Rome was one of the best parts of our first Italy Family Vacation, and our top choice if you only have time to visit one city in Italy.
With its ancient ruins, Renaissance art, and delicious cuisine, this Italian city offers many activities that appeal to a whole family, from toddlers to older kids.
Top Thing To Do: Exploring the Colosseum (with a kid-focused tour)
Where To Stay: A VRBO in the Centro Storico area is our top choice, putting you within walking distance of most major attractions. Be sure to look for one with air conditioning!
Best Tip: Book tours early for popular sites (we missed some of our favorites by waiting), and book early in the day! Hot weather made afternoon tours tough during our June visit.
How To Get There: The closest airport is Rome Fiumicino (FCO), about a 40 minute drive.
A rental car is not recommended as public transportation is easy to get around on. Rome is also easily reachable from most European cities by flight or a high-speed train (our favorite option).
If you’re planning a longer Italy family vacation, a good way to save time is to start at one end of the country, such as Venice or Milan, take the train south with stops in Florence and Rome, then fly back out of Naples.
Top Things To Do In Rome For Kids
NOTE: Our guides focus on unique local attractions. We want to explore things that can’t be found at home, and we only include places that we’ve been to.
If you search for “best things to do in (random city),” you’ll find many of the same things: wax statue museums and believe-it-or-not attractions. But if we’re flying around the world to visit somewhere, we want to see something new first.
#1 Visiting the Colosseum
Exploring the grandeur of the Colosseum, a reminder of Rome’s imperial past is an illuminating experience for inquiring minds intrigued by history and architecture.
The Colosseum, one of Rome’s most renowned ancient ruins, astounds kids of all ages with its immense size and absorbing past.
A family trip to this iconic landmark provides chances for an educational understanding into Ancient Rome during a guided tour of the Colosseum.
Rome Tours: Book a family-friendly tour that’s designed to be interesting and educational as they reveal tales of gladiatorial contests and public spectacles once held within these walls.
As part of a family vacation, visiting Rome’s Gladiator School offers practical activities that supplement the tour experience, making it both illuminating and entertaining for children.
#2 the Vatican
Exploring the depths of the Vatican unveils a treasure trove of ancient and religious relics, where every corner holds stories from years ago.
Situated within the boundaries of the Eternal City, the Vatican City is an essential visit for families. Exquisite works of art are scattered throughout the Vatican Museums, sure to enthrall young adults and children. A family tour brings a rewarding expedition through art, history, and religion.
Tip: Visiting in the summer? Get to the Vatican early! On our early June visit, even visiting early, the temperatures made the tour no fun for the kids before it was done.
The Sistine Chapel, adorned with Michelangelo’s breathtaking frescoed ceiling, offers an awe-inspiring experience for everyone.
St Peter’s Basilica is another architectural wonder within this spiritual haven. A tour around this hallowed ground further enhances the experience of discovering the marvels of the Vatican.
#3 Exploring the Pantheon in Rome City Center
A masterpiece of ancient Roman architecture, the Pantheon invites admiration for its grandeur and historical weight. Situated in the city center, this renowned landmark is certainly one of the finest places to visit while sightseeing the Italian capital with children.
The historic city of Rome provides numerous stimulating activities:
- Gaze upon the world’s largest unfortified concrete dome.
- Delve into its captivating past as a temple and later a church.
- Peruse Piazza di Spagna close by for an authentic Roman experience.
- Participate in interactive learning about Roman architecture and engineering wonders.
Such a journey is a great way to foster children’s interest in history. The optimal approach to appreciate this ancient city is by submerging oneself into its abundant cultural legacy.
#4 Fun Things To Do: Enjoying a Gelato Class Around Rome
Exploring Rome’s cultural landscape can be an exciting and rewarding experience, and participating in a gelato-making class will surely be a highlight. The activity offers a delicious mix of culinary education and sweet pleasure, making it a must-try for visiting families. Kids of all ages will be drawn to this activity’s fun and educational elements, with young children able to craft their favorite ice cream flavors and older kids learning new techniques from professionals.
An overview of what you can expect from a typical gelato-making class:
|Suitable Age Group
|Introduction to Gelato Making
|Choosing Flavors & Ingredients
|Actual Gelato Making Process
|Tasting & Enjoyment Time!
#5 Taking a Stroll in the Piazza Navona
Taking a meander through the centuries-old vista of Piazza Navona, a grand baroque showpiece, promises a captivating and visually awe-inspiring experience for families.
This public arena, once the site of Roman competitions, is now a thriving hub with street entertainers, painters, and merchants vending fresh produce.
Strolling around this iconic landmark is not only edifying but also amusing.
The Explora Children’s Museum nearby is another excellent way to boost children’s knowledge of Rome’s affluent culture.
Piazza Navona is conveniently accessible by public transportation making it a good spot for newcomers to commence their investigation.
With its spacious grounds and hospitable atmosphere, it is ideal for children to stretch their legs after a lengthy voyage while absorbing the city’s animated atmosphere.
#6 Borghese Park
Immersing oneself in the lush surroundings of Villa Borghese Park promises a delightful day of relaxation and education for youthful minds. This picturesque park, one of Rome’s most expansive public parks, offers many outdoor activities that children of all ages can enjoy.
Here is a family guide to the top things to do in Villa Borghese Gardens:
|For Young Kids
|For Older Kids
|Feed the ducks on the lake
|Visit Galleria Borghese (art museum)
|The park covers 80 hectares
|Enjoy a puppet show at Teatro dei Burattini
|Explore Bioparco di Roma (zoo)
|The villa was built in 1613
|Have fun at Casina di Raffaello (play center)
|Rent and ride bikes around the park
|It used to be private until 1903
These activities guarantee captivating experiences for younger and older children.
#7 Marveling at the Sistine Chapel
Towards the end of the Vatican tour, you’ll find the Sistine Chapel. Gawping at the magnificence of the Sistine Chapel, families can take pleasure in the renowned artwork that covers its walls and ceilings. Well-known as one of the greatest museums in Rome, it presents an extraordinary encounter for kids and adults alike.
Its awe-inspiring frescoes by Michelangelo are certainly amongst the most favored items to observe in this old city.
A great advantage of visiting this site is that it could be more pleasant with a personalized tour, particularly for families, converting the tour into an exhilarating scavenger hunt for kids.
#8 A Visit to the Roman Forum
Venturing into the past, one can explore the Roman Forum, a remarkable archaeological site that once held political and social importance in ancient Rome. With over 4.5 million sightseers visiting this historical site each year, its allure remains steadfast and is one of the best things to see in Rome.
Entice children by emphasizing salient features such as:
- The fragments of Julius Caesar’s funeral pyre;
- Ancient spots, including sanctuaries and basilicas dating back to antiquity;
- A tour to the Capitoline Museums for an understanding of Emperor Hadrian’s regime;
- Climbing Palatine Hill for scenic views;
- Noting Circus Maximus from above.
To stave off mobs, buying skip-the-line tickets online is suggested. This educational yet enjoyable experience provides a prosperous perspective of Rome’s majestic past.
#9 Participating in a Gladiator School
Visiting a Gladiator School offers an enthralling opportunity to explore Roman history, allowing individuals to understand ancient warriors’ life and combat techniques. This amusement park-like facility is more than just a theme park; it’s an instructive trip back to the past.
Kids engaging in these activities will gain insight into Rome’s heritage and hone their physical abilities as they practice on the arena floor, mimicking the moves of gladiators.
The gladiator school might involve encountering representations of wild animals, adding an extra layer of excitement for kids. Even if additional fees are attached to certain activities, such as golf cart tours, the overall experience is worth the expense.
This unique form of educational entertainment makes visiting Rome with children a remarkable voyage.
#10 A Tour of the Catacombs (Older Kids)
This option is for older kids but could be a bit scary for younger children. We didn’t try this on our most recent trip with our 7 yr old.
Burrowing into the meandering catacombs beneath the bustling streets provides a once-in-a-lifetime view into antiquated funeral customs. This spookily riveting voyage is akin to stepping into an enigmatic page from history.
Positioned under Aventine Hill and Appia Antica, these catacombs are one of the must-see destinations for families in Rome. The tour furnishes an edifying yet thrilling experience for all kin as it discloses remarkable historical acumen and beguiling stories at every turn.
Near stands Santa Maria, another much-visited point during this expedition. Engaging in such ventures submerges youngsters in global history while making their trip memorable and delightful.
#11 Picnicking in the Circus Maximus
Brimming with historical relevance, the Circus Maximus provides a pleasant environment for a tranquil picnic among old monuments and extensive verdant spaces.
Situated between the Palatine and Aventine Hills in Rome, Circus Maximus is only a short stroll away from renowned attractions such as the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Venezia, Spanish Steps, and Largo di Torre, Argentina.
Picnicking here not only grants an opening to repose but also to take in the abundant annals of this antique chariot racing stadium.
The site exhibits some of the most picturesque perspectives of Rome’s skyline, which can be magnificent in the late afternoon.
#12 Visit the Palatine Hill
The allure of the Capuchin Crypt beckons a journey into the past at Palatine Hill. This venerable area of Rome is a must-visit for families, with its sweeping views of the city and plethora of archaeological marvels. It has been said that this is where Rome was born, and its ruins are a portal to an age long gone.
Interactive activities available at Palatine Hill are an ideal way to make history come alive for young visitors and ensure their visit is both educational and entertaining. It is the perfect place for families to explore ancient Rome and discover its secrets.
On the Palatine Hill, you will find remnants of grand palaces that once belonged to emperors and aristocrats. Wandering amongst these ruins is a chance to connect with the Roman civilization, making it a special experience for all.
#13 the Trevi Fountain
Sublime in its magnificence, the Trevi Fountain stands as a hallmark of Italy’s storied cultural and artistic legacy. It is a must-visit for families vacationing in Rome.
The grandiose marble edifice presents a beguiling vision with mythic figures and a deluge of water, creating an entrancing atmosphere that will enthrall adults and children alike.
Tip 1: Coin Toss Tradition Inspire your kids to partake in the ritual of throwing a coin into the fountain.
Tip 2: Night Visit Consider planning a night-time visit to the Trevi Fountain. When the fountain is radiantly illuminated, it provides a completely different scene. The play of lights and shadows adds a magical ambiance.
Tip 3: Guided Tours: Opt for guided tours that provide intriguing stories about the fountain’s history. These tours can deepen your family’s comprehension and admiration of this architectural wonder.
#14 Taking a Pizza-Making Class
Diving into the exquisite gastronomical delights of Italy, a pizza-making class offers an enthralling and edifying experience for all ages.
This activity is especially favored among those visiting Rome with children. An interactive way to learn about one of Italy’s renowned dishes brings entertainment and a full cultural experience.
Various facilities across Rome provide classes. Participants are guided by seasoned chefs who offer insight into the history and techniques of classic Italian pizza making. Children acquire practical knowledge, while adults enjoy the chance to learn traditional recipes.
Apart from being a delightful family bonding session, this class culminates in a delicious meal everyone can savor together. Without a doubt, such experiences contribute profoundly towards generating unforgettable memories during family trips to Rome.
#15 Campo de’ Fiori Market
Brimming with life and vivacity, the Campo de Fiori Market is comparable to a vivid canvas of colors and noises that exhibits an intriguing peephole into Italy’s vibrant culinary culture. Located in one of Rome’s oldest squares, this hectic marketplace provides a variety of fresh ingredients, artisanal products, and local delicacies that will captivate the young ones.
The market allows children to activate their senses through sight, scent, and taste. It acts as a platform for educating about food sources and healthy dietary habits. The interactive nature of the market allows for learning in a fun and engaging atmosphere.
The experience is not merely limited to shopping; it transcends into cultural immersion – an insight into Roman life through its gastronomy.
Secondary Things To Do
Now we’re getting into the things to do that we’d consider a backup to the main attractions. Rome is all about the amazing historical things to see, and plenty exists.
If you’ve only got a few days in Rome, we’d stick to the things above. However, other great options exist if you’ve got some extra time or are looking for something to do to escape the summer heat.
#16 A Day at the Explora Children’s Museum
With a wealth of interactive displays, the Explora Children’s Museum offers an absorbing platform for young brains to explore the wonders of science and technology. This educative center located in Central Rome provides a hands-on education with activities crafted to kindle curiosity and innovation.
The museum comprises four thematic areas: I learn, detect, and can do, and occasional exhibitions. These divisions encompass several topics, such as the environment, communication, community, and nutrition. An outdoor area is also available where children can investigate nature while having fun. Besides, classes are regularly held to promote cognitive development through experimentation.
With its exclusive mix of education and amusement, the Explora Children’s Museum offers an ideal destination for families searching for a child-friendly cultural experience in Rome.
#17 A Trip to the Rainbow MagicLand Amusement Park
For families looking for an exciting time, the Rainbow MagicLand Amusement Park offers a captivating selection of thrilling rides and attractions. Situated on the edge of Rome, this amusement park has been designed with spellbinding themes to stimulate the creative minds of small children.
The core appeal of Rainbow MagicLand is the ‘Magic River’, a wild water ride through magical and mythical scenery. The ‘Cagliostro’ is also a popular draw, providing an adrenaline-pumping rollercoaster experience in a haunted house setting. And for younger guests, there’s the ‘Believix’, where they can join their beloved Winx Club characters in an interactive journey.
These breathtaking experiences at Rainbow MagicLand generate long-lasting memories for families visiting Rome, ensuring their holiday remains unforgettable even after returning home.
#18 Visit the Zoo: Bioparco di Roma
Nestled in the heart of Villa Borghese, the Bioparco di Roma offers a captivating journey into wildlife conservation and education. Spanning 17 hectares, this zoological garden houses over 200 species of animals worldwide. Families can explore a variety of habitats, from African Savannahs to Asian forests.
The zoo has several enthralling experiences designed for children’s pleasure and learning. These include animal petting areas, nourishment sessions, educational workshops, and theatrical shows.
Here is a glimpse of what families can anticipate:
|Animal Petting Area
|Children interact with amiable animals under supervision
|Learn about specific animal diets while watching feeding time
|Participate in hands-on activities connected to wildlife conservation
|Enjoy entertainment that combines fun with education
Are day trips from Rome worth it?
While we’d recommend spending a few days each in Florence and Venice, here are a few day trips worth considering:
- Pompeii – an ancient city with free entry on certain days
- Florence – a paradise for art lovers with Renaissance architecture around every corner
- Ostia Antica – an archaeological marvel located on Rome’s left shoulder
- Vatican City – guided tours are available for a small commission fee
- Tivoli – home to gorgeous villas and breathtaking scenery.
How to decide how many days you need in Rome?
Deciding how much time to spend in Rome requires carefully considering the many attractions available. Here is a guide to help you decide:
1-2 Days: Unmissable landmarks such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.
3-4 Days: Visit the Vatican City and its iconic sites, including St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.
5-6 Days: Discover lesser-known gems like Trastevere and Villa Borghese.
7+ Days: Day trips to places like Pompeii and Ostia Antica.
It might appear perplexing that an ancient city such as Rome, brimming with culture and antiquity, could also be an enjoyable playground for the younger generation. Yet, this iconic city offers a treasure trove of activities suitable for families. From the Colosseum and Pantheon to gastronomic courses and thrilling amusement parks, the Eternal City has something to quench the curiosity of the most transient moments of childhood.
Not only can families explore the city’s rich history, but they can also partake in various activities to gain a better understanding of the city’s culture. For example, attending a pizza class or a pasta-making course is a great way to learn about Italian cuisine. Parents can also take their children to educational museums or participate in interactive tours to discover the secrets of Rome’s past.
Another great way to enjoy Rome is to visit some of the city’s outdoor attractions, like the Villa Borghese Park or the Catacombs. Children can explore the lush greenery and breathtaking views here while learning about the city’s historic sites.
In short, Rome has a plethora of activities for families to explore. With its unique offerings and learning opportunities, this city is ideal for a memorable family vacation. It is amusingly ironic how the Eternal City can provide such transient moments of joy and curiosity for people of all ages.