Rome is a destination we love visiting as a couple. We have been in Rome many times and can’t get sick of it. Hence, we decided to have a family holiday to Rome with our three and eight year old kids. As a result, it turned out to be a great family vacation and we had amazing time in Rome with kids!
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Is Rome a good family destination?
All of the historical center of Rome is like an open air museum. Roman buildings from ancient times,, Colosseum, gladiators are all very interesting for little ones. Moreover, I considered Rome a kid friendly destination and planned a trip with my little kids there mostly because of its beautiful piazzas. Kids can run around and play at the pedestrian only piazzas as they want! Meanwhile, parents can sit in one of the piazza cafes surrounded with all the great architecture, sip their coffees while watching their children play. Sounds good, right?
Is Rome fun for children?
I think, Rome is fun for all different aged children. For toddlers and little kids, it’s like a fairy tale like city with castle like buildings, gladiators, wild animals and many heroic tales. The ancient atmosphere and many beautifully protected Roman buildings are great to experience for school children who learn Roman era history at school. And for teenagers, visiting a famous city with its world renowned Trevi fountain, Spanish stairs, great food is quite cool I suppose.
What is the best time for a family holiday to Rome?
Rome can be visited throughout the year thanks to its mild temperatures even at wintertime. Summers are hot and dry, attracting many tourists in that season. But with all that crowd in the summer, it can be challenging to visit Rome with kids. Spring and fall are perfect with less crowds and still pleasant temperatures to visit Rome with kids. A family holiday to Rome can be a great idea for spring break or as a fall vacation.
I want to add that, although it is not among the first considered Christmas holiday destinations, I think Rome is great for the holiday season and winter. Indeed, we visited Rome with our kids for winter break in late January and enjoyed a great weather there. Almost all the days were sunny with a little cool but good enough temperatures to explore the city. Not to mention, the super affordable accommodation in low season, which can be a big hassle especially when traveling with whole family.
Where to stay in Rome with kids?
A central accommodation close to all sightseeing spots is very convenient when traveling with kids. For a family holiday to Rome, it is great to stay in a hotel close to Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain or Campo di Fiori where you would be in walking distance to most of the attractions and eateries.
For our winter family holiday to Rome with kids we stayed in Piazza Navona. The price of the accommodation was quite affordable especially compared to the summer prices. The location and the view (oh my! you can see it at the picture above!) were perfect!
How many days do you need in Rome with kids?
We stayed in Rome with our kids for 7 days. Since it wasn’t our first time in Rome, we took it easy and tried to enjoy the beauties of the eternal city. For a vacation of more limited time you would need at least three days to explore Rome with kids at its best. Having said that, in the past we had visited Rome even for one or two days. Certainly, it is totally all about you and what kind of trip you want to have.
Things to know before going to Rome with kids
Rome is great city to spend time with kids as a family. Having said that, it is not the easiest city to navigate with kids especially with little ones. Here are some things good to know before your family trip to Rome.
- Rome can be very crowded, especially during high season. Waiting in lines, giving some space to kids to play, following the kids in the crowds can be challenging. Obviously, you need to be extra precautious with little kids and toddlers.
- Rome is located on many hills. Despite we knew that, without a doubt we took our stroller with us. In fact, our stroller was life saving for both our toddler and even helped our bigger kid to have a rest from time to time. The sidewalks and pedestrian streets are usually suitable to navigate with it. However, there are many places in Rome where you need to climb lots of stairs. And, the best way of climbing them is by folding and carrying the stroller with you.
- We used public transportation many times during our trip in Rome and it eased exploring Rome with kids a lot. In order not to exhaust our children, we preferred it even for the destinations we would normally walk delightfully if we were without kids. The good news is, the public transportation in Rome is free for kids under 10 years old.
- The restaurants in Rome are very strict about their opening times. They are open at lunch time and dinner time but you can’t have anywhere to have a meal outside of those hours except the touristic ones. If you want to enjoy the great restaurants you need to plan accordingly.
Fun things to do in Rome with kids
Rome is a great place to explore with kids with its yummy gelato, pizzas and pasta like all of the Italy. Except for those delicious bribes and interesting stuff all around we wanted to add to our Rome itinerary a few real fun places to explore with the kids. We visited Explora – Il Museo dei Bambini di Roma, aka the Children’s Museum of Rome. In addition, we spent quite a time at Villa Borghese, the vast urban park in the center of Rome.
Here and there, we tried to spread fun things to do with kids throughout our Rome itinerary that I explained in details bellow. We even had some surprise experiences that we were unaware during our Rome vacation with kids planning.
Our family holiday to Rome itinerary for 6 days
You can find things to do in Rome with kids everywhere throughout the web. I want to share a more useful itinerary using maps and trying to help you pre-imagine the locations of the places to visit in Rome. Moreover, I added the walking distances, thus you can plan your itinerary according to your pace.
I planned this itinerary for 5-6 days assuming you would be with kids. Actually, all the circled areas I considered as one day exploring on the map above, are in fact about 1.5 km distance. You can easily squeeze more things in a day if you are in a more limited schedule.
Day 1: Enjoy the beauties of Rome
- Piazza Navona
- Trevi Fountain
Whatever time you arrive to Rome, you can easily start exploring with these three gorgeous world renowned stops in the city: Piazza Navona, Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. They are all in close distance to each other, easily walkable from one another. If you have enough time, don’t skip a coffee brake in cafe S. Eustachio in Piazza Saint’ Eustachio just next to Pantheon. A tasty espresso would be a great kick off to your vacation in Rome.
This beautiful piazza with its gorgeous fountains, surrounding beautiful architecture, artists all around the square is simply wonderful. Piazza Navona is a great place to start exploring and take in all the beauties around. Just sit on a bench and enjoy it deeply, while your kids run around and play.
Piazza Navona was like our playground during our trip in Rome with kids since we were lucky enough to stay in a place literally in the piazza. (For hotels to stay in Piazza Navona in Rome, please click here.) I really recommend to stay somewhere close to Piazza Navona and enjoy it at different times throughout the day.
Pantheon is the best preserved monument of Ancient Rome. It is a former Roman temple and since 609 AD a Catholic church in Rome. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is really beautiful with the ray of light entering from the hole on top of the dome. Entrance to the Pantheon is free.
No need for an explanation for this world famous fountain. It is just adorable! If you want to follow the tradition, flip a coin over your shoulder to the fountain pool and make a wish to come back to Rome one day. Our kids actually loved this tradition, we left lots of coins in the pool. 🙂 If you want to enjoy the Trevi with less crowds, try to visit there again early in the morning.
Day2: Explore the Ancient Rome
- Roman Forum
- Via dei Fori Imperiali
- Piazza Venezia
- Altar of the Fatherland
- Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli
Actually, most of the ancient attractions from Roman times are in close distance to one another. You can start exploring from Colosseum early in the morning, thus a chance you would wait less in entrance line. Then you can continue through Roman Forum or you can just walk through the Via dei Fori Imperiali street, surrounded with ancient ruins all around. You can finish your route at a viewpoint where you can see all the Forum and Colosseum at the same time.
The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built and is still the largest standing amphitheater in the world today. It is considered by some as one of the new seven wonders of the world. The Colosseum could hold about 65,000 spectators watching gladiator fights or spectacles of wild animal hunts in ancient times. This enormous building definitely deserves a visit when you are in Rome.
The Roman Forum was the center of the city of ancient Rome. The government buildings, market place all were around this rectangular area. If you are interested in archeology, you can explore the ruins of many temples, ancient governmental buildings, arches and many more that survived as a whole or partially in the Forum. Nevertheless, you can just stroll around the Forum and take in the ancient vibe after your Colosseum visit because the Roman Forum also can be visited with your Colosseum ticket.
Via dei Fori Imperiali
We don’t visit the Colosseum and the Roman Forum at our each trip to Rome but we make it sure to stroll through the beautiful Via dei Fori Imperiali every time we visit Rome. This historical street is surrounded with ancient buildings and the statues of emperors all around. The Roman Forum at one side, the Trajan Forum and the Forum of Augustus at the other, you really feel the vibe of the Ancient Rome through this street.
Piazza Venezia and the Altar of Fatherland
When I saw this monument for the first time, I was ‘Oh My! What is this!’. The National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II, also known as Altar of Fatherland, is an enormous, eye catching building sitting in the center of Rome. Actually, I didn’t have a chance to visit it up to to this trip in Rome with kids. We climbed the many stairs with my little ones and explored it. Strolling along the halls of this giant structure is so impressive. Moreover, you have a view of the ancient Rome behind, that is even more breathtaking. The entrance to Victor Emmanuel II National Monument is free.
Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli
We didn’t plan to visit many churches when we were in Rome with kids. However, we wanted to peek into one or two to give them the impression of how a Roman church looks like. Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli, sits just next the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, so we decided to visit it. Of course, we had to climb millions of stairs again. The basilica was quite impressive and even my little one did a great job staying quiet as a respect to the place. It was cute, seeing him shushing and trying to stay quiet.
The Campidoglo (Capitoline Hill) is just next to Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli and Victor Emmanuel II Monument, and guess what, you need to climb lots of stairs to climb to the top. 🙂 It is one of the Seven Hills of Rome. Actually, this gorgeous piazza, surrounded by Medieval and Renaissance palaces and impressive sculptures, was designed by Michelangelo. And a quick fact, did you know the Capitol Hill in Washington DC was named after the Capitoline Hill.
One of the oldest museums in the world, Capitoline Museums, is also located on the Capitoline Hill. Also there is an amazing view of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum at the back of the piazza. Save that location for your perfect family selfies with an ancient Roman background.
Day3: Visit the smallest country in the world
- St. Angelo Bridge
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Vatican City
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- Sistine Chapel
- Vatican Museums
Visiting a new country in a city you explore, would impress both the kids and the adults, I suppose. Vatican City, the spiritual center of Catholic church, is actually an independent state just a short walk from Rome center. On this walking path, there is a monumental castle, a world renowned basilica and museums of art if you want to explore deeply. Or, you can just stroll through this route with your kids and take in the beautiful architecture all around.
St. Angelo Bridge alone is a monumental structure which spans the Tiber river with its five arches. There are five angels on the each side of the bridge built by pupils of Bernini.
Castel Sant’Angelo, on the banks of Tiber, was built as a mausoleum, then converted into a castle , and finally served as a refuge for the Pope with the connected tunnels to Vatican. There is a remarkable bronze statue of archangel Michael on the top of the castle, where the archangel is said to have appeared to a Pope. If you decide to give a visit to this six-storey medieval castle you would need to buy tickets.
Vatican City State, is the smallest state in the world by both area and population. This city state covers an area only about 49 hectares and has a population about 500 people. It is the headquarters of Roman Catholic Church and is home to the Pope. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are located in Vatican City and are among the most visited places in Rome.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is a Renaissance style built church on the site of Old St. Peter’s Basilica which was built by the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. The present basilica was built between the years of 1506 and 1626. Michelangelo, Bernini, Bramante and Carlo Moderno were among the many people who designed the basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world by interior measure.
Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica is free, like the most churches in Rome. But you should expect long lines taking even a few hours. You can also visit the dome of the basilica (for a fee) using stairs or a lift. After climbing 550 steps, you can enjoy an amazing view of Rome and Vatican.
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Most would think that the famous Sistine Chapel is in the St. Peter’s Basilica but actually it is not, it is located in the adjacent Vatican Museums. You would need to purchase tickets to visit the Vatican Museums. There are multiple galleries of classical and Renaissance art masterpieces in the 26 different museums in the complex.
Certainly, the main attraction in the museums is the Sistine Chapel with its impressive ceiling frescos painted by Michelangelo. The Sistine Chapel is also known for being the space where cardinals meet to elect a new pope.
Day4: Have fun in Rome with kids
- Explora – Il Museo dei Bambini di Roma
- L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
- Piazza del Popolo
- Villa Borghese
- Spanish steps
On this day, we wanted to do some fun stuff for / with kids. We started the day with the Explora Children’s museum, where our kids had a blast for a few hours. After some delicious pizzas we went to the huge urban park Villa Borghese. Eventually we finished our route of the day at the famous Spanish Steps.
Explora – Il Museo dei Bambini di Roma
We have been in many children museums in so many different countries and cities and I must say, this museum in Rome is among the best! Explora – Il Museo dei Bambini di Roma (The Children’s Museum of Rome) is a perfect place to spend some fun time with toddlers and kids while you are in Rome. Before our visit I was a little hesitant since its name said ‘children’s of Rome’ and I wondered if it was something interesting for local kids. Eventually it turned out to be a science and daily life museum with lots of exhibits from mechanics to farming, recycling even a kid size supermarket!
We were in the museum at the opening time in a weekday and almost had the whole place to ourselves. I totally recommend there to families with little kids if you can spare a few hours when you are in Rome. The official webpage of the museum for the ticket prices and opening times is here.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
When we were waiting for the children’s museum to open in the morning, we noticed a restaurant named “L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele” in the same building with the museum’s ticket office. Could it be the famous Napolitan pizza famed with the movie “Eat, pray and love”? We already ate in da Michele in Naples but didn’t know that it had a branch in Rome. Eventually, after our museum visit we saw the many people waiting to eat in the pizzeria and said “this is the one!’.
We took a number for the queue and started waiting. They were announcing the numbers with a ready table only in Italian and we didn’t have a clue on counting in Italian. 🙂 Nevertheless, we figured out somehow when our turn has come and had a little feast there. We love Napolitan pizza and we think L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele is among the best! Pizza, calzone, burrata, antipasti all were top quality. Eventually, we came to eat in L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele one more time on this trip.
Piazza del Popolo
After our lunch we walked the short way from the children’s museum to Piazza del Popolo. This beautiful piazza is a large urban square on the north and once was the northern gate of the city of Rome. There are two churches, one basilica and two fountains surrounding the piazza. In the middle of the square stands a 36 meters high Egyptian obelisk.
We climbed the Pincio Hill on the eastern side of the piazza. Once we were on the top we took a break in Piazza Napoleone and took in the magnificent view of Rome in front of us. After a short walk from there, we were in Rome’s large urban park, Villa Boghese.
Villa Borghese is an enormous urban park covering an area of 80 hectares. (You remember I mentioned that the Vatican City State is about 40 hectares, this park is twice as big as Vatican.) There are art galleries, a theater, a kids cinema, a zoo, ponds and lots of green area to roam in the park. It is a perfect place to spend time as a family. The entrance to the Villa Borghese park is free. You need to pay for your purchases and rentals of course.
Things to do in Villa Borghese park with kids
- Board on the Villa Borghese train at one of three stops around the park.
- Rent a bike or an electric powdered pedal car for families: We did, it was super fun!
- For the older children, you can roam in the park with a Segway scooter.
- Rent a boat on the pond.
- Watch a children’s film in the worlds smallest cinema, Cinema dei Piccoli.
- Visit the Bioparco di Roma Zoo. (for tickets the official website is here)
After spending a few hours in Villa Borghese we went back to the top of Pincio Hill. Instead of climbing down back to Piazza del Popolo, this time we continued on the edge of the park and shortly we were at the top of the famous Spanish Steps. The view on the top of the stairs was gorgeous!
Spanish Steps, unlike its name, actually were commissioned by a French diplomat to link the French monastery church Trinita dei Monti at the top, to Piazza di Spagna at the bottom. There are 135 steps on three different terraces. The Egyptian obelisk at the top and Fontana della Barcaccia at the bottom also add a lot to the atmosphere of the steps. The area surrounding Piazza di Spagna is luxurious shopping area, with the street Via Condotti being the highlight.
Day5: Kids friendly Rome
- Circus Maximus
- Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità)
- Tiber Island
- Basilica of our Lady in Trastevere
- Trastevere streets
On this day, we started from the Colosseum in the morning and walked to Circus Maximus from there. After crossing the River Tiber we explored the lively streets of Trastevere. Since this route is not a primary tourist attraction in Rome, the area is less crowded. It’s perfect to experience a less touristy and more daily life vibe of Rome. To shorten the walking time you can start the route from Circus Maximus, instead of Colosseum.
Honestly, you need a little imagination to be impressed with this ancient chariot-racing stadium. Once it was much larger than Colosseum and could accommodate over 150.000 spectators. It was the first and the largest stadium in ancient Rome. Although you can still recognize the oval shaped stadium, very little is left from the ancient days. The obelisks that used to decorate the center of the stadium have been moved to other areas. For instance, we saw one of these obelisks in Piazza del Popolo the previous day.
Visiting less tourists in a vast area means lots of place for the kids to run around. At the same time, you would have a chance to be in a place mentioned in many Ancient Rome history books. Visiting Circus Maximus is free.
Mouth of Truth
We continued from Circus Maximus towards River Tiber and noticed a beautiful church (Santa Maria in Cosmedin) by the river. There were some people lined up and waiting for something in front of the church. We weren’t aware that there was an attraction to see in the area, thus we made a little search and found out they were waiting for a photo op with Bocca della Verità. The line wasn’t long, so gave it a chance. It was actually a fun thing to do with kids and turned out to be an amusing memory.
Bocca della Verità, mouth of truth, is a massive marble mask which originally was used as a drain cover and it displays a river god. The myth says, it will bite the hand of any liar who places their hand in its mouth. It is a popular photo op.
The Tiber Island is the only river island in the part of Tiber running through Rome. It is a beautiful sight with connecting bridges to both sides. The island reminded me the islands in River Seine in Paris. While walking by the river, it is fun to hop on an island with the kids and cross to the opposite side of the river. And hop, we are now in Trastevere the picturesque neighborhood in Rome.
Trastevere is an old working-class neighborhood on the opposite bank of the river Tiber. It is a colorful, lively area with many restaurants, trattorias and cafes to spend some delightful time. The maze of narrow, winding streets in Trastevere, are very charming. You would definitely, have a chance to experience less touristy and truly Italian side of Rome at this neighborhood.
Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere
We strolled through the narrow streets of Trastevere and found the main piazza with Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere on one side. Took our places in a cafe by the piazza and sent kids to run around the pedestrian piazza and blow off steam after a whole day of exploring. Enjoyed our coffees, ate delicious tiramisu, which both us and kids loved, and were so grateful for this amazing family trip to this beautiful city.
Day6: Enjoy the great food scene in Rome
- Campo de’ Fiori
- Testaccio market
- Da Felice a Testaccio
- Ristorante la Campana in Centro Storico
On the last day in Rome it is time for some shopping. We love bringing back home some delicious Italian products that remind our trip every time we enjoy them. Food markets in Rome are great places to find some exquisite products. No need to fetch home with lots of stuff? Especially, when you can enjoy the best there in Rome. Then, it is time for a last feast in one of the restaurants that we can’t resist every time we visit Rome.
Campo de’ Fiori
Campo de’ Fiori is a famous market in the old center of Rome. If you are staying somewhere near there, you definitely would have been in this square before your last day because there are many restaurants, bakeries and bars around the piazza. Campo de’ Fiori is very lively and colorful in the mornings with its daily fresh market selling local produce.
Testaccio market and Da Felice a Testaccio
Testaccio market is positively less touristy and more local compared to Campo de’ Fiori. However, the reason we visit Testaccio is not its market. (Once we are there for sure we stroll around the market as well though.) We visit Testaccio neighborhood mainly to have a meal in one of our favorite restaurants in Rome, Da Felice a Testaccio. They serve traditional Roman dishes with a menu for each day of the week. It is a local favorite where we have a feast each time we eat there.
Ristorante la Campana, old town Rome
If you would not prefer to go out of the center of Rome, there is Ristorante la Campana, a local’s favorite, tucked away a few steps from Piazza Navona. It is an old fashioned traditional restaurant that serves delicious food.
We have been with our kids in both of the restaurants above and enjoyed a great family meal. Also we ate some Roman style pizzi in Pizzeria Da Baffetto and La Montecarlo near Piazza Navona.
We had a great vacation in Rome with our kids. Hopefully, our trip’s detailed blog post can help you to plan your Rome itinerary.
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