Rome Family Guide: 11 Tips for Rome with Kids

It's not always easy to get children excited about monuments and museums. In this article we will show you how to organize your vacation in Rome with children in such a way that the adults get enough to see and the children have fun.

In all honesty, Rome is chaotic, not very clean, playgrounds are few and far between, and many sidewalks are in dire need of renovation.

But the sights in Rome are so exciting and overwhelming that Rome with children is still simply worth it. And: Rome is the capital of pizza and ice cream. And gladiators. Convinced? Well then, let’s go to Rome!

In this article we will show you how to organize your city trip to Rome with children so that everyone has fun!

Our top tips for Rome with children

  • Welcome to Rome: An interactive museum with 3D effects about the history of Rome. Perfect as a first highlight in Rome!
  • Climbing the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica: Climbing the stairs is a great way to practice counting. It’s best to visit St. Peter’s Basilica at the same time!
  • Kid-friendly tour of the Vatican Museums: kids have fun while adults get to see the museum’s treasures.

Welcome to Rome: The History of Rome in 3D

Welcome to Rome Experience
In this interactive museum you will learn a lot about the history of Rome, for example, through 3D projections (© Welcome to Rome)

A completely interactive museum about the history of Rome. Here, 3D projections show the development of the city, for example, how the Roman Forum or the Colosseum once looked.

With the help of video, light and sound effects, visitors of all ages can much better imagine how a small village in ancient times became the city of today in over 2700 years.

You should definitely visit the museum at the beginning of your stay, even before you visit the archaeological sites around the Colosseum. This way, the ruins make much more sense for children as well.

To the ticket for Welcome to Rome

Throwing coins at Trevi fountain

Trevi Fountain in Rome
The Trevi Fountain is a must-see in Rome – kids love to throw coins into the fountain

The Trevi Fountain is one of the main attractions in Rome and should not be missed. Children are especially fascinated by the custom of throwing coins into the fountain and making a wish.

It is said that if you throw a coin into the well over your right shoulder, your wish will come true. If you throw two coins, you fall in love with a Roman!

By the way: The coins that are thrown into the fountain every day are regularly fished out and donated to a good cause.

Child friendly tour of the Vatican Museums

Pinacoteca Vaticana building
The Vatican Museums also offer guided tours specially designed for families with children

Every child is usually bored in a museum, which is why many parents skip museum visits on family vacations.

You can also visit the Vatican Museums on a guided tour designed especially for families.

Skipping the queue at the entrance, pop-up books, iPad games and a treasure hunt are used to introduce children to the artworks of the Vatican Museums in a way that they too can get excited about.

The tour is suitable for children from 6 years and takes place in German.

To the kid-friendly tour of the Vatican Museums

Climbing the dome of St. Peter's Basilica

Panoramic view of the St. Peter's Square in Rome
Climbing up to the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica and enjoying the view of St. Peter’s Square is a real experience even for children in Rome

St. Peter’s Basilica is so huge and impressive that a visit does not even leave children cold.

The most important thing first: The entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica is free! You do have to stand in line at the entrance, but the line moves pretty quickly.

Even more exciting is the climb up to the dome. The entrance to the dome is to the right of the main entrance, so you’ll have to come out of St. Peter’s again.

The ascent is by elevator, but once you reach the top you still have to climb about 300 steps. Well, who can count to 300?

From a height of around 100 meters, you’ll have a stunning 360-degree view of Vatican City and all of Rome. There are also restrooms and a small snack bar on the terrace.

Unfortunately, due to the remaining 300 stairs after exiting the elevator, strollers cannot be taken up to the dome.

Our tip: With children, the day usually starts early, which has its advantages in Rome. You should visit St. Peter’s Basilica as early as possible in the morning so that you can get inside quickly.

Try out Leonardo da Vinci's inventions

Entrance of the Leonardo da Vinci Experience in Rome
Hands-on inventions for young and old at the Leonardo da Vinci Experience in Rome (© TKKurikawa)

Even though Leonardo da Vinci was much more active in Florence and Paris and spent only a few years in Rome, there is the interactive Leonardo Museum here, which is completely dedicated to his works.

Leonardo Museum is one of the museums in Rome, which is interesting for both children and adults. Here are exhibited about 65 models built according to Leonardo’s drawings, which visitors are allowed to operate.

The museum is not very big and after an hour you have seen everything. Nevertheless, it is very interesting and perfect to escape the heat of Rome!

Visit secret passages in the Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant Angelo in Rome
A visit to Castel Sant’Angelo can also delight children

The Castel Sant’Angelo was originally a mausoleum of the Roman emperor Hadrian and was then rebuilt as a fortress in the Middle Ages.

Today the castle still houses catapults, cannonballs, weapons collections and a prison. Very exciting for little knight fans!

There are also secret passages, spiral staircases and a great observation deck with cafe, from where you can get one of the best views of Rome.

Castel Sant’Angelo is also never as crowded as, for example, the Vatican Museums or the Colosseum. So with children it is definitely a must.

The Castel Sant’Angelo is located in the Parco della Mole Adriana, where you will also find a playground.

By the way, children up to 18 years have free admission.

Cycling & Biopark at Villa Borghese

Lake with island and temple at the Villa Borghese Park in Rome.
In Villa Borghese Park you can spend a relaxing time with children – for example with a small boat trip

The huge park in the middle of Rome is full of meadows, walkways, fountains and monuments. Here and there is a merry-go-round, there are playgrounds and at the lake by the temple of Asklepios you can rent boats.

At the entrance of the park, near Piazzale Brasile, there is a bike rental Pincio. In addition to children’s bikes, you can also get electric bikes and 4-seater go-karts. With them you can visit the large park wonderfully.

In addition, a small electric train also runs through the park: a round trip lasts about 25 minutes and costs 3 euros per person.

In Villa Borghese Park you will also find Rome’s zoological biopark, which is home to around 200 animal species.

To the ticket for Bioparco

Explore the Calixtus Catacombs

Teenagers on bicycles in front of a stone gate in Rome, Italy
The visit to the Calixtus Catacombs is worthwhile for families with older children, as it can only be visited as part of a 45-minute guided tour

The Calixtus Catacombs are among the most important catacombs in Rome and are located just outside the city. Since the third century AD, a total of 500,000 Christians have been buried here, including 16 popes.

You can only visit the catacombs as part of a 45-minute guided tour and you often have to stand in line at the entrance. Therefore, the visit is more worthwhile with older children who can also wait. The exploration of the underground passages and chambers is then very exciting.

Our tip: No matter how warm it is outside, it can get quite chilly in the catacombs. So it’s best to bring a sweater.

Go to Ostia to the beach

Beach Ostia in Rome
Ostia is the perfect beach for a short day trip to the sea with children

Building sandcastles and splashing around in the Mediterranean? The perfect change from sightseeing!

The best place to do this is the Ostia district, which lies directly on the coast. From the center you can reach the popular city beach in less than an hour by subway and regional train.

Ostia beach is perfectly equipped for families: there are umbrella rentals, playgrounds right on the beach, beach bars, changing rooms and showers. So if you’re only in Rome for a few days and want to have an uncomplicated beach day, Ostia is perfect.

From Rome Termini, take metro line B and change at Piramide station to the regional train to Ostia. From the station Stella Polare in Ostia the beach is about 5 minutes walk.

Taste the best ice cream in Rome

Eating ice cream in Rome
Eating ice cream with children in Rome is a must – our tip for the best ice cream in town: Gelateria Fassi!

There are many ice cream parlors in Rome and there is never a question of bad ice cream. But the very best ice cream, including good value for money, you get at Gelateria Fassi, Rome’s oldest ice cream parlor.

The many types of ice cream are all homemade, the portions are generous and cream is free. The ice cream parlor also has tables, so you can sit down and relax. There is also a drinking water column where you can fill up your water bottle for free.

Take a tour with the Hop-On/Hop-Off bus

Rome city tour by double decker bus
Always a good alternative for families with children: exploring the city in a semi-open double-decker bus (© TKKurikawa)

A great way to see Rome’s sights while also keeping the kids entertained is on the classic Hop-On/Hop-Off bus.

The red double-decker bus with the open roof, which travels to all the attractions in the city, is always a highlight for children. And if you need a change of pace, you can simply get off at the next stop, go for a walk in the playground and get back on later.

Children under 5 ride for free, strollers also fit on the bus.

To the ticket for the Hop-on/Hop-off bus

Extra tip as a change from sightseeing: The Explora Children’s Museum

If you want to give your kids a change of pace after all the Rome impressions, then you should definitely take them to Explora.

This is a large children’s museum with educational games near Villa Borghese Park, for children between 0 and 12 years. The children learn through play the principles of physics, chemistry, architecture, but also interpret emotions or solve tasks in teams.

For babies there is a crawling corner with age-appropriate toys.

The museum also has an outdoor playground and a large restaurant with free Wi-Fi. Perfect for a rainy day or for the kids to let off some steam!

You should definitely book tickets for the Explora in advance. It is best to visit the museum with the kids during the week, then it is not so crowded.

How to prepare for your vacation in Rome with kids

To make sure you and your kids are fully prepared for Rome, here are a few additional pre-departure tips:

#1 Buy children book about Rome

What always works well: Preparing children for a trip with a book!

There are many great children’s books about Rome that explain ancient Rome in an age-appropriate way for kids. This increases the anticipation and your child can choose for themselves what they would like to see in Rome.

We can recommend these books for children about Rome:

  • Children’s travel guide “City Trails – Rome” by Lonely Planetfor ages 9 to 12. Amazing facts and fascinating stories about culture, food and nature: The Lonely Planet Kids explains the sights and history of Rome in a way that children can understand. Not too long texts and many pretty drawings.
  • Kids’ Travel Guide – Romefor ages 6 to 12. With this travel guide your children will become little Rome experts! They will have fun with challenging tasks, useful tips, coloring pictures and exciting quizzes. The best sights, piazzas and parks for children are also highlighted.
  • Rome in a Weekend with Two Kidsfor the parents. Are you overwhelmed by all the articles and books about what to do in Rome? This step-by-step travel guide will help you plan your trip and tells you exactly what to do with your family in Rome when you have limited time. It shows you family-friendly activities, what to see and where to eat in a short and precise way.

#2 Bring sturdy shoes and stroller with air wheels

Rome’s sidewalks are often in pretty bad shape and potholes are part of the cityscape. So sturdy shoes are recommended in any case, especially since you can easily twist your ankle with sandals.

The same goes for the stroller: travel strollers with large air-chamber wheels are an advantage in Rome, while simple plastic wheels will shake your child quite a bit on the uneven cobblestones. A good alternative would also be a baby carrier.

#3 Thermos bottle to take with you

In Rome there are many drinking water columns where you can fill up your bottles for free. This is an advantage especially in summer, when you are out and about in the city for a longer time and a normal 0.5 liter bottle is quickly emptied. With a thermos bottle, the water also stays cool longer.

Children playing at a water fountain in Rome
Good to know: There are many water fountains in Rome that you can use to fill up your water bottles

#4 Book your flight to Fiumicino

Rome has two airports, Fiumicino and Ciampino. However, Fiumicino is much better connected to the center of Rome and you can easily get to the city within half an hour with the Leonardo Express. This is an advantage especially with children and luggage.

From Ciampino you would have to take a shuttle bus and put babies and toddlers on your lap. The more mobile your babies are, the more exhausting such a bus ride into the city would be.

#5 Book a suitable accommodation for families in Rome

Choosing the right accommodation for a family vacation in Rome is not always easy. Hotel or rather vacation apartment? The age and number of children often play an important role in the decision.

Aparthotels are a good middle ground: you can cater for yourself, the kids have room to play and you benefit at the same time from a hotel service, such as reception, room service and breakfast buffet.

We can recommend these aparthotels in Rome because they are central, close to many highlights and offer good value for money:

Trianon Borgo Pio Aparthotel – Apartments for 2 to 6 people centrally located between Castel Sant’Angelo and Vatican City. There is also a fitness area and a breakfast room.

Incentrum – Stylish apartments with frescoes and balcony or terrace, in the heart of the historic center and just a few minutes walk from the Spanish Steps.

Alternatively, we can recommend regular hotels with family rooms:

Meininger Hotel – Spacious family rooms with double bed and one or two additional bunk beds. The hotel is located not far from the main train station Termini, so you can easily reach it from the airport. All rooms are barrier-free.

These were our tips for Rome with children!

Have you ever been on a family vacation in Rome? How did you get your kids excited about the Eternal City? We look forward to hearing more tips in the comments!