Rome can be like an amusement park for kids, especially with a little context about the history of the Empire and with the right tours and activities. Luckily, the Eternal City has a number of options for them to enjoy an unforgettable trip.
Here's a list of 10 things to do in Rome with kids, with activities that even you will want to do. But sorry, you only get to be a kid once in a lifetime!
1. Rent a bike or roller skates to tour the Borghese Gardens
The gardens of Villa Borghese are a delight for a stroll, before visiting the fascinating Borghese Gallery. But I propose something a little different to enjoy with the family, and that is to rent a bike, skates or a segway to ride through the flowery paths of this park. Around Villa Borghese you will find stores and stalls to rent.
You can also hop on the miniature train that circles all the sights of Villa Borghese from 10:30 in the morning until sunset uninterruptedly. It's a fun way to tour the gardens and see the beautiful sculptures along the way.
2. Experience a day in the life of a gladiator
The Official Gladiator School of Rome, located on the ancient Appian Way, offers an unparalleled experience for young travelers visiting the city: become a gladiator for a day.
With an authentic gladiator training session in which they will learn the fighting techniques that raised cheers in the Colosseum, this is a way to learn an aspect of the history of the Roman Empire in a different way. The school uses special tunics, swords and shields to faithfully recreate the experience of a gladiator.
3. Tour the Bioparco, a very special zoo
Bioparco, also known as Giardino Zoologico di Roma, is a zoo with more than two hundred different species of animals located in the park of Villa Borghese. There you can find lions, monkeys, elephants, tigers, giraffes and some endangered species such as the Egyptian tortoise.
It offers a very pleasant walk and unlike the zoos of other European capitals is a natural environment that fits very well in a walk through the Borghese Gardens.
4. Search for hidden treasures in Rome
Sometimes it's hard to get kids to be willing to walk a whole day through a city at its best, especially if it's on the typical tour full of facts and history. Luckily, there's a really fun way to tour Rome, and that's by turning the walk into a game of hidden treasure hunting.
A map, a manual with clues and a card that allows access to certain places in Rome: with this in your backpack, the Trastevere Revolution experience will take you to discover the streets of the Trastevere district as a family, uncovering secrets in ancient statues, hidden courtyards and even viewpoints with panoramic views.
You have different options when it comes to this type of game; you can also book a game of exploration through the old town of Rome and take advantage while the younger ones are entertained to see the most famous sights of Rome.
When you book this experience, you will receive a confirmation email indicating a meeting point. Once there you will have to enter the code from your email on the website and you will receive a password to open a secret box and receive your inventory to start the adventure. And if you still have some energy left, go and discover these 10 secret places in Rome, they will leave you speechless!
5. Unleash the adrenaline at Rainbow MagicLand amusement park
Rainbow MagicLand is a theme park located one hour from Rome, in the village of Valmontone, where you can find a wide range of 40 attractions and shows, perfect for a day of thrills and excitement with the family.
Much of the amusement park is set in the Winx Club universe, with a recreation of the Castle of Alfea and the Lake of the Fairies, where you can ride roller coasters, shuttles, water rides and enjoy performances and musical shows. There are also areas dedicated to the legend of King Arthur, with tournaments on horseback, battles in the arena, and taverns where you can eat in medieval style (spoiler: no silverware).
To get to the Rainbow MagicLand amusement park, it is best to go by train or bus, both of which depart from Termini Station. Since this is a full-day excursion, I recommend doing it only if you are going to be in Rome for five days or more.
6. Explore the Catacombs of Rome
When I was a kid, my favorite holiday of the year was Halloween and my favorite thing to do with my friends was to play Dungeons and Dragons, so if my parents had taken me to visit the Catacombs of Rome, it would probably be an experience I would have never forgotten.
Okay, maybe it's not an activity for all kids as it can get a little scary, but as long as you take a tour of the Catacombs of San Callisto or San Sebastiano, you won't find human remains or tombs built with bones. These are two of the most popular in Rome, of which the former may be the most interesting for its historical importance and size.
If you feel like enjoying this experience as a family, please note that they can only be visited on an organized tour. For all the information about visiting the Catacombs of Rome, I recommend you read this article: Rome Catacombs Tickets: how to buy and prices.
7. Visit the cat shelter in Largo di Torre Argentina
Largo di Torre Argentina is the name of a group of ruins from the time of the Roman Republic, and includes four temples as well as part of the building of the Senate of Rome. Many visitors come to this site for its historical interest: here history claims that the assassination of Julius Caesar took place in 44 BC.
But on the other hand, Largo di Torre Argentina is home to hundreds of abandoned cats that live in a shelter in the same square, and wander quietly among the ruins of what was once an important place in ancient Rome. If you go with children, the experience of being able to learn about the history of the place while petting a cat or watching them walk around can be very endearing and beautiful.
8. Buy wooden toys at Bartolucci
After a hard day of walking and visiting tourist attractions, you can buy a nice souvenir for the little ones at Bartolucci, in Via dei Pastini 96-99. This is a wooden toy store, where you will find cuckoo clocks, pinocchios, airplanes and little horses, made with great taste and as they are hard to find anymore.
Another option is to visit Al Sogno, in Piazza Navona, 53, known for its endless catalog of stuffed animals. Here, your children can take home a unique souvenir of their visit to Rome.
9. Discover Leonardo Da Vinci's machines at work
The Leonardo Da Vinci Museum, at Via Conciliazione, 19, is the only museum in the world with more than 50 certified inventions by Da Vinci, as well as a place where you can see some of his most famous paintings.
Here you can discover how the mind of the Renaissance genius worked by operating his machines and learning about mechanics and physics, something that can be very interesting for both adults and teenagers.
10. Take a tour of Rome for kids
Most tours of Rome are not very child-friendly, so if you are traveling to the Eternal City as a family you often have no choice but to organize most of the activities on your own or risk your children getting bored to death in a group of adults.
Luckily, there is a family-friendly tour of Rome with pizza and gelato at sunset, where you'll tour the city discovering sites like the Column of Marcus Aurelius, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain, but adapted for kids with photo contests, quizzes and treasure hunts. At the end of the tour, you will have a pizza and an ice cream with the rest of the tour members.
Tips and tricks for traveling to Rome with children
I can't finish this article without telling you some of the tricks to travel with your family to Rome and save some money and time, as many attractions and museums have free admission for children or special advantages. Here are a few things to know before your trip:
- The metro and bus is free for children up to age 9, and the train is free for children up to age 3, with 50% discounts for children ages 4-11.
- Admission to the Catacombs is free for children up to 6 years old and children between 7 and 15 years old have reduced admission.
- Similarly, for the Vatican Museums admission is free for children up to 5 years old and reduced admission for children up to 18 years old.
- Rome is not the friendliest city for baby strollers, so I recommend carrying your child in a baby carrier. It is also a good idea to bring diapers and baby food from home, as the brands sold in the supermarkets there will probably be unfamiliar to you.
- With a Roma Pass, your children have free admission and access to everything included in the pass.
- I advise you to prepare your children a little in advance of the trip, documenting them even superficially on the history of Rome and the places they will see.