Table of Contents
- 1 5-Days in Rome with Kids and Where to Stay
- 2 Flying to Rome
- 3 How to get to Rome City Center from Airport
- 4 Drinking Water and the Trevi Fountain
- 5 Where to stay in Rome with Kids
5-Days in Rome with Kids and Where to Stay
The first time we took our daughter to Rome, she was in a pram. She is now 15; and during that span of time, we have traveled to Rome countless times, developing an acumen on how to visit Rome with kids.
Flying to Rome
There are many direct flights from most major cities flying to Rome and the best way to find cheap flights is through Skyscanner.
How to get to Rome City Center from Airport
When landing in Fiumicino, taking the Leonardo Express is how to get to Rome City Center from the airport. It’s the fastest option. At 14 Euro a person, and free for kids 12 and under it’s also less expensive. An Uber is approximately 100 Euro. This is the best bet unless you are a family of 7 with no kids under 12.
Day 1 – Welcome to Rome
Rome is a beautiful city, and best experienced through walking. Much of what makes Rome the Eternal City will be missed otherwise. So, it’s important for the kids to anticipate a fair share on foot during the visit.
For younger children, we advise purchasing or renting foldable strollers. For kids that have surpassed that age but not quite teenagers, it’s best to keep the itineraries simple and to take it slowly. “Piano, piano”, as they say in Italy.
For most, by the time you and the family check-in, the family will probably be hungry. Try something very local, we suggest those little cafe/bar/tabacchi places that serve sandwiches and other small plates.
A little more upgraded from these said cafes are pastaccerias where you can find something to eat and drink any time of the day, and a little less formal and quicker than sitting down in a restaurant.
One of our favorite pasticcerias is, “Don Nino”, which have a few locations throughout town. They also make great gelato.
Try a few tramezzini to tie you over until the real meals. These are small sandwiches made with crustless white bread – a kids dream. We especially like the tuna.
As for the older children, it’s important to just prepare them for a day of walking. Once they have digested that fact along with wearing the correct footwear, it shouldn’t be much of a challenge.
On arrival day, take a walk and get accustomed to the surrounding area where you and the family are staying. That way, the kids have a sense of belonging to a neighborhood during the stay.
As a family, our favorite thing to do on day 1 in Rome, is to pick one major site and walk toward that direction. Don’t pick one with an entrance fee or anything like that. Pick a free outdoor venue such as the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona. There are so many attractions in Rome that are even better at night, see below the Trevi Fountain.
It’s during the walk to the chosen destination that the kids will get a true feel of the Roman life, and also get the cobwebs out from having been sitting on the plane for hours.
When in Rome with kids, make it fun for them by immersing them in the culture. Stop for some gelato, even though they haven’t had dinner yet. With teens, go into one of those standing cafes and have a good espresso.
Pursuant to such a start and a good night’s sleep, they should be ready for Day 2. Now, in a capital such as Rome, an endless itinerary can be drawn up, but a good time frame for Rome with kids is about 3-5 days.
Day 2 – The Borghese Gardens, where Roman children play
The Villa Borghese Gardens is the largest public park in Rome. Along with being a park, it also houses points of interest such as the Galleria Borghese which carries an art collection that rivals any museum in Rome.
However, it’s the expanse of the gardens that is Rome’s gift to its inhabitants and visitors of the city, alike. Well manicured, vast, and historical; it captures the imagination. The park is simply breathtaking, with lots to do.
A stroll will take the kids back centuries. Walk in the steps of one of the most powerful families of the middle ages. Appreciate the stone remnants, arches, fountains, and sculptures that are smattered throughout.
It’s an easy way to get some history lessons checked off. By most kids account, much better than looking at sculptures and paintings in the Galleria Borghese (formerly the actual Villa).
However, for older kids, the gallery probably shouldn’t be missed. There is a terrific private tour for the family that we highly recommend which keeps it interesting for the kids offered by a company named, Context Travel.
For something a little more active, rent bikes. The most popular amongst kids, but not limited to, are the tandem variety. It’s an alternative way to experience the breadth of the beauty that surrounds.
There are also open spaces where children can run around, play ball, fly kites, etc. A great place for the kids to meet other kids. The young ones kick the ball around as the teenagers pose for their latest Instagram post.
A little peckish? There are food vendors and food kiosks spread throughout the park. Fair prices at that. The best part, about these eateries, is that they serve beer and wine for the adults, who are also at play.
It’s still on foot that best serves a traveler well when taking in the beauty of the gardens. There are nooks that can’t be managed by a bicycle. One such area, not necessarily a nook, is the Pincio Terrace.
This part of the park is at the edge of the Pincian Hills. It’s a perfect area to get all those photos and selfies taken. It’s hard to argue that this perch isn’t the best place to get a panoramic view of Rome.
Gazing upon the Eternal City from this vantage point, you and the kids can plan out the other sites in which they may want to visit – from the Center of Rome all the way to Vatican City.
From here, there’s a trail to follow which leads down to one of Rome’s social centers, the Piazza di Spagna (The Spanish Steps). This is where Romans like to pass time chatting and people watching. You should all do the same.
A day at the Borghese Gardens and ending at the Spanish Steps makes for a perfect family day.
Note, for those with strollers the latter part of the walk may be difficult.
Day 3 – Experiencing Ancient Rome with Kids
When experiencing Ancient Rome with kids, two of the top things to do in Rome are the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
This is especially important to that age group that is beginning to learn about this time in history at school. It’s also fun for we adults who have watched, “Gladiator” the movie, more than once.
You can certainly take, yet another tour of the two through Context Travel, but if budget is a concern, downloading the “Rick Steves Audio Europe” app and listening to the walking tours of these two historical sites is a great option.
The Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hills entrance tickets can be purchased as a set for less than buying single tickets. Also, once you’ve purchased one combination tickets, there’s no need to queue for the others.
TIME-SAVING TIP: The Palatine Hills is the least popular of the three, and that’s the best place to purchase these combo tickets. Once you see the lines you’ll be skipping at the Colosseum, you’ll thank me for this tip. If you’re the type to plan way ahead, you can also book your tickets to skip the line here >>> Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill Priority Tickets.
Back to the Rick Steves App, your kids are probably on their phones all the time anyway, so using their phones and EarPods is second nature. Also, the lack of formality gives you the opportunity to see or skip what you want.
Lunch: Enjoy lunch in the neighborhood behind the Forums named, Monti. Here you can have Roman-style pizza at Alle Carrete in Via della Madonna dei Monti, 95, 00184 Roma RM, Italy. The pizza with zucchini flowers is exceptional.
Day 4 – Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel
Let’s not get into any religious or political debate here. Let’s just appreciate the place in which this Holy City plays in history and culture. No visit to Rome would be complete without a visit the Vatican City.
A visit to the Vatican Museum and seeing the Sistine Chapel is one of the top things to do in Rome with kids. The museum is filled with the greatest works of art in Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
The labyrinth that is the Museum has for viewing and studying a breadth of work from Renaissance All-Stars. Naming them is always fun for kids, as they are often reminded of the Ninja Turtles.
Of the great works, The greatest is, of course, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. This is a work to behold. For the older kids that have read Dante’s “Inferno” some of the stories depicted may interest them.
No matter your family’s religious disposition, the Sistine Chapel is simply one of art’s greatest work and one of the greatest sites to behold.
Saint Peter’s Basilica is no ordinary religious site, it’s the center of Catholicism. You don’t have to be Catholic or Christian for that matter to appreciate the awesomeness of this architectural wonder.
Yes, it’s holy ground, but it’s more than that. Some of the greatest works of art are also housed inside. One of which is Da Vinci’s Pieta.
Climbing up stairs to the the top of the dome is also an adventure to be had. These steps are centuries old, and some twists and turns not easily navigated, but worth it when you see the view of the Basilica from atop.
Any kid interested in history or art should definitely enter. Our partners at Context Travel has a tour called Arte Vaticana: Vatican Museums Tour with Skip-the-Line Tickets, it’s simply the best way to make the most of your visit.
Lunch: It’s hard to leave the Vatican to eat once you’re inside. We found that taking a break and eating at the Cafeteria within the museum is your best bet. Leave your appetite for dinner.
Day 5 – Eating in Rome with Kids
One of the things to do within Rome with kids is to introduce them to real Roman cuisine. Head over to neighborhoods such as Testaccio, Monti, and Trastevere and enjoy what locals truly eat.
Visiting these neighborhoods, looking for food, is a great way to see Rome as a town with micro-communities versus viewing it as an outdoor museum.
Walk along the Tiber in the evening before or after dinner, also known as a passeggiatta, and you’ll find yourselves amidst other families passing time strolling. This route can lead you to both Testaccio and Trastevere.
Another Italian Tradition is Aperitivo. Akin to our Happy Hour, Italians like to have Aperitivo. It’s usually the time before dinner (4pm-8pm) where bars and eateries serve up free food to go along with a drink.
Unlike in America’s Happy hour, Kids partake during Aperitivo. They can have their soft drinks (many of which they won’t find in the States) and have snack along with their parents.
One of the favored drinks for adults during Aperitivo is the Spritz. It’s usually made with Aperol (sometimes Campari) Prosecco, sparkling water, and an orange wedge. a great refresher and gets the appetite going.
One dish that should be ordered in Rome is Spaghetti Carbonara; you can’t leave Rome without having it at least once.
One of the best places to enjoy this pasta dish with the family at an eatery aptly named, “La Carbonara” in Rome’s Monti neighborhood, right behind the Roman Forum.
Another Roman favorite is the artichoke. A great establishment favored by locals is a likely place called, “Piatto Romano” at Via GB Bodoni, 62 – 00153 – Rione XX – Rome (Testaccio) serve artichokes in many different ways. Get here quick as they run out quickly.
Lastly, if the kids are starting to get more adventurous, they should try Trippa all Romana. It’s a typical tripe dish had by Romans for centuries. It’s a dish that exemplifies Italy’s Cucina Povera sensibilities, best had in “La Gensola” in Trastevere at Piazza Della Gensola 15
Other local favorites in the Trastevere neighborhood are, Uno e Bino and Enoteca Ferrara.
Uno e Bino is a little more experimental, a bit pricey, but worth it. Enoteca Ferrara encapsulates fine Roman cuisine in the main restaurant and a bit more rustic in the adjacent tavern.
If any of the above dishes are a little too much for the kids to handle, all these places make an amazing Spaghetti “Cacio e Pepe”. It’s simple and Roman.
Easy Carbonara Recipe
You can always transport yourself and the family to Rome at any time by following this easy Carbonara Recipe.
Drinking Water and the Trevi Fountain
The Romans were the masters of building Aqueducts, and Water pours out of everywhere in Rome. There are numerous fountains and spouts from which to drink. No need to buy water in this town, just bring a good water bottle.
It’s said that if a coin is tossed in the Trevi Fountain, a return to Rome is certain. Give the kid(s) a coin and do as such, hoping for more returns. Upon return, you’ll see that there’s plenty more to do in Rome with kids.
Where to stay in Rome with Kids
Hotels We Stayed & liked in Rome
The following accommodations are properties we believe make for a great stay in Rome, based on our family size. They are all family friendly and well appointed; with comfortable bedding and spacious and clean bathrooms.
Larger families can certainly stay in these hotels, but may need to rent adjoining rooms if more than 4 persons.
Hotel Nerva – We loved the Hotel Nerva because it was situated in Monti and is a neighborhood close to all the sights, and at the same time, is a true Roman neighborhood. Many of the restaurants here are frequented by locals. We loved the Nerva because our daughter had a small adjoining room with a single bed, which is tough to find for a family of 3.
Hotel FortySeven – We stayed here when Bailey was just 2 years old and the hotel was quite new. This hotel equally convenient and is walking distance from all the major sites. It also faces the Temple of Vesta and is magical at night when it is lit up. We stayed there in the summer and had a great view of Rome while having drinks at the rooftop restaurant.
Hotel Intercontinental De La Ville
Intercontinental De La Ville – During our time working for the House of Valentino, we were fortunate enough to stay at this luxurious hotel above the Spanish Steps, right next to the legendary Hassler. After our time at Valentino, we also opted to stay here a couple of times. If you want old world luxury hospitality, Intercontinental De La Ville is the place to stay.
Splendor Suites in Rome
Splendor Suites – We really enjoyed this luxurious hotel and the location, right on the Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina. It is a short distance from the Spanish Steps and walking distance to other important attractions. Best of all, it’s right above Ristorante Vitti which serves one of the best carbonaras in town.
Hotel Fiume in Rome
Hotel Fiume – in Rome is in a very attractive part of the city. Hotel Fiume is also very convenient, as it’s walking distance to the beautiful Borghese Gardens. There are also great neighborhood restaurants on the same street.
Travel Books for Rome
We are big fans of Rick Steves and buy his books whenever we travel to Europe. Our daughter likes Lonely Planet’s “not for parents” guide books. Katie Parla is an expert in food anthology in Italy.