Is Rome Child Friendly? Travel | Kids Activities | Sights
Rome is fantastic if you want to get a high dose of history and culture. It has a countless number of attractions and several famous landmarks you just would not want to miss. However is Rome child friendly and a good place to visit as a family? To give you an overview:
Rome has 6 activities or sites perfect for kids, and 2 of the most iconic attractions offer kid-friendly tours. Touring Rome at minimum will require 6kms daily walks within sites and/or between sites, so a stroller is essential for younger children. Pavements in general are around 1.5 meters wide to comfortably walk with a pram or stroller.
So now I’m going to deeper about what you can expect.
Kid Friendly Activities in Rome
There are 6 fun activities in Rome you can do with kids. They range from interactive element to play with at a specialised kids museum, to theme parks or a novel activity you will only find in Rome.
Although one park called Zoomarine and Cinecittà World are open during warmer months. Cinecittà World is open briefly during the Christmas period, but otherwise its mostly closed during winter season. As a result from 6 activities we are down to 4 during winter time. So ideally if you would like more to do with kids, the warmer months are better for activities. You just need to bare in mind that Rome does get hot during summer months so bring a hat and good sun screen.
4 to 6 activities or places to visit does not sound like much, in fact other cities have more activities that cater to kids. However at Villa Borghese and Cinecittà World you can spend at least a day, perhaps even a couple of days since they have many things to do.
Travelling Around Rome
Be Prepared to Walk
The nice thing about Rome is there are many things to see all over the place, most especially in central Rome. There are a good handful of iconic highlights in Rome like the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon that are located quite close to each other as you can see from the map.
However if you are looking to see the highlights you need to be prepared to walk a lot. While I was on my trip I walked on average around 8kms a day, that is even though I also used public transport. Generally I caught the metro and walked to the location I needed to.
Of course you could use taxis if you would like to walk less. However sometimes it’s not even worthwhile or you just simply cannot do that.
For example the Villa Borghese Gardens are huge. Additionally it is all pedestrianised so you are not able to get from one side to the other using any form of transport. Although you could rent bikes or ride the tourist train to go around the park which are a couple of things you can do at Villa Borghese.
Another thing is that some of the highlights of Rome are in close proximity to each other. Hence it does not make sense to catch a taxi. On one day in Rome I first caught the train to the Barberini train station and walked to the Trevi Fountain, then to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and lastly Campo de’ Fiori market. There is less than one kilometre between each of those sites, but the amount of steps I took did add up.
Prams and Strollers
Most of the pavements in central Rome are usually roughly 1.5 meters wide. Hence if you are using a pram or stroller you can easily walk along the pavement with no problem whatsoever. Additionally the roads and pavements are well maintained so your child will have a smooth ride through the streets.
The only issue is when there are many people in the streets in busy central areas. You will likely need to walk along a little slower to get through the crowds. There are also cobblestones in many central areas like piazza’s or particular roads. That includes those that are a little farther afield like those in the area of the catacombs.
Most of the cobblestones will have a slightly more bumpy ride, but nothing that’s too bad. Although some attractions with ruins from Roman times have pathways and areas that are far less stroller friendly. I will get to this in more detail a little further down.
Public transports in Rome is pretty good. I didn’t see a lot of families with kids on the trains or buses, but there were some. However I would avoid using public transport with little tots when there is rush hour as the buses and trains get packed. A couple of times during my trip I ended up on a bus or train were everyone was packed like sardines!
The public transport system is easy to use, convenient and cost-effective. So if you want a metro map, other information and tips here is an article on transport in Rome.
Seeing the Highlights of Rome with Kids
There are 9 amazing sights in Rome that are so famous and iconic that you must go visit while you are there. Most of the highlights are easy to visit because you can just head straight to the site, walk around a little, and appreciate it. These sights would include the Pantheon, Fontana di Trevi, the piazzas and Castel Sant’ Angelo.
Villa Borghese is an exception because even though you have to walk quite a bit, the place is perfect for families. You can easily use a pram or stroller or opt for any of the available activities while you are there.
However other sites you cannot experience this way, and you need some forward planning. So here is what you should be aware of with some attractions.
Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
Instead of reading what is below you may want to watch the video below. It will give you an overview of what to expect to see, and how it is like visiting the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill with kids:
I spent around 3 hours roaming around the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill and didn’t get to see it all! The area is incredibly large, and by the time you are done you will feel tired, but it’s worth it. However young kids might not enjoy it if they spend too long on their feet.
You can visit the Colosseum with a pram or stroller easily. Especially because you can use a lift to take you to the first floor whenever you would like to see the inside and central area. Everyone else needs to use the stairs, and they are angled downwards, high and there are many.
However your kids will not be able to stay in their stroller or pram all the time while visiting the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. This is because there are parts of the path that are perfectly smooth, but then other parts have large cobblestones with large holes in between. They might actually be ancient paths from Roman times and hence why they are kept like this.
Any kid in a pram or stroller will end up getting jolted around quite a bit on the large cobblestones! So over here your kid will need to walk for a short while or you will need to carry them. I found these paths difficult to walk on as an adult too, because you can easily twist an ankle if you are not careful.
The good thing is that you can tell your kids they can have some fun before or after your visit. Around 400 meters from the Colosseum there is a kids playground located here on Google Maps. It’s not large, but there are swings, slides, areas they can climb, interactive elements and musical instruments.
You may not get tickets to visit the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum at the time you want during holidays and summer time. However you can pre-book your tickets in advance to ensure you get tickets at your preferred day and time.
You could just book entry tickets, but there are also kids tours that will make things more fun for the kids. The Colosseum Gladiator Tour for Kids and Families or the Colosseum and Ancient Rome Family Tour for Kids on Get Your Guide, are tours to consider.
Although the Vatican is a tiny city state there is a lot to see and do. Whether it’s visiting St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica, or the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel you will be in awe of the amazing architecture, interiors and works of art.
You could easily spend a day there if you wanted to, hence it’s another day spent on your feet. Plus young kids and kids that are not into art and culture might get bored. There is no playground at the Vatican, but there is the Vatican Gardens or the square where kids can run around for a while.
If you want to make your visit more fun for the kids you could have a look at Get Your Guide. You can opt for the 2 and a half hour Vatican Scavenger Hunt that is set up specifically for kids. They will have fun while they learn about the works at the Vatican. Alternatively you could opt for a private kids-friendly tour of the Vatican, with a guide that knows how to make things fun for kids.