26/05/2024

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Things To Do + Tips For Visiting

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Things To Do + Tips For Visiting

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Rome is the bustling capital of Italy and is one of the most historic and fascinating cities on Earth, meaning there are many things to do in Rome with kids that provide an enriching and educational experience.

As well as lots of fun!

colosseum with sun burst

It has a history that takes visitors back thousands of years of history, has a cuisine that melts in your mouth, has world-class museums and stunning parks to explore.

We’ve visited Rome numerous times and were delighted by how much there was for our kids to enjoy, as well as attractions parents can enjoy too.

If you’re thinking of visiting Rome with kids, below are all the top things to do, places to eat, and a recommendation for a family-friendly place to stay.

Is Rome A Good Place To Travel To With Kids?

The trevi fountain in rome

Rome is one of the most visited cities in Europe and sees more than 10 million visitors a year. It’s chaotic and busy, with honking traffic and lots of people.

So you might be wondering if Rome is a good city to visit with kids.

However, Rome is a destination like no other and offers an enriching experience for curious kids of all ages. From ancient monuments to cultural attractions, history is bought to life in this city, and not in a dull, classroom kind of way.

It’s also very easy to walk, meaning you don’t have to worry about scrambling on public transport, and many of the attractions have family tickets, so you can save a little on entrance fees.

To top it off, even the most fussiest of eaters will enjoy the delights of Rome. What child does not like Pizza or Spaghetti Bolognaise?

To top things off, Rome is full of surprises that are sure to create unforgettable memories with the family!

How Long Do You Need in Rome?

teh crumbling exterior of the collessium

We recommend you spend at least 3 days in Rome, but if you have more time at your disposal, 5 days would be ideal so you can travel slowly and take more of the atmosphere in.

Within the Italian vernacular, there exists a saying, “Piano, Piano”, which translates into many things, but mostly it means, “slowly, slowly”, and it is this warning to heed when visiting Rome.

It’s been our experience, especially as a family, that it’s best to take a nice and easy pace.

You can’t squeeze all of Rome into one itinerary. As Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, you should also allow plenty of time to see it.

This slow approach provides for a quality and memorable trip as opposed to one filled with a quantity that can easily be confused and forgotten.

Things To Do in Rome with Kids

Below you will find a list of ideas for what to do with kids in Rome. But of course, mum and dad should not be forgotten too, so these are attractions the whole family can enjoy.

1. Drink Coffee (and Eat Cake) Like the Locals

Piazza di Spagna

Start your trip at the Piazza di Spagna for a coffee and a cake. The coffee is mostly for mom and dad, but kids will love trying the Italian deserts which are world famous.

From Panna Cotta to Tiramisu, to Maritozzo or Bussolai, or even frappe milkshakes – kids will love the sweet treats that Rome has to offer.

Stop in at Antico Caffe Greco on Via Dei Condotti and stand at the bar with the locals and have your coffee of choice (only tourists sit in the back and pay 3 times more).

There are non-caffeine drinks for children as well. It is a very energetic place, so don’t worry about the kids being bored, I promise, they won’t.

2. Visit The Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps Rome with  pink flowering plants on them

After a morning jolt, walk up the Spanish Steps and find a nice area to sit and watch the Roman Day unfold.

Watch well-dressed women navigating the cobbled streets with ease on 4-inch heels, and listen to the constant background sound of Vespas snaking in and out of the ancient roads.

3. Play at Fontana Della Barcaccia

The Fontana della Barcaccia,
The Fontana della Barcaccia,

While viewing Bernini’s beautiful Fontana Della Barcaccia, at the center of the piazza di Spagna , have a go at drinking from one of the spouts, which always makes for great family fun and excellent keepsake photos and videos.

Check out this 2 hour guided tour through Rome and marvel at the Baroque and Renaissance fountains and squares.

4. Visit the Campo De’ Fiori Open-Air Market

Continue to immerse yourself in the Roman culture and take a short 20-minute walk toward Campo De’ Fiori, where an open-air market is held every day with the exception of Sunday.

Join the locals doing their grocery shopping for the day, and pick up some fruit, cheese, and salumi to snack on from some of the very animated vendors.

5. Find the Best Focaccia in Rome

On one corner of the square is a shop named, Forno.

This bakery has been a daily destination to many Romans for decades. It is considered the best place to have focaccia in all of Rome.

Get on the queue and treat the family to Roman style pizzas that are second to none. Slices are cut to size and weighed, so purchase a few small cuts and get a range for all to try.

6. Watch Street Performers near Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi

Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi at night

Backtrack a bit and make a mid-day, late afternoon stop at Piazza Navona, where there are street performers and artists lining the square.

There are three magnificent fountains to gaze upon, the most famous being the Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi, also by Bernini.

Grab a seat at any of the cafes and order a Negroni, while the kid(s) explore the square and enjoy “La Dolce Vita”. However, do not eat here as offerings are not so good and a bit overpriced.

7. Wander the Streets of Trastevere

red and white checkered table cloths on cobblestone street outside pizzeria Trastevere

Go to the West Bank of the Tiber River and enjoy an evening in the neighborhood of Trastevere.

Away from all the trappings, this neighborhood will give you and your family a true sense of how the Romans truly spend their daily lives.

Here, you’ll find families like yourselves meandering through the labyrinth filled with shops and cafes. Follow suit and work up an appetite.

Try to book a table at Enoteca Ferrara, where their take on Roman cuisine stays true to tradition by only offering what’s in season, as opposed to a majority of places in town that offer the same menu every night.

This approach always leads to a fine meal.

There is also a tavern connected to the restaurant, where more rustic and less expensive meals are offered. Both options, excellent for families.

8. Check Out The Vatican City

dome of Vatican City Rome

Get up early, grab a quick coffee and cornetto at your nearest cafe and get to Vatican City. No matter your religious disposition, this is a must.

The Vatican Museum

Inside the Vatican Museum are some of the greatest works of art known to man. Within the museum, there is a route in which to follow that ends at the famous Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s Masterpiece.

Saint Peter’s Basilica

After a morning of taking in the art, make your way over to adjacent Saint Peter’s Basilica. The square and the basilica are magnificent and awe inspiring. Michelangelo’s Pieta is housed inside, again one of the most famous works of art.

Don’t forget however that this is a holy place and the faithful is what gives it soul, so please be respectful.

Vatican Post Office

Before you leave, make sure to get a postcard and get to the post office within the walls of the city and send it to yourself. Remember, Vatican City is its own nation, and it has its own seal.

In essence, you have left Rome, Italy for a few hours and visited another country. A posted stamp from here makes for a great keepsake.

9. Visit the Pantheon

pantheon with tower in front
Caption: Shutterstock

Time for a break. Take a stroll along Via Della Conciliazione toward another site, Castel Sant’Angelo.

From there, cross the bridge and head to the Pantheon. This walk should take no longer than 30 minutes.

The Pantheon is one of the most historic landmarks in Rome and is famous for its dome ceiling with a hole in the center.

The ancient temple dates back to 125 AD and its impressive architectural design highlights how forward-thinking Roman engineering really was.

Its imposing portico and rotunda are adorned with Corinthian columns and topped with a dome spanning 43 meters high, which still holds the record for largest unsupported concrete dome to date.

The interior contains masterpieces of art, sculptures and inscriptions showcasing the grandeur of Ancient Rome.

10. Eat at Da Fortunato

Once near the Pantheon, don’t enter just yet. First, have lunch at Da Fortunato and treat yourself and your family to upscale dining.

During the afternoon is a good time to do this, as there are usually lunch specials and prices tend to be south of what they would be for dinner. Same experience for much less.

11. Try Gelato

girl eating gelato

Don’t order dessert where you have lunch, instead visit the famous gelateria, Il Gelato Di San Crispino, which is nearby.

Once fully sated, enjoy one of the greatest ancient structures and the history within it- including the site where the great Renaissance artist Raphael is laid to rest.

12. Dinner at Taverna Romana Monti ’79

stairs going up to vine covered stone building. The famous Borgia Ascent in the Monti neighborhood of Rome
The famous Borgia Ascent in the Monti neighborhood of Rome

We have an affinity for the Monti neighborhood which sits behind the Roman Forum. Akin to Trastevere, it is a vibrant residential neighborhood.

Eat at one of the many neighborhood enotecas and trattorias, like Taverna Romana Monti ’79 on Via della Madonna dei Monti, 79 and order the rigatoni Cacio E Pepe, a simple pasta dish favored by locals.

13. Visit The Roman Forum & The Colosseum

roman forum

After breakfast, experience The Roman Forum. Few history lessons leave as lasting an impression as a visit to this site.

Walk up to Palatine Hill and learn about Rome’s foundation, look back over the ancient ruins of market squares and halls, and walk the streets that the Roman’s took.

Pursuant to the Forum, get yourselves over to the Colosseum and get immersed in stories of Gladiators, of life under the infamous Roman Emperors of Julius Caesar and Emperor Hadrian, and other events that made the site such a favorite.

The Colosseum is another example of impressive Roman engineering and was once the place where legends were formed.

These two sites are particularly good when using the Rick Steves App.

14. Try an Aperitivo

Storefront in Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, Rome Italy
Storefront in Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, Rome Italy

Take the quick walk back to Monti and sit at any of the cafes that line the Piazza Della Madonna Dei Monti.

If it’s later in the afternoon,take part in “aperitivo”, which is the time of day when many eateries serve complimentary snacks along with your drink.

This is a favorite event of our daughter’s, as she loves endlessly snacking on tasty Italian treats.

15. Throw a Coin in The Trevi Fountain

A large building with a trevi fountain in the front
Photo: Shutterstock

By now, you and your family will start missing Rome. To remedy this, take a short walk toward the Trevi Fountain.

Along the way, there are plenty of places in which to do last minute shopping.

Try to wait until the sun goes down and embrace the beautiful waterworks under the lights. Throw a few coins in the fountain and wish for a quick return in the future.

16. Eat a Spaghetti Carbonara

For dinner, end your last evening by having the quintessential Roman Dish, Spaghetti Carbonara at Hosteria La Carbonara.

Do not confuse this with the establishment by the same name at Campo de’ Fiori.

Take it from us, it serves up the best carbonara in town and lives up to its name. The establishment is a popular one and is usually booked, so make sure to plan ahead.

17. Ride Bikes Around the Villa Borghese Gardens

Villa Borghese Gardens

A family vacation is not complete without a day spent enjoying each others company.

Rather than sightseeing and taking guided tours, rent bikes and ride around the stunning gardens of the Villa Borghese Gardens.

The gardens themselves are historic, dating back to the 1600s. As you cycle along the paths, you’ll pass a number of historic buildings, museums and manicured gardens.

The gardens are the third largest public park in Rome and are free to enter, you only need to pay for entrance to the house.

18. Go to Gladiator School

Are you looking for unique things to do in Rome with kids? How about attending Gladiator School?

At Gladiator School, you will learn what it takes to be a gladiator and learn how to fight, from experienced instructors from the Historic Group of Rome.

You’ll use authentic, but safe, weapons of the time and get to dress up in traditional gladiator tunic and belt.

The school is not far from the Colosseum, and is an immersive and interactive way to learn about ancient Rome and its sporting culture.

As your kids step out onto the arena floor and prepare to battle, they won’t even realize they are taking a history lesson!

Of course, in Gladiator days, wild animals such as lions and jaguars were used, but at Gladiator School, you are just sparring with a partner.

19. Check Out The Rome Catacombs

Rome Catacombs

The Catacombs are one of the most interesting experience in Rome with kids, but it’s not the best activity for younger kids or those who are spooked easily.

The catacombs a just outside the city of Rome and date back to the 5th century. In those days, graveyards were becoming over filled and reserved for the rich and noble.

So the pagan citizens, as well as Jews and the first Christians were buried in a series of catacombs.

20. Spend the Day at the Amusement Parks

While many of these historic sites are great for older kids and adults, younger kids may want a little more excitement, so why not take them to the amusement parks in Rome?

You can splash around at the Hydromania water park, or ride the ferris wheel at Luneur Park.

Or see the elephants, orangutangs and over a thousand more animals at Bioparco di Roma, the biggest zoo in Italy.

Where to stay in Rome With Kids

Look to stay at the Nerva Boutique Hotel, where it is convenient to all points of interests and also happens to be a beautiful and a well run establishment.

We stayed here on our last visit and were very happy to have had experienced such fine accommodations in such a fun neighborhood.

We’ve booked this lovely home rental in the Trastevere Neighborhood for our Summer European trip for 2023. We also considered this apartment rental in the same neighborhood.

Popular Tours of Rome

Final Thoughts on Rome with Kids

View of  Rome from Castel Sant'Angelo, Italy
.

So there you have it, those are the best things to do in Rome with kids, and as you can see, there is so much more to do than just visit playgrounds or visit the zoo.

When you depart the Eternal City, you will be leaving feeling more educated, cultured, and closer to your family members.

You may think about the sites you may have missed, but be assured that in taking it slow, you actually got the most of what you did see and had a better quality experience with your family.

Anyway, you threw your coins in the fountain, which assures a return. Then you can do the rest.

More Italy Travel Tips

Need more tips for Italy? Check out these posts:

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72 hours in Rome with kids

Would you add any other things to do in Rome with kids to this guide? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

72 hours in Rome with kids

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