Insider's Guide to Fantastic Family Vacations in Rome

Rome is arguably one of Europe’s best kid-friendly capitals and makes a fantastic springboard for continent-wide travels. The Italian capital offers families a nearly endless array of fun and unique adventures aimed at keeping the young and restless, and their parents, entertained and happy. Yet to enjoy a truly authentic family vacation in Rome, ditch those cookie-cutter guidebooks, skip the long queues at the Vatican (a sure-fire way to bore a 7-year-old to death) and, instead, join the locals on some of the city’s most memorable, off the beaten path experiences.

Our insider’s guide to fantastic family vacations in Rome unveils the secrets to a thoroughly enjoyable experience for all of you.

But first, a word from our experienced planners...

Planning tips from experienced family travelers to Rome

Don’t rush — Rome can be an immensely overwhelming city to visit and we don’t just mean for kids. The traffic, crowds, heat of summer and tediously long list of ‘must see highlights’ leave many families in need of a holiday after their holiday. Nothing in Italy happens very fast (except, perhaps, the driving) so channel your inner italiano and enjoy a leisurely sit-down lunch, rest after your meal, head out for a passeggiata (a stroll) in the mid-afternoon and sit on park bench whilst your children join an impromptu soccer match with the neighborhoods kids. The Vatican Museum has been there for over 400 years. It isn’t going anywhere. Fight your FOMO (fear of missing out) and keep in mind that most Romans haven’t even managed to complete your list of “top 20 attractions to see in Rome” and you shouldn’t expect to either.

Avoid visiting in August — Unlike many other countries the world over, Italy enjoys a national yearly holiday month and you’d be well advised to avoid traveling anywhere in Italy during this time if you can avoid it. No matter how hectic you think Rome will be, you really don’t want to see how overcrowded it gets in August. Millions are on the move, not just in the capital but all over Italy, and that’s not even counting the millions more who visit from abroad. Moreover, the capital can suffer steamy temps in August making extensive sightseeing even more exhausting than usual. Our favorite time of year to visit Rome is in the Spring (May — June) and Autumn (September-October), a time when the city is drenched in stunning foliage, temps are ideal for meandering and crowds not unbearable.

Keep your itinerary varied — Just because you’re an architectural buff and have spent years fantasizing about visiting every one of Rome’s 1,000 churches (yes, really) it doesn’t mean your kids share your vision. The best family vacations in Rome are those that are kept varied with an array of different activities that tap into the country’s history, nature and dolce vita culture. Luckily, Rome makes this incredibly easy to do which is the prime reason the city is such an ideal city to visit with kids in tow. An ideal family vacation itinerary should include one historical site, one fascinating museum, one full day in one of the city’s parks and one visit to a weekend flea market. The rest of the time should be spent simply exploring your local neighborhoods, feasting on local culinary delights and pointing out to the kids the 2,000-year-old ancient ruins through which you meander.

 

Best Things to Do on Family Vacations to Rome

Take the hop-on/hop-off bus on your first day in Rome — Talk about variety! About the best way for first-time visitors to get a feel for Rome, the excellent hop-on/hop-off bus tours literally serve up the best of the city’s highlights on a silver platter whilst offering a great overview of the different suburbs, so you can all decide which ones you’d like to spend more time in. Children absolutely love the open-top bus rides and we guarantee you will too, with the city’s insane traffic noise and food aromas adding to the experience. This option is SO popular that you’ll find five different companies competing for your patronage but do note that although they all offer similar routes, some charge more for children’s tickets.

Take a family tour the Colosseum — There’s certainly no need to discount Rome’s most famous attractions in the mistaken belief that children simply won’t be interested in any of them. We have just one word for you: gladiators! Family tours of the Colosseum can bring this place to life and captivate children and adults of all ages. Educational, fun and thoroughly entertaining, these tours include plenty of visual and interactive fun, a look at the underground caverns used to keep lions captive and, more important of all, a 2-hour limit to maximize enjoyment. An absolute must for first-time visiting families!

Enjoy a family pizza-making class — If there’s one thing that can top gladiators in Rome, it would have to be pizza! With pizza-making classes tailored specifically for families, you can all learn the tricks of the trade and compete to become margherita masters. We love these classes because children can enjoy the freedom of a hands-on experience that lets their culinary creativity run wild. You’ll find many local pizzerias in Rome offering small-group, kid-friendly pizza making classes so simply ask your hotel concierge for local recommendations.

Let the kids run amok at Luneur — Rome’s best amusement park has just reopened after extensive refurbishments and locals couldn’t be more pleased. An affordable ‘all-you-can-ride’ ticket allows kids to let off steam and have bucketloads of fun whilst offering plenty of attractions for parents as well. More than 25 distinct rides and several interactive experiences make this park ideal for children between 3 and 10 years of age who have lots of energy to burn.

Spend a full day in Villa Borghese — Rome’s largest and most magnificent urban park is an astonishing 80-hectare estate once owned by a prominent cardinal. On Sundays, local families head here to enjoy a picnic and stroll, to visit museums, rent a rowboat and feed ducks on the central lake, rent bicycles and quadricycles, go rollerblading, visit the small conservation zoo and simply enjoy the day away from the chaos of the city center. Child-friendly attractions abound here, with a merry-go-round, visitor train, recreation center where kids can read and draw and even pony rides offered on weekends. The most child-friendly and easily accessible park in Rome, Villa Borghese is an unrivalled family favorite and the best place to head to should Rome’s bustling energy ever get ‘too much’. In fact, choosing a hotel within easy walking distance to Villa Borghese is undoubtedly the best choice for families travelling with kids under 10 years of age, due to the park’s sheer concentration of entertainment options.

We hope our insider’s guide to fantastic family vacations in Rome has given you the confidence to plan an unforgettable journey to one of Europe’s most exciting capital cities. Don’t forget to check out our other guides for traveling in Italy and buon viaggio!