Rome with kids: What is fun for children in the Colosseum and what impresses them in St. Peter’s Basilica? Where do children make their own ice cream and where is the best pizza? This and much more you will find here for your optimal family vacation in Rome.
In Rome there is something for children to discover at every turn. Whether fountains, statues or ancient Egyptian obelisks, a magic shop, the Colosseum or St. Peter’s Basilica, your children will be thrilled.
And of course, there must be room for a homemade ice cream, a pizza and a large portion of spaghetti.
Look down on Rome from a vantage point and watch the cannon being fired at noon. Take a boat on the Villa Borghese lake and visit the zoo or take a trip to the sea.
Attractions with children
Colosseum, and St. Peter’s Basilica, Castel Sant’Angelo and Pantheon, Fontana di Trevi and Spanish Steps, how do you reconcile all of these?
In the section 3 days in Rome you will find program proposals for half a day that you can combine. For this we have here some tips to visit the attractions with children.
For the Colosseum you need about an hour. Go straight to the 1st floor. On the way to the exit you will have enough time to visit the ground floor. On the 1st floor there are beautiful exhibitions and numerous models. See how the Amphitheatrum Flavium looked like. The games and the stage technology, especially the elevators, are explained.
The stairs are quite steep. If you are with a stroller or buggy, take the elevator at the left end of the corridor. Admission to 18 and under is free. You also need a reservation for the free tickets.
The Palatine Hill is very beautiful. You will not only find ruins and beautiful views of the Colosseum, the forums and the Circus Maximus, but also chickens, rabbits and a botanical collection of plants. The Colosseum ticket is valid for visiting the Palatine Hill.
The area is big. You need 1-2 hours here.
From the Colosseum you can take the hop on hop off bus to the Angel Bridge. From there you can either visit Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Basilica or you can walk towards the center to Piazza Navona.
You can combine the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica in half a day. An average visit to the museums takes three hours. There is a lot to see from the Etruscan and ancient Egyptian times to modern times. In the Apostolic Palace, the rooms painted by Raphael, the apartment of the famous Borgia Pope and the Sistine Chapel are part of the tour. There are maps, tapestries, paintings, sculptures and large and small works of art and equipment of all kinds.
If you just want to see the Sistine Chapel only, follow the signs for the direct route. You will then need about an hour.
Entry is free for children up to 6 years of age and they do not need a reservation. Young people up to 18 and students up to 25 pay reduced tickets.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica will take you an hour. For the ascent to the dome you have to reckon with a good hour. Due to the current visitor guidance, it is better to visit St. Peter’s Basilica first and then the dome and St. Peter’s Square. Access is through the right portico. Priority access tours begin on the left side of St. Peter’s Basilica. For information, see our article on admission and opening hours for St. Peter’s Basilica. The open bus for the Vatican Gardens also departs from there.
The smaller the kids are, the more enormous everything seems to them. And there is so much to see in St. Peter’s Basilica. You should be careful not to lose sight of your kids.
For a description, see our article History and Description of St. Peter’s Basilica. The third chapel on the right side is the Sacrament Chapel. It is very beautiful and you can rest a bit on the benches. You are only allowed in to pray, “per pregare”, and photography is forbidden.
The dome is supported by four huge pillars. In front of the first pillar on the right sits St. Peter. Under the papal altar with its huge canopy is said to be the apostle’s tomb. Take a look inside the huge dome designed by Michelangelo and at Peter’s throne, the “Cathedra Petri” with the mosaic of the Holy Spirit above it.
In front of the altar is the richly decorated Confessio, which leads to the area under the altar.
The grottoes of St. Peter’s Basilica
The grottos are located on the first underground level of the basilica. You are on the floor of the first St. Peter’s Basilica built by Emperor Constantine. Today’s St. Peter’s Basilica was built one floor above the floor of the old basilica.
For children, the grottoes represent a mysterious world with nooks and crannies, sarcophagi, statues and pictures of many popes.
Many masses are celebrated in the grottoes and they are then closed to the public, although official opening times are published. The access to the grottoes is at the corners of the transepts of the basilica. The exit of the caves (which is sometimes used as an entrance) is at the ticket offices to the dome.
Take the elevator to the dome and look down at the city from the roof of the basilica and into the basilica from the inner dome walkway. You cannot turn back when climbing the dome. There is a narrow spiral staircase on the last stretch.
From above you have an unforgettable view in all directions. To the east and south you look over the city, to the west to the gardens and the station of the Vatican, to the north to the museums.
St. Peter’s Square
After visiting the basilica, relax in St. Peter’s Square. Check out the two ancient fountains and cool off a bit in the summer. Check out the obelisk, which also acts as a sundial. Around the obelisk you will find a compass rose with names and characteristics of the winds. Look for the center of Bernini’s colonnades! If you stand on it, you will see all the columns lined up.
Look at the statues, Peter with the key and Paul with the sword.
Look for the balcony from which the Pope gives the blessing!
By the way, you will find drinking water at the four lanterns around the obelisk.
From Porta Angelica you can walk to Castel Sant’Angelo along the wall where the escape route of the popes from the Vatican to Castel Sant’Angelo is located. It is called “Passetto“. At Castel Sant’Angelo you will also find a children’s playground.
The hop on hop off bus stop is on the other side of Ponte Sant’Angelo.
Castel Sant’Angelo was built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian until 139. It was then rebuilt again and again, served as a prison and as a refuge for the popes. The further you climb, the more beautiful the view becomes. There is a museum and historical weapons and armor from the Swiss Guards can be seen. It is worth buying the tickets in advance. Admission is free up to the age of 18.
Over the Angel Bridge and from the hop on hop off bus stop, continue through Via di Panico and Via dei Coronari to Piazza Navona. You will pass by the first-class gelateria del Teatro ice cream parlor. To the right behind it in Via della Vetrina you can get quick pasta dishes for lunch at Solopasta. On Via della Vetrina you will also come to Piazza Navona and find some nice bars and restaurants along the way.
This baroque square was an athletics stadium in ancient times. The remains can be viewed under the square. In the center is the Fountain of the Four Rivers, Danube, Nile, Ganges and Rio della Plata, built by Bernini. Rio della Plata in particular looks quite horrified at the Church of St. Agnes, built later by Borromini. Bernini and Borromini were fierce competitors. It is said that Rio della Plata is afraid that the church will fall down. On top of the church is a statue of St. Agnes. She seems to assure him that this will not happen.
On the way to the Pantheon, we recommend a detour through Piazza di Sant’Eustachio. On one side is the fabulous Gran Cafè Sant’Eustachio, where a first-class frothy sugared coffee is stirred together. Across the street is the ice cream parlor of South Tyrolean Günther Rohregger. So the whole family is satisfied.
The pantheon with its columns and dome is impressive. The dome has a larger diameter than the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. In the Pantheon it is always shady and pleasantly cool. Watch the sky through the dome and watch the sun fall into the structure. In the ground you will find the drains for the rainwater!
The Pantheon was converted into a church in the 7th century called Santa Maria ad Martyres.
Admission is free and you don’t need a reservation.
At the Pantheon, take the Caffè Tazza d’Oro di Via degli Orfani and come to the magic shop Eclectica, where Harry Potter was already shopping. This is followed by an obelisk in front of the parliament and the column of Marcus Aurelius in front of the palace of the head of government. Take the streets to the right of the opposite gallery to the Trevi Fountain.
Trevi Fountain is the most famous fountain in Rome. Children used to go swimming in the fountain. Today it is even forbidden to put a toe in the water.
The builders loved to surprise the visitors. You walk through narrow streets and you may already hear the sound of water. Then suddenly you stand in front of the fountain. Throw a coin into it and you will come back to Rome again.
By the way, to the right of the church of Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio there is a Magnum store.
Actually it should be called French Steps. It was financed by French people and connects the Spanish Square with the French church Trinità dei Monti. To the left of it is the French Cultural Institute in the Villa Medici. In Italian it is therefore called Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti. The English name comes from Spanish Square, where the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See is. At the time of the Papal States, it was extraterritorial and those who were persecuted by the Papal State tried to take refuge in this square.
Take the stairs and reach to the left the Pincio and continue to Villa Borghese and the Zoo.
The catacombs are very exciting for children. Since the ground was already scarce in ancient Rome, the necropolises were dug into the depths. You can visit the catacombs only with a guided tour. The Calixtus Catacombs on the Appia Antica constantly offer guided tours in English. Explore the passages that were dug into the ground for the burials! In the catacombs it is consistently cool all year round. This is a pleasant refreshment especially on hot summer days!
The most important are:
- The Gianicolo terrace. A cannon is shot under the terrace every day at noon;
- The orange garden on the Aventine;
- The Palatine Hill with various viewpoints;
- The loggia under the town hall on the Capitol. It is accessible through the Capitoline Museums;
- The Terrazza Caffarelli in the Bar of the Capitoline Museums;
- The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica:
- The terrace of the Castel Sant’Angelo;
- The Zodiaco on Monte Mario;
- The Pincio.
The cannon on the Gianicolo
The Pincio is just above the Piazza del Popolo. In addition to the wonderful view over the city, you will also find an old water clock and bicycles here. There and at the zoo you can also find all sorts of pedal bikes.
From the Pincio you come directly to the Villa Borghese park. There the children can ride the pony or you can go for a round in a rowboat on the lake.
With a little luck, you catch the little train that passes through the villa. Unfortunately, no timetable is known. Stops are at the Pincio, at the cinema café “Casa del Cinema” and at the Borghese Gallery. From there it is not far to the zoo. The tour lasts about twenty minutes and costs 3 euros.
At the end of the park is the Roman Zoo, in Italian Bioparco. The zoo was designed by Carl Hagenbeck and opened in 1911. The zoo goes to great lengths to convey nature to the children. Admission is free for children up to 10 years and a height of one meter, above they pay 13 euros, adults 16 euros. The train in the zoo costs 1.50 euros.
In Rome and the surrounding area there are a few parks that offer a welcome change.
The Luneur Park offers many rides. It is located in the south of the city in the EUR district on Via Cristoforo Colombo. The opening times in winter are irregular, mostly Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., in summer daily until midnight. On the Luneur website you can see the calendar with the opening days. Bus connections are lines 30, 170, 714 and 791, Colombo / Agricoltura stop. From there it is 750m to the entrance on Via delle Tre Fontane 100.
Hydromania is an amusement pool in western Rome.
Hydromania is located at exit 33 of the Grande Raccordo Anulare. Unfortunately it is not easy to reach by public transport. The journey by bus 088 from the terminus of Tram 8 near Casaletto is a bit lengthy.
Cinecittà World is a theme park about cinema and television. It is located next to the Castel Romano outlet center on Via Pontina between Rome and Pomezia. A shuttle bus runs from the Termini main station. Tickets
The city of Rome offers 471 children’s playgrounds with a size between 200 and 500 square meters.
One of them is right behind the Castel Sant’Angelo. You will also find playgrounds in the Roman villas and parks.
There is a playhouse for 3-10 year old children in Villa Borghese. It’s called Casina Raffaello and is open Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday until 7 p.m. If you are there at the moment, you can have a look, the entrance fee is 7 euros.
Museums and Shows
Leonardo da Vinci exhibitions
There are two Leonardo exhibitions in Rome. With their vivid models of the inventions of the great thinker, the exhibitions are very interesting for children.
The Leonardo da Vinci Experience exhibition is located on Via di Conciliazione near St. Peter’s Basilica.
The exhibition The Genius Leonardo is located in the area between Piazza Navona and Campo de’ Fiori.
The Time Elevator show tells the history of Rome in an exciting 5-D spectacle. The show is right at Piazza Venezia.
Gladiator school and museum
The gladiator school is located at the beginning of the Via Appia Antica near the Catacombs of Calixtus. A visit to the catacombs and the gladiators can be easily combined.
Vigamus video game museum
The video game museum is a specialty for old and young. The older generation will feel nostalgic when they see the game consoles from the early days of computer technology again. Learn the history of video games and see hero characters and storyboards. See what’s behind creating a video game. The museum is located near Piazza Mazzini in Via Sabotino 4. Bus 30, 69, 89, 495 Mazzini / Calboli and bus 32 Viale Angelico / Mazzini. Tickets
The Explora children’s museum in Via Flaminia 82 is also famous, but to be honest, it wasn’t a big hit with our children when they were that age. Admission to Explora costs 9 euros and the maximum length of stay is 105 minutes.
Ice cream parlors
There are many ice cream parlors with their own production in Rome. The ice cream is made from natural raw materials and partly using organic products. These ice cream parlors offer changing varieties depending on the season.
We therefore urgently advise you not to buy ice cream from the mobile vending carts, which mostly comes from industrial production – it’s a shame about the money. You should also avoid points of sale where the ice cream shines in all sorts of bright neon colors.
One attraction is Sweety Gelato Roma. Here the children can put their own ice cream together and it is paid by weight. The ice cream parlor is in Via del Biscione, which is behind Campo de’ Fiori left of the cinema.
The children can put together their own Magnum in the Magnum Pleasure Store in Via di San Vincenzo by the Trevi Fountain.
For more information on ice cream parlors, check out our post on the best ice cream parlors in Rome.
Eating with children
Spaghetti and pizza, which kid doesn’t want that? In Rome you can find pizza and pasta on almost every other street corner. The quick fix for the small appetite is the pizza al taglio – cut pizza – you can ask to cut off as much as you want, and it will be paid by weight. Our favorite is “Pizza Rustica” in Via Flaminia 24, next to Piazza del Popolo, open from Monday to Saturday 7am to 8:30pm. In addition, there is also a branch of the coffee roaster and delicatessen Castroni. From there you can climb up to the lake at Villa Borghese. Worth mentioning is also the “Pizzeria Romana” in the Via del Governo Vecchio on the way from Piazza Navona to the Vatican, open Monday to Saturday 10am to 9pm. Pizza al taglio in Rome
The specialists for pasta can be found between Navona and the Vatican in Via della Vetrina, a side street off Via dei Coronari. With “Solo Pasta” you can choose the type of pasta and combine it with the daily offer of typical sauces for 5 euros including a bottle of water, the large portion for 7 euros. The opening time is Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., on Saturday until 4 p.m., on Sunday it is closed. In Via dei Coronari you will also find the Gelateria del Teatro, one of the best ice cream parlors in Rome.
A very cozy typical restaurant with a pizzeria just behind Piazza Navona is “Virginiae” in via di Parione 41, Monday is closed.
For sweet pastries, our insider tip is the Pasticceria Cinque Lune. It has a small, inconspicuous entrance on Corso del Rinascimento 89, right next to Piazza Navona. The little sweet things like “Monte bianco” – meringue with chestnut cream and cream – or Cassata Siciliana made from green marzipan and ricotta on a biscuit base are billed according to weight. The pastry shop is open Tuesday – Sunday 8 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
If you don’t want your children to eat that much chocolate, you might be better off avoiding the Lindt Shop in Via della Maddalena behind the Pantheon. Venchi also makes everything possible from chocolate, such as confetti, ice cream or liqueur. The shops are by the Pantheon and on Via del Corso.
There are also a variety of children’s clothing stores around Via del Corso. An attraction for children is of course the Disney Store in Via del Corso 165, just behind the Palace of the Prime Minister, Palazzo Chigi. Read more under Shopping in Rome
With the kids to the sea
From Rome you can easily take the train from the Pyramid Metro Station to Ostia Lido. This line belongs to the city and there is no extra to charge.
The station Lido Centro is centrally located and you can walk from there to a viewpoint that reaches into the sea (Pontile di Ostia). The three other stations Stella Polare, Castel Fusano and Cristoforo Colombo bring you to the southern coastline of Ostia.
With baby in Rome
Maneuvering through Rome with prams and buggies is arduous. Many sidewalks are narrow and often there is only a bumpy stone paving. The buses are tight and you cannot use the escalators on the metro. The elevators are broken in many metro stations. So you need to organize yourself so that you can carry the children.
Changing tables can be found in the larger shops and in the public toilets in Rome.
Children and young people up to a certain age receive free admission or discounts.
Public transport in Rome (ATAC): One child up to the age of 10 travels free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Regional buses (COTRAL): Free travel for children up to one meter tall.
Trains: Free travel up to the age of 4 when accompanied by a paying adult and without a seat of their own. 50% up to the age of 12 years. Above that, the full fare applies.
Trains from Fiumicino Airport to Rome: One child up to the age of 12 travels free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Hop on hop off Buses
Which kid doesn’t want to drive around in an open bus? Most providers carry children up to the age of 4 for free and offer discounts up to the age of 15. More information about the hop on hop off buses
Museums of the Municipality of Rome: Free entry for children up to 6 years, reduced entry up to 18 years. The municipality’s museums include the Capitoline Museums, the Trajan Markets and numerous other museums
National museums in Rome: Free entry for EU citizens up to the age of 18. The national museums include the Colosseum, Castel Sant’Angelo and numerous other museums. List and opening times of the museums
At most museums you always need a reservation, even for free entry.
Colosseum: The free tickets for children and young people must also be reserved. A reservation fee is required. More information about the Colosseum tickets
Vatican Museums: Free entry for children up to 6 years without reservation, reduced entry up to 18 years. More information about the Vatican Museums
In case of emergancy
Not every hospital in Rome has an emergency department for children. These hospitals are not allowed to treat or accept children.
The three following hospitals enjoy a good reputation. The services are covered for EU citizens by the European Health Card EHIC. Without a health card the services have to be paid by tariff.
Bambin Gesù is the internationally acclaimed children’s hospital of the Vatican. The emergency department is located at the entrance to Piazza di Sant’Onofrio No. 4 on the ascent to Gianicolo, opposite the Gianicolo car park terminal.
First aid is always busy and depending on the urgency of your case, you sometimes have to wait longer.
Ospedale San Camillo
Also the public hospital of San Camillo has an excellent children’s department and the waiting times are not so long.
It is located on Circonvallazione Gianicolense 87 and is easily reached by tram line 8. The entrance to the emergency room is just opposite the stop. The hospital was completely renovated a few years ago, but unfortunately there is no control and some patients think they have to take a souvenir.
The University Clinic Gemelli
Gemelli is also under the ecclesiastical direction. Here, the pope is treated in an emergency, too.
The hospital is located on Monte Mario on the Via di Pineta Sacchetti and can be reached by bus or train.