All Articles A family-friendly guide to Rome

A family-friendly guide to Rome

Kids tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain in Rome
Image: Imgorthand / Getty Images
Amelia Ang
By Amelia Ang1 Apr 2022 5 minutes read

With ancient attractions, elaborate churches, and endless museums, it might seem like Rome is an adults-only vacation destination. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Rome perfectly blends history with modernity and is a wonderland for children to explore and learn more about the world.

Tips for visiting Rome with kids

We recommend spending at least three to five days in Rome before heading off to explore the rest of Italy. With little ones, it’s best to come in late spring, early fall, or Christmas; try to avoid summer as the heat can be too much for young kids.

You can travel around Rome by subway, bus, or tram, with a variety of tourist passes to choose from. The main public transport system in Rome, ATAC, lets children under 10 travel for free if accompanied by an adult. We recommend exploring on foot whenever possible; however, Rome’s cobbled streets and potholes are tough on strollers.

This Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tour is also a good idea, allowing you to check out key landmarks with minimal walking. For a more private experience, you can even explore Rome on a golf cart.

Best areas to stay in Rome with your family

Looking for a family-friendly hotel in Rome? To save travel time, stay within the Centro Storico (historic center), where most of Rome’s attractions are located. Celio, also known as the Colosseum area, is peacefully quiet at night. Check into Hotel Lancelot for free breakfast, friendly staff, and breathtaking views from the sixth-floor terrace. The Capo d’Africa Hotel’s spacious triple and connecting bedrooms are well-suited for all family sizes, and you’ll get to enjoy breakfast while looking at the Colosseum.

A toddler watering plants in a garden in Rome
Image: Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images

Get away from the crowds by staying in Trieste, an upscale residential neighborhood 15 minutes away from Centro Storico by bus. There are lovely green spaces nearby to explore with the kids, like Villa Torlonia and Villa Paganini. Stay in the Mercure Roma Corso Trieste for an easy trip into town—the hotel is near a metro station. Set in a historic villa with lush palm trees, the Palm Gallery Hotel is an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Rome’s city center.

Prati is a calm and elegant neighborhood located across the Tiber River and near Vatican City. Browse Via Cola di Rienzo, a high-end shopping street without Via del Corso’s crowds, and explore the multitude of restaurants in the area. The NH Collection Roma Giustiniano hotel is a mere five-minute walk to the Vatican. Its family rooms have a terrace, and in a pinch, the hotel offers babysitting services. Catch a glimpse of St Peter’s Basilica from your window at A Picture of Rome. This luxurious bed-and-breakfast with an affordable price tag is situated in an 18th-century palace.

Best family-friendly restaurants in Rome

One of the most kid-friendly aspects of Rome is the food. You can’t go wrong with pizza, pasta, and gelato, which you can find all over Rome. But in our opinion, the best family-friendly restaurants in Rome are those that can keep your little ones entertained so that you can enjoy your food in peace.

Grab a bite at Vivi Bistrot, located in an old barn within the scenic Villa Doria Pamphili, where your kids can roam among manicured hedges and intricate statues. If you swing by the Campo de’ Fiori market, it’s worth checking out Ai Balestrari, a traditional pizza restaurant with paper tablecloths for doodling. Tonnarello is a superb restaurant located in the heart of Trastevere that serves up quality dishes handmade from scratch and provides excellent service.

A girl eating a gelato in Piazza Navona square in Rome
Image: Copyright Radu Dan / Getty Images

A sweet treat goes a long way with kids. After a day of walking, reward them with an ice-cold cone at Gelateria Il Dolce Sorriso or Gelateria Valentino—both offer yummy gelato at great prices.

Top things to do with kids in Rome

1. Be an ancient gladiator for a day

View of the Colosseum in Rome with the sunlight peeking through
Children duelling at the Gladiator School in Rome
Image: Alice Marmorini (left), Karen B (right) / Tripadvisor

Thousands of years ago, Romans gathered in the Colosseum to watch thrilling hand-to-hand combats between men and animals. Enjoy an immersive experience with this special access skip-the-line tour that kicks off at the Gladiator Gate and continues into the arena itself.

Afterward, head to the nearby Gladiator School to learn how to become a gladiator. The kids will love trying on traditional gladiator outfits while learning the basics of sword fighting. This interactive experience is a sure hit for children aged six and up—the younger ones can soak in the atmosphere from a safe distance on the viewing platform.

2. Explore a children's museum

Kids playing at the Explora - Il Museo Dei Bambini interactive museum in Rome
Image: MrBabba / Tripadvisor

Entertain your restless kids on a rainy day by checking out Rome’s children’s museums. Designed for children of all ages, Explora - Il Museo Dei Bambini is an interactive museum that will stimulate your little ones’ curiosity about science, the environment, and society. Welcome to Rome is a family-friendly multimedia experience. Featuring holograms, projections, and interactive exhibits, your children will enjoy this immersive learning journey through Rome’s 2,700 years of history.

3. Hone your bravery at Rome’s crypts and catacombs

People walking along the Via Appia Antica in Rome
Skulls and bones at Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome
Image: Andy B (left), F1985H (right) / Tripadvisor

Families with teens or kids with nerves of steel will have a blast exploring the darker side of Rome. While the ancient road of Via Appia Antica (Appian Way) may seem peaceful on the surface, you’ll learn more about its fascinating, blood-curdling history on this walking tour. Along the way, you’ll get to explore the hallowed catacombs of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini. If that’s not creepy enough, your final stop on the tour will be the Crypt of Capuchins, also known as the “Bone Chapel.”

4. Take a cooking class

A kid putting a pizza into an oven at a cooking class in Rome
Image: Sightseer16441104568 / Tripadvisor

If you’re tired of ordering pizza deliveries back home, take the chance to learn how to make your own authentic Neapolitan pizza and pasta. This masterclass provides plenty of one-on-one interaction that will transform you into a pizza maestro, a priceless souvenir that will last a lifetime.

Inspire your children to become a Roman Masterchef with this cooking class that will guide you along making pasta, ravioli, and tiramisu from scratch. Best of all, you won’t even have to clean up your kids’ mess—once you’re done with cooking, head straight to the outdoor terrace to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

5. Visit an ancient ruin where stray cats live

A black cat amongst the ruins at Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome
Image: Ravioli74 / Tripadvisor

Take the kids along to spot the furry “owners” of Largo di Torre Argentina. These extensive ruins, where Julius Caesar famously fell at the hands of Brutus, now house the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. You’ll find stray cats wandering around looking for a shady spot to take a nap. Once you’re done walking around the ruins, head underground to the sanctuary’s indoor shelter, where you can greet more friendly cats and learn about rescue operations.

6. Enjoy a splash of country in the city at Villa Borghese

Boats paddling on the lake at Villa Borghese in Rome
Image: Giacomax / Tripadvisor

The expansive gardens surrounding Villa Borghese are ideal for an outdoor excursion. Row a boat down the picturesque lake, or hop on a bike tour to admire statues and fountains, including the magnificent marble horses springing out of the Fontana dei Cavalli Marini. To interact with some real-life animals, visit the Bioparco di Roma, a small zoo located within the park.

7. Zoom around the city in a Vespa sidecar

A man is bringing a tourist around Rome in a Vespa. The man is on the scooter, while the tourist is seated in its sidecar.
Image: @dsS138IV / Tripadvisor

A Vespa tour is an efficient and exhilarating way to check out Rome’s sights. You’ll check off landmarks like the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Square, and the Pantheon within half a day, and your kids will love waving at passers-by as you wind through the city’s alleyways. For a more cooling ride, there’s also a night tour where you can stop by for gelato along the way.

Amelia Ang
Amelia is a writer and traveler based in Singapore. Some of her favorite cities include Tokyo, New York, and Taipei. Amelia is fluent in English, Chinese, basic Korean, and intermediate Japanese.