Our round up of fun things to do in Rome with kids, tweens and teens: must see sites, children museum and Rome attractions for kids to add to your family trip to Rome.
Rome is a wonderful city to visit as a family. If you love history and art, it is one of the best places in the world to indulge in beauty-filled strolls, food lovers can treat their taste buds to Italian delicacies ranging from gelato to pasta and kids will be surprised to find many parks and attractions where they can stretch their legs, learn new things and explore.
Rome is my home town and now that I live abroad I always make an effort to explore it with the kids, anytime we go visit my family. This is the list of our favourite things to do in Rome with kids, compiled on the basis of over 20 years spent calling it my home and countless family trips to this most special of cities.
Awesome things to do in Rome with kids (small kids, tweens and teens)
Explore ancient Rome
Rome wasn’t built in day, the saying goes, and if you want your kids to get a sense of how Rome evolved over the course of the century, there is no better way than to take a stroll in the Roman forum.
Here, you can show your kids the tomb of Cesar, ancient houses, temples and of triumphal arches.
Should the kids not be impressed by the magnificent architecture, show them the area of the forum where ancient Roman kids used to play pebbles!
Stretch your legs to the nearby Colosseum for a ‘oh wow’ moment: while the inside of the Colosseum won’t be of particular interest for little kids, its immense size is sure to impress them!
Visit the Emperor’s palace on the Palatine
Where did the Emperors live, did they have a castle? The best way to answer this question is to climb up to the top of the Palatine hill, just above the Roman forum, and stroll along what remains of Augustus’ palace. The place is stunning and while the palace itself is in ruins, its size and location is amazing. Definitely worth the short trek up but make sure you go on a sunny day for the biggest visual impact!
Look a the sky from inside the pantheon
Can you look at the sky from inside a church? If the church in question is the pantheon, you can!
Originally built as a temple to all deities (pan= all theon= deities) the Pantheon is nowadays a church and captures the imagination of children thanks to the round hole in the centre of its roof called ‘oculum’.
The line to access the pantheon is often long but the horse carriages parked outside are perfect to kill the time while waiting. Go early in the morning for a crowd-free experience.
Spy St Peter’s dome from a keyhole
At the top of the Aventine, on of the 7 hills of Rome, lies a small square with a large black door protecting the institute of the Maltese Knights.
Get the kids to spy through the keyhole and enjoy their delighted surprise: the keyhole frames perfectly one of the most breathtaking landmarks in the eternal city: St Peter’s dome!
Play truth and dare at the mouth of truth
That’s not a typo: telling the truth is Rome’s mouth of truth takes courage!
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. There is usually a line to get in and a small fee to pay but the round temple in front and the many cars and scooters passing nearby are likely to get adults and little kids, respectively, reasonably entertained while waiting.
Explore the smallest state in the world
Walking into St Peter’s square doesn’t sound very exciting to kids but they will quickly change their mind once they learn that the Vatican is the smallest state in the world (record breaking – check!) and that walking into the square counts as crossing an international border and therefore one more country they can tell they have visited!
Access to the square is free.
Learn optical tricks watching columns disappear
St Peter’s square treats your kids to a bit of magic. Get them to have a good look at the colonnade around them and make sure they count how many rows of columns it is made of. Then get them to stand on the round markings on the square’s pavement and ask them to look again: where have the columns gone?
This is a optical illusion created by Bernini who built the square and is mind blowing: this is one of my favourite things to do in Rome with kids visiting as the surprise on their face is always worth it!
Explora Rome’s children museum
Scientists in the making, lovers of trains and tiny tots will love a visit to Explora, the children museum of Rome. Here you can play in a soft area (for under 3s), learn about hydraulic machines and even drive the Italian high speed train ‘freccia rossa’.
A trip to Explora is one of my kids favourite things to do in Rome and an outing we oblige to every time. The place also has a kid friendly restaurant which makes this museum a good place to spend a morning followed by child-friendly lunch.
Meet the cats of Torre Argentina cat sanctuary
In need for a furry cuddle? Bring the kids to the Torre Argentina cat sanctuary, where stay cats have a safe home. While you cuddle the soft feline, make sure you look at your surroundings: the cats are hosted in the ruins of an ancient temple that saw, no less, the murder of Julius Cesar!
This is one of the best things to do in Rome with kids who love animals and even made it into our recommended 3 day family friendly itinerary around Rome which you can find here.
Learn to make pizza
You can have pizza in Rome (one of the best in Italy, with Naples) or you can bring your kids’ love for pizza to the next level with a pizza making class!
The class takes place in a real pizzeria and is great fun for all ages. The best part? You end your class gorging on your delicious creation.
Play in ‘Raffaello’s Little House’ in Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese, in Rome city centre, in one of the capital’s most beautiful parks. Here you have the zoo, playgrounds and a small pond with rowing boats for hire.
Here you also have the small Casa di Raffaello which is a cute place space for kids with colouring stations, books and more, which is a handy address to have when visiting Rome with toddlers or small kids.
Visit Rome’s most unusual museum: Centrale Montemartini
What happens if you use an old electric plant and use it to host ancient statues?
This was the question behind the creation of the Centrale Montemartini museum, an old industrial space now converted into a museum with ancient Roman statues, mosaics and more. This is a very peculiar space and one of the best things to do in Rome with kids on a rainy day.
Don’t miss the room with the Papal train for extra kid friendliness!
Explore Castel Sant’Angelo
Rome is more famous for churches than castles but the one castle the city does have is pretty impressive. Kids usually love the view above the river Tiber, the massive piles of cannon balls on the castle’s terraces and the secret tunnel that connects the castle to St Peter’s (closed, but you can see its entrance).
No trip to Rome can be complete without a generous dose of gelato. You can find good quality gelato almost everywhere in the city but make sure you pick parlours offering ‘gelato artigianale’.
Visit Rome Botanical Gardens
Rome has beautiful botanical gardens located in Trastevere, just across the river from the main city centre.
These are a great space to explore with kids and have incredible plants: for the most fun, give your child a camera to capture images of the most curious and impressive species.
Be a giant in Galleria Spada
While walking in the yard of the Spada Gallery, in Rome, you will soon find yourself in front of a long corridor framed by two rows of columns.
Nothing special with it until you get one of the staff members of the gallery to walk along it and reveal its secret: the corridor is not long at all but it’s a optical illusion crafted by its clever creator Borromini (the technical name is ‘forced perspective’).
The corridor looks several meters long but it’s less that 30 feet and a person walking along it will look like a giant!
View Rome from above
Rome is build on 7 hills and this means there are several locations from which you can enjoy a great view over the city.
Some of my favourite with kids are giardino degli aranci, on top of the Aventino (good for running around too), the terrace at the top of Vittoriano (Piazza Venezia) and the dome of St Peter. This last one is suitable for older kids only and it is a bit of a trek but if you can take the claustrophobic stairs it is really worth the effort!
Discover the Mosaics of Santa Maria in Trastevere
Mosaics can be mind blowing even for young kids and Rome has some outstanding ones to capture their imagination.
An easy place to see them is Santa Maria in Trastevere: enter outside service hours and get close to the altar for the best view.
Have a picnic in Villa Doria Pamphili
Villa Doria Pamphili is one of the largest parks in Rome and a first favourite green space for locals and tourists alik. Head there when you feel like a break from the city and get hold of a lovely picnic basket from the park bistrot for a perfect day out with views over the city.
Cycle along an ancient aqueduct
Older kids will love cycling along the ancient Roman aqueducts along via Appia. The road is bumpy but the view spectacular and unique.
Visit the spooky Crypt of Capucins
Teenagers tend to love the odd and somewhat disturbing Capuchin crypt, decorated with skulls and bones. While not as extensive as others of the kind in different countries, this crypt still makes an impression and while it is not an attraction for everyone, tends to capture the imagination of many.
Explore layers of history in San Clemente
Rome has an long history and a place where you can see how different events and times followed one another is the incredible church of San Clemente.
The church exists over several levels: the lower one is the most ancient and dates back to Roman times while the most recent one, at street level, dates back to the VI century.
San Clemente is a great place to visit in Rome with kids since allows to understand the sequence of historical events and how ancient buildings got re-purposed over the course of the time.
Be gladiator for a day
Fans of gladiator stories will treasure the opportunity to become gladiators for the day in the gladiator school. While this activity will not bring you inside the famous Colosseum as you may expect, it will teach kids, teens and adults (yes, you can join too!) the difficult art of being a gladiator. Bring loads of water as you will work pretty hard!
Channel your inner adventurer in Rome’s catacombs
Older, adventurous kids may enjoy a trip to Rome’s catacombs. Here you can channel the kids’ inner Indiana Jones exploring one of the oldest and longest burial underground tunnels in the world. Rome’s catacombs expand for hundreds of kilometers under the modern city: while safe to visit, make sure the kids (and you!) never leave the side of your guide as you will get lost.
Taste Rome’s special artichokes
If you have a young foodie in your travel party Rome will turn out to be a real treat.
You will get your fix of pizza, pasta and gelato of course but make sure you also get them to taste the amazing Jewish Rome cuisine. the best place to do so is the area of the old ghetto and the thing to order are artichokes. Make also sure you taste desserts as they are truly special.
See the she wolf in the capitol museum
The symbol of Rome is a she wolf feeding two children: Rome’s founder Romolo and his brother Remo. You can see her depicted in many parts of Rome but the best place to get acquainted with her is in the capitol museums.
Smell the roses in the city’s rose garden
Rome has a small rose garden perched on the slope of the Aventine hill. The garden is lovely in spring and has a gorgeous view over the palace of the emperors just in front.
Explore a pyramid
You don’t have to go to Egypt to see a pyramid. If you are happy with an ancient roman reconstruction of one, Rome has you covered! The rome pyramid is in the area called Ostiense and it is a fun place to visit in Rome with kids. Younger kids will also enjoy the small playground just in front.
See street art in Ostiense
Rome is not particularly famous for street art but there is some and you can spot it best of all in the area called Ostiense.
This is an interesting part of town and very popular to go out at night (something you may want to consider if vising Rome with older kids: there are lots of restaurants and clubs suitable for teenagers too).
Look for the elephant in the piazza
Rome is full of statues of animals but no one is more peculiar than the one depicting an elephant in piazza della Minerva. Small kids will enjoy seeing the little elephant while older kids are sure to appreciate the humor hidden in its history. You can read about it here.
Run around Circo Massimo
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.
Learn the legend behind the fountain of 4 rivers
Rome is full of legends and secrets and one of the better known is about the fountain of the 4 rivers in Piazza Navona. Why does one of its statues look so scared? The clue is in the fountain but you can check your guess here.
Check our welcome to Rome
Virtual reality and 3-D reconstructions of ancient Rome are 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!
Row your boat in Villa Borghese
A relaxing kids’ activities in Rome is to take out rowing boats, feed the ducks or go turtle watching in Villa Borghese. The lake is inhabited by many small turtles that kids love to spot! The lovely café nearby is a great resting place for parents too.
Throw a coin into the Trevi fountain
Do you want to come back to Rome? Then you simply must throw a coin in Trevi Fountain.
Bring small change if you want to avoid getting broke (kids tend to miss that you should throw one coin and not a month’s salary in the monumental fountain).
The earnings from the fountain used to go to charity but rumor has it the Rome municipality now uses for essential repair works to the city.
Either way, the coins are so numerous the fountain needs to be periodically emptied of them to make room for more!
Get splashing in Rome fountains
One of Rome’s most distinctive traits are its small fountains. They are everywhere in the city and offer free, fresh drinking water.
You can use them to fill up your water bottle or you can do like the Romans: lean on them, block the main nose of the fountain with your hand and see the water spilling out in a neat arch.
Our kids spend hours doing this and laughter is guaranteed: just make sure you have a change of clothes with you!
Spot the difference at the twin churches in Piazza del Popolo
Are your kids good at spotting differences? Then they may enjoy the view of the twin churches in piazza del popolo, sitting beside each other.I’ll give you a clue: enter both churches as the answer is indoors!
Climb up the Spanish steps
The famous Spanish steps are one of the most iconic sites in Rome but not particularly exciting for kids. To make them more appealing to little ones, bring some change and get a small toy from the many street vendors for a few minutes of fun.
Check out a column that tells a story
How did you tell stories to posterity without a blog, a video, or even pen and paper? You carved on stone, of course! This is exactly what some of the columns in Rome do: check out how it worked in Piazza venezia, at the entrance of Trajan’s forum.
Marvel at the massive Caracalla’s baths
Did you know Romans loved baths? They did and they were not afraid to invest time money and work into creating immense structures to soak in water. Check out the Terme di Caracalla to learn about this but also to enjoy one of the most beautiful stretches of ancient Rome.
Explore fairy house architecture in Coppede’
Want to see a house that looks out of a fairytale book? Then head to the Coppede district to discover a whole area of fairy looking buildings. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, it is unique in Rome and fun to visit with kids for the peculiar animal shapes of the decorations.
See the portrait of every Pope in St Paolo fuori le mura
Ever wondered how many Popes existed and what they looked like? Wonder no more! Head to St Paolo fuori le mura, a stunning basilica worth visiting for its architecture, and you can see their portraits lined up from the very first one to the current, for centuries of history!
Take a stroll around Trastevere
Gorgeous Trastevere is a treat at all ages. Younger kids will love spotting the cats while older kids are likely to enjoy the many food joint and the several street performers that take hold of the streets especially in the late afternoon / evening.
Go to the pond of Eur
Rome is famous for its past but there is an area that showcases some interesting, newer architecture: Eur. Head here if you are interested in experiencing an often overlooked part of the city and bribe little kids with a stop at the local pond!
Check out Rome zoo
Rome zoo sits inside villa Borghese and it a fun place for small kids to play and see animals. Less impressive than others in Europe, it is nonetheless pleasant to explore and it is beside the Galleria Borghese, so parents of younger children can easily divide and conquer if a stop at the museum is off the table for the smaller in the family.
Learn history in Palazzo Valentini
You can learn about how Rome evolved in this 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.
Marvel at the art of Galleria Borghese
Famous Galleria Borghese is worth a visiting at all ages. The collections is breathtaking and while kids may not find it interesting as such, there are some statues that may catch their attention. Should they really not be into it, the massive park around it will take care of keeping them busy a good while.
Get a hop on – hop off bus tour
Want to see Rome but the kids are exhausted? Then a hop on off bus tour can be just what you need. There are several available suitable for all ages and interest
Catch an outdoor concert
If visiting Rome in summer, make sure you check out the many outdoor concerts taking place in the city. Roman families hide indoors during the scorching days but do emerge at night even with little kids. Get a list of what’s on in Rome each week at the local newsagent.
I hope you enjoyed this round up of things to do in Rome with kids small and big! Safe family travels.