurant. And most of the restaurants we visited were welcoming to children, even if they didn’t have a kid’s menu. Even if there is no special menu for children, you can even (sometimes) order half portions or ask for something simple off-menu (such as pasta with butter for the super-picky).

It’s so easy to find kid-friendly dining options that there’s no reason to list specific restaurants here. You can grab pizza by-the-slice to go from eateries all over town. Dining al fresco near the bustling Piazza Navona or the Campo dei Fiori is also always fun, as it gives the kiddos something to look at as you dine. If you want a slightly less touristy experience, head over to the Trastevere neighborhood- here you can find plenty of amazing, family-owned restaurants. For dessert, well, what child (or child at heart) doesn’t love gelato, the Italian version of ice cream?

Things to Do in Rome with Kids

Much of what you decide to do while in Rome with your family will depend on the ages and interests of your children. Your toddler might not appreciate the thousands of years of art on view in the Vatican Museums. And your teenager might be bored to tears at the very thought of visiting another cathedral. This does not mean, though, that you cannot see these things. As we told you in our review of Paris, it’s all about time management (don’t expect a preschooler to spend hours in a museum) and finding things within each attraction to interest your children. That being said, here are a few places we recommend for your visit. I compiled this list with Bella’s help, so it is kid-approved.

Bioparco di Roma

Rome with Kids zoo

They have cute pygmy hippos at the zoo in Rome

This is the Rome zoo. While it’s not the largest or most impressive zoo in the world, it is located in the Borghese Park, which is quite nice. The zoo itself is decent-sized, so you can spend several hours here. It’s also a great place to get away from the crowds since it’s never too crowded. Be sure to visit the reptile house and the restored 1930s glass-domed aviary. When you finish at the zoo, take some time to stroll around the rest of the Borghese Park. There is a boating lake, where you can rent a boat; a carousel; and a puppet theater near the Piazza del Popolo entrance.

Note: The amazing Galleria Borghese art museum is also located within the park grounds. Most kids should be able to handle a visit here, since all guests are limited to a 2-hour visit. However, if you wish to go, you must book in advance.

The Colosseum

Rome with Kids Colosseum

Kids will probably recognize the Colosseum

Most kids will be familiar with this most famous of the Roman landmarks. While it makes for an interesting visit, kids are going to be far more interested in the tour that takes you to the bottom floor. On this tour, you visit where the animals and gladiators were kept before (often) meeting their ends in the arena above.

Adult admission prices for the Colosseum are 12€ each, but also includes admission to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, which are two other places you should visit with the kids. Tickets are valid for two days, so you don’t have to cram all three sites into one day. Kids under 17 are free. The extra cost for the tour (worth every penny) is 9€ apiece. Be sure to visit the restroom before starting your tour, because there is no access to one once it begins. Also, I suggest buying your tickets online (link here), for entrance and for the tour. This will save you valuable time that you would otherwise waste in line.

Rome with Kids Roman Forum

Your Colosseum ticket includes admission to the Roman Forum. Be sure to visit.

My number one piece of advice for touring Rome with kids is to visit a gift shop at the start of your trip to purchase a book entitled Rome: Past and Present. It has pictures of Roman ruins as they look today, along with transparent overlays that show what those ruins looked like in their heyday. I cannot recommend this enough as it greatly enhanced Bella’s understanding of what we were seeing. Carry it with you in your backpack, and use it at the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill.

Capitoline Museums

Rome with kids Capitoline Museum

Bella took her Capitoline Museum audio tour very seriously

This museum, set in three buildings, is the oldest public museum in the world, though this fact probably won’t impress your kids. What will get them interested is the fantastic family audio tour, which you can purchase for an additional 4€. We were able to spend hours wandering the Capitoline simply because of this audioguide. It fascinated Bella, who was six at the time, and there were moments where she made us stop to linger while she looked at a piece of sculpture or painting.

Admission is a bit pricey at 15€, but there’s a lot to see here. Many of the pieces came from the city of Rome itself, so it gives you an idea of what Rome must have been like through the centuries. You might recognize some of the works, like one of the original bronze statues of the She-Wolf of Rome (one of the city’s symbols) and the marble statue of the Dying Gaul.

During your visit, you should definitely plan to grab a snack at the Terrazza Caffarelli, the museum’s cafe. Sip on an orange juice or espresso while gazing out over one of the best views of Rome you’ll ever see.

Vatican Museums

Rome with Kids Vatican City

The Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica (located in Vatican City) are both fun for kids if you plan ahead.

The Vatican Museums are vast, and there is little chance of your child making it through an entire day of looking at the treasures it contains, such as the famous Sistine Chapel. Heck, I barely made it, and I love museums! If you plan your visit carefully, though, you can make this a visit your kids will enjoy. The trick is to focus on those areas they might find interesting. Many kids will enjoy the Egyptian collections, but you should definitely spend some time on the website looking up the various things to see and planning out your route based on your family’s preferences.

Another option, and the one we used, was to let the Family Audio Tour be our guide. It costs 5€, in addition to your admission (16€ for adults and 8€ for kids), and it turns your visit into a fun scavenger hunt. By using this, we were actually able to visit everything we wanted to see, and Bella stayed entertained throughout.

Although it adds 4€ to the cost of admission, I recommend buying your tickets ahead of time online. Lines to get in to the museums can literally last hours. By the time you get in, your kids will probably be done in and your visit will be a miserable forced march through a crowded museum. So, spend the extra money and buy ahead.

While in Vatican City, stop in and see St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the Pope’s home church. If you have any energy left, climb the dome for some more wonderful Roman views. Be aware, though, that your shoulders and legs must be covered or you won’t be allowed inside. That means no shorts or tank tops!

Food Tour

Rome with Kids Food Tour

Bella really enjoyed the Parmiggiano cheese on our Eating Italy Food Tour

If you’re like me, you are probably skeptical about taking your kids on a 4-hour food tour at night. But trust me, unless your kids hate Italian food, they will love this one. In fact, our tour with Eating Italy Food Tours was the highlight of our trip. Our guide went out of her way to make it fun for the kids on the tour. And some of the proprietors at the family-owned eateries we visited were so charmed by the children that they offered them extra helpings of their favorites. Romans really do like kids!

We chose the Twilight Trastevere Tour, which took us through a very photogenic Roman neighborhood as we sampled all kinds of amazing foods. Among the highlights were some outstanding Roman-style pizza, gelato from the Fatamorgana gelateria, and a deli where we tasted genuine Parmiggiano Regiano cheese. The adults also got to sample wine in a wine cellar that is older than the Colosseum. It was an unforgettable night.

Prices for the tour we took are 96€ for adults and 60€ for kids 4-12 (this tour might be a bit much for anyone younger than 4). Yes, it’s pricy, but I would make this your big splurge. We learned so much about Roman food and history, and were introduced to many foods we never would have thought to try. It is the one activity that Bella repeatedly asks to do again, and I really hope we get to repeat the experience someday.

More to Do in Rome with Kids

Rome with Kids Mouth of Truth

Testing her honesty at the Mouth of Truth

This is not an exhaustive list of things to do in Rome with kids. These are just the things we enjoyed the most. Another cool place to see is the Castel Sant’Angelo, a cylinder-shaped building built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian. The pope once hid out here when Rome was under attack. Also worth a visit is the Pantheon, a Roman temple turned church with an interesting hole in the roof.

Be sure to stop by the Trevi Fountain to toss a coin in, which supposedly guarantees your return visit to this wonderful city. And finally, try to make a quick visit to the Bocca della Verita, or Mouth of Truth, a marble face with a hole in its mouth located on the porch of the Church of Santa Maria in the Cosmedin. Legend says that if you put your hand in its mouth and tell a lie, it will bite your hand off. Brave (and apparently honest) tourists line up every day to pose for pictures with their hands in its mouth.

If you follow our tips and take your own family’s interests into consideration, you are almost guaranteed to have a great time. Rome is amazing any time of year, and any visit there is sure to result in some incredible life-long memories.

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Rome with Kids Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Comments

  • Stephanie S August 3, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Rome is definitely on our to do list! I’m sure by the time we go, we’ll have kids! lol

    Reply
  • lifewithmrst August 3, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    I so desperately want to visit Rome, I have been to Venice and Verona and loved it. Maybe when my kids are older I might get my wish

    Reply
    • Kamie August 3, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      It really was a great trip. And it wasn’t too expensive because we travelled in the off-season. I’d love to go to Verona, though. Haven’t made it there, yet.

      Reply
  • Dawn | Twenty63 August 3, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    I absolutely loved this post, Rome is our on family vacation bucket list! I don’t think we will make it while the kids are still small, but definitely will make it. What wonderful memories for your kids, they look like they had a great trip!

    Reply
    • Kamie August 4, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      Rome can be fun at any age. It would probably be easier to take older kids anyway, since they will (hopefully) be able to appreciate the importance of what they’re seeing. I hope you make it there someday!

      Reply
  • LIfe Through My Eyes August 4, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Wow! Rome has been one of my bucket list items for a long time. It looks like you and your family had an incredible time! You gave such great tips on every aspect of the trip. One day, I will definitely have to take a trip there!

    Reply
    • Kamie August 4, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Yeu Doi August 4, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Loved Rome! Would love to visit it again soon!

    Reply
  • Akshay Malhotra August 4, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Family trips are always the best 🙂 Everything is so well explained, looks like you guys had so much fun! Reading you blog I keeping Rome in my bucket list. Thanks for sharing all the fun details with us!

    Reply
    • Kamie August 4, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      We did have a great time. Rome is a fabulous place to visit, and I hope you make it there soon!

      Reply
  • Shawna August 4, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Rome is such a beautiful place with so much to do! Will be visiting there soon! Thank you bunches for these ideas! Btw, your daughter is too cute!

    Reply
    • Kamie August 4, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you found our tips helpful. Have a great time in Rome!

      Reply
  • Toni August 4, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Ooh so want to go to Rome so this makes me like the idea even more. Great tips there thank you and now I’m hungry!

    Reply

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