Rome is the perfect city to visit with with little kids. Although my husband and I had been without kids several years ago, when we had the opportunity to visit the ancient city with our two little tikes we jumped on the chance! The ancient Roman ruins, rich history, delicious pizza and the promise of gelato made the kids excited each day and well-behaved. The hubby had to work, so I was mostly touring alone with the kids (another post on that coming up soon).
The main focus of this Blog Post is 5 tips for touring Rome with kids – things you don’t read in travel guides! However, due to popular demand, I also provided a rough sketch of our itinerary so you can get a sense of how much to do with kids on each day. There are so many amazing travel sites that provide such detailed itineraries for Rome, so the itinerary that I provide is more of a rough guide. I used Google Maps and Google Trips to plan out each day, so we could see the maximum amount of sites with minimal walking. Also, for each neighborhood we were touring that day, I added restaurants which I had read and researched. Scroll down below to find the Google Maps link for each site. But for now, enjoy reading our top 5 Tips for Touring Rome with Kids. For more pics and detailed stories, check out my Instagram Stories on Rome @TwoTravelingTots.
1. Buy Tickets to the Vatican Museum and Colosseum in Advance
Simply purchasing tickets in advance for these two major attractions made our Rome experience so much easier! We decided NOT to use any guided tours because it was easier to plan our day on our own schedule (i.e. around nap times), and explore the sites at our own pace (sometimes fast and sometimes slow). The Colosseum was our 4 year daughter’s favorite attraction because she loved hearing the stories behind this ancient site.
Colosseum Tickets: You can purchase Colosseum tickets the night before you decide to go because there is no specific entry time. Buy your Colosseum Tickets directly from their website here. Simply show your ticket (screenshot on smart device is good enough) to the Colosseum workers at the main entrance and they will direct you to the correct window. The entrance to the Colosseum is crowded with several different tour companies offering tickets and skip the line options. If you already purchased tickets, ignore them and just straight to the entrance. Your Colosseum Ticket gives you access to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum and can be used in two consecutive days. We did the Colosseum first and then went straight to the Roman Forum – they are right next to each other. PRO TIP: Get to the Colosseum early because security lines can get extremely long! We got there at 9:30 am and did not wait on any line! ANOTHER PRO TIP: There is an elevator so you don’t have to carry that stroller up all the stairs! Just ask for it or look for the signs.
Vatican Museum Tickets/St. Peter’s Basilica: Do yourself a favor and ORDER THESE TICKETS way in advance! There are several sites that sell Vatican Museum Tickets with the “skip the line” options, but buying from the Vatican Museum Website directly will get you the fastest access with minimal lines! In fact, when we showed our tickets to the Vatican Museum workers, they said, “Oh, these are VIP tickets.” They weren’t VIP Tickets, but almost felt like they were because we waited on NO LINES! When you purchase the tickets directly through the Vatican Museum, you have a specific entry time. We had 1:30 entry time, but we’re able to get in at 1:20. PRO TIP: When you start your tour of the Vatican Museum, go straight to the Vatican Museum entrance NOT St. Peter’s Basilica: they are at two different locations. So if you start off at St. Peter’s Basilica, you will have to walk a lot to get to the entrance of the museum.
Another good tip is to start your Vatican City Day at the Vatican Museum NOT St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica is a church so it’s free to enter and requires no tickets; however, there are long security lines to get in! So, your best bet is to buy tickets to the Vatican Museum, go through security there, tour the museum and then enter St. Peter’s Basilica from the Sistine Chapel. More specifically, your tour of the Vatican Museum will end at the Sistine Chapel, from there you can cross over to St. Peter’s Basilica without having to go through security again. Once you get to the Sistine Chapel, ask the guards which door leads you to St. Peter’s Basilica, and then you can cross over. PRO TIP: Here’s the extremely helpful website we used to find out all this information Vatican Museum Info (just ignore the lure to purchase tickets through them and purchase directly with the Vatican Museum).
PRO TIP: try not to take a stroller to the museum…there are a lot of steps through out. It’s not impossible – we took our double stroller – but it is a pain! The hubby definitely earned his gelato afterwards!!!!
2. Fun Stuff for Kids to Explore
There are so many fun things for kids to explore in Rome! The Colosseum was a big hit because of the history and stories! Trevi Fountain (and all the other fountains) were also a big hit….so much so that my son took off his clothes at every single fountain! Bocca della Verità, The Mouth of Truth, is now known mostly from the 1953 film Roman Holiday. The tale goes, that you must tell the truth when you put your hand in the mouth of the marble mask or else it will bite your hand. The kids got a big kick out of it!
If you have some extra time, Villa Borghese Gardens and the Zoo inside are worth a visit. You can rent bikes in the Garden, ride a carousel, and even rent a boat. There’s also a beautiful and famous art gallery museum in the garden, Galleria Borghese; however, we didn’t get to go. We rented bikes and visited the zoo, Bioparco di Roma. If you do visit the zoo, do not buy balloons before you enter because balloons are not allowed in the zoo (I found out the hard way)!
The markets were also fun for our kids! Specifically, Campo De Fiori, with its beautiful flowers! Get to the market early since the stalls close around 2. Visit Forno Campo de ‘Fiori for white pizza or their cookies! Delish!
3. Skip Bathroom Lines
I wish I knew about this little trick before waiting on such massive queues at the bathrooms! If there is a bathroom attendant, simply ask him/her if there is a kid’s bathroom or kid’s stall, and they will let you jump the queue so your little one can pee (and you can secretly relieve yourself too)!
4. Bring Change for the Fountains
There are so many water fountains around Rome, which the kids will love! Like I said above, my son took off his clothes at almost every single water fountain, including the iconic Trevi Fountain, because he thought he could swim in them! Do yourself a favor and bring pennies and loose change from home for the kids to throw in!
5. Not Stroller Friendly
Rome’s sidewalks are wide enough for a double stroller, but we had two major problems with using the stroller: 1) there are no ramps on the curbs so getting up and down from the sidewalk was a major pain, and 2) the sidewalks are crowded so often there wasn’t enough room for the double stroller to come through! The aggressive New Yorker in me came out and I would often have to push my way through the crowds! With that being said, I would rent the double stroller again because let’s face it, the 2 and 4 year old can’t walk very far!!
Itinerary & Hotel
Where we Stayed: The Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel
We are Marriott people, so when we saw that a new Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel opened up in the center of Rome, we knew we had to stay there! What a great choice! The facilities are brand new, clean, immaculate and stylish. The location is perfect: a 2 min walk from the Pantheon. The best part of the hotel was the staff!!! They were so accommodating, friendly, and sweet. They treated our children like one of their own! From the Bell boy, to the front desk receptionist to the breakfast staff, they all knew our kids’ names and our kids knew their names! Oh and check out this breakfast view……
Itinerary: Here’s our Itinerary listed out in Google Maps. Like I said above, it’s meant to be a rough guide so you get a sense of how much to do in a day with kids in tow without everyone getting cranky! We had 6 days in Rome, and took one day to go to Positano. The hubby worked while I toured with the kids!
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any questions, feel free to email us or comment!!! 🙂