All you need to know to plan the perfect visit to Rome with kids. Discover the best things to do in Rome with children, the best family hotels in Rome and how to tackle the Eternal city with family in this comprehensive Rome guide by a local mom.
Visiting Rome with kids can be hard. The city is wonderful but it is also big, crowded and so full of attractions you feel you can never stop without missing out on something.
However, you have a secret weapon for planning a trip to Rome with kids: this guide!
Rome is my hometown. I lived there for over 30 years and now that I live abroad I still go back regularly with my kids.
This gives me the very special advantage of knowing the city like a local but experiencing it with the eyes of a visitor.
This is my guide to visiting Rome with children.
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The best time for visiting Rome with children
Rome can be visited all year round but the spring and the fall are by far the best time of the year for a family vacation in Rome.
Rome in spring and fall – best for sightseeing and parks
The best seasons for visiting Rome with kids are spring (March to June) and fall (September to November).
At this time, the weather in Rome is mild and mostly dry, perfect for spending time in the park after sightseeing and to cool down with gelato!
Rome in summer – only good if you have access to a pool
The months to avoid are July and August. The heat in Rome in the summer is unbearable and the city shuts down as this is when most of the locals take their annual leave.
At this time, Rome feels like an urban wasteland filled with tourists and the risk of sun stroke is high.
If you are visiting Rome with family in the summer, I highly recommend you choose a hotel with a family friendly pool and plan to stay sheltered or close to water during the hottest hours of the day.
Rome in winter – only fun for kids if visiting at Christmas
Winter is hit and miss in Rome: temperatures usually stay above zero but the city is humid and being outside for long hours can be unpleasant.
This is not a great time to visit Rome with children unless you visit over Christmas, when the decorations brighten up the city, or you have older kids who may enjoy time in indoor museums
Arriving in Rome: the best way to get from Rome airport to the city center with kids
Rome has two main airports: Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci (FCO) and Ciampino (CIA).
Fiumicino is the biggest and better equipped one and the one you are likely to use if coming from the USA or a traditional airline.
Ciampino is smaller and is served mostly by Ryainair flights.
The easiest way to get from both airport to Rome city center with children in tow is by taxi.
They operate with a flat fee system (see notices outside for current prices, around 45 Euro) and they station just outside the terminal.
They do not carry car seats however, they are not compulsory in taxis in Rome
The cheapest way to get from either airport to the city is the bus. They station outside the terminal and connect the airport with Termini station. You can find current prices here
Fiumicino is also connected to termini by the fast train Leonardo express. Children under 12 go free when accompanied by an adults
How to use public transport in Rome with kids in tow
The best way to visit Rome is on foot.
Despite being a large city, Rome city centre is remarkably compact and many attractions are a short stroll from one another.
However, if you have a few days in Rome, you are likely to use public transport at least once, may it happen to be the metro, a bus or one of Rome trams.
The network operates with an integrated ticketing system and you can buy one or several tickets at vending machines or newsagents. Tickets must be validated on boarding the bus and showed on request: kids go free.
Top 10 things to do in Rome with kids
From world famous landmarks to small, hidden corners, Rome has a lot to offer to families travelling with young children.
Visit the Roman forum and the Colosseum
The Colosseum is likely to be at the top of your children’s list of must see attractions in Rome and it is a great place to explore with kids.
As soon as you arrive in its proximity, your kids will gasp in awe to its size and you would have to be a pretty jaded traveler not to do the same!
The best way to visit the Colosseum with children in tow is with a guided tour.
Over the course of the years we have tried several tours of the Colosseum and the one we enjoyed the most is this one by Coopculture (incidentally, the cheapest, as offered by the Colosseum management itself).
This is not a family tour but it is kid friendly and we recommending to families with younger and older children alike
Colosseum tickets usually also include access to the Roman forum. I recommend making the most of this combined ticket and visit both, making sure you also climb to the top of the Palatine, from which you get stunning panoramic views over Rome.
Check what happens in the Pantheon when it rains
The Pantheon is one of the most famous buildings in the whole of Rome and one that is fun to visit with children due to the huge hole in its roof!
The hole (its official name is oculos) is there by design and adults and kids alike marvel at it, all ages coming together wondering: what happens when it rains?
The answer is simple: the rain comes in!
The proof can be found on the Pantheon floor: get your little explorers to find the draining wholes and enjoy the church while they play spy!
Discover Rome’s beautiful piazzas
Rome is an open air museums and one of the best things to do with kids is to just take a stroll around its beautiful piazzas.
One I love visiting with the kids is Piazza Navona.
This is one of the most beautiful and important piazzas in the whole of Rome but has something special kids will love: a toy shop with life size teddies!
Other gorgeous spaces you should seek out are Piazza del Popolo, car free, Largo Argentina, which has a cat shelter hosted among ancient Roman ruins, Piazza di Spagna, with the famous Spanish steps and of course Piazza di Trevi, with the famous Trevi fountain.
A fanatic way to discover many of Rome’s most famous piazza is joining a family tour.
One we have taken and hugely enjoyed is this one by Tapsy tour, guided tour of Rome for families that shows you the most famous landmarks of the city in just 3 hours!
Visit the Vatican: St Peter’s square and basilica
A visit to the Vatican is in order when visiting Rome and St Peter’s basilica and square are easily enjoyed by all ages.
Older kids will love climbing to the top of the dome (warning, it’s hard) and kids of all ages love the idea that the entering the square means crossing an international border!
However, the same cannot be said for the Vatican museums and the Sistine chapel which are just very hard for kids (our experience here).
If you are thinking of visiting the Vatican museums with kids, I do recommend booking a tour that is family friendly such as this one.
Go to the park
Rome has some amazing parks and visiting them is more than just giving into some play time as reward after sightseeing.
Most Rome park’s used to be villas belonging to the aristocracy and are truly beautiful and historically important, worth seeking out by adults too.
Some you cannot miss are Villa Borghese, a large park in Rome city center (it also has the zoo) and Villa Doria Pamphili which offers stunning views of St Peter’s dome
Go to Explora, Rome’s children museum
Not many know that Rome has a nice children museum, a place not for sightseeing but for exploring. This museum is aptly called: Explora!
This is the only museum in Rome that truly is for kids and a real treat for little ones with options for role play, water-play and many interactive installations to stimulate learning through play.
Go castle exploring
One of the most underrated but fun attractions to visit in Rome with kids is Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome’s castle.
The castle is just beside the Vatican (kids will love to learn there is a secret passage between the two!) and is fun to visit for kids since it is the only one or its kind in Rome.
Parents will love it too as it has amazing views over the city.
Attend a mosaic class for kids
A really fun and educational activity I took with my daughter was a mosaic making class.
This class is offered by a company called Arte al Sole and is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon if you have a child who loves making things.
Over the course of about 3 hours, you are in the company of a master mosaic maker who will teach you all the secret to the mosaic art (the real one, this is not a gimmicky class for kids) and at the end you bring home your own creation!
This is one of my favorite family activities in Rome.
Take a family friendly pizza making class
A fantastic activity suitable for kids of, almost, all ages, is taking a pizza making class.
The one we took was specific for families and took place in a real Roman pizzeria right in the centre of the city.
Another food-based activity, but how could I not include gelato in a list of must-do activities in Rome?
Gelato tours are available from food tour companies but my best advice is to make your own.
You can find the best places for gelato in this article (and also what makes it different from ice cream).
Where to stay in Rome with kids: best areas and hotels in Rome for families
Rome has thousands of hotels and both standard and prices vary widely.
I have a full guide to the best areas to stay in Rome with family, but here are some of our favourites.
Hotel de Russie (luxury): a fantastic hotel with excellent facilities and amazing service. Rooms have air conditioning and mini bar and you can choose between a street or garden view. Kids are welcome and special attentions to them include the availability of cots, high-chairs, mobiles, nightlights and bathroom baby products.
Gand Melia (luxury) Another luxury hotel perfect for families thanks to the large rooms, the extensive gardens and a beautiful swimming pool. A great choice especially if visiting Rome with kids in summer when the temperatures are high and the sun relentless.
Hotel Kolbe (4 star hotel)A four star hotel with s a great location, large rooms, a garden and pleasant and helpful staff.
Hotel Mascagni (4 star hotel) Conveniently located close to Termini Train station, Hotel Mascagni had good family rooms and special attentions for little guests such as cots, high chairs, bottle warmers and complimentary colouring set on arrival.
Hotel Santa Maria (3 star hotel) A good 3-star hotel located in Trastevere, regularly rated as one of the most charming areas of Rome. Originally built as a convent, this hotel has beautiful rooms, a lovely cloister and a very welcoming attitude towards families.
Eating out with children in Rome
Eating out in Rome is easy: most of Rome’s traditional dishes are child approved (pizza and pasta are just and example) and Rome restaurants are not fussy when it comes to serving children.
Rome restaurants usually do not offer children menus but they do make half portions on request and they are usually happy to prepare a simple pasta dish for a child off menu.
Travel essentials for a family trip to Rome
For ease of travel when visiting Rome with young kids, I recommend you pack the following essentials:
- Car seat / booster seat – you can find our favorite for travel here
- Portable high chair – find best picks here
- Good travel stroller that can handle the cobbles – some good names here
- Refillable water bottle (there are lots of drinkable water fountains in Rome and water is delicious)
- Your own travel bed for kids if not provided by the hotel – check some good brands here
- Changing bag – no changing rooms in Rome, see how to tackle Rome with a baby of toddler here
I hope you enjoyed my local mama’s guide to visiting Rome with kids. Safe travels!
Please note: this post was originally published in 2016 and has now been fully updated (September 2019)