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Two boys wear gladiator costumes and hold weapons at the Gladiator School in Rome, Italy.

Things to Do in Rome with Kids – From a Mom in Italy

Are you trying to decide what to do with your kids in Rome? 

I’ve got you covered – from classics like visiting the Colosseum to sampling the city’s best gelato to learning how to battle at gladiator school

One of the best things about visiting Rome with kids is that there’s something for everyone!

I’m a mamma of three living in Italy and my kids love Rome.  I’ve also visit on my own and help organize visits to Rome for other families.  I’ve used our family’s experiences in the Eternal City to create this list of fun, memorable, educational, and delicious things to do in Rome!

Keep in Mind:  This list covers a wide range of ages, so make sure the activity or location suits your child.  For example, little kids won’t appreciate the Capuchin Crypt, while tweens likely won’t want to play at the Villa Borghese playground.

Map of Things to Do in Rome

I’ve included this because… Rome is huge!  You won’t want to be criss-crossing the city when you could be enjoying these things to do by area.

Go Underground at the Domus Romane

People in jackets walking toward entrance door to the Domus Romane in Rome. The entrance is dark red and it's in the courtyard of a yellow palazzo.
Walking with our group to the entrance to the Domus Romane (no photos allowed inside)

Spend an hour walking underneath Rome, exploring the excavated ruins of two elaborate ancient Roman homes. 

The tour uses multimedia displays and an audioguide (everyone gets headphones), and it’s the perfect way for kids (and adults) to really get an idea of what the house complexes looked like.  Lights shine on the excavations to point out important elements and to show what rooms may have looked like.

We walked through multiple excavation areas, including the baths and reception rooms.  My kids loved seeing the pottery, the swimming pools (even a kids pool!), and the mosaic floor that was split in two by a ‘modern’ Roman wall.

At the end, you get to walk through a WWII bunker.

Good To Know:  There are also 90-minute tours that spend the additional 30 minutes on Trajan’s Column (in the piazza in front of the palazzo).  This is the tour I did with my boys (ages 6 & 9) on a recent trip.  My 9-year-old loved it, but the additional 30 minutes was too much for my 6-year-old. 

Get a First Look at Rome on a Golf Cart Tour

Guide and client chat on golf cart that's parked in a small cobblestone parking lot in Rome. There are buildings surrounding the lot and other cars are parked.
Taking a break during our golf cart tour

My favorite way to see Rome is on foot, but we all know that can be challenging with kids.  After all, Rome is huge, the main sites are spread out, and during the summer, it’s hot! 

Taking a golf cart tour through Rome is one of the best ways to get an overview of the city while keeping kids ‘fresh’ and entertained.   It’s also a great option if you’re traveling with grandparents or anyone with mobility issues.

My boys, parents, and I recently took a golf-cart tour through the city center with My Best Tour and we had a blast.  Our guide Leonardo, a Roman native, gave us the inside scoop on many of the monuments we saw, he customized the tour to our desires, and he answered our non-stop questions about Rome. 

There are so many options for a family-friendly golf cart tour.  We saw a combo of main sites and hidden gems, and we stopped for snacks, views, and bathroom breaks.   

Good To Know:  You can get picked up at your hotel.  And you can bring your stroller on the golf cart if you need to.

Helpful Tip:  If you’re visiting in the summer, book a golf cart tour in the morning to avoid some of the stifling heat.  The shade of the golf cart roof and breeze will make the heat bearable.

Good To Know:  A less-expensive alternative is to take the hop-on-hop-off bus.  The cost trade-off is not having a private guide and not having flexibility with stops.

Linger in Piazza Navona

Two boys looking at a fountain with statues in the grand Piazza Navona in Rome. There are other people walking and sitting near the fountain.
My boys like to check out all of the statues

There’s plenty of room for kids to run around in Piazza Navona.  Stop at all three of the fountains.  My boys love them all, but are especially fond of Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (fountain of the four rivers).  Take time to look at the carved statues decorating the fountains.  My boys liked finding the octopus and the crouching lion.

If you want to visit a toy shop in Rome, one of the best ones is on the northern end of the piazza – Al Sogno.  There’s something for everyone, and if your boys are like mine, they could spend hours inside!  Heads up that there are two stories and the walkways are narrow, so it’s not great with a stroller.

Good To Know:  Piazza Navona gets crowded, so keep an eye on your little ones!  If you can, come in the early morning, when most people are still asleep or eating breakfast.  You can always nap later!

Good To Know:  If you visit Rome during Christmas, your kids will get a chance to explore the piazza’s famous Christmas market

Explore Villa Borghese – cycle, playground

Mom with two sons on a multi-person bicycle on a path in Villa Borghese in Rome.
Cycling with my boys in Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese is Rome’s answer to New York’s Central Park.  Plus, it’s perched up on a hill with prime views of the city.

If your kids are like mine, they’ll enjoy exploring Rome, but at a certain point, they’ll want a playground and space to run around.

Walk (or taxi, or bus) up to Villa Borghese gardens and spend an afternoon (or an entire day!):

  • at the playground
  • on the 4-person bicycles
  • checking out the views of Rome
  • finding the water clock
  • renting a row boat at the laghetto (little lake)
  • having a picnic in the grass

Read my guide to Villa Borghese with Kids

Attend Gladiator School

Two boys battling with swords and shields in a sand arena at Gladiator School in Rome while their instructor looks on.
My boys in their final battle at Gladiator School

This was a highlight of our recent trip to Rome for my two elementary-age boys.  It’s outside the city walls, but easy enough to get to, and the two hours spent here makes great memories for the kids and adults.

First you’ll visit the small on-site museum, where you’ll learn about Roman soldiers and Roman gladiators.  Then, your kids train, learn gladiator skills, and finally… battle!

As a mom, I appreciate the combo of fun and learning.  And my boys loved battling,  being active, and living out their gladiator dreams!

Read about Our Experience at Gladiator School in Rome

Good To Know:  It’s hot in the summer and the class sizes are larger. Spectators can sit in the shade, but participants don’t.  During the summer, I recommend booking the first time slot in the morning.  My boys got some sand on their pants but we didn’t feel the need to change clothes for the rest of the day.

Go on a Kid-Friendly Tour of the Colosseum

Group of four kids with guide stand outside the Colosseum in Rome. One child points at something high on Colosseum.
With my son on a family-friendly tour of the Colosseum

I’ve been to the Colosseum multiple times, on my own and on tours.  My favorite visit was actually on a family tour with one of my boys.  Our guide Simona (from Rome Tours with Kids) was patient, full of fun facts and visual props for the kids, and she made the entire visit interactive. 

The enormous amphitheatre, completed in AD80, held tens of thousands of spectators who came to be entertained – often by gladiators.  Walking into the Colosseum is a huge ‘wow’ moment for kids and adults.

Helpful Tip:  If you’re planning on signing up for Gladiator School, visit the Colosseum afterward so your kids can imagine what they’ve just learned about!

Explore the Roman Forum

Boy standing on large cobblestones at the Roman Forum and pointing up at something.
My son at the Roman Forum (on a family tour)

Along with visiting the Colosseum, walking through the Roman Forum can be an incredible experience for kids.  They’ll have the chance to imagine what daily life was like during ancient Rome. 

You can also visit on a kid-friendly tour.  We have, and it’s the only way I’d visit with kids now.

Go to a Soccer Game

Rome is home to not one, but two Serie A (the highest level) soccer teams – Roma and Lazio. 

You can see them play at Stadio Olimpico.  The Serie A season runs from August through May.

Be sure to read
Going to a Soccer Game in Italy
Tips for Going to a Soccer Game in Italy with Kids

Throw a Coin in the Trevi Fountain

If your kids have seen the Lizzie McGuire Movie, they’ll recognize the Trevi Fountain from Lizzie’s scene with the famous Italian singer.

Want to return to Rome?  At the base of the fountain, have your kids turn their backs to it and throw a coin over their left shoulders using their right hands.

Good To Know:  The Trevi Fountain is almost always crowded – early morning visits are best!

Climb St. Peter’s Dome

If a visit to the Vatican Museums feels like too much for your family (and that’s understandable!), let your kids move – climb up St. Peter’s dome!

Buy your tickets through a third-party vendor like Viator or GetYourGuide, or play-it-by-ear and buy your tickets (with cash) at the ticket office at St. Peter’s Basilica. 

You’ve got a couple of options – climb the 500+ steps (!) or take the elevator and climb a few stairs towards the top.  If it’s a hot summer day, choose the latter.  At the top, enjoy the spectacular views!

Find Your Favorite Gelato

Boys wearing coats peek inside window at person making gelato at shop in Rome.
My boys watching gelato being made at Gelateria La Romana

Gelato is always a good idea in Italy, and you’ve got plenty of high-quality gelaterie in Rome.

Grab a cup or cone of the icy treat and sit in a piazza, stroll a cobblestone lane, or sit on a bench and watch Roman life pass you by.

Be sure to check out my picks for Where to Find the Best Gelato in Rome

Soak up the Atmosphere at the Spanish Steps

Wander down Via dei Condotti past the ‘fancy’ shops and finish at the Spanish Steps. 

Let your kids check out Bernini’s ‘boat’ fountain, and take some time to people-watch.  Be sure to climb to the top to check out the view!

Fun Fact:  The Spanish Steps are officially named the Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti after the church at the top.  They earned the nickname ‘Spanish Steps’ because they’re close to the Spanish Embassy (near the base of the steps).

Listen to Music in the Piazza del Popolo

People walking around Piazza del Popolo in Rome. Most are gathered around the large obelisk in the center where street musicians play and sing.
Our walk through Piazza del Popolo on a sunny winter day

The Piazza del Popolo (at the northern end of the Via del Corso shopping street) is a nice spot in Rome for kids in general because it’s huge, so kids can run around in the middle (but there is a road around the border of it and there’s not a barrier around the entire border).

You’ll also find street performers, singers, and artists here.

We like to get a gelato at Gelateria dei Gracchi and eat it while we stroll in the piazza.

Good To Know:  You can walk up the path to Villa Borghese from here, but there are steps, so it’s not stroller-friendly.  And, there’s a small section on the road.

Marvel at the Pantheon

Boy in red sweatshirt stands inside Pantheon and looks up at dome.
My son inside the Pantheon – look up!

Step inside the Pantheon and gaze up at the gigantic dome.  Older kids will likely appreciate the history and architecture of the

If your younger kids are like mine, they’ll be more interested in what happens when it rains – you can find the drains in the floor.  Mine also loved looking for coins in the drains and finding Raphael’s tomb.

Watch the Murmuration at Sunset

The starlings (birds) come out in the evening in Rome and if they catch your eye, you won’t be able to look away.

The murmuration is mesmerizing!

You’ll see them mostly between late-fall and early-spring, when they migrate to Italy from chilly northern Europe.

Gaze at the Statues in Centrale Montemartini

This museum features ancient statues in a unique setting – an old power plant!  While it may not scream out ‘kid-friendly,’ it’s an easy place to visit with little ones and a stroller, and it’s less crowded than some of the other major sites and museums.

Helpful Tip:  Train-lovers shouldn’t miss the room with Pope Pius IX’s train (the sala del treno di Pio IX).

Have a Foot Race at the Circus Maximus

This enormous site was once home to chariot races.  You’ll have to use your imagination to picture the stands and grandeur. 

Let your kids run wild and race, play tag, or sit in the grass and have a snack.

Put Your Hand in the Mouth of Truth

Yes, it’s a little silly, but putting your hand in the ‘mouth of truth’ (bocca della verità) is fun and memorable for kids (and it’s still free for them – adults pay €2).

Legend has it that if you put your hand in and tell a lie – the mouth will bite your hand off.  Is this a good time to ask your child if he ate the cookies from the counter?

Browse at a Toy Shop

Rome is full of museums, churches and monuments, but sometimes you need something more suitable for little ones.  Cue the Roman toy shops!

You’ll find them scattered around the city, but if you want to check out our favorites, head to:

Al Sogno (northern end of Piazza Navona) – interesting mix of toys on two levels; narrow spaces

LEGO (near the Spanish Steps) – we love visiting LEGO stores in Italian cities for their city-themed displays, and Rome’s central store is no exception

Città del Sole (best branches in center – near the Pantheon and between the Colosseum and Roma Termini station) – our favorite Italian toy store, great selection of fun and educational toys for kids of all ages

Sample Roman Cuisine

Hand holds up supplì in front of market in Rome.
My boys love Rome’s supplì – such a kid-friendly (and delicious!) Roman snack

There are tons of kid-friendly food options in Rome.  Some of our favorites are:

  • pinsa – Roman-style pizza
  • supplì – fried rice balls with different fillings like ragù or cacio e pepe; kind of like Sicilian arancini
  • carbonara – Roman pasta sauce made with eggs, pecorino romano cheese, guanciale (pork), and pepper; usually served with spaghetti
  • cacio e pepe – Roman pasta sauce made with pecorino romano cheese and pepper

Helpful Tip:  I always feel like we don’t get enough fruits and vegetables when we eat out in Rome.  Try to get your daily 5 in with fresh fruit from local markets.

See One Part of the Vatican Museums

Boy walks in ornate gallery of maps in Vatican Museums in Rome.
My son wanders down the Gallery of Maps in the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are big, crowded, and overwhelming for adults, let alone kids.  In my experience, I’ve found that it’s best to skip the Vatican Museums with kids, or to choose one part to visit.

For example, my son is fascinated with Egypt and mummies.  So, we visited and saw the Sistine Chapel (we’d been learning about Michelangelo) and the Egypt section.  We also lingered in the map hall, because it’s one of my favorite places in the museums and if your kids are into maps, it’s a worthwhile stop.

Another option is to take a kid-friendly tour, but I’d avoid spending hours in the Vatican Museums with kids.

Helpful Tip:  Take a break in the garden area for a snack and some fresh air.

Shop for a Treat in the Campo de’ Fiori

Vendor sells cheese and cured meats at a stand at the Campo de' Fiori Market in Rome.
A vendor selling cheeses and cured meats in Campo de’ Fiori

Campo de’ Fiori is one of Rome’s best piazzas for kids – day or night.  During the day, it’s home to a bustling market.  Let your kids use their Italian words and phrases to purchase fruit for a snack.  Or, if you have a son like mine, to purchase pecorino romano as a souvenir. 

In the evening, the piazza is surrounded by lively restaurants and your kids can run around in the square while you enjoy aperitivo or finish your meal.

Go Shopping on Via del Corso

People walk on the pedestrian street of Via del Corso in Rome, Italy. Three story buildings are on either side of the street. Shops like Mango and Intimissimi line the street.
On our weekend walk down Via del Corso

Via del Corso, which runs between Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Venezia (the ‘wedding cake’ building), is home to a variety of shops of both Italian and international origin.

The northern end of the street (towards Piazza del Popolo) is pedestrian only, and it’s fairly wide. 

Stop to check out street performers, peek in the shops, and enjoy a leisurely stroll with your kids.  It’s a nice place to walk if you have a stroller because there’s plenty of room.  You’ll see Roman parents out walking their kids in strollers too.

My boys always make a stop at Legami (stationary, little toys, odds and ends) – Via del Corso, 100.  There’s also a velvet art shop for kids (Ecolors Art, Via Angelo Brunetti, 2) and a few clothing and shoe shops.

Welcome To Rome Visual Experience

Have you ever looked at a pile of ruins and had no idea what it could have been? 

The 25-minute multimedia Welcome to Rome show takes the guesswork out of it. 

You’re taken on a journey through Roman history and you get to see what the major sites likely looked like.

While this is helpful for adults, it definitely makes visiting Rome’s ruins and sites more exciting for kids!

Helpful Tip:  Like going on a golf cart tour, this activity is best done at the beginning of your Rome visit.

Find Your Favorite Street Art

We are always on the lookout for street art wherever we go in Italy.  One of the most accessible murals is the Jumping Wolf, by ROA.  It’s located in Testaccio, just around the corner from the Testaccio market (a great stop if you’ve got a foodie kid!).

Walk Through the Capuchin Crypt

Hand holds up three postcards of Capuchin Crypt in Rome.
Postcards from our visit to the Capuchin Crypt

This isn’t for everyone, but my 9-year-old had read about it and really wanted to see it.  The Capuchin Crypt sits under the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini (Church of Saint Mary of the Conception of the Capuchins) and it’s truly unique in that the chapels of the crypt are decorated with bones of Capuchin friars.

You begin the visit by walking through the museum with an audioguide (there’s even a kids’ version).  My boys were not interested and wanted to go straight to the crypt.  I did manage to get them to stop at Caravaggio’s painting of St. Francis and we talked about both of them. 

The crypt is dark (heads up), quiet, and you walk along a narrow path past the six chapels.  The decoration of the chapels is complex, eerie, and beautiful. 

As it’s a holy place to be respected, photos are not allowed, but you can purchase postcards and trinkets in the gift shop at the end of the visit.  Yes, we now have a skull magnet on our fridge.

Say Hello to the Pope

Are your kids fascinated by the Pope?  Would seeing him be a meaningful moment for your children?

If so, you can attend the Papal Audience on Wednesday mornings (when the Pope’s in town), or the Sunday Angelus, which finishes with a blessing.

You don’t need to pay for tickets.  You can get the most up-to-date info on the Pope’s official pages for the Papal Audience and Papal Audience Tickets.

Good To Know:  The language used is mostly Italian, but other languages like English, French, German (and others) are used to.  It’s a nice way for your kids to hear other languages and try to identify them.

Walk Through Layers of History at the Basilica di San Clemente

Explore underground Rome, from an ancient Roman house to a church, to the upper level where the Basilica of San Clemente (and its glittering mosaics) stands at street level. 

Helpful Tip:  If you decide to visit the Domus Romane or Domus Aurea, you’d be fine to skip this.

I hope this has given you some inspiration for things to do with your kids in Rome!

You may also want to check out
Best Places to Visit in Italy with Kids
Things to Do in Italy with Kids
Italy with a Baby or Toddler
Italy Packing List for a Baby or Toddler
Italy with Teens
Italy Packing List for Kids

Boy walking in Monti neighborhood in Rome, Italy. Cobblestone street, buildings on either side.
Walking through the Monti neighborhood with my son

Things to Do in Rome with Kids – FAQ

Is it a mistake to drag my kids to the Vatican Museum?

The Vatican Museums can be crowded and hot, and a drag for kids.  But, if you visit on a family tour or just see one or two parts of it, it can be a pleasant experience.  For example, a nice visit I’ve done is Hall of Maps, Sistine Chapel, and Egypt – with a break for a snack in the outdoor courtyard.

Is the Vatican City worth visiting with kids?

I don’t think it’s a must, as there’s a ton to do without even stepping foot in the Vatican City.  We’ve made plenty of trips to Rome without visiting the Vatican City.  However, your kids may be interested in seeing something in the Vatican Museums, climbing St. Peter’s dome, or even sending a postcard from the smallest country in the world (at just .19 square miles a population of around 500 people)!

Is it worth visiting the Borghese Gallery (Villa Borghese) with kids?

I don’t plan on bringing my boys (oldest is in elementary school) anytime soon.  The Borghese Gallery has an amazing collection of sculptures, but if your kids aren’t into art or sculptures, you’ll be dragging them through it.  I’d choose the Centrale Montemartini over it because of the unique setting and the train.  If you really want to go, you could plan a visit to the Galleria Borghese followed by time in the Villa Borghese Gardens (a hit for kids!).

Is a Rome tour in a golf cart or in the hop-on-hop-off bus more suitable for small children? 

Kids wear seatbelts in the golf cart tour, but if you have wiggly little ones or more than two kids (only two people per bench in the golf cart), you’ll probably feel more relaxed on the bus.  If your kids are up for interacting with a guide, the golf cart tour is a great way to get an intro to the city and its sites.

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