With iconic monuments, to delicious food, to picture-perfect spots, Rome is a place worth vacationing. It’s also a once in a lifetime experience to travel with your children. With all that there is to see and do in the capital of Italy, this is a trip both you and your kids are going to remember.
However, in a hustling and bustling city with so much to do in so little time, it may be difficult to find the best activities for families; ones that will entertain the little ones, but also be enjoyed by adults. You also want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck and experience the delicious food Rome has to offer. If you’re planning your next big family adventure in Rome, check out what there is to do, rain or shine, along with some delicious #foodie advice.
Outdoor Activities for Kids in Rome
1. Explore the Colosseum
Of course, the Colosseum is a staple for anyone visiting Rome. This iconic amphitheater has been exciting visitors over two-thousand years. Tales of gladiators and ferocious lions will excite your kids to see the historic Colosseum, so be sure to reserve a skip-the-line tour to cut waiting times!
2. Villa Borghese
Known as Rome’s Central Park, this is the perfect place to let your kids run wild. It hosts a number of kid-friendly attractions, including Rome’s Zoo named Bioparco, and the Giordano del Lago, a small lake where you rent rowing boats to paddle. For some quiet time, catch a film at the Cinema dei Piccoli, the world’s smallest cinema, located near the park entrance.
3. Appian Way
This is the perfect location for a family bike ride. Also known as Via Appia Antica, the legendary road is most famous for ancient Rome’s consular highways. It’s surrounded by lofty pine trees and lush green fields peppered with woods and crumbling ruins. Sections like the stretch near the Basilica di San Sebastiano are traffic-free, making it a relaxed place to bike ride with kids.
4. Throw Money into the Trevi Fountain
Kids, just like the adults, will have a blast making wishes and throwing coins into the largest fountain in Rome. Take fun photos as the kids toss the coins behind their backs. You’ll most likely need to bring a bag of coins!
Kids-friendly Museums and Galleries in Rome
1. St. Peter’s Dome
Keep your kids busy by having them climb St. Peter’s Dome. The location for priceless art treasures and hushed museums, the Vatican may not seem like the ideal spot. However, this special landmark, considered Michelangelo’s greatest architectural achievements, shows sweeping views from its height of 120 meters above the Basilica. To get to the top, visitors can either walk the 551 stairs or get a ride until the halfway point. The kids will love the adventure whichever decision you choose.
2. Vittoriano on Piazza
A way to make your kids say, “wow,” take them to this colossal white structure, a monument to Italy’s first king. The Vittoriano contains a number of museums and galleries. Plus, it provides the best views in Rome. In order to see these, take the panoramic lift to the top, where you’ll be able to look down on the entire city sprawled out beneath you.
This is the most exciting museum for young kids. It’s aimed to inspire kids to learn with hands-on displays, water features, and interactive exhibits. While you’re there, check out the popular feature of its life-sized model of a train driver’s cabin. There are also workshops where kids can make different projects.
4. Gladiator School Museum
Located just off Via Appia Antica, this small museum features a cache of replica uniforms, armor, and lethal-looking weapons. This will be sure to keep your kids amused, wishing they were gladiators too!
5. The Said Vintage Chocolate Factory
Imagine Willy Wonka but in Italy. This is a great way to engage in the history of Italy with a sweet treat at the end. Built in 1923, this is the oldest chocolate factory in Rome, and today is a museum featuring antique chocolate factory machines.
On a Rainy Day: Indoor Fun
For the older kids, get your investigation on in the dark, creepy catacombs full of skeletons. This is a wonderfully spooky activity in the subterranean tunnels that were used by the early Christians to bury their dead, many including saints, popes and martyrs. The most famous lie beneath Via Appia Antica, so make sure you book your guided tour to get the best details.
2. Gladiator School
A fun way to prep your kids for a trip to the Colosseum is to sign them up for a session at Rome’s Gladiator School. Expert instructors from the Gruppo Storico Romano (Historic Group of Rome) will give your little gladiators tunics and training swords and teach them a series of basic combat techniques. This two-hour lesson will come with a certificate of participation once completed.
3. Tour an Underground House
At the Domus Romane, a series of excavated houses beneath Palazzo Valentini, you will get a true sense of Rome’s ancient ruins. The dwellings are brought back to life by video projections and sound effects which illustrate what they would once have been like. Make sure to book in advance!
4. Embrace the Rain in the Patheon
When in Rome, why fight the bad weather? Head straight to the Pantheon and watch the rainfall through the oculus. The Pantheon offers a unique chance to be inside while watching the raindrops fall through the open hole at the top of the domed ceiling. The staff sets up velvet ropes to ensure no one slips on the marble floor, making this the most unique way to watch the rainfall in the city.
Snack Time: Kid-Friendly Restaurants & Must-Do Food Stops
1. Do Fast Food, Roman-style
Instead of burgers and fries, try quick-service pizza and gelato. This is a face, efficient way to try food with your kids while on the go. Sliced pizza, or pizza al taglio, is a much-loved local specialty you can find almost anywhere. Try the famous Pizzarium, a short walk from the Vatican museums. Another favorite Roman quick-bite is the suppli, a fried croquette stuffed with rice and mozzarella. Also, be sure to check out one of the many gelaterias around the city for a creamy dessert.
2. Il Piccolo Arancio
Near the Trevi fountain, this lovely restaurant serves traditional Rome food in one of the city’s hot spots. Although Il Piccolo Arancio is a touristy location, the food is reasonably priced, making it a great option for a big family. Along with the good prices comes fresh and good quality food. There’s plenty of options for kids, including for the pickiest of eaters.
3. Café Café
Located close to the Colosseum, this lovely little bistro is a colorful and welcoming place. Café Café serves a wide selection from traditional pasta to Middle Eastern-influenced plates. This family-friendly restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere and is a perfect spot for lunch and teas.
4. La Limonaia
The location is perfect for a family; in a park. The park is complete with a playground and children’s museum, which means you can have a meal on its outdoor terrace for a while and then relax while the kids play. La Limonaia is spacious enough for indoor and outdoor seating, and is very child friendly, having a high tolerance for kids running around.
What Locals Recommend: Special Tips from Our Friends in Rome
Local #1: Marta from Mama Loves Rome
“Rome is my hometown and I love showing it off to my kids, teaching them about it, and see their reaction to all its marvels.”
My best tip for an enjoyable family trip to Rome is to mix sightseeing with time at the playground, something pretty easy to do in Rome thanks to the city many parks, some of which are close to Rome’s big attraction. For instance, in front of the Colosseum, there is a small and well-kept playground with a coffee kiosk that is just perfect for adults and kids. The children play, you relax and you all catch a view like no other, it is magical!
Another such area is the Borghese Gardens: they are large gardens in Rome city center and they have the famous Borghese Gallery, one of the most important art museums in Rome, but also the Zoo, a pond with rowing boats you can rent and lots of play areas. You can rent bikes, go-karts, there are several cafes and restaurants and a terrace with great views over the city.
Another place I highly recommend visiting with kids is Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome’s castle. It has an incredible history and kids love to walk along the bastions, see the cannons, and learn that there is a secret tunnel that connects it to the Vatican. It is great for adults too: the views from up there are unbelievably beautiful and it is a great place to learn the history of Rome over the centuries.
Local #2: Alexander from Walks Inside Rome
“The Eternal City is fascinating for all ages, but there’s something about Rome that particularly captures kids’ imaginations!”
Everybody knows about the Colosseum and Roman Forum, and there’s no better way for kids to discover their secrets than through our interactive Gladiators and Emperors tour. But for an experience a little more off the beaten path, we encourage families to check out our Gladiator School. Under the instruction of their master lanista (trainer), they can learn techniques to win glory and fame out on the sands of the arena, and at the end of this fun-filled, energizing experience they get a certificate of achievement too. Which with the jobs’ market being as it is, it might serve them further than you think!
Local #3: Andrea from You Local Rome
“If you visit the Eternal City with kids there’s plenty of exciting kid-friendly things to do and see.”
Rome with all its great cuisine, myriad historic sites, and world-class museums is a destination that appeals to many adults. Nonetheless, if you visit the Eternal City with kids there’s plenty of exciting kid-friendly things to do and see as well. As a local, I’d suggest you do not miss a bike tour through the beautiful Villa Borghese Gardens. Bikes can be easily rented inside the Park and they are not expensive at all. I am pretty sure not only your kids but the whole family will love the experience!
Another kid-friendly adventure we’d recommend is the Gladiator School on the ancient Appian Way, a 10-minute drive from the Colosseum. While wearing authentic tunics, shields, and swords, kids will learn the best gladiatorial fighting techniques and have a lot of fun. All under the supervision and without any physical risks, of course!
Local #4: Gloria from Rome Private Guides
“In Rome, we love how every part of the city reminds you of an unforgettable past.”
From the impressive Colosseum, where tales of brave gladiators’ combats engage both adults and kids, to the stunning St. Peter’s Square embracing the visitor with its colonnade, each corner of the city takes your breath away. Make sure to choose well your must-sees: Rome is so big that it is hard to visit in a short time. Our favorite season in Rome is spring: the weather is warm and it seems to invite you to spend more time outdoor. Why don’t you stop at Borghese Park? It is so centrally located and well connected that it is the best place to relax while admiring panoramas and great monuments.
Rome, Italy is meant for visitors of all ages to enjoy. From outdoor fun to indoor gems, there is something for everyone, and every family member can enjoy their time abroad together. From the diverse history to the classic food, to the vast scenery, you’ll be sure to find something meant to fit perfectly into your family vacation.
Traveling with your kids elsewhere? These guides might come handy: