All you need to know to plan the perfect visit to Rome with kids. What are the best things to do in Rome with children? What are the best attractions for kids in Rome? Where should you stay and how easy or hard is it to visit Rome as a family? Find out in our guide to the perfect family vacation in Rome, written by a local mum and Roman history graduate.
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 to Rome 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.
I hope you find it useful and if you have questions about visiting Rome with family, please let me know: I will be very happy to help!
Best time for visiting Rome with children
Rome can be visited all year round but if exploring with kids, you will find some seasons to be better than others:
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 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 staying outside for long hours can be unpleasant.
This is not a great time to visit Rome with children as they will miss out on time outdoors, which is a shame considering how many beautiful park’s there are in Rome.
December can be a good time to visit Rome with kids. At this time, Rome churches and piazzas get decorated with nativity scenes and the Vatican gets a lovely and huge Christmas tree! It is quite a sight!
How to get around Rome with kids in tow?
Rome is a large city with a lot of traffic and getting around takes a little bit of planning, especially is traveling with kids. Here are some transport info for families.
The best way to get from Rome airport to the city centre 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 best way to get from Fiumicino airport to your accommodation in Rome
Fiumicino is connected to Rome city centre by taxi, train and buses. With children, taxis and train are your best option. In particular:
- Official taxis (white) station outside the arrivals home in Fiumicino. They operate a flat fee of 60 Euro to Rome city centre and this includes your luggage. Please note: taxis in Rome do not carry car seats! They are not compulsory in taxis so if you have a very young child, I suggest you bring your own.
- The train is another good option for families since kids go free (one per adult). The service leaves from the station inside the airport and currently costs 14.50 Euro per person.
The best way to get from Ciampino airport to your accommodation in Rome
Ciampino is connected to Rome by Terravision bus and taxis (there is also a train but the station is quite far from the airport and the hassle just not worth it)
- A taxi Ciampino to Rome is about 40 Euro flat fee
- The Terravision bus to Rome is currently 5.80 euro
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.
Did you know that you can see the Spanish steps, the Trevi fountain and the Pantheon all in the same morning? You can, even with little legs in tow!
I recommend everyone to explore on foot as much as possible however, having an idea of how the public system works in case the kids get tired can be useful
Using Rome Buses and trams with kids
Rome has an extensive public transport system made of buses, trams and metro.
The systems serves a large portion of the city and is an excellent way to cover long distanced if your accommodation is outside the historical centre.
However, the system is far from perfect.
At peak times, the buses are literally bursting at the seams and access for buggies and strollers is hard: all strollers need to be closed to board the bus (not good if you have a napping child!) and the steps to go up sometimes very high. Even my 7 years old find them hard!
If using the bus, I recommend always bringing with you a carrier too so you can settle your baby there before boarding.
In terms of tickets, the Rome public transport system operates an integrated ticket service.
The same ticket covers rides on buses, trams and metro lines and you can buy single hop, day and multiple day passes.
Currently a single ticket costs 1.50 Euro and it is valid for unlimited transport for 1 hour on buses and on one metro trip. Kids go free.
Tickets can be bought at metro stations and newsagents: please note you cannot purchase them on board and checks, albeit unusual, do happen!
Taxis in Rome – rules for car seats
Taxis in Rome are few and far hard to find.
You find taxi stands outside Rome airports and in front of the main train stations but cabs are hard to flag on the street.
The best way to get a taxi is asking your hotel reception to call one for you or get the Mytaxi app. Taxi rides are metered and there is a surcharge for evening rides.
Important: taxis do not normally have car seats for children (they are not compulsory in taxis, but they are a requirement in private cars). Do bring your own. I recommend bubblebum (click for our full review) and mifold booster seats as very easy to carry.
Riding the Rome Metro with kids
The metro system is Rome has improved in the last few years but has a long way to go before being even remotely comparable with the ones of other European cities.
With kids, I have always found it hard to use: accessibility is scarce and only a limited number of areas are served.
Rome has only two metro lines at present and they only connect at one stop, Termini.
If visiting Rome with small kids, prefer accommodation close to the main attractions rather than on the metro line, if you wish to visit to avoid tiring commuting.
Rome attractions: should you book in advance? How?
Rome is one of the most visited cities in the world and this popularity has consequences: lines at Rome main attractions are huge!!
I highly recommend booking skip the line tickets at least for the Colosseum and the Vatican. You can find my top tips to getting the best tickets and how to minimize waiting times in this article.
Best family tours in Rome and child friendly activities
Despite being from Rome, I love taking family tours and over the last few years I have experienced a good few of them with my children.
Those that worked best for us where
Tapsy tour of Rome for kids
This was a 3 hour, whistle stop tour of Rome city centre and an excellent one to familiarize with the layout of the city and see a lot in a limited amount of time. The tour is specifically for kids and the guides attentive in creating opportunities for interactive learning. You can read out full review of the tour here
Colosseum and forum tour for families
We visited the forum and the Colosseum twice, once booking directly the the Colosseum itself and once with a specialized tour by Rome4kids.
Both experiences where excellent: I recommend the first if you are interested mostly in the Colosseum while the second is perfect if you want to also have a guide in the forum.
If visiting the forum on your own, I highly recommend you read our tips here: it is not the most family friendly location but it it worth seeing!
Vatican museums tour for families
If you are planning a visit to the Vatican with children in tow I cannot recommend enough you get a guide! The Vatican museums are gorgeous and have priceless art but they are very hard to visit with kids.
The crowds are unbelievable and only some of the exhibits are interesting for kids.We trusted Rome4kids again and they blew us away: they showed the kids the best of the museums and saved our sanity.
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. You can read our full review here
Pizza making class for kids
Another super fun activity we took with the kids was a pizza making class. This is a great way to keep the kids entertained on a rainy morning and also a fun way to introduce them to the great pizza tradition of Rome.
You can read about our experience in the class here
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.
Odd monuments, long history and funky cars make it a city where it is not necessary to choose between sightseeing and children entertainment!
Here is our what to see in Rome with children top 10. Want more then 10?
1. Visit the Roman Forum and the Colosseum
Many kids associate Rome with just one thing, the Colosseum and I highly recommend you start your visit from here.
The Colosseum is exactly how kids imagine if from books are cartoon except it is immensely bigger and cooler: if you are looking for a wow moment, this is it!
Visiting the Colosseum with kids is reasonably easy but does require a bit of planning. As I mentioned above, booking skip the line tickets is of paramount importance and it can be a good idea to also get a specialized family guide.
The Colosseum can be accessed with strollers but it is crowded so, if you can, bring a carrier instead.
2. 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. The main question kids ask about it is: what happens when it rains? And 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!
3. Discover Rome’s beautiful piazzas (and their toy shops!)
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!
4. Visit the Vatican: St Peter’s square and basilica
I find the Vatican museums impossible to visit with children.
As much of an effort as I can put into making museums interesting for them, I find the Vatican’s too big, crowded and plain boring for anyone without a well-developed sense of art or at least curiosity for it.
That said, I do think a visit to the Vatican is in order when visiting Rome and St Peter’s basilica and square is 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!
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.
Top tips for families visiting St Peters’ with kids: when in the main square, make sure you tell your children to have a good look at the colonnade from many standpoints. How many rows of columns can they see? Get them to take a note of that and then ask them to stand on one of the spots marked on the ground: magically, they’ll see most of the columns disappear!
5. 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.
You find a list of some of my favourite below but the two most important and easier to reach from the centre are Villa Borghese (which also has the zoo) and Villa Doria Pamphili, which also has great views over St peter’s dome.
6. 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.
7. Explore a castle
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.
8. Cuddle kittens in Rome’s cat sanctuary
If your kids are cat lovers, a fabulous to place for them to visit is the cat sanctuary in Piazza Argentina. This square hosts an important archaeological site that over the years have become a sanctuary for Rome’s cats.
Stray cats are common in Rome, I would go as far as saying that cats are one of the main features of the city, and here they find a safe haven: a group of volunteers cares for them and visitors are welcome to drop in for a cuddle.
One of the best things to do in Rome with children who love a fluffy cuddle!
9. 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.
10. Eat gelato
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 (yes, we put some proper research into it and it was a delicious task!): if you try any of the places, I’d love to hear how you got on and what was your children’s favourite flavour!
Rome’s best parks and villas for kids
Rome is a big city and traffic can get crazy, but it’s also a city with many parks.
A break in one of these green oasis can make the difference between an overwhelming day and a pleasant one, so it’s worth knowing what parks are available.
In the city centre, you are likely to encounter Villa Borghese: a massive park, it has a lovely terrace overlooking piazza del Popolo, a lake with a cafe and a small shop lending rowing boats, a small playground and the zoo.
Villa Doria Pamphili
Stunning, vast park perfect for escaping the city without actually having to go out of town, this is a firm family favorite with locals too
Outside of the centre, this is a lovely and vast park with an abundance of trees, play areas and a pond.
Again outside of the city centre, Villa Torlonia is a lovely park with children playground, cafe and a small children museum. Mussolini used to reside here and his bunker can be visited today which makes this park an interesting stop for parents too.
Best Rome museums to visit with kids
I mentioned above that the only museum truly for kids in Rome is Explora. however, this doesn’t mean that some of Romes’ traditional museum cannot be visited with children.
Some family friendly museums in Rome are
This is a very special museum that allows parents and kids to explore ancient Roman houses. The museum is underground and uses virtual reality to make visitors experience what the houses would have been like and can be fun for kids for a special characteristics: you do not walk on a normal floor but on transparent Plexiglas that allows you to see the houses a couple of meters below!
Suitable for kids who are not afraid of the dark (because of the light show) and parents who do not have a fear of heights.
Welcome to Rome
Virtual reality and 3-D reconstructions of ancient Rome are also at the centre of a new museum called Welcome to Rome, in Corso Vittorio.
The visit is short but impressive: adults and kids get an audio-guide explaining the different installations and a small cinema shows regularly a short movie on the history of the city. Family friendly, informative and fun!
Centrale Montemartini is a unique place as it is an old power plant now turned art museum!
Here, impressive machinery are the backdrop to incredible Roman statues and mosaics: this is a super fun place to visit with kids who will notice and love the elaborate machines
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 recommended to me by my brother in law, who stayed here with his wife and two young children. The hotel has 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 ‘authentic’ areas of Rome. Originally built as a convent, this hotel has beautiful rooms, a lovely cloister and a very welcoming attitude towards families.
Where to eat in Rome with children (and how to order)
They say it’s impossible to get a bad meal in Rome but I am afraid this is not true.
If you go to touristy places with ‘tourist menus’ you will get exactly that: a washed down, lower quality version of the amazing roman cuisine.
Thankfully there are many other options to choose from: you can find our full list of family friendly restaurants in Rome here or keep reading for some top picks.
In the good season they often have tables outside and consumption of alcohol, despite their name, is not compulsory. Try Cavour 313 (near the Forum), Cul de Sac (near Piazza Navona) or Antica Enoteca via della Croce.
To be clear: these are not specifically child-friendly places (no toys or entertainment) but the staff is lovely, professional and families feel welcome.
Rome establishments are usually happy to serve half portions for kids. Just as for ‘mezza porzione’ and you’ll get a smaller, child-sized meal.
Rome with kids: shortcomings
As I mentioned at the start, Rome is far from perfect and can be infuriating, especially if you have mobility issues such as a buggy or a wheelchair. Here are her worst traits.
- Rome is confusing. As much as I love getting lost in Rome’s cobbled streets, I find it infuriating that the city is unable to have a clear sign system. Road signs are absent, impossible to read or simply pointing the wrong way: to find anything is a treasure hunt. Make sure you have a paper map with you at all times and ask for directions: even if people do not speak English, they will try to help
- No wifi: talking of paper maps, make sure you do not rely on wifi to go around. Officially there are two free city wifi systems you can join but they do not work. No reason, they just don’t!
- Rubbish. Rome lately had a lot of management problems and this included waste disposal. It is a shame, Romans are themselves disgusted, but it’s a problem that goes to the heart of Italy’s troubled political history. As much as you can, try to ignore it: it’s not always like this and no one is proud of it.
- Accessibility: Rome can be hazardous to navigate with a buggy or a wheelchair. Cars are parked everywhere including pavements and potholes and steps are ubiquitous. In the centre, some efforts have been made to provide ramps, but they are not enough, so I am afraid some patience is very much needed.
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
Finishing this post will Romes shortcomings was probably a bad idea as it might leave you with a bad taste in your mouth about the city, but I felt as a Roman I could not simply ignore at least some of this problems.
I believe Rome is a fantastic city and I hate to think you might not love it because of her problems: I hope that letting you know about them will make you more aware and prepared for her and maybe more ready to forgive her for what doesn’t work.
If you do visit Rome with kids, I hope my wonderful hometown surprises you and them with her never ending beauty, a sky like no other and a compelling desire to know her more.
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