50 of the best things to do in Rome with kids in 2021

by marta

Expert selection of the best things to do in Rome with kids: Rome family-friendly attractions, Rome museums for kids, parks, food and family tours in Rome for kids of all ages.

Rome offers a staggering amount of things to do with kids.

Families who visit Rome for the first time can easily involve the kids in sightseeing and visits to Rome’s main sites and people with a little more time in the city can choose between many family tours, child-friendly attractions and outdoor activities.

50 thing to do in Rome with kids

As a local mama, I have tried pretty much any activity I could think of and this is my handpicked list: these are the best things to do in Rome with kids for your family travels to Rome.

Make sure you mix visits to these sites with plenty of stops for pizza and gelato! Find here >>> the best gelato in Rome City center and here >>> the best pizza in Rome.

Top tip! If you are in Rome with older kids and young adults, I recommend you also read my guide with things to do in Rome with teens.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links and, should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Things to do in Rome with kids: top sights

Visit the impressive Colosseum with a kid-friendly guide

The Colosseum always makes an impression on children and it is a wonderful place to visit as a family.

The best Colosseum tickets to get are those including the underground (with the lift used to bring up the animals – usually a highlight for kids!) and the top tier, from where you get stunning views.

Worth seeing is also the exhibition on the second floor, which has a nice reconstruction of the Colosseum that always gets a wow as it shows it how it was before all the damage happened.

You can find all my tips for visiting the Colosseum with kids here. Good tickets to get are:

Standard entry tickets – value option, best for older kids

Family guided tour – best for primary school age kids

Explore the Roman Forum and the Palatine hill – including where Roman kids used to play marbles!

The Roman Forum and the Palatine hill lie beside the Colosseum and are a wonderful place to explore with kids.

Go in spring for the best experience and make sure you get all the way up to the Palatine Hill: kids tend to love it here as if feels a little bit like a park, with lots of open spaces, and the massive ruins of the Emperor’s Palace and the view over Rome never fail to impress!

My kids adore the area called Horti Farnesiani, which has cool fountains, and also the corner of the forum where you can see where the Romans used to play ‘marbles’!

You can find all my tips for visiting the Roman Forum here.

Look at the sky from inside the Pantheon

The Pantheon is an ancient temple now turned church with something special: a massive hole in the roof (by design, it is called oculus)!

Kids and adults are left to wonder what happens when it rains but even on a dry day you can engage your children in trying to figure it out!

Spoiler: it does rain in the Pantheon and you can spot the Roman rain drainage system on the Pantheon floors, just under the oculus!

The Pantheon is also where Queen Margherita of Savoys is buried: she is the one who gave the name to the famous Margherita pizza! One of the many fun facts you find about the Pantheon.

You can find the answer to this question, fun facts and tips for visiting the Pantheon here.

Catch a view from the top of the Vittoriano

The Vittoriano is a strange looking building overlooking Piazza Venezia and locals refer to it with a nickname that highlights its peculiarity: we call it ‘the typewriter’ (English speakers often say ‘wedding cake’)

The building is unmissable and has something special: a wonderful terrace with glorious views over Rome.

Kids love climbing up here (you cannot use a stroller but the steps are large and easy) and there is a cafe on the second terrace where they can get a juice or a snack.

From the same terrace, you have a great view over the Forum and the Colosseum!

See the she-wolf on the Campidoglio hill – Rome’s kid friendly animal symbol

The symbol of Rome is a she-wolf feeding two children: Rome’s founder Romolo and his brother Remo.

You can see her depicted in many parts of Rome but the best place to get acquainted with her is on the Campidoglio hill: challenge your kids to spot her (she is outside, free for all to see)!

You can find here the story of the Rome she-wolf and how to see her: the original statue is inside the Capitoline Museums, also on this hill, however, the museums are so big they may prove too hard for little ones: if that is the case, the replica on the piazza is perfect!

Fun fact! On top of the Campidoglio Hill you also have the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, one of the most famous statues in Rome: if you have euro coins, have a look as Italian ones have its image on them!

You can find all my tips for visiting the Campidoglio Hill here.

Piazza del Campidoglio with statue of Marcus Aurelius in the center
Piazza del Campidoglio is beautiful and car free

Cross and international border entering Vatican city

The Vatican is a state within a State and entering St Peter’s square effectively means crossing an international border!

There is no border control as such between Rome and the Vatican but the Vatican City is an independent State and they have their own stamps, euro and security, the Swiss Guards.

They have uniforms not to be missed and guaranteed to be a hit with kids and not just!

Make sure you show your kids the markings on the floor of the basilica showing the size of other wired churches vs St Peters’, the foot of St Peter’s, kissed so many times it is now consumed (!), the Swiss Guards minding the Smallest State in the world, the magic of the columns disappearing from the square and the stunning Vatican gardens, a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city.

There is plenty to see in the Vatican with kids: you can find out complete guide to child friendly attractions in Vatican City here and our guide to the Basilica and gardens here.

Climb St Peter’s dome – the most exciting place in Rome for kids who love high places

Older kids and fit parents may love the climb up to St Peter’s dome.

Not for the faint of heart or if you are at all prone to claustrophobia, the climb rewards your effort with probably the most beautiful view over Rome you can get.

>>> Read about prices and details for a guided tour of the basilica including dome climb here <<<

Spy St Peter’s dome from a keyhole

If you prefer to see the dome for afar, take the easier climb to the top of the Aventine hill.

Here lies a small square with a large black door protecting the institute of the Maltese Knights. Get the kids to spy through the keyhole and enjoy their delighted surprise. The keyhole frames the dome perfectly!

You can read how to find the Aventine Keyhole here

Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain

Do you want to come back to Rome? Then you simply must throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain: tradition says if you do so, you are sure to return to the Eternal city, something sure worth a penny!

Climb up the Spanish steps

Not much to do at the Spanish steps but climb up (or down) and take family photos!

Small kids are likely to enjoy seeing the Barcaccia fountain by Bernini, one of the most famous fountains in Rome, and its story, while older kids may enjoy the shopping opportunities nearby – all will love to stretch their legs to Villa Borghese nearby (see below).

Explore Castel Sant’Angelo – one of the most child friendly attractions in Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the best Rome attractions for kids and one you can visit without a tour thanks to its excellent info panels.

The caste was originally built as the tomb of Emperor Hadrian but, over the course of the centuries, became a Papal fortress and now has turrets, cannons and all you expect a real castle to have!

During your visit, you walk along the castle bastions, peek into the castle secret passage leading to St Peter’s and you can see the cannons and cannon balls that used to protect this fortress

>>>> Check tickets and tours for Castel Sant’Angelo here <<<<

Go to Explora, Rome’s children’s museum

Scientists in the making, lovers of trains and tiny tots will love a visit to Explora, the children museum of Rome.

Here you can play in a soft area (for under 3s), learn about hydraulic machines and even drive the Italian high-speed train ‘freccia rossa’.

Explora children museum of Romereview
This is the water and mechanics area of Explora children museum of Rome

Run loose around Piazza Navona – and admire its stunning toy store

Piazza Navona is one of the most famous and beautiful squares in Rome and a great place for kids.

Younger ones can run lose in what used to be Domitian’s stadium and older kids are likely to love the legends surrounding the famous ‘fountains of the 4 rivers’ in its center.

Everyone, including parents, will adore the toy shop ‘Al Sogno’, a classic toy shop in Rome with animals that are bigger than you!

After you have worked up and appetite, have a snack in Campo de’ fiori or stop for a full meal in one of our favorite family restaurants in Rome just around the corner!

Marvel at Leonardo’s machines – interactive Rome museum for kids and adults

Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome city center hosts a permanent, wonderful exhibition of Leonardo’s machines.

These are interesting for all ages but especially for kids: the exhibition has a hands-on approach and kids can experiment with several of the machines (not all) and have a dedicated corner for them to try to build Leonardo’s self-supporting bridge.

You ca find here >>> our review of Leonardo’s Exhibition and why we love it.

Good to know: Leonardo’s machines exhibition and Welcome to Rome are very close to each other and easy to visit on the same day

Visit a cat colony – for kids who love a furry cuddle!

Rome has special legislation in place that protects strays and there are several spots in the city where you can see cat ‘colonies’, groups of cats fed and looked after by volunteers.

You can read why cats are protected in the city in our article about Rome street cats.

Visit the palatial home of Emperor Nero, now fully underground

Children of school age may have heard of Emperor Nero, a man knows for his excesses.

If they do, they may enjoy a visit to the Domus Aurea, Nero’s lavish home now entirely underground!

The house of the Emperor is said to have been the biggest and most decorated ever seen in Rome but had a peculiar history that means now it is entirely under street level.

The visit is interesting for kids and starts with a beautiful video that shows what it would have looked like.

You can read here >>> how to visit the Domus Aurea and our tips for visiting with kids

See the Imperial Forum coming back to life with the Forum light show

On summer nights, the Imperial Forum of Augustus come back to life with a light show that uses modern technology to show the public how the Forum would have looked like at the time of its construction.

The show is wonderful and fun for kids of school age and up: you sit in front of the forum and, with the aid of headphones, listen to a voice narrating the history of the Forum and admire its spaces being virtually reconstructed with the aid of lights and projections.

Wonderful and exciting!

Best things to do with kids in Rome: more sites and hidden gems

Explore a pyramid

Did you know Rome had a pyramid? It dates back to Roman times and it is fun to see inside and out! You can learn all about Rome Pyramid and see its photos here.

If you love cats, you will love to learn that a cat colony leaves here too: they roam free in the pyramid area and they are super friendly (but they will leave you alone should you want to, so don’t worry!).

Please note: in 2021, visits indie the Pyramid are not running. You can still enjoy it from outside, should you find yourself in the area, for instance if heading to Ostia Antica (see below).

See street art in Ostiense

If your family loves street art, make sure you have a stroll in the area of Ostiense, a great place for local atmosphere too.

A wonderful and child-friendly way to discover it is by joining a tour by Art and Seek for Kids: they have regular street art tours here for children in Italian and English.

Families with older kids may also enjoy an Ostiense street art walking tour like this one, that is not specifically for kids but can give a great overview of the area.

Look for the elephant in the piazza

Rome is full of statues of animals but no one is more peculiar than the one depicting an elephant in Piazza della Minerva.

Small kids will enjoy seeing the little elephant while older kids are sure to appreciate the humor hidden in its history.

Discover the mosaics of Santa Maria in Trastevere

Mosaics can be mind-blowing even for young kids and Rome has some outstanding ones to capture their imagination.

An easy place to see them is Santa Maria in Trastevere: enter outside service hours and get close to the altar for the best view and, if you can, mix a visit here with a mosaic class for kids where they can learn to make their own (see below).

If you are not in the area, you can find other places to see mosaics in Rome here.

Get acquainted with Rome’s talking statues

This is an attraction likely to interest older kids and teens: a series of statues around Rome city center that locals used in Papal time to express discontent towards the city government, when freedom of speech was not a right.

The statues are known as the ‘talking statues of Rome‘ and you encounter them in several locations around the city.

The most famous of all is Pasquino and you can still now see posters with complaints about the state of the city but there are several others worth seeking out!

They are usually fun to see: one my kids find very funny is the ‘statue del facchino’ in Via Lata, near the Pantheon.

Visit the spooky crips of the capuchins – a great place for kids who love ghosts and skulls!

Older children and teenagers tend to love the odd and somewhat disturbing Capuchin crypt, decorated with skulls and bones. You can check for suitability for your family here 

Explore layers of history in San Clemente

Rome has a long history and a place where you can see how different events and times followed one another is the incredible church of San Clemente.

The church exists over several levels: the lower one is the most ancient and dates back to Roman times while the most recent one, at street level, dates back to the VI century.

This is a very peculiar and very interesting archaeological site in Rome that is great especially for school age kids and teenagers who can appreciate the peculiarity of its significance (it is not great for toddlers as the rules about not touching anything are very strict)

This is one of the best underground attractions in Rome.

Get adventurous in Rome catacombs – the best place in Rome for kids who want to feel like real explorers

Older, adventurous kids may enjoy a trip to Rome’s catacombs.

Rome’s catacombs are early Christian underground cemeteries expansive over many kilometers under the modern city, forming an impressive network of tunnels.

They are very interesting and while not very scary, sufficiently adventurous for picking the interest of children of (almost) any age.

I recommend a visit to the catacombs for kids age 9 and up.

While safe to visit, they are not suitable for toddlers and the nature of the site, with graves and histories of martyrdom, may not be suitable for younger kids.

You can find here >>> my guide to visiting the Rome Catacombs with info to help you make an informed decision.

You can book your catacombs tour here

Visit Centrale Montemartini – one of Rome most kid-friendly museums

What happens if you use an old electric plant and use it to host ancient statues?

This was the question behind the creation of the Centrale Montemartini museum, an old industrial space now converted into a museum with ancient Roman statues, mosaics and more.

This is a very peculiar space, beautiful for adults and kids, one of the most kid friendly museums in Rome and one of the best things to do in Rome with kids on a rainy day.

Be a giant in Galleria Spada

While walking in the yard of the Spada Gallery, in Rome, you will soon find yourself in front of a long corridor framed by two rows of columns.

Nothing special with it until you get one of the staff members of the gallery to walk along it and turn into a giant!

This trick is the result of forced perspective, an optical illusion crafted by its clever creator Borromini

Check out ‘Welcome to Rome’ – one of Rome’s mosy family friendly exhibitions

Virtual reality and 3-D reconstructions of ancient Rome are at the centre of a new museum called Welcome to Rome, in Corso Vittorio.

The visit is short but impressive: adults and kids get an audio-guide explaining the different installations and a small cinema shows regularly a short movie on the history of the city.

This is one of my favorite museums in Rome for kids

Run around Circo Massimo or see it via Augmented Reality

At the bottom of the Palatine hill sits the Circo Massimo, the ancient Roman chariot racing stadium.

Nowadays the ‘circus’ is just a large, poorly kept space, but offers stunning views over the Palatine and is perfect for running safely around.

Older kids may also enjoy the virtual reality tour on offer (Circo Massimo Experience), which uses Augmented Reality goggles to bring the place back to life. You can read my review of the Circo Massimo Experience here.

Children in Circus Maximus Rome

Drink up from Rome’s small fountains

One of Rome’s most distinctive traits is its small fountains. They are everywhere in the city and offer free, fresh drinking water.

Tell your child to put their hand under the water and block the flow and wait for the giggles! Learn all about drinking water from fountains in Rome here.

Marvel at the massive Baths of Caracalla – Rome most kid-friendly ancient site

Caracalla’s Baths are one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the whole of Rome and it is perfect for kids and is has vast outdoor, safe spaces to run around and play.

Spot the difference between the twin churches of Piazza del Popolo

Are your kids good at spotting differences? Test them with a trip to Piazza del Popolo and its twin churches. While they jot down what they see, sit at one of the cafes and take in the beauty of this piazza, one of the most beautiful squares in Rome.

Check out a column that tells a story

Trajan’s column is usually referred to as ‘the first film in history’ and with good reason.

Through elaborate carvings, the column tells the story of Trajan’s conquests and reads like a film, developing along with the height of the column!

You can read all about Trajan’s Column, what makes it special and how to visit here.

Explore fairy houses in the Coppede’ District

Want to see a house that looks out of a fairy-tale book? Then head to the Coppede district to discover a whole area of fairy looking buildings.

Faity tale houses in Coppede district Rome

Test the lie-detecting power of the Mouth of Truth

Are you brave enough to test the mouth of truth? Legend says if you put a hand in its mouth and tell a lie, it will bite your hand off! Wanna try?

See the portrait of every Pope in San Paolo fuori le mura

Ever wondered how many Popes existed and what they looked like? Head to St Paolo fuori le mura, a stunning basilica worth visiting for its architecture, and you can see their portraits lined up from the very first one to the current, for centuries of history!

Take a stroll in Trastevere

Gorgeous Trastevere is a treat at all ages.

Younger kids will love spotting the cats while older kids are likely to enjoy the many food joints and the several street performers that take hold of the streets, especially in the late afternoon/evening.

This is one of the liveliest areas to enjoy Rome at night and thanks to the many restaurants, the atmosphere stays family-friendly until pretty late.

You can find my family friendly Trastevere itinerary here.

Go to the pond at Eur

Missing a quiet day at the local pond? Head to Laghetto dell’Eur for a local family experience in one of the most family friendly parks in Rome. The pond is outside the city center but it is easy to reach by metro and, in spring, it is one of the best places to admire cherry blossoms in Italy!

Check out Rome zoo

Rome zoo sits inside Villa Borghese and it a fun place for small kids and toddlers especially.

The zoo doesn’t really compare with large zoos too may have visited in London or San Diego however, it is cute for little kids and often offers organised events with an educational focus.

Walk inside an ancient Roman house in Palazzo Valentini

You can walk into an ancient Rome house and see what it would have looked like thanks to the power of lights and 3D reconstructions in Palazzo Valentini, beside Piazza Venezia!

The tour of the houses is not specifically for kids but it is exciting for them as you go below street level and walk on see though plexiglass panels that allow you to see the foundations of the house below you, as if you were suspended mid air!

The exhibitions is in rather dark rooms that get lit up by projections on the walls so this is suitable especially for school age kids who won’t get scared.

Marvel at the art in the Borghese Gallery

Famous Galleria Borghese is worth a visiting at all ages thanks to its compact size and fun animal sculptures.

While the museum is not interactive, it can be easily enjoyed by kids – challenge them to find animals in each room and tell them the stories the statue depict: it is like a treasure trove of myths!

The museum has a nice playground just beside its back door door (free).

Borghese Gallery Rome

Go to a children bookstore

Whether you need a child friendly break while sightseeing or you want an afternoon in a child friendly space where to meet other kids away from the rain, a kids bookstore can be just the ticket!

Rome has many that operate as shops but also kids venues offering workshops and organizing events: you can find a list of children bookshops in Rome here.

Best things to do in Rome with kids: family tours, classes and activities

This is my selection of the best family activities in Rome for kids and adults alike.

Learn to make pizza with a pizza-making class for kids

A really fun activity for kids in Rome is to learn to make pizza in a real pizzeria. You can check prices and availability of the one we tried here

Take a family-friendly walking tour of Rome city center

An easy and fun way to explore Rome is letting a professional guide you around this incredible city.

A tour our kids loved was this one by Tapsy Tours, a whistle-stop guided tour that is the perfect introduction to Rome.

Take a family-friendly mosaic class for kids

Kids age 6 and up might love taking a mosaic class with a real artist.

This is a wonderful art-based activity for kids in Rome and perfect for primary school age kids and teenagers and my personal favorite of all the kids’ activities in Rome.

Get a private tour of the Vatican museums for kids

The Vatican museums are not particularly kid-friendly but so beautiful art lovers may want to add them to their Rome itinerary anyway.

The best way to make this visit fun for kids is to get a private tour that is specific for families and follow our tips for visiting the Vatican for families.

Join a kids drawing class in a museum with Art and Seek for kids

A children activity in Rome arty kids will love is a drawing and art tour with the lovely people at Art and Seek.

On specific Sundays, they organize museums and street art tours for kids that mix education and hands-on learning through drawing. This is an activity suited to visitors and locals alike (in English) and it is a wonderful way to meet local expat children too.

The best things to do in Rome with kids: parks and green areas

Rome has a surprising amount of green areas. While not often well kept, they offer good refuge from the city’s busy streets and are a life saver especially when visiting Rome with a toddler.

Play in Villa Borghese – one of the best parks in Rome for kids

Villa Borghese, in Rome city centre, in one of the capital’s most beautiful parks.

Here you have the zoo, playgrounds and a small pond with rowing boats for hire, plus the chance to rent bikes. This is also where the famous Borghese gallery is: while not for kids as such, this is a wonderful museum and a small enough one for kids to enjoy

Visit Rome’s botanical gardens

These are a great space to explore with kids and a real Rome hidden gem: for the most fun, give your child a camera to capture images of the most curious and impressive species.

Have a picnic in Villa Doria Pamphili

Villa Doria Pamphili is one of the largest parks in Rome and a first favorite green space for locals and tourists alike.

Visit Villa Torlonia

Villa Torlonia is immediately outside of the city center and is lovely with kids and adults.

The park has a small yet nice playground, the super cute Casina delle Civette and a nice family-friendly cafe/restaurant

Good to know! Villa Torlonia hosts a small kids museum called Technotown. They run regular kids workshops about space and science, some of them in English

Cycle along an ancient aqueduct

Older kids will love cycling along the ancient Roman aqueducts along via Appia. The road is bumpy but the view spectacular and unique. You can book your tour and bikes here

Smell the flowers in Rome’s rose garden

Rome has a small rose garden perched on the slope of the Aventine hill.

The garden is lovely in spring and has a gorgeous view over the palace of the emperors just in front. This garden is close to another lovely one, the Orange Garden of Rome, which is just up the road and has wonderful views over Rome.

Visit Ostia Antica

If you want to get away from the crowds, learn history and get some fresh air, make sure you plan a day trip to Ostia Antica a wonderful open air museum perfect for adults and children of all ages

Ostia antica road with brick walls and kids running
The park mixes history with lovely outdoor spaces

Best food related things to do in Rome with family

Rome food traditions are varied and, often, kid friendly.

Taste Rome’s incredible Jewish cuisine

Rome’s traditional Jewish cuisine is world famous: head to Portico d’Ottavia to taste the best of it (kids will love the desserts especially!)

Have gelato – the one thing all kids simply adore in Rome

No trip to Rome can be complete without a generous dose of gelato. Find here our recommended gelato addresses in Rome city center

Take a family friendly food tour

Pizza and gelato are easy to enjoy with kids but if you want to go beyond the obvious, why not join a local food tour and get deep into Rome’s delicious food traditions?

A good food tour in Rome that is family friendly is by Gourmetaly (espresso and gelato tour) and older kids and teens may enjoy this one by Urban Adventures

I hope you enjoyed this selection of things to do in Rome with kids and it gave you ideas and inspiration for your family trip to Rome!

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