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Traveling in Rome: 28 of My Best Tips

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Last Updated on June 4, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

Rome! What an iconic city! We were SO excited to get to Italy as part of our six months in Europe. Below are some of our favorite activities with kids, our favorite eats and things to know when traveling in Rome!

My kids in Rome

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Activities with Kids

Rome is a feast of history. I literally felt like I was sitting down to a grand buffet of history, architecture and beauty every time we went out in the city. One tour guide told us more than 70% of the world’s fine art is in Rome and the majority of that is in the Vatican. Rome is HUGE on museums, which isn’t always the most fun to do with kids. In fact, we rarely go to any museums with our kids that aren’t geared towards children. What else is there to do with kids while traveling in Rome?

The views of downtown Rome

1. Children’s Museum

There is a cute children’s museum in Rome. We really enjoyed it, but it certainly wasn’t the best children’s museum I’ve been to. Mostly I was annoyed at the pricing structure. You pay for 1.5 hr segments (which aren’t cheap) and then you leave and have to buy tickets again if you want to stay longer. I ended up buying 2 sessions and spent well over 60 euro. However, I have a lot of kids! It was fun for them and I met a few parents that spoke a little to me in English. Romans love kids, for the most part, so it’s enjoyable to be around other parents. I especially liked watching my kids “make dinner” in the play kitchen with some cute Roman boys.

Traveling in Rome- my boys playing at the Children's museum in a fire truck

2. Gardens at the Villa Borghese

I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t personally make it to these gardens, but my children did a lot. When Chris’s parents came to babysit for our romantic anniversary trip, they took the kids to these gardens almost every day. They are stunning. There is a little cafe they would go to often for ice cream and one of the waiters came to know them by name. They rode ponies, watching performers and played their hearts out. The zoo is also here and a small lake you can boat on.

My boys on a horseback ride

3. Villa Doria Pamphili

Another garden to see. It is a huge park tucked into the city. Playgrounds are decent in Rome and provide a much-needed break from touring.

The boys and Chris in front of pretty trees

4. Vatican

4. Disclaimer: We didn’t take our kids to the Vatican. It would have been too much and I actually had a horrible stomach flu for the first week of our time traveling in Rome. I wasn’t up for manning five kids in such a place. However, it is totally doable with kids. The tours move fast (although you do walk a LOT. There are over 2000 rooms in the Vatican museum and it is over 8 km) and it’s fascinating to see. The map hall was my favorite and would be so fun for kids to see also.

Did you know the Vatican is actually the smallest country in the world? It is its own country! Once you step across the street you are literally in a new country. Security is intense (as you’d expect) and tour guides are everywhere. You can book ahead, but you can also negotiate a better deal on the spot. Tour operators are hungry for business. There are lots of options to “skip the line” and such. We opted for all of these and didn’t regret it. The lines can be intense. If anything, I just wish I’d had more time to admire everything. You only get a quick sampling of the miles and miles inside the Vatican Museum.

Leslie with a beautiful Roman street in the background

5. Colosseum

My favorite thing to do while traveling in Rome. Definitely brush up on a YouTube documentary or two to get your kids some background to this. We really enjoyed this one on the Secrets of the Colosseum.

While the colosseum is impressive, to kids it will mostly look old and boring unless they have some background. However, we did some videos beforehand and my kids were really into this. We got into the gladiators, the Roman empire and the craziness and opulence of Rome. History came to life here for our family.

Often tours are combined with Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. These locations are also really fascinating, but more for adults.

Tour guides mean a lot for this tour with kids. We actually booked the expensive tour on the platform floor for our family and missed it. Traffic and google maps don’t always match up, so we were too late. As a result, we were just moping around the colosseum, so bummed, and ended up finding a different tour company that would take us in half an hour. This tour guide was amazing! She ended up being much better than when we rescheduled our tour (yep, we went twice!). She engaged the kids, had pictures of what it used to look like and put up with a zillion questions. Again, you can schedule in advance, but you can also just show up and get an awesome tour too.

The bookstore in the colosseum in fabulous and we bought some amazing books there. They also have great souvenirs, so bring the allowance money.

traveling in rome- the Coliseum
traveling in rome- the Coliseum

6. Street performers

Believe it or not, just walking around the city it plenty of entertainment for families. Street performers dominate the streets of downtown Rome and are very entertaining. We saw plenty of musicians, sand sculptures, chalk drawings, magicians and more. Since there is also gelato nearly every other storefront, you can walk and eat for hours.

Beware of scams, however. I’ve been told many times of gypsies that might distract you, pickpocket you or otherwise. We were approached once by a small group with a pretty lady as their “spokesperson”, but I just ignored them and kept walking. Keep your phones and wallets out of back pockets as well.

traveling in rome- my sons enjoying watching some street performers
traveling in rome- me enjoying the fun streets of Rome

7. Gladiator Training

My second favorite thing we did while traveling in Rome and definitely the best memory. Since we got so into the history of the gladiators, it was such a treat to find this gladiator training class.

traveling in Rome- my kids having fun at gladiator training

You’ll need to take a taxi out to find the studio as it’s a bit far, but totally worth a visit. “Tiny” was our teacher, a mountain of a man, and was so hilarious. He taught briefly on the history of the gladiators, took us into a kind of “museum” of gladiators and their armor and weapons, and then training began! Chris opted to participate while I stayed with the little kids (6 and above can participate). The class had to learn commands, battle each other, demonstrate overall fitness and then vote at the end to award each other. It was so much fun.

Tips: there are TON of mosquitos, so be sure to spray before you start. The uniform is a bit smelly (as was the teacher!), so be prepared for an authentic experience 🙂

8. Gelato or Cooking Class

I did a gelato making class with Grant for our date that month. It was super fun! There are tons of cooking classes to learn pizza, pasta, and more. Cooking classes can be really fun with kids and something they really enjoy. In fact, I try to do them in most of our locations at least once.

9. Fountains around the city

The most famous, of course, is the Trevi Fountain and is a must-see, at least once. Thousands of euros are thrown in everyday. Be warned that it can be incredibly crowded, but it is stunning. However, walk around and visit some of the other fountains, like the Turtle Fountain, the Fiumi Fountain and the Fountain of Neptune. Rome is not very large, geographically, and easily walkable. The buses can be a bit unpredictable, but are also quite easy to use.

traveling in rome- the Trevi fountain

10. Pompeii

I’m going to cover this in a separate post, but you simply need to make it here! It’s an easy (although long) day trip from Rome and is incredible.

11. Paul’s Prison Site (Mamertime Prison)

If you are religious and Christian, visit the prison of Paul the Apostle. We didn’t get to it, but I heard it is really cool! We hope to do it this fall when we return to Rome on a cruise.

Favorite Foods

Rome is delicious. You can put on a few pounds here for sure! Be sure to try some of these favorites when in the city.

Note: most restaurants and cafes are going to charge you more as a tourist. Don’t be surprised by this and if it bothers you, call it out. Know that restaurants in the piazzas and popular areas are going to cost more than just a street or two over. We found no bad food in Rome!

1. Pizza. It’s not like pizza you’ve tasted before.

2. Focaccia. Kind of like a naked pizza. It can be thick or thin and was my favorite thing I ate in Rome.

3. Gelato. Of course! You can sample so many. In our class, we learned gelato will get more airy as the day goes on. Also, to test the best quality, choose either lemon or flor de leite (literally flower of milk) as these are the most simple flavors. Some places won’t let you sample them unless you buy first!

4. Pasta. Such. Yummy. Pasta.

5. Seafood. The seafood is amazing!

6. Risotto. This is always my go-to being gluten-free. It’s everywhere and it’s delicious. I’ve also learned to make it very well after not having lots of other options!

7. Bread. Lots of bakeries and lots of yumminess.

8. Beef. It’s common to find steak and simmered beef and it’s worth a good try. Or a few 🙂

Tips for Rome

  1. Buy a bus pass. This will perhaps seem unnecessary while traveling in Rome. We first got on the bus and brought cash, but they don’t accept it. We ended up riding for free that day since we didn’t know yet where to buy the pass. Once we had the pass, we noticed how rarely people scan it. MANY people ride for free, every day. However, when Chris’ parents came to babysit, they forgot the bus pass one day and ended up with a 100 euro ticket! Ouch! Tickets come usually at rush hour, but can come anytime of course. You can find bus passes at the tabaco shops and they are re-chargable.
  2. Training in Italy is incredibly easy. Taxis are plentiful and you don’t need a car. See my post here about training in Italy.
  3. Rome can be dirty. This was really surprising to us. Trash dumpsters were overflowing everywhere around our apartment (as well as other neighborhoods). Not all neighborhoods were like this, but many were. It’s pretty gross!
  4. Expect to be ripped-off. You are going to be overcharged, guaranteed. It’s just standard for them. Watch for it, be smart, and question pricing when needed.
  5. For taxis, use FreeNow. We found out Uber is actually illegal and HIGHLY prosecuted in Rome. We found this out after using it for a few days 🙂 . Download the app “FreeNow”, which operates just like Uber and is amazing for taxis!
  6. Wifi was super spotty. In fact, it was the worst we’ve had. I know this was very situational, but we never had amazing wifi even at the hotels we stayed at in Italy. Overall, wifi in Europe is not a strong point.
  7. Rome is not the best of Italy. We spent a month traveling in Rome and just a few days in Amalfi, Florence and Venice. If we did it over again, we would not spend a month in Rome and spend our time elsewhere instead. A week is more than enough for Rome. Florence was our favorite and felt the most like what Italy should feel like to us.
  8. Everything is a historical site. Literally, layer and layers under the ground. It’s amazing and also becomes common place to the locals. They are sort of over it!
  9. Prepare to walk a lot and carry kids. As I stated above, Rome is very walkable and its enjoyable to walk around the city. Strollers are not recommended as they are hard with the cobblestones. I always recommend baby wearing. This is my favorite carrier.
  10. Prepare to fall in love with Italy. While Rome isn’t the best place in Italy, this country is pretty swoon-worthy over all. It’s built for tourists and easy to get around. Its stunning in its buildings and sites, the tours are fantastic and the people are easy to get along with.

Enjoy traveling in Rome!! It’s such a wonderful place to visit.



Plan your trip to Rome and get some budget-friendly tickets from Booking.com, Skyscanner, Kiwi.com, or Expedia

Find a family-friendly hotel in Rome from Booking.com, Expedia, or Vrbo, (we also love Tripadvisor and Hotels.com)

Discover more of Rome through exciting activities from GetYourGuide, Airbnb Experiences, or Viator

Need to rent a car? Visit Rentalcars.com.

Get insured while traveling with World Nomads.

Want to have a photo shoot while traveling? Check out flytographer!

Capture your best travel memories in Rome as we do with a GoPro, Sony camera, or our favorite drones: DJI FPV, Air, and Mini

Check out your travel necessities from a comprehensive list of all the 7Wayfinders Travel Must-Haves. Click Here!

traveling in rome- a silly family picture in front of a beautiful Roman fountain

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