With its ruins, restaurants, and art, Rome is a fun and fascinating place to travel with kids. There are a ton of options for entertaining kids in Rome, including parks, piazza, and museums. The majority of Rome's major tourist sights are outdoor attractions, meaning that in many places, kids will have room to run off some steam.
Below, we've outlined some of our favorite family-friendly attractions and activities. As always when traveling with kids, pacing is the key, especially in the hot and crowded summer season. You may want to consider getting an early start on most days, staying out until lunchtime, then taking a nap or some downtime in the quiet cool of your hotel room or rental apartment. And if our suggestions fail to win over your brood, don't forget – there's always gelato!
Young kids will be mesmerized by the size of the Colosseum while older ones (especially boys) will be impressed with its gory history. The Forum and the Palatine Hill boast ruins with great nooks and crannies. If you feel like bringing a book along, Rome Then & Now offers a fascinating glimpse of what many of those ruins looked like in their prime – the before and after images are a great way to keep little ones engaged. Older kids may be interested in retracing some of the action in The Assassins of Rome, geared to middle school audiences/
Active, curious kids can get a glimpse of what life and training were like for Rome's hard-scrabble gladiators. Suitable for boys and girls age 7 and up, the Gladiator school includes two hours of combat training (with wooden swords), use of costumes and weapons, and entrance to the Gladiator School of Rome Museum.
Most of Rome's glorious piazze, such as Piazza Navona and the Piazza del Popolo, are wide, car-free, and flanked by restaurants and cafés, allowing travelers of all ages a chance to enjoy a stroll or just sit on a bench and people-watch. And where there are squares in Rome, there are likely to be beautiful fountains, which are often a delight to young kids. See our list of Rome's best fountains for more information.
Older kids love the spooky aspects of Rome. So, why not treat them with a visit to a "bone church" or one of many area catacombs? Visit any of the places on our list of scary Rome attractions and prepare to be creeped out. Keep in mind that the famous Capuchin Crypts are best for kids 12 and over. Regardless of their age, remind kids that the catacombs and similarly eerie spots are also places of worship, so they should be quiet and respectful.
Villa Borghese and Other Parks
Rome is bounding with green spaces, from the expansive and lush Villa Borghese Park, accessible from Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo to the Parco Colle Oppio, a park hidden on a hill overlooking the Colosseum. Several parks, including the Villa Borghese and the park along the Appian Way, allow you to rent bikes, ride horses, or take part in other fun activities that the kids will surely enjoy.
Rome's outdoor and covered markets are a wonderland of colorful fruits and vegetables, exotic spices, boisterous vendors and a wonderfully chaotic mix of chatter, activity, and commerce. Try Campo de'Fiori, in the heart of Rome's centro storico, or, for an even more authentic market experience, the earthy Testaccio covered market near the Aventine Hill.
The Explora Museum (Museo di Bambini di Roma or MDBR for short) is the only museum in Rome made especially for kids. Like other museums of its kind, Explora features pint-sized play areas, such as construction zones and test kitchens. Located just beyond the Piazza del Popolo, the MDBR is one place to take the kids if they need some exercise on a rainy day.
Bocca della Verita
The legend of the Bocca della Verita, an ancient manhole cover situated at the entrance of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, a few blocks from Piazza Venezia, is always an amusing way to engage children in the learning about the history of old Rome. The attraction is also one of the best places in Rome for a photo op, something you'll definitely be looking for while on vacation with the whole family.
While Rome isn't on the coast, if you're in Rome with your kids during the heat of summer, they may appreciate a day out at the beach.
Article updated by Elizabeth Heath.