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.
City breaks with kids can be hard, especially if the city in question is Rome: big, crowded and so beautiful 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 have 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
The best seasons to visit Rome with kids are spring (March to June) and fall (September to November).
The months to avoid are July and August. The heat 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: it is hard to get a good impression of the city.
If you have no choice, I highly recommend booking a hotel with a pool and air conditioning (see paragraph at the end of this article for recommended addresses).
December is also a good time to visit Rome with kids. The winter in the city is usually mild and dry and many shops and restaurants have longer opening hours to accommodate Christmas shopping.
Nativity scenes are fun to visit with kids and the lights always add a fun element for the kids! You can read here our full post about Christmas in Rome here.
How to get around Rome with kids in tow
Despite its size, Rome is a hugely walkable city. The city centre can be easily explored on foot and accommodation in the area means you will hardly need public transport at all, with the notable exception of the Vatican (slightly out of the centre).
If you are visiting Rome with kids, I highly recommend the use of a baby carrier and of a lightweight stroller (find our favourite brands here).
Bus and tram
Rome has an extensive public transport system made of buses, trams and metro. The systems serves a large portion of the city but it is poorly organised and often crowded.
At peak times, the buses are literally bursting at the seams and access for buggies and strollers may be impossible. If you cannot walk to your destination, I highly recommend selecting off peaks times to travel by bus and the use of a baby carrier.
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 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. Taxi rides are metered and there is a surcharge for evening rides.
Taxis are a good family option to and from Rome airports. A taxi ride from Ciampino (CIA) costs 45 Euro and from Fiumicino (FCO) 60 Euro: these are flat fees and you find a notice about them both at the taxi rank and inside the taxis themselves, on the back of the passenger seat. They do go up from time to time so please do check!
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 and mifold booster seats as very easy to carry.
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 tours: should you book in advance? How?
Rome is one of the most visited cities in the world and this popularity has consequences.
The tourism high season in Rome is long and it is not unusual to have to wait in line for hours to gain access to the most popular attractions.
If you can, decide in advance when you want to visit a certain location and book skip-the-line tickets online.
Make sure you always print your tickets as often online confirmations are not accepted.
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.
See Rome city centre and its beautiful piazzas
Rome is so full of history and culture that in the city centre you literally cannot throw a stone without hitting something amazing.
My favourite walking itinerary can be found here (with kids, divide it up into two or even three days), but if you are the kind of person who enjoys getting lost and discover the city that way, you will find Rome is the perfect place to do so!
However you decide to do it, make sure you include in your itinerary the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. They are stunning, quintessentially Roman and so imposing the kids will love them (Piazza Navona also has a gorgeous toy shop!).
Visiting Rome’s city centre will require a lot of walking.
Top tip for families visiting Rome with kids: instead of buying water in the shops, refill your bottle at one of the many fountains or do like the locals: sip the beautiful , fresh, clean water freely flowing from the tap: it’s delicious and incredibly refreshing. Adults will easily master the art of fountain drinking, but kids are likely to get very wet very soon: unless it is the middle of the summer, have a change of clothes ready!
Visit the Roman Forum and the Colosseum
A visit to Rome with children must include a visit to the forum and the colosseum: they are adjacent to each other and a sight to behold.
The forum is my favourite part and it’s surprisingly pleasant to visit even with young children, but the Colosseum is so imposing it usually steals the show.
To fully appreciate the Colosseum and the forum it is worth booking a tour or family activity. Some popular family options are:
If you have time, make sure you go up the Palatine hill also, for a stunning look over the Circo Massimo, the river Tiber and the city beyond.
You can read here our full guide to visiting the Roman forum with kids here
Run around Circo Massimo and Aventino
At the bottom of the Palatine hill sits the Circo Massimo, the ancient Roman chariot racing stadium. Nowadays the ‘circus’ is just a large, poorly kept space, but it’s worth a visit for a couple of reasons.
Its is a car free, enclosed, safe area for kids to run around and, therefore, an excellent stop if you want to let them loose and break up the sightseeing (avoid this in the middle of the summer as there is no shade in the circus).
The view of the palaces of Emperors from there is breathtaking and something you don’t want to miss when visiting Rome.
The hill on the other side of Circo Massimo is called Aventino and is a wealthy and beautiful residential part of Rome.
It is a stunning area for a visit (it makes for a very romantic Roman walk) and hosts one of the most surprising of Rome’s attractions: a keyhole through which you can peek at St Peter’s dome!
Top tips for families with kids: at the top of the Aventino Hill lies a small park with a stunning view over Rome. There are no cafes or shops here, but it makes a great stop for a pic-nic: make sure you stock up with sandwiches, pizza and gelato before starting the climb. Good shops are beside the Circo Massimo, near the big FAO building
Play truth and dare at bocca Della verita’ (the mouth of truth)
Do you know the movie ‘Roman holidays’, the scene when Gregory Peck pretends to have his hand bitten off but a whole in the wall representing a mouth?
That whole in the wall exists and the kids find it equally scary and hilarious!
If you go there, make sure you also look at the round temple just behind you and take a stroll in the Jewish ghetto (actually, get lunch there if you can: Jewish Roman cuisine is amazing)
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!
Go to a child friendly museum
Rome has many museums, some of which welcoming to children. Some of our favourite are:
Family friendly museum in Rome is devoted to the ancient history of the city and hold reconstructions, drawings and miniature of what the city would have looked liked. Older kids might also enjoy the cinematic reconstruction of Rome in the nearby Time Elevator.
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!
Chistro del Bramante
Another great museum is Chiostro del Bramante, close to Piazza Navona. This cloister is a beautiful architectural space and hosts temporary exhibitions, often including children workshops.
Famous Galleria Borghese is also worth a stop. The collections is breathtaking and while kids may not find it interesting as such, they are sure to enjoy the massive park the museum is surrounded by!
Explora children museum
The one museum that truly is for kids and for kids only is the children museum. This is a real treat for little ones with options for role play, water-play and many interactive installations to stimulate learning through play.
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!
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.
Take a gelato tour
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!
New on the blog today (link in bio 🙂) a review of the pizza making class we recently took in Rome. It was organised by @rome4kidstours and we had a blast: fresh ingredients, a lot of hands on fun (as you can see) and of course a delicious meal that we could proudly say we made ourselves from scratch. This was a lovely family activity and a great way to enjoy of my kids’ favourite aspects of Italy: the ambundance of pizza 🍕 Fancy a slice? #familytravel #familytrip #familyjaunts #familytraveltribe #bringthekids #lpkids #letthekids #childhoodunplugged #simplychildren #mytinymoments #iloveitaly #cookingclass #globetrotters #familytrip #havekidswilltravel #welivetoexplore #kidstravel #kidsofinstagram #familyjaunts #cutekidsclub #clickinmoms #pixel_kids #travelkids #TBIN
Go to the park: 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.
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.
For a real Roman experience, I suggest you look for places marked ‘enoteca‘.
Technically a wine bar, enoteche are usually small establishments presenting a limited but fresh menu to choose from (salads, pasta dishes or meat).
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.
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.
Going to Rome with children soon? Don’t forget our printable packing list!
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