Rome with Kids – Where to Go and What to Do

Written by Rem Malloy, since 1995 Rem has been guiding and designing trips to Italy and all of Western Europe and is considered an expert in his field for over 30 years.

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View of Rome

Rome is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities with plenty to offer families on their vacation. Traveling to Rome with kids is guaranteed to be a whole lot of fun, whether you choose to throw coins at the Trevi fountain, ride a boat down the River Tiber or interact with gladiators at the Colosseum.

On your family trip to Rome, you can go sightseeing, enjoy playtime at the parks, engage the kids with history, and entertain teens with all the attractions in the big city. And for the parents, nothing beats indulging in delicious pasta dishes with a glass of wine.

When planning a family vacation to Rome, bear in mind that the city is vast, with a multitude of sights and attractions. There can be a temptation to visit too many sites in a day, which could tire the kids easily. The key is to take your time and plan your trip well, ensuring that everyone gets enough time to both rest and explore. 

With that in mind, here’s your guide to planning your trip to Rome with kids.

Where to Stay in Rome with Kids

  • Trastevere

The Trastevere neighbourhood is located just across the river from Central Rome. If you want to be far from the touristy areas and get a feel of the local life, this is a great place to stay. 

Trastevere is a very fun neighbourhood to explore. As you walk through its picturesque streets, you’ll come across several historical sites. There are also very old shops, hidden squares, narrow alleyways, and bakeries worth checking out. 

Another thing about Trastevere that some travelers will value is that it does not have many big luxury hotels. Most of the accommodations here are small, three-star hotels and boutique hotels that cater to budget travellers.

However, it can take time to get to the other side of Rome and explore the city’s famous attractions from this neighbourhood. But if you don’t mind taking the buses and trams, then Trastevere is one of the best neighbourhoods in Rome to stay with kids.

  • Centro Storico

Centro Storico is in the centre of Rome and it’s one of the best areas to stay in the city as most of the famous sights are only a quick walk away. The Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon are only a short walk from here, and the Colosseum and Spanish Steps are not too far away. 

One thing to note when staying at Centro Storico is that there is no metro stop nearby. So, stay in this area if you want to be close to the famous sights but your kids will not mind having to walk when you decide to travel elsewhere in Rome.

Also, because of Centro Storico’s proximity to famous sights, staying in this area is more expensive than most other neighbourhoods in Rome. It’s worth it if your vacation is short however, as you can cram as much into your trip as possible without having to plan long trips back to your accommodation at the end of the day.

  • Parioli

Parioli is considered a pretty upscale neighbourhood in Rome. Thought to be the safest part of Rome to stay with kids, Parioli is home to good restaurants, trendy cafes, and family-friendly hotels. However, public transport is scarce, although a train runs from Piazza Euclide to Piazzale Flaminio.

Parioli is home to Parco di Villa Ada, one of Rome’s most prominent parks. It’s a favourite place for locals to relax and exercise, and a brilliant place to take children who need to let off some steam. The neighbourhood is also home to the Auditorium Parco Della Musica, which hosts Rome’s biggest events and shows.

9 Things to Do in Rome with Kids

  • Explore the Catacombs

One of the fun things to do with kids in Rome is to explore the Catacombs. These are underground burial grounds dating back to the 2nd – 5th Century and spread out for an impressive distance under the city. Sure, it can be spooky to visit, but exploring the Catacombs is a particularly good activity for adventurous kids! 

The largest of these catacombs is the Catacomb of St. Callisto, built around the 2nd Century AD and the burial site of early popes. It’s decorated with colourful graffiti showcasing early religious symbols and scenes. 

There’s also a basilica erected under the catacomb of Emperor Constantine, where the remains of St. Peter and St. Paul was kept before they transferred them to the Vatican. Many thought that Christians hid here during persecution.

  • Hang Out in the Piazza Navona

One of the most famous piazzas in Rome is the Piazza Navona, which is a great place to visit with little kids. They will love the opportunity to run around in an area that used to be a Roman stadium, along with a trip to the beautiful nearby toy shop known as “Il Sogno” which is just at the side of the piazza.

If you can, visit the piazza as part of an organised walking tour of Rome to discover interesting stories about the piazza’s fountains and the conflict between architects Borromini and Bernini. Older kids will have fun listening to the stories, and even the adults will be in awe of the magnificence of the piazza, which is a truly wonderful place to visit on your family trip to Rome.

  • Marvel at the Pantheon

The Pantheon is another iconic landmark in Rome and a great place to visit with kids. Initially built as a temple devoted to Rome’s gods and goddesses, the Pantheon is a well-preserved Roman building with significant history and appearance, recognised by its unique round shape.

Built during ancient Roman times, the Pantheon has a large hole in its roof known as the Oculus, which allows you to see the sky from the inside. When there’s rain, the water pours in and gets swept away by a draining system that kids can see at the bottom of the Pantheon.

  • Go Shopping in the Campo de’ Fiori

Located close to the Pantheon, the Campo Dei Fiori is one of the liveliest squares in Rome. It’s a great place to experience the authentic atmosphere of Rome and observe locals going about their daily life. 

The surrounding neighbourhood has narrow medieval streets that are a nice break from the chaos of the main city streets. But the highlight of Campo Dei Fiori is the lively and colourful market, which is a fun place to visit in Rome for families.

The market in Campo Dei Fiori is usually in full swing from morning until lunchtime, when you can shop from the wide variety of produce on display. You will find many interesting things to buy here, from fruits and veggies to freshly baked bread, cheeses, and salamis. 

As you wander through the streets of Campo Dei Fiori, notice the street signs too, which are named after the tradesmen who owned some shops there during Medieval times.

  • Climb the Spanish Steps

Climbing the Spanish Steps is one of the best things for kids to do in Rome. As one of the most famous attractions in Rome, the Spanish Steps is a busy area and a great place to people watch, located in the city centre connecting Piazza Spagna with Trinita de Moni Church. 

Take your time to climb through the 138 steps with your kids. As you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the city.

  • Relax in the Villa Borghese Gardens

Located in the centre of Rome, the Villa Borghese Gardens is only a short walk from the Spanish Steps. The park is home to playgrounds, merry go rounds, pony rides, and a zoo. Kids can also ride the Bioparco di Roma, a cute little train travelling around the zoo. Entry to the park is free, except for the zoo.

If you’re wondering what to see in Rome with kids, the Villa Borghese Gardens should be one of these. It’s the second-largest public park in Rome and a great place for kids to run around or sit and enjoy a picnic with the family. There are also many fun activities that your children can do at this beautiful park, such as exploring on a bike, riding a Segway, or rowing a boat across the lake.

  • Tour the Colosseum

As the most iconic landmark of Rome, Colosseum should be on top of your list of places to visit on your family vacation to Rome. It’s open to visitors of all ages and lies behind the ancient Roman Forum and the historic Palatine Hill. Exploring the Colosseum, along with the Palatine Hill and the Forum, is both a fun and informative experience, with plenty of chances to share stories of the past and encourage kids to learn more about the history of the area.

It’s possible to visit the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill in one day. But if you have plenty of time and want to fully soak up the views and the history behind these famous landmarks, try to visit them on two consecutive days. Booking in advance is necessary since these sights operate on timed slots.

  • Toss Coins at the Trevi Fountain

Your family trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain; one of the most iconic monuments in Rome. Kids will love partaking in the coin-tossing activity at the fountain, which has been a tradition since ancient times. 

The Trevi fountain was built around the 1700s, although there has been a fountain in the same area since the first century. When Romans embarked on a journey, they would throw a coin into a fountain or pool to ask the gods for their safe return. Thus, many believe that you will be guaranteed to be back in Rome if you throw a coin at the fountain. 

This activity is also a fun way to donate to charity. Every day, the fountain could gather more than 3,000 euros, which goes towards feeding the city’s homeless population.

  • Eat Gelato

You will most spot stalls and carts selling gelato in almost every corner of Rome. Eating these delectable treats is definitely one of the fun things to do with kids in Rome, especially if you’re visiting in the summer months and want something to help you cool down.

Gelato is sold all over the city, with a variety of different stalls and shops receiving acclaim for their products. Instead of searching for the best place for ice cream in Rome, why not treat your family and try a new vendor every day?

Summary

Travelling to Rome with kids is fun, but does require forward planning if you want to get the best out of your vacation. Whether you’re the type of family who loves culture and history, or perhaps, a family of foodies, Rome will always have something to offer for you. Hopefully, this guide can help you plan your trip and make the most of your family vacation in Italy’s ‘Eternal City’.

If you’re planning a family vacation to Rome and want more advice on where to go and what to do in the city, get in touch with Italy4Real and speak to one of our team about our bespoke range of tours.

About the Author

Rem Malloy started Italy4real back in 1995 with his mother, Deborah de Maio.

He specialises in Italian tours as well as customised tours to France, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Spain. He was also featured in the Travel Channel show Mysteries at The Museum in 2016.

Rem has family in Italy and his mothers home town is Cava di Terrani, near the Amalfi Coast. The family has a street named after them in Sorrento, Via Luigi de Maio; a relative who was mayor of Sorrento.

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