Rome is one of my favorite cities in the world. I adore the mix of ancient and modern in this beautiful city. You never know what you will find when you slip around a corner. Will it be ancient ruins or a charming piazza with a sparkling fountain perhaps? It can be quite fun to explore Rome with kids. Who wouldn’t love eating gelato while people watching in Piazza Navona? Or enjoy watching the sunset from the top of the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna?
Yet visiting Rome with children can also be overwhelming. There is so much history to absorb. The crowds can be challenging and there is just so much to see. Parents often wonder where to start. What will the kids really enjoy? How do you choose from the plethora of walking tours that are out there? Are kids old enough to appreciate what they are seeing?
Luckily I have had plenty of opportunity to find the answers. I’ve visited Rome quite a few times and have tried to explore as many of its most famous sites and off-the-beaten path places as possible, from the Colosseum to Aqueduct Park and Villa Borghese to Trastevere. I have also planned over a dozen trips to Rome for other families and my go-to source for family friendly tours and activities is LivItaly.
Fun Ways to Explore Rome with Kids
Today I have partnered with LivItaly to sponsor this post and share five fun and unusual ways to explore Rome.
See Rome by Golf Cart
Imagine this. You get off the plane from an overnight flight. Everyone is tired and jet lagged because you didn’t sleep much on the plane. You arrive in Rome by lunch time and you don’t want to waste your first day in town, but you also know the kids will never make it through a walking tour. What is the answer? Well, you can always just eat some pasta and ice cream and call it a day.
But if you want to start to get the flavor of the Eternal City without tiring out little legs, you can hop on a golf cart for a private tour of Rome. When I’m working with families, I always recommend that instead of doing a traditional tour they try something with a twist. It can be a different mode of transportation or a different way of looking at a place. But that is what is going to make it fun and memorable.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t met a kid that doesn’t love the novelty of zooming around in the golf cart. I know when we visit my in-laws, my daughter loves taking the golf cart around the neighborhood. So imagine getting to see some of the best sights in Rome via a golf cart!
I love this as a first day in Rome activity as I have found that starting off a family trip with a recognizable sight or a “wow” experience gets things off to a great start. A golf cart tour will show off some of Rome’s prettiest sights including the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps. It passes by Ancient Rome and hits some of the lesser-known sites like the Pyramid in Testaccio, “Mouth of Truth,” and the Aventine Keyhole.
Some of these sites you simply can’t walk to on your own and most visitors never get to experience them unless they sign up for some sort of driving tour.
Learn more about LivItaly’s Golf Cart Tour.
Take a Virtual Look at Ancient Rome
Scavenger hunts work great for young children, but how do you get reluctant teens to pay attention to ancient history? Bring it to life! Everyone can get excited about gladiators and fierce animal battles. But when you head over to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, the structures haven’t withstood the test of time quite as well. It is really hard to look at the crumbling columns and footprints of once magnificent buildings and grasp the import of the history that happened there.
With a virtual reality tour, you can fire up your downloaded app, snap your phone into the provided VR Cardboard Glasses and see what ancient Rome used to look like. You can walk through the footsteps of Ancient Romans and learn the incredible history of this once powerful world. LivItaly has created exclusive virtual reality reconstructions for this tour, which are available through its free mobile app. This tour is offered as a small group tour (guaranteed no mobile than six people on the tour), or you can request it as a private family tour.
Afterward, you can add on a lesson at Gladiator School in the late afternoon to let the kids practice their swordplay skills and imagine themselves as ancient gladiators. If you don’t want to take a tour, I would suggest looking into saving time and money with the Roma Pass.
Learn more about LivItaly’s Colosseum & Ancient Rome Tour (with Virtual Reality)
See the Secret Side of the Vatican
Almost every time I talk to a family traveling to Rome, they all want to see the Sistine Chapel. What they don’t always realize is that the Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museums. Actually, it is at the end of the mile-long Vatican Museum. That’s a lot of art to look at before you get to the Sistine Chapel.
You can always take an express tour of the Sistine Chapel, but if you want to do something none of your neighbors can brag about, check out the Vatican’s secret room. LivItaly’s morning Vatican tour with Secret Room takes you behind the velvet ropes. Only Vatican Silver Level Collaborators have direct access to a secret room, which is exclusively unlocked so you can see the hidden Cabinet of the Masks. But don’t worry, you will also see the Sistine Chapel (and plenty of other stops too.)
Learn more about LivItaly’s Morning Vatican Tour with Secret Room tour
Get Creeped Out in the Catacombs
Paris is well-known for its catacombs, but did you know you can visit catacombs in Rome too? Of course you can visit them during the day with the rest of the tourists. But imagine being completely alone with your tour guide in the catacombs at night!
LivItaly is one of the few tour companies that can get you this exclusive access to the catacombs. You will see the most well-known Christian burial grounds in Italy — the Catacombs of Priscilla. You will explore the hidden passageways of underground Rome dating back 2,000 years by the light of just a few flashlights. The best part is that you will be completely alone in the catacombs at night, with only your guide!
It is not for the faint of heart, but for those older kids and teens who love a creepy movie, this tour is sure to entertain while educating.
Learn more about LivItaly’s Rome Catacombs Night Tour
Get Out of Town
You can spend days exploring Rome, but Rome is just one slice of Italy. It is nice to break up exploring the historic sights, museums, and attractions in the city with a day trip into the countryside. A popular day trip would be to head down to Pompeii and the breathtaking Amalfi Coast. After all, even very young kids know the story of Pompeii (in part due to the adventures of Jack and Annie in the Magic Treehouse books.)
But if the kids are getting numb from the array of historic sites, plan a day trip into the countryside to experience one of Italy’s small towns and one of its most unusual parks. LivItaly’s Bomarzo & Orvieto Day Trip from Rome is a lovely way to see another side of Italy. Bomarzo is a gem just outside of Rome, which is home to the “Park of Monsters,” a Renaissance-like amusement park. The park features 16th century gardens filled with mythological and fantastic sculptures. After enjoy some playtime, you will continue on to Orvieto, a gorgeous Umbrian town with a rich Etruscan history.
After exploring Orvieto, you will stop for lunch at a quaint restaurant in the middle of the Umbrian countryside for a farm-to-table lunch.
Learn more about LivItaly’s Day Trip to Bomarzo and Orvieto
- Discover our favorite places to eat in Rome with kids
- Learn how to avoid looking like a tourist in Rome
- Download a Rome scavenger hunt printable
- Find out movies to watch and books to read before visiting Rome
- Download these Rome apps
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Note: this post is sponsored by LivItaly. They are my preferred tour company in Italy and I have many happy clients to back it up. All opinions are my own.