All you need to know to plan a visit to the Roman Forum with kids in tow. Tried and tested tips for families with children: what tickets to get, what to bring with you, the best things to see in the Roman Forum for kids and things to know for a successful visit.
The Roman Forum is one of the most beautiful attractions in Rome and a fantastic place to visit in Rome with kids.
The Forum is an open air archaeological park and the place where you can effectively walk around Ancient Rome.
While the Colosseum nearby is, in a way, a standalone monument, the Forum is the city as it used to be: here, you walk along the footsteps of the Romans, literally stepping on the same stones as the ancient who lived and traded here!
I highly recommend you visit the Roman Forum with kids if you have the chance however, I also recommend you read this guide first, as some tips can really make the whole experience more enjoyable.
Especially if you are planning a visit to the Roman Forum with a toddler or a baby, you may have some questions.
Is the Roman Forum safe for a toddler?
Is the Roman forum kid-friendly?
Can you access the forum with a buggy and is there anything in the Roman forum for kids to do?
In this post, our best tips for visiting the Roman Forum with kids!
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Table of Contents
Is it worth visiting the Roman Forum with kids?
The Roman Forum is a large archaeological park so how much your kids will enjoy depends on their age, what they like and the type of experience you plan for them.
If you have a baby or toddler, the visit will be largely for you. The Forum is an outdoor area so a toddler will be able to trot around, but there is very little to grab their attention and they cannot climb onto the ruins, which will be tempting for them!
If you have primary school age kids, they will be able to enjoy the Roman Forum if you get a guided tour for families, you get hold of the Parco Colosseo app and give each of them a device with headphones or you get an audio guide (full details later).
Teenagers who love history are likely to love the Roman Forum: in this case, I recommend you book a guide or use the free app Parco Colosseo.
Need to know: the Roman Forum has next to no info panels so unless you get a guide or at least the app/an audioguide, you won’t understand much of what you are seeing and the visit will be, in my opinion, a letdown.
Guided vs self-guided: what are the best Roman Forum Tours for families?
There are two main ways to visit the Roman Forum with kids.
Self Guided tour with free Parco Colosseo App
The most budget-friendly way to visit the Roman Forum with kids is by getting the standard entrance ticket and then download the free Parco Colosseo app.
The app has info in several languages and operates under all respects as an audioguide. You download it on your phone, plug in your headphones and click on the individual attraction to hear an explanation of what they are.
The app is excellent and it is great for families too since it has an itinerary around the Forum that is just for kids!
The only downside is that you need a divide each or turn up the volume if you are sharing one.
Family tour of the Roman Forum for kids
If you prefer to have an actual guide showing you and the kids the Roman Forum, then you can choose among several good tour options, some private and some group / small group.
The family tours of the Roman Forum are usually geared towards kids and I find they are excellent especially if you have small kids and toddlers, who may enjoy the additional props and educational materials and stories the guide will provide.
They usually also include a visit to the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill, all part of the same archaeological park.
Some good family tours of the Roman Forum are:
Colosseum and Ancient Rome Family Tour by Raphael Tours
Colosseum, Romand Forum and Palatine Hill tour for kids by ‘private Tours of Rome’
If you are interested in a private tour for kids, there are several good family friendly guides we can put you in touch with: join our Italy with kids travel group on Facebook (it’s free!) and get in touch so we can send you their details.
Need to know: due to current events and closures (summer 2021), the exact itinerary of the tours may be subject to change. read the exact tour description by the provider and contact them directly should you have any doubts.
The best time to visit the Roman Forum with kids
The forum is an open air archaeological site sitting that sits between the Palatine and the Capitol hill, two of the 7 hills of Rome.
The excavation lies a bit lower than the current street level and this characteristic means that it gets battered by the relentless Roman sun in sun and part of it can get very cold in winter.
The best seasons to visit the Roman Forum with kids are the spring and the fall, when you can visit any time of the day (check opening hours as they vary by month).
In summer, the best time of day to visit the Roman Forum with kids is the early morning or the last shift of the day.
In winter, the best time of day to visit the Roman Forum with kids is the middle of the day / lunchtime.
The opening hours of the Roman Forum change by season: in summer 2021 they are 10:30-18.30 (last entrance 18:15). In winter, the Forum usually closes as early as 16.00 (4.pm). You can find official opening times here.
Visiting the Roman Forum with a baby or toddler: tackling the Roman Forum with a stroller
Part of the Roman Forum is stroller friendly.
The forum has a ramp for buggies and wheelchairs and part of it even has an elevator to help with mobility.
I saw the ramp but, to be honest, if you can avoid going in with a buggy, your life would be a lot easier.
The streets are cobbled and pushing a buggy is a real nightmare for both the one pushing and the one pushed: it’s a really bumpy ride and tempers are guaranteed to flare!
If you have a baby, the best way is a sling or carrier.
If you have a toddler, my suggestion is to try and go there when they are full of energy and willing to run around: they should not climb on the ruins, so some supervision will be needed, but there is plenty of space for them to move about safely and a lot of little things to discover (plants, coins melted in the pavements etc).
You can find my tips for visiting Rome with a baby or toddler here.
What to bring for your family visit to the Roman Forum
Thing you want to carry with you when visiting the Roman Forum with kids are:
Comfortable shoes. A must have in Rome and a crucial piece of equipment if you are visiting this archaeological area!
Steps, dusty paths and ancient roads are not kind to high heels and flip flops: comfortable sandals with straps of runner are the best choice of footwear for both adults and children.
You can find my favorite shoes for Rome here
Water and food.
Bring a bottle of water and a snack for the kids.
The Forum does not have a dedicated cafe’ or refreshments area and in the spring of 2016 the previously ubiquitous vans selling overpriced sandwiches and snacks along via dei fori imperiali have been banned, so it is important to be prepared.
You can bring food from home or you can get supplies in the cafe’ near metro station ‘colosseo’, just in front of the Forum and accessible from the street.
If you have more time, stretch to the little roads to the side of the Colosseum (exiting the metro station, go left) or, even better, climbing the hill just above the station and walk a couple of minutes towards piazza San Pietro in Vincoli.
Tespite the proximity to the colosseum, all it takes is to turn a corner to get better choices and lower prices!
Please note: you cannot have a picnic in the Roman Forum but handing a rice cake or small snack to your child is no problem.
A sun hat and sun cream: a must have if you are going in the summer and something you should consider for young children almost any time of the year. In the summer, a pair of sunglasses is also advisable.
You can find my recommended packing list for Rome in summer here.
Books. The Roman forum is stunning but there is not much for kids to do, as such.
One thing that we found really great to bring was a little book about ancient Rome for the kids, of the kind with pictures of how Rome was and what it is like now.
The one we got is a small booklet with a picture of the forum as it is now and a transparent page that overlaps with the first one showing how it was when the building was standing and before the decorations were stolen or re-purposed.
The kids were astounded and it meant we could visit the forum for a long longer than we thought possible with little legs in tow!
The best things to see in the Roman Forum for kids
The Roman Forum is very impressive but there are three main areas that usually capture the imagination of children:
The tabulae luxuries: these were the ancient Roman equivalent of our board games, used by the Romand to use tic tac toc and other games not dissimilar to ours. They are in the area of the basilicas and great to see for kids
The house of the Vestals, which has a patio that is a little bit like a maze for small children
The Palatine – technically not the Forum but just above it, the Palatine is where the Palace of Emperors and the hut of Romulus are. It is a fantastic area to visit with plenty of space for kids to explore and of huge interest and visual impact.
Best family hotels near the Roman Forum
You can find my curated selection of the best hotels near the Colosseum and the Roman Forum here.
Practical tips for families visiting the Roman forum with kids summary
- In summer, visit in the morning or in the late afternoon, avoiding the hottest hours of the day. The forum has little shade and heat strokes are common (and can be dangerous)
- Bring a bottle of water and snacks as none are available in the forum
- Prefer a sling or a baby carrier to buggies: ancient Roman roads are bumpy!
- Consider a combined tour of Forum and Colosseum but unless you pick one specifically for families, opt for two different visits if you have young children as the sites are big and are likely to make them tired.