The Eternal City abounds with mammoth monuments, ancient ruins, and plenty of pizza: in short, the perfect urban playground for kids. From the Colosseum to the catacombs, and sprawling parks to virtual time travel, Rome promises a memorable trip for the whole family. 

Is Rome good for kids?

Kids will love everything from the ruins to the food (Can we say "gelato?"). And Italians harbor a soft spot for children; no one will give you the evil eye if you bring your little ones into a restaurant for dinner.

Pesky cobblestoned streets and often out of order lifts and escalators can exasperate parents toting strollers, but overall Rome proves itself a worthy family-friendly destination.

Best things to do in Rome with kids

Eye-popping sites – from the flashy Trevi Fountain to the white Vittoriano “wedding cake” to the panoramic view from the top of the Janiculum Hill – greet kids at every corner in Italy’s capital.

Kids tourists throwing coins into Trevi Fountain, Rome
Close-up of kids throwing coins into Trevi Fountain in Rome ©Imgorthand/Getty Images

The Colosseum

Likely at the top of your must-see list, the mighty Colosseum fortunately enchants the under 12 set too. Built in 80 CE, the heaving 50,000 seat amphitheater brims with punchy facts to get your kids' imaginations soaring. In its heyday, the Colosseum hosted gladiators who would battle each other or wild animals (the former were kept in underground tunnels that can be explored via guided tour). The ground arena would also be flooded with water so that mock sea battles could unfold, and its debut games lasted a whopping 100 days and saw 3000 gladiator fights. Streamline your visit by purchasing skip-the-line tickets online. If you’re visiting in the summer, make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat along for you and your little ones, especially in the Colosseum where shade proves elusive. Or, embark on an evening tour and avoid sunburn while having the arena virtually to yourself. 

A girl eats gelato in Rome
A little girl enjoying real Italian gelato near Gelateria in Rome ©TravnikovStudio/Shutterstock

Pizza, pasta and gelato

Italy doesn’t do kid menus, but luckily it has children-adored dishes down to an art. Pizza comes both al taglio (by the slice) and tonda (round and oven-baked). Al taglio is often sold to-go, fast food-style and serves as a quick and tasty lunch. Oven-baked pizza populates the menus of sit-down restaurants and comes with all sorts of toppings. For a classic cheese pizza, ask for a margherita. Heads up: a pepperoni pizza will bring a bell pepper topped pie ("peperoni" in Italian means "peppers") – request salami instead. Gelaterias scoop beloved flavors like fragola (strawberry), cioccolato (chocolate) and stracciatella (chocolate chip) and allow for two or three different flavors in the same cup. Most restaurants can whip up a pasta al pomodoro (pasta with tomato sauce) or pasta burro e parmigiano (pasta and butter) for kids. 

Peacock fanning its feathers in the Roman zoo.
Peacock fanning its feathers in the Roman zoo ©NikaDeCarolis/Shutterstock

Villa Borghese

There’s no better place for kids to play and stretch their legs than Villa Borghese park, a verdant 198-acre sprawl right off Piazza del Popolo. The park is flush in entertainment and activities: rent single or tandem bikes on the Pincio Hill and zip through the grounds, or nab a canoe and set off on Giardino del Lago’s scenic lake. A replica of a Roman temple, dubbed the Tempietto di Esculapio, keeps watch over the waters. Playgrounds can be found next to the Giardino del Lago, the Borghese Museum, and Viale del Goethe. The park also encompasses Bioparco, Rome’s only wildlife reserve, home to 200 species spanning five continents. At the front of the zoo, hop on a miniature train that rambles around the gardens in the warmer months. Meanwhile, Casina di Raffaello, a children's play center, delights the 3- to 10-year-old crowd with workshops, a library and bookshop. 

A group of kids bike through the entrance to the catacombs in Rome
Young people cycle through the entrance gate to the Catacombe di San Callisto cave ©Sun_Shine/Shutterstock

The catacombs and Basilica di San Clemente

Little explorers will delight in scouting the capital’s mysterious, underground attractions. The stratified Basilica di San Clemente is a 12th-century basilica resting atop a 4th-century church, perched over a 2nd-century pagan temple and a 1st-century Roman house. Even deeper below those lie foundations that hearken back to the Roman Republic. Think of it as an architectural “lasagna” composed of layer upon layer of history. Older kids can prowl the Catacombs of San Callisto, a tangled maze of tombs where the early Christians were laid to rest. Look for the frescoes and paintings that adorn the catacombs.

Explore iconic Rome

Domus Aurea and Palazzo Valentini

The capital’s ancient past rouses back to life thanks to savvy virtual reality. Neighbor to the Colosseum, emperor Nero’s Domus Aurea was once a mammoth imperial residence that occupied roughly one third of the city. Video and VR headsets give kids a thrilling peak into what the former palace looked like in its heyday: gardens, statues, lake and all. Tours also include a viewing of the magnificent frescoes that still linger, inspiration to Renaissance artists like Raphael who sneaked underground into the site by rope. Advance online reservations are required. Beneath 16th-century Palazzo Valentini reside ruins of domus romane, or ancient Roman residences resurrected through a sound-effect packed multimedia show. Book ahead online

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