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You should plan to visit Rome with kids. For years, we have listed Rome as one of our favorite cities in the world, and we were excited to finally experience it with our kids. Rome may be the most important city in the history of the world. After accounting for the history of religion, art, politics, architecture, and its impact on our world today, it has to be considered. Here’s one fun fact our family learned during our week in Rome: it was the first city to reach a population of 1 million people. Then, a staggering 1,943 years later, a second city (London) passed the milestone. This is just one example of the fascinating history that we learned from Tiffany, our LivTours guide.
When visiting Rome with kids, it can be difficult to balance a desire to maximize the learning and the historical importance with keeping the entire family sane. We spent the week vacillating back and forth a bit on how much to do and learned several lessons. Those lessons helped us create this list just for you! Here are our top 5 activities in Rome with kids, including bonus tips for parents.
- Join a cooking class as a family
On our last night in Rome, we joined a cooking class with Eat and Walk Italy. Our kids have shown increasing interest in cooking (and bringing us coffee in bed) over the last couple of weeks, so the timing for this was perfect! The class itself was amazing. Our chef was great with our kids, who both did a better job mixing the pasta ball than Jon. All 4 of us really loved the experience of making our tiramisu and hand-made pasta, and REALLY loved the experience of eating it all! We even got to take our rolled pasta out into the piazza for a photo! This was such a magical way to end our time in Rome. Our class was located right in Piazza Navona, and we enjoyed our dinner in the square enjoying the night fountain views! We also plan to use our new hand-made pasta skills as we continue to travel the world!
2. Take a golf cart tour with LivTours
This is the perfect way to kick off a week in Rome. On our first morning, we rode around the city for 3 hours with our LivTours guide, Tiffany. Riding in the golf cart itself has a ton of advantages. The kids enjoyed taking turns sitting in the front with Tiffany and riding backward in the very back. We loved the open air, the ability to get into places a car might not fit, and the ease to hop on/off. Tiffany was great and engaged our kids with fun and important information throughout the trip. One specific highlight for our kids included a stop to see the noon cannon blast and hearing the history of the attempts to synchronize time in Rome. They also loved that this was the first “overlook” on our trip around the world that they didn’t have to walk up to see!
3. Tour the Colosseum
This is Jon’s favorite historical site, and a tour has plenty of engagement for the kids. We used the Rick Steves Audio Europe app for our tour inside the Colosseum, which is great for kids and adults, especially considering the difficult history of the Colosseum. Another fascinating fact from Tiffany: not all gladiator fights were to the death. It was expensive to train gladiators, and recent burial sites have shown gladiator headstones with a record of wins and losses.
Our kids struggled to keep attention because we went directly from the Colosseum into the Roman Forum. Use the flexible entry time to the Roman Forum to stagger plans and not overwhelm the kids. Read more about what you need to know for a visit to the Colosseum during COVID. We also have information about visiting Italy during Covid here.
4. Stop to eat treats and take play breaks
We had some struggles during our week in Rome. Learn from our mistakes, and don’t overdo self-guided tours and walking. Our kids did great during the golf cart tours and the cooking class. However, our whole family struggled a bit with attitudes when we tried to do too much on our own. We love using self-guided audio tours, but it is a lot to ask for kids to stay engaged for long periods when looking at ruins (Roman Forum) and art (Vatican Museum). We did find a few places to stop and play and should have done that more.
Pro tip: we have decided on a new family rule during our trip. Any time your guide (or audio guide) recommends a specific treat, stop and get it! A Tartufo (dark chocolate gelato truffle) from Tre Scalini can really help boost morale.
5. Visit Vatican City
Make sure you visit the smallest country in the world when touring Rome with kids. We did 3 self-guided tours on the same day, which was a lot. However, we learned a little bit as the week progressed and stopped at a park in the middle. Arrive early for St. Peter’s Basilica: we went on a Thursday morning and only had to wait for 15-minutes for our free entry. After the basilica, we walked down to the playground in Adrian Park outside Castel Sant’Angelo for a picnic lunch and to let the kids run around for a while. Then we went to the Vatican Museum. Buying a ticket is the only way to see the Sistine Chapel. If doing the tour with kids, trim down the Rick Steves audio guide by cutting out the middle. Spend your time in the Raphael rooms and then go to the chapel. If you are worn out by the time you reach the Sistine Chapel, it will take away from the amazing work of Michelangelo.
Spending a week in Rome with kids was both great and challenging for our family. Learn from our week: do a golf-cart tour to start the trip and a cooking class to end it. Those were truly perfect bookends for the trip. In the middle, slow down a bit, temper expectations for attention span, and instead of learning about everything learn about the most important things. For all the details on exactly how expensive a week in Rome with kids is, visit our post here.
Rome was one of our stops during a year-long trip around the world! To see all our travel adventures, head over to our Instagram page.
If you have questions or tips for traveling to Rome with kids, let us know!