I can’t believe our first visit to Rome was a year ago already. I am studying the calendar as we speak to work out when we can next visit but in the meantime I thought some people might appreciate this rehashed version of a post I wrote for BritMums straight after our visit last year….
1. The Colosseum. No visit to Rome would be complete without seeing the inside of this! Your mini-gladiators will love galloping up and down each level, and learning about all of its 2000 year old gory history! Hire an audio phone to find out exactly what it is you are looking at whilst you are wandering, or go on a tour with an Arena Guide (incidentally the only way you get to see the very top and bottom levels!). There are plenty of students waiting outside who will happily show you around for a small fee too. Be sure to set aside at least half a day to explore (see point 7 for ticket info!)!
2. Explora – If the weather’s not up to much and you need to find something to keep your small charges happy – head to Explora (it’s imperative you pre-book a time slot first)! This great interactive Children’s Museum covers everything from technology to the environment. Here children can be firemen (and women) in the water play area, practice their skills as a bank manager, co-ordinate a supermarket, or just hang out in the garden – once the sun’s out perhaps?
3. Villa Borghese – Rome’s enormous green lung is a fantastic place to unwind after city sightseeing, plus the zoo is a close neighbour if that’s your cup of tea! Additionally the gardens host many a puppet show, and there’s also some slightly more grown up theatre to be found in the shape of a replica Shakespearian Globe theatre. Still got energy to burn? The gardens have great bikes (motorised and unmotorised) for hire, some of which the entire family can pedal at the same time!
4. Underground Rome – How about a trip deep under the city to learn about Rome’s bygone eras and say hello to some ancient former residents (quite literally)? These fascinating tours are a must for those wanting to do something completely different AND educational at the same time (probably best for the 8+ age group!), If you are lucky, you may well be shown around by a real archaeologist as we were – a true Roman who knows her city inside out, so you will leave with plenty of great local tips too (you can read about our experience here)!
5. Pizza… I promise you won’t be disappointed with the pizzas in Rome, freshly baked (often in front of you!) with beautiful seasonal toppings. We particularly loved Da Francesco for great authentic pizza without a stuffed crust in sight! Pizzarium and Da Remo also get amazing reviews.
6. Ice cream – The gelato here is some of the best in the world, and it also comes in handy for small children (or husband) travel blackmail purposes… Our particular favourite is Grom, of which there are a few branches around the city – but you won’t have to look too far to find decent gelato all around Rome…
7. The Forum – not only is The Forum rich in Roman history, but it’s a stunning place to spend a few hours. The entrance opposite the Colosseum is quiet, and your ticket will also gain you entrance to the Palatine Hill Gardens and The Colosseum itself. Step back in time and admire the ancient pillars, temples and buildings – the stomping ground of Emperors past… Seek shade amongst the ruins whilst you take it all in, and keep an eye out for today’s residents – brightly coloured scuttling lizards that live amongst the stones…
8. A City Sight-Seeing Bus. Not that original perhaps, but Rome is huge, and it can be quite overwhelming for small people. Take the weight off (especially on a hot day), climb to the top deck and admire a few of the sights that you might not get to see otherwise…
9. Visit La Bocca Della Verita – the Mouth of Truth can be found at the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The legend surrounding this ancient “lie detector test” purports that if someone really is telling the truth they can safely put their hand into the statues mouth. However, if they are telling a lie, they could well lose a limb! Who dares?!…
10. The Trevi Fountain – The Trevi Fountain is currently undergoing a bit of a facelift, and the chances are that if you are visiting before July it may well still be behind scaffolding, but if you are travelling later in the year, do get yourself down to one of Rome’s most famous landmarks super early to avoid the crowds super early to avoid the crowds (early isn’t usually a problem when visiting Rome with kids anyway) – that way you can have Triton’s glorious horses all to yourself! Stand with your back to the fountain, and chuck a coin in over your left shoulder to ensure that you will one day return to this fabulous city (often safer at this time of day with children too I find, some of our coins were accidentally chucked anywhere but…).
If I were you, I would save your money though, the chances are high that you will want to return one day anyway!…
Helen Neale says
I have never been to Rome, and it is very much on my list of places to go. This is a great list…and am bookmarking it now! Thanks for taking the time to put it together, wonderful pictures too. xx
No problem. Thanks Helen, go soon, you will love it I promise! :)
Rossi | Rossi Writes says
What a great post with some stunning photos. We will be definitely heading down to Rome this year, so I will keep your suggestions in mind.
Thanks so much Rossi, I am sure you will LOVE it! Such a fantastic city! :)
The Innocents Abroad says
Loved this post, gorgeous photos too!!! Thanks for posting! (visiting from #TimeTraveller Linky)
Thanks very much! :)
Ah bella Roma, what a beautiful capital. I haven’t taken the kids but this is the perfect handy post to read before going.
If I may add one thing it would be watch out for pickpockets as we were nearly done years ago and they are very light fingered.
Thank you so much for joining in #TimeTraveller
Thanks Mari. Definitely one of my favourite cities. And you are right about the pickpocket thing. I am naturally paranoid about this so it’s never something I think to mention! :D xx
A few people have been telling me that Italy’s a perfect place to take young children, so this is really helpful. Always good to have gelato and pizza on offer to keep little tummies happy!
It really is incredibly child friendly! Thanks Nell! :)
Ive never visited Rome but it is someone on my places to visit list
And I can highly recommend it! Thank you! :)
Great tips! We are visiting Rome soon so will bookmark this. It’s always great to get advice from other parents when going to such a massive place like this.
You will love it. It’s a fantastic fantastic city! :) Thanks Kim! :)
Sarah Scott says
Bookmarked. I’m plotting a family trip to Roma! I’m also a gelato blackmailer :)
Brilliant! I love it. Someone commented on this post when I put it on Pinterest with “tip no.1 don’t take children” and I deleted it in disgust. There are certain places that are perfect to take children, and Rome is definitely one of them! :D
Sally Sellwood (@Recipejunkie27) says
Good list. I’d add ‘spotting Italian policemen’ to the list as they were a source of constant fascination to our kids when we were there; also the Time Elevator which doesn’t get great reviews (3/5 average on Tripadvisor) – I agree with some of them that it’s all a little clunky, weak acting etc, but my kids loved it and it was good for some down time with a bit of history combined on a hot afternoon when they were a bit knackered from running up and down the Spanish Steps…
And the Time Elevator is something I will be adding to our list when we go next. Thanks Sally! :)
A Patchwork Life says
Great tips Emma – still high on my wish list, but we never seem to venture far these days. There’s a faint possibility of a mainland Europe posting in the next few years, so maybe that’ll be my chance! x
And then you will have all of these places on your doorstep! Thank you T! :) x
We’ve been talking about Rome for a long time – went to Naples instead, though … Thanks for your suggestions! One day, I’m sure …
And I now know who to brain pick when we go to Naples… Thank you! :)
My partner and I spent a week in Rome before kids and we still didn’t see everything on your list. I love the city, really must make an effort to take the kids there!
It’s a great place to visit with children. Thanks Christine! :)
I love your recommendation for gelato! I swear sugar is a great motivator for good behavior. :)
Definitely! It’s always usually good here! Thanks Brooke! :D
I love Rome, it’s definitely on my list of cities to take the children one day. The science museum sounds amazing too!
I thought of you when we went to Explora! Great fun! :D Thanks Emma :)
Rome is such a wonderful city for kids, isn’t it? The pizza and gelato alone is worth the trip. Loved revisiting it all through your post, Emma xx
Thank you Pia, it’s an amazing city isn’t it?
Helen @actuallyblog says
This is really useful, thanks. I can imagine that a city like Rome would feel hard work with children, so it’s good to have the heads up on what works for them.
I went to Rome prepared not to like it (especially with kids) it was going to be too crowded, too hectic, and too full of tourists. It was perhaps all of these things at times, but I still absolutely loved it! Definitely well worth a visit Helen! Thank you! :)