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Guide to Rome for Families

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Rome is an exciting family destination. Emperors, ruins, gladiators, saints and sinners, food, fountains, and "La Dolce Vita" (the sweet life)... The Eternal City presents so many options that the difficult task for travelers is whittling your wish lists down to a manageable number! That's why, while Rome has many of the typical family attractions (like a zoo and a children's museum), this list focuses on recommendations that are uniquely Roman (like bicycling past Ancient Roman aqueducts) to ensure an authentic experience for kids big and small.

Good for
  • Family
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Like a Local

12 Places

16 City Tips

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Map

12 Places

Palatine Hill

Ancient Ruins, Historic Sites

Colosseum

Historic Sites, Ancient Ruins

Parco degli Acquedotti

Ancient Ruins, Parks

Largo di Torre Argentina

Ancient Ruins, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Vatican Museums

Sacred & Religious Sites, Art Museums, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Architectural Buildings

St. Peter's Basilica

Historic Sites, Churches & Cathedrals, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo

Art Museums, Observation Decks & Towers

Villa Borghese

Points of Interest & Landmarks, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites

Explora

Children's Museums

L'Arancia Blu

Restaurants

Villa Doria Pamphilj

Architectural Buildings, Gardens, Parks

Museum and Crypt of Capuchins

History Museums

Judy E's City Tips

  • Focus on certain areas of the city and do as much of your sightseeing on foot as possible.
  • Dress is the same as in most major European cities (no bare feet or chests). Dress preference in churches and elegant restaurants is that visitors do not wear shorts.
  • Rome's public transportation system, ATAC, has an erratic bus service. You can easily waste precious time waiting 20 minutes or more for buses, so it's best to skip them.
  • The Metro (underground train) runs frequently, but does not serve much of the historic center.
  • A single bus/metro ticket is valid for 100 minutes. 24-hour and 3-day tickets are also available.
  • The Roma Pass is valid for 48 or 72 hours and offers unlimited transportation in the city, plus discounts at various sights, shops and restaurants.
  • A hotel in the historic center may have smaller rooms and cost more, but will save you precious time in getting around.
  • The dress code is especially strict in St. Peter's Basilica, even for toddlers: no shorts, sleeveless tops, bear arms, midriffs, or miniskirts.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and pack light, there are cobblestone streets, stairs to climb, winding backstreets, and those famous hills.
  • Public benches and free places to sit are rare. Plan breaks in parks, cafes, restaurants, and bars.
  • Look for the "nasone" (big noses) of the drinking fountains located throughout Rome; the water is cool, refreshing, and free. Pack an small empty bottle or cup to refill.
  • A bar or cafe usually has two price ranges: It will be cheaper to stand and eat at the bar, and you'll pay a bit more to sit at a table.
  • Italian families are accustomed to lingering over a meal. If you want to be faster, ask for “un pranzo veloce” (a quick lunch).
  • The bill ("il conto") can take a long time to arrive at the end of the meal. When you are on your final course, request the bill (you may need to request it more than once).
  • The tip is generally included in the price of the meal. Some choose to round the bill up a little too.
  • For picnics in the city, Villa Borghese and Doria Pamphilj parks are ideal. Parco degli Aquedotti and the Appia Antica are a bit farther out but worth the excursion.
  • Palatine Hill
    Ancient Ruins, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    The Palatine is the legendary home of Romulus, founder of Rome. Some of the findings here date back to the 10th century BC. Fast-forward 1,000 years, and this was the coveted address of the rich and powerful - Emperors Augustus, Tiberius, and Nero, to name a few. Climb the famous mound to explore the grand ruins, and enjoy views over the Circus Maximus, the Baths of Caracalla, and the Forum. It's also a good spot to discuss sibling rivalry (Romulus killed his twin brother Remus) and civil behavior! Inside the Palatine Museum, you can see models of the Iron Age huts, as well as colorful fragments of marble and frescoes, bringing the flavor of Ancient Rome to life.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Tickets to the Palatine also include admission to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, and since lines tend to be shorter here, it's a good spot to start.
    • Energy to burn? Race each other below in Circus Maximus, where the chariots once raced.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 1,943 things to do in Rome
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The oldest Rome 20/02/2019
    • Where Rome Started 19/02/2019
    • Palatine Hill
    Address:
    Piazza Santa Maria Nova, 53
    00186 Rome
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39.06.39967700
    Other:
  • Colosseum
    Historic Sites, Ancient Ruins
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    One of the great engineering wonders of the Ancient world is enormous in its scale and ingenuity. The Flavian Amphitheater, better known as the Colosseum (Coliseum), is best experienced from inside its theater. Here, all kinds of spectacles took place, including the notorious gladiator battles. I recommend booking a visit to Ipogeo (or Hypogeum), the underground level where the animals were kept. You can see the corridors and pens, which are fitted with lifts so that the animals could pop up onstage and surprise spectators - as well as the unlucky gladiators who had to battle!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Buy your ticket at the Palatine or Forum for shorter lines, or pre-book online.
    • An elevator operates between the ground and upper floors, but to experience the theater as the Ancient Romans did, take the stairs.
    • Check the Coliseum shop (upstairs) for then-and-now books with transparent overlays that show how Ancient Rome once looked.
    • Gourmet families should head to Aroma rooftop restaurant at Palazzo Manfredi, which offers not only a stunning view of the Coliseum, but fine cuisine.
    • For a quicker bite, try Gran Caffe Rossi Martini at the tram stop, which serves the owners' own olive oil and wine from Tuscany.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 1,943 things to do in Rome
    • Colosseum 20/02/2019
    • Stunning monument 20/02/2019
    • Colosseum
    Address:
    Piazza del Colosseo
    00184 Rome
    Italy
    Phone:
    (+39) 06 39967700
    Other:
  • Parco degli Acquedotti
    Ancient Ruins, Parks
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    Ride bikes or hike past enormous aqueducts that date to the time of Emperor Claudius in the First century AD. Parco degli Acquedotti is an example of one of several aqueduct systems, a clever feat of Roman engineering that transported water to a thirsty ancient city.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The closest metro stop is Subaugusta.
    • Experienced cyclists can ride here from the city center, renting bikes at Collalti or Appia Antica. Get an early start, as local traffic gets busiest just before lunch.
    • Have lunch or dinner at Giuda Ballerino. You can choose from the casual, economical trattoria or the gourmet Michelin-star restaurant.
    • Bring a picnic.
    • This is a perfect activity for a Sunday, when the nearby Appia Antica (the original Roman road) is closed to outside car traffic.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #107 of 1,943 things to do in Rome
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • An Excellent Park 19/01/2019
    • Hidden gem 24/11/2018
    • Parco degli Acquedotti
    Address:
    Via Lemonia, 256
    00174 Rome
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 06 513 5316
    Other:
  • Largo di Torre Argentina
    Ancient Ruins, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    Known by Romans simply as 'Largo Argentina', this fascinating neighborhood makes for a fun family treasure hunt, as it contains the ruins of some of Rome's oldest temples. Look out for the entrance to Pompey's theater, where Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, 44 BC; spot the remains of ancient toilets; explore the oculus ('eye' hole) in the dome of The Pantheon, and then find the marble drain holes on the floor (if it rains, you'll see it fall inside!). Plus, visit the fountains at nearby Piazza Navona, where you can guess the rivers of the four continents in its center and find the horse, crocodile, and plants sculpted on it.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    Tips
    • Stop for ice cream at Gelateria Corona (Largo Arenula 27), which serves traditional and seasonal specialties like delicious pomegranate or cacchi (persimmon).
    • Coffee lovers will want to stop at Sant'Eustachio Il Caffè for a cappuccino or espresso, while non-coffee drinkers can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Take a bag of coffee home too.
    • Are you spending too much time looking at art and not enough time creating? Visit Poggi, a wonderland of art supplies for students and professionals.
    • Find the ancient giant foot, a marble sculpture for which the nearby street, Via del Piè di Marmo, is named.
    • Look for Piazza della Pigna, named for the ancient bronze pine cone discovered here (and now on display in the Cortile della Pigna courtyard flanked by two bronze peacocks).
    • Have a free drink from the water fountain (Via degli Staderari) adorned by books and a deer-head sculpture, a symbol of Sant'Eustachio (St. Eustace).
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #159 of 1,943 things to do in Rome
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Julius Caesar!! 29/01/2019
    • Cat sanctuary 16/01/2019
    • Largo di Torre Argentina
    Address:
    Largo di Torre Argentina
    00186 Rome
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 06 6880 5611
    Other:
  • Vatican Museums
    Sacred & Religious Sites, Art Museums, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Architectural Buildings
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    The Vatican Museums have some of the world's best art in their collections. Mummies, ancient gods and goddesses, heroes and villains, animal sculptures, and saints all vie for your attention in these famed halls - and that's to say nothing of a certain chapel and its ceiling. Since the museums see up to 25,000 visitors per day, its wise to book ahead - include the adjacent gardens or the necropolis of underground tombs in your visit.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Avoid bringing backpacks or large bags inside, as you will be required to check them. This complex is enormous and backtracking makes it more so.
    • If you wish to visit St. Peter's Basilica after the Sistine Chapel, take the exit toward St. Peter's. This avoids the long lines in St. Peter's Square.
    • During peak times, some museum sections may be closed off, and security staff can suddenly reroute visitors to control crowd flow.
    • Don't miss the post office for stamps (inside the museums as well as in St. Peter's Square), which are fun to collect.
    • Talking is not allowed in the Sistine Chapel. Look for posters of the chapel, which are posted around the corridors, and explain to the kids beforehand what they are going to see.
    • Explore the nearby Prati neighborhood, where local Romans live and shop. Try Romeo Chef and Baker for reasonable sandwiches or gourmet lunch or dinner.
    • For hot or cold takeaway, Franchi is great for Roman fare. Prices are by weight, so be sure to calculate or your picnic could become as pricey as a sit-down trattoria meal.
    • For ice cream, Gelateria dei Gracchi is Prati's best; the nocciolo (hazelnut) is delicious.
    • Horror film director Dario Argento owns Profondo Rosso, the shop a few doors down, which is perfect for more gruesome gifts.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 46 things to do in Vatican City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Magnificent 20/02/2019
    • Online Self guided 9 am Ticket - go to Sistine first ahead of tours etc 20/02/2019
    • Vatican Museums
    Address:
    Viale Vaticano
    00120 Vatican City
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 06 6988 4676
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    09:00 - 16:00
    Other:
  • St. Peter's Basilica
    Historic Sites, Churches & Cathedrals, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    The best way to experience the enormous scale and architectural space of St. Peter's Basilica is to climb the cupola (dome). Inside, you'll see the mosaics up close and can look down at the floor, where people appear as small as ants; outside, you'll have a 360-degree view of Rome. You can even go up into the lantern on which the golden ball and cross rest.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • There is a cost to climb the 551 steps and to take the elevator (little legs will probably prefer the latter!).
    • Note that on days when the Pope says Mass, some areas in and around St. Peter's will be off limits.
    • The stair passageway is narrow and steps can be at odd angles, so this is not an experience for those who dislike close spaces or have difficulty with steps.
    • The terrace on the top has a small coffee bar for drinks and snacks.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 46 things to do in Vatican City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing church 20/02/2019
    • go as late as possible 20/02/2019
    • St. Peter's Basilica
    Address:
    Piazza di San Pietro
    00120 Vatican City
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 06 6988 3731
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    07:00 - 18:30
    Other:
  • Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo
    Art Museums, Observation Decks & Towers
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    This round castle has many things for kids to explore, including dungeons, tombs, papal chambers, canons, armor, and an angel at the top. Castel Sant'Angelo was originally built as Emperor Hadrian's design for his tomb, but in the 6th century it was converted into a papal fortress. A secret passageway, the 'Passetto di Borgo', links the castle with the papal apartments, which you can also visit.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Picnic in the park, once the site of the castle's moat. In summer, temporary food stands are set up outside.
    • For lunch or a snack, cross the Angel Bridge for a scenic walk to Via del Panico 6, where Boulangerie MP bakes excellent bread and pizza. Veggie lunch options are available.
    • Concerts and taverns open on the terraces during summer, and an ice skating ring goes up outside in winter.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #10 of 1,943 things to do in Rome
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great view 20/02/2019
    • outside 20/02/2019
    • Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo
    Address:
    Lungotevere Castello 50
    00193 Rome
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 06 32810
    Price range:
    US$12 - US$12
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    09:00 - 19:30
    Other:
  • Villa Borghese
    Points of Interest & Landmarks, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    Majestic umbrella pines grace Villa Borghese, a large park that offers a wide range of possibilities for family fun. Rent a bike inside the park, where you don't have to worry about Rome street traffic, or row a boat on the little pond with its temple dedicated to the god of health. There is plenty of space to run or have a picnic, or you could visit a small zoo or the Zoological Museum, which has a mix of quaint old-fashioned and contemporary displays, some of which are quite amusing. Another fun spot is Cinema dei Piccoli (Cinema of the Small), a charming, historic cinema that screens children's films (movies are usually in Italian by day, but the evening films are often in their original languages).

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If you don't bring a picnic, Casina delle Rose inside the park offers a lovely spot for lunch, drinks, or snacks outdoors.
    • On summer evenings, Casa del Cinema offers outdoor films, usually in their original language.
    • Antiquities enthusiasts won't want to miss the Etruscan Museum.
    • Art enthusiasts won't want to miss a visit to Galleria Borghese.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #79 of 1,943 things to do in Rome
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Wonderful museum 15/02/2019
    • Great art in palatial surroundings 12/02/2019
    • Villa Borghese
    Address:
    P.zzale del Museo Borghese
    00155 Rome
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 06 2258 2330
    Other:
  • Explora
    Children's Museums
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    Located in the Flaminio Neighborhood, Explora Children's Museum is a good springboard from which to explore the rest of the area. A good rainy day option, it provides a space where younger kids can climb into a firetruck, play store, and see what it's like to be a cat or a fly. After they've played, you can relax on a tram ride (Flaminia/Reni stop) to see contemporary architecture at the Auditorium Parco della Musica and the MAXXI, both of which have a few children's programs, including free family concerts.

    Good for
    • Family
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • You can walk here easily from Piazzale Flaminio (near Piazza del Popolo), or take Tram #2 and get off at the first stop.
    • Kids can learn how to make a pizza at an Explora class on Saturdays. Book in advance and request instruction in English.
    • For a cafeteria-style family lunch, with fresh hot or cold food, head to Caffe dei Pittori (Via Flaminia 57/59).
    • Arancia Blu (Via C. Beccaria 3) offers an excellent lunch special of three gourmet vegetarian or vegan courses. Tables are elegant and good wines are served by the glass.
    • To reach the Auditorium Parco della Musica and MAXXI, take a ride on Tram 2 to the Apollodor stop.
    • Gelateria Neve di Latte, near the tram tracks behind MAXXI, has good ice cream. The chocolate variety is made with Amadei chocolate from Tuscany.
    • Piazza Mancini is the end of the line for Tram 2, and it's fun to ride it back to the other end, Piazzale Flaminio (across from Piazza del Popolo).
    • Visits are timed for 1 hour and 45 minutes, self-guided.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #243 of 1,943 things to do in Rome
    • Great way to entertain a 3 year old 07/01/2019
    • Something else in Rome 13/11/2018
    • Explora
    Address:
    Via Flaminia 82
    00196 Rome
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 06 361 3776
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    10:00 - 18:45
    Other:
  • L'Arancia Blu
    Restaurants (Italian, Mediterranean)
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    Have a bargain gourmet lunch at Arancia Blu (Via C. Beccaria 3). The excellent weekday lunch special is super economical and includes three gourmet vegetarian or vegan courses.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • Take a ride on Tram 2 to the Apollodor stop to see Auditorium Parco della Musica and MAXXI.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #2,755 of 11,171 restaurants in Rome
    • Fine dining, vegetarian style. 14/06/2018
    • Delicious vegan dining experience 04/06/2018
    • L'Arancia Blu
    Address:
    Via Cesare Beccaria 3
    Piazzale Flaminio
    00196 Rome
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 391 350 9971
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    12:00 - 00:00
    Other:
  • Villa Doria Pamphilj
    Architectural Buildings, Gardens, Parks
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    Doria Pamphilj is a huge park that is more beautifully landscaped than Villa Borghese. It gets you up into the cooler air of the Gianicolo, and its tall groves of umbrella pines create a magical atmosphere, while elsewhere there are ponds with ducks and swans to feed. On the way up or back, take a walk on the Passeggiata del Gianicolo, a sidewalk and footpath that follows the Gianicolo (Janiculum) hillside, offering great panoramas of Rome (look out for the Pantheon dome). Complete with a lighthouse, this spot is especially lovely at sunrise or sunset, and a canon booms at noon!

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Look for green Monk Parrots flitting among the Gianicolo trees - domestic pets that escaped, adapted to local weather, and have multiplied!
    • Doria Pamphilj park has some spots for lunch or snacks. For more upscale traditional dining, head to Antica Pesa, a favorite of the Rolling Stones.
    • The Fontanone, at the southern end of Passeggiata del Gianicolo, is one of Rome's grandest fountains, with fewer sculptures but lots of water.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #111 of 1,943 things to do in Rome
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A wonderful stroll 06/01/2019
    • Overgrown oasis 20/10/2018
    • Villa Doria Pamphilj
    Address:
    Via di S. Pancrazio
    Quartiere di Monteverde
    Rome
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 06 477881
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    07:00 - 21:00
    Other:
  • Museum and Crypt of Capuchins
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Judy E Says:

    The crypt of Santa Maria della Concezione, a spooky destination at the base of Via Veneto, is not for everyone, but it's a big draw for kids who like spooky stories. Here, a creative monk had the idea of using the skeleton bones in the crypt to make wall sconces, chandeliers, and other unusual decorations...

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Photos are not permitted, but you can purchase postcards.
    • Those who prefer not to enter the crypt might want to wait at the nearby Bernini Fountains of Neptune in Piazza Barberini.
    • If you can't get enough of the underground thing, visit the Via Triumphalis Necropolis, located in Vatican City. This burial ground with tombs dates from the first century.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #167 of 1,943 things to do in Rome
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Super neat themed crypt disappointed no photos 20/02/2019
    • Interesting 18/02/2019
    • Museum and Crypt of Capuchins
    Address:
    Via Vittorio Veneto 27
    Chiesa dell'Immacolata Concezione della Beata Vergine Maria
    00187 Rome
    Italy
    Phone:
    +39 06 8880 3695
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 19:00
    Other:
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