So you’re taking the plunge, and want to take your toddlers to Rome. Where do you start? How do you go about planning and figuring out how to time your visit? What things should I consider when I’m making my plans? I’ve laid out exactly how I went about planning our trip to Rome with toddlers, along with certain details that made our trip great, and even added several things I wish I would’ve known. All of this will help you plan a successful trip to Rome with your toddlers.
Now, planning a trip to Rome with toddlers is definitely a challenge. Rome was founded in 753 BC. Just let that sink in for a second. That’s almost 2800 years of history to cram into a few days. There is no way you will see it all, especially with your kids in tow, but don’t let that discourage you.
While planning the itinerary for our family trip to Italy, I spent the majority of my time on Rome. All of that extra planning really paid off because we had a plan of attack for every day. We didn’t spend hours aimlessly walking around. We were able to see so much of Rome, while still enjoying a kid-friendly pace. PS- Make sure to check out this post, if you want to read more about how we spent our three days in Rome with kids.
When we took this trip in April, little man was just shy of 12 months and our sweet girl was three. There were so many logistical things to consider, from strollers to restaurant plans. I’m pretty sure everyone we know thought we were crazy, but it ended up being one of our favorite trips thus far.
Getting To Rome
By train: The main train station is Roma Termini. It is located near the Altare della Patria or “wedding cake building”. From here you can walk or take a taxi/uber to your hotel, depending on location.
By air: The Leonardo da Vinci airport is about a 45 minute drive from the main tourist areas of Rome. There are several options for getting into the city once you arrive at the airport.
- Train- The Leonardo Express train runs daily on a regular basis between Roma Termini and the airport. It is 14 euros per person one way, but children under 4 are free. You can buy tickets there or get them ahead of time at trenitalia.com
- Uber or taxi- We did use Uber once or twice while in Rome, but not from the airport. The taxi cost is 48 euro from the airport to the ancient city limits, which is where most tourist hotels are.
- Private car hire- This is how we got into the city. It was 75 EUR, including two car seats in the van. We used Sixt. Normally, we would’ve taken a train, but we knew we’d be exhausted and wouldn’t want to think much. Plus, once at the station we would’ve had to walk to another local station to catch the train that arrives closer to our hotel or walk 45 minutes with our luggage. Neither seemed like a good idea with two kids under 4. It was worth it this time to be dropped right at our front door, especially since they could provide car seats.
Getting Around Rome with Toddlers
Rome is a perfectly walkable city. I’m a huge advocate for walking when we travel, for multiple reasons. Besides the exercise you get, you are sure to see much more than you would on a bus or tram.
Seeing all of the sights on your list as quickly as possible can be satisfying, but once you discover a quaint alley or local osteria that you haven’t seen plastered all over the internet, you just “get it”. Travel is all about exploration. Get out there and walk, without staring down at your map or phone.
If you do want to use public transport in the essence of time, I would check out Rome Toolkit. There is a wealth of information about the lines, pricing, etc.
Stroller Considerations for Rome
Before we left for Rome, I agonized over our stroller options. I knew that walking around in The Eternal City with two toddlers would be absolutely miserable without a stroller. But, which ones should be take? Do we take our big double stroller? Should we take only one umbrella stroller?
I’m here to tell you from experience, don’t take your huge stroller to Rome. It will be cumbersome and cause headaches getting around. We ultimately decided to take an umbrella stroller for each child. We have an upgraded umbrella stroller with sturdier wheels and borrowed another from a friend. It was the best decision because the larger wheels made it easy to maneuver on cobblestone streets, while still folding up easily for storage in restaurants and our hotel room.
I also took our Ergo Carrier to keep our little guy contained for tourist spots that didn’t allow strollers. The cobblestone streets offered just enough vibration to put the kids right to sleep on long walks….giving us the perfect opportunity to stop for an adult beverage.
Luckily for you, I’ve created this handy chart with opening times and stroller considerations for some of the main tourist attractions in Rome. This will save you hours of research, trust me.
Where to Stay in Rome with Toddlers
Location, location, location
As with any tourist city, where you stay can be determined by how much you want to spend for convenience. We opted to stay near the Spanish Steps. We found a great hotel with expansive rooms, especially considering the price and location.
With two kids, it was worth every penny to walk right out into a street within the old city walls. I would say anywhere within a mile of the Pantheon would be a fairly central location.
If you want a quieter setting that gives you a more local feel, Trastavere is where I would stay. Walks of Italy has a great article on the different neighborhoods of Rome and the hotels within each.
We chose the Residenza di Ripetta. The superior suite was perfect for the four of us. The king bedroom still had enough space to fit the crib they provided.
The living area had a sofa and a small kitchenette area off to the side. The small refrigerator was extremely useful for keeping milk for the kids. Even with the twin bed they added for our daughter, the living area still had room for the kids to play during downtime between outings.
The kids loved opening the french doors to the courtyard and listening to the sounds of the city. The bathroom had a tub, which is a game changer when traveling with kids. Have you ever tried to hold a slipper baby covered in soap while in the shower?
Every morning we ate our delicious breakfast (and downed lots of espresso) in the beautiful courtyard. The birds were a welcome distraction if the kids started getting fidgety.
Things to Consider About Eating in Rome with Toddlers
What Not To Do
We don’t usually like to plan out every meal or restaurant. We often do a quick search to see if there is a particular place that interests us, then just make our decisions on the fly, depending on where we are and how our day is going.
However, when traveling with kids- especially in a foreign country- you may want to always have a few ideas in your back pocket. Case in point: when we arrived in Rome we were starving after our overnight flight. After checking in, we made a beeline for the first restaurant we could find. It was terrible. They had pizza with hotdogs on it for crying out loud. Everything about the place screamed “hello, American tourists, come on in”. Either way, I was hangry and just wanted some food in my belly. Don’t get stuck eating bad food; be prepared. After that, I decided to have a few options to fall back on in case of emergency.
One thing to consider is that Italians, along with most other European countries, eat late. Most places don’t even open for dinner until 7pm. When traveling with two young children- or someone like me who gets hungry every 3 hours- this can be a challenge. Take advantage of apertivo hour or grab an afternoon gelato.
The good news is Italians take their kids to restaurants all the time so most are extremely family friendly. Almost every restaurant will have a high chair of some sort.
Now, little man was just shy of one year old on our trip. Several places had the basic wooden ones, some without a strap. Needless to say, he was all over the place, constantly trying to climb in and out. Luckily, we also took our travel high chair. It was a huge saving grace when we couldn’t keep him contained in the high chair provided or when the only chair was already in use by another family.
Food can be pretty subjective, but I’ve included our favorite places we visited. These all came highly rated from locals or different review sites.
Our Favorite Restaurants (kid friendly, of course)
- Enoteca Buccone – This little wine shop was recommended by a tour guide. He said this is his favorite place to go with his family for lunch. It also happened to be just down the street from our hotel. It was simple and delicious. My lasagna amatriciana was the perfect balance of sauce and homemade, paper thin sheets of lasagna. Seating is limited to a few tables surrounded by walls of wine. It sounds like an Italian food dream, right? We were surrounded by locals on their lunch breaks, which only reassured the decision we made.
- Il Chianti- It wasn’t exactly a strictly Roman restaurant, but the food and ambiance were perfection. If you get lucky enough, try to snag one of the tables in the courtyard. The inside feels like you are in a wine cave that has been updated with a more modern flair. Again, there are walls and walls of Italian wines.
- Osteria Delle Commari- We had this place for lunch after leaving the Vatican. It was a few blocks walk to this cute little simple eatery. The interior brick arches and lighting gave it a homey feel.
- Fatamorgana- This gelato was by far our favorite in Rome….possibly our entire Italian trip. It was so creamy and worth every minute waited in line. I had the pear and gorganzola special of the day. I always go for pistachio or a butter pecan type, but I would venture to say this might be my favorite flavor combo for gelato yet. The tangy gorganzola against the just sweet enough pear was perfection.
- More information: for an extensive overview of the best local eateries check out Rome Wise. She has even broken down her favorite restaurants based on proximity to popular sights. Every place we went based on her recommendation was excellent.
Things to Do in Rome with Toddlers
Visit the historical sights
Golf cart tour
I’ll be honest, I was not sold on the idea of a golf cart tour. I try to avoid doing the super touristy activities when we go places. A golf cart tour seemed like a super lazy and cheesy way to see the city. With toddlers, though, it was actually fantastic.
It was a great way to see a lot of the city in a little time. I would schedule this for one of your first two days here, as it can help you get your bearings. Our driver took us to several major sites, but there are multiple options for which tours to do. He always stopped and let us get out to look around and take pictures, and he was so patient with the kids.
Visit a Park
Plan for some down time in Villa Borghese gardens or one of the other city parks. Be sure to read more about our time at Villa Borghese park.
Play in the Piazzas
Watch the street performers in the Piazza Navona. This may have been our daughter’s second favorite part of Rome. She (along with every other kid around) was obsessed with the bubble man.
Get Outside of the Typical Tourist Spots
Visit a local neighborhood for a more authentic feel. We walked over to the Trastavere a couple of times. It was much quieter and helped up escape the hustle and bustle of the tourist sites for a bit. The kids loved playing at the little neighborhood park.
Planning Tips for Rome with Toddlers
When I started making our plans for Rome with two toddlers, I got extremely overwhelmed. There is so much to see and we only had three days! My expectations were low, but I knew that if we planned ahead we could make the most of it. This is a quick rundown how I went about to process.
- Pick the major sights you must see. These will be your main priorities as far as sightseeing goes.
- Divide the city into major areas. I used google maps and marked off quadrants. From there I made a note of the locations of the major sights we wanted to see and which quadrant it fell into.
- Note opening times for the sites you want to see. This will help to plan your day. Some places have days they stay open later or open earlier.
- Note food options near each major sight. We usually don’t plan ahead for where we are going to eat, but if you aren’t going to have wifi then you want a general idea so you don’t end up eating pizza with hot dogs like we did. You don’t need concrete plans, but it was nice to have some nearby options in my head in case someone got hangry.
- Note park or playground options near each major sight. It was good to have a backup plan in case we needed to get some wiggles out in between sightseeing.
- From here you can make your general timeline. Again, I don’t like having a strict schedule for every day of a trip. I decided on one or two major sights or activities for each morning and evening, then had options for other places in that same quadrant. I somewhat had an idea of what restaurants and parks were nearby, and we rolled with it. Leave some time for exploring.
- Pack light! There is nothing worse than wheeling around a bunch of luggage while trying to push a stroller and load everyone on a train. Trust me, you don’t need a ton of “stuff”.
I hope this guide helps you plan your vacation in Rome with toddlers. There’s no need to wait, take them along! Have you taken your children to Rome?
Follow along here for the next leg of our trip, Tuscany!