Top 10 Family Activities in Rome - Al Fresco Holidays
Rome is generally considered something of a paradise for romancing couples and culture fanatics. The city is famed for its ambiance; for its bustling street-side pizzerias, spectacular Baroque churches and Renaissance buildings, not to mention numerous ancient Roman ruins.
Thanks largely to all this history and architecture, it’s not immediately the place that holiday-makers think of when booking a family trip abroad. There’s not a beach in sight and there are certainly no theme parks within the city itself. This leads many travellers to wonder, exactly what can Rome offer families?
The answer? A lot. This charismatic Italian city has plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy, and promises to be an inspiring, exciting (and, dare we say it, occasionally educational) holiday for young and old travellers alike.
Exploring Rome with the Family: Top Ten Activities
1. Get to grips with the city … by bus: When you arrive in Rome, it’s likely that you may feel a little overwhelmed. The city is busy, especially in peak season, and is also fairly vast. Ease yourself gently into the Roman experience by catching one of the city’s Hop On / Hop Off buses. If younger travellers start to wriggle in their seats, simply jump off at the next stop, do some exploring, and clamber back on the bus later on. This is also a great chance for you to identify where the parks and piazzas are, should your children need to run off some energy!
2. Explore in Explora: Inquisitive minds of all ages will love the Explora Museum. This interactive museum provides the chance to discover more about the world in a fun, hands-on way. The museum is not open on Mondays and children under 3 are free.
3. Relive history in Castel Sant’Angelo: Before visiting Castel Sant’Angelo, located near the Vatican, make sure to do some reading first. A significant part of what makes this imposing fortress so fascinating is its history. Kids can climb the ramparts and find out all about the secret rooms, passageways and sinister prison cells.
4. Enjoy the outdoors at Villa Borghese: The extensive gardens at the Villa Borghese offer a really pleasant day of rest and relaxation for the family, ideal after a few days of sightseeing! There are playgrounds with bumper cars, an arts and crafts centre and even a mini electric train that transports passengers around the park.
5. Have a gelato at the Pantheon: The Pantheon is not only one of the most historically important buildings in the city, but is also surprisingly well suited for children. Take the time to tell your kids about the ancient history of the building, which dates back to the time of the Emperor Augustus (27 BC to 14 AD) before retreating to the Piazza Navona, which has several shops selling tasty gelatos.
6. Visit the past at Sant Clemente: Sant Clemente, located near the Colosseum, is a church with a difference. Here, you can visit historical excavations, which include a basilica dating from the Dark Ages, the crumbing ruins of a Roman home and an ancient temple. The alleyway, which is nearly 2000 years old, is also impressive, as is the somewhat eerie underground spring.
7. Relax at Tiber Island: During the summer season, the banks of the river at Tiber Island come alive with laid-back tourists, eager to enjoy the fine dining, lively bars and open-air cinema. After a long day of sightseeing, it’s a great place to unwind, enjoy a good meal and watch a film.
8. Get to know the resident ghosts: If you and your family love to hear ghoulish tales of spectres and apparitions, then you’ll enjoy the Ghost and Mystery Walking Tour. This one and a half hour tour encompasses some of the most notoriously spooky spots in the city, and the knowledgeable guides will also tell you plenty about the city and its intriguing past.
9. Buy your picnic at the Campo de’ Fiori: This open-air market is not only a pleasure to walk around, it also sells some of the freshest produce in the area. It’s the ideal place to stock up on some food and drink for a picnic before heading to one of the city’s pleasant green parks.
10. Learn about Roman life at the Forum: If you visit the Forum without having read up on it first, it’s unlikely to make much of an impact, especially with the younger visitors. However, if you take the time to read a guide, you’ll soon discover that these ruins hold many clues about life in the Roman times, not to mention some intriguing stories. Visit the Curia (a building that Julius Caesar commissioned, ironically to benefit the very men that assassinated him), relive the processions and parades on the Via Sacra, and learn about the temples, some of which are dedicated to people, not gods!
Family Friendly Accommodation in Rome
Generally, Roman hotels are very welcoming of families. However, in the city, it’s unlikely that you’ll find accommodation with family-friendly facilities, unless you’re willing to pay a premium. Most savvy travellers tend to stay just outside the city in a holiday park, which provides the activities and amenities for guests of all ages whilst still remaining close to Rome.
The Family Park I Pini is only 25 miles from Rome and has a large swimming pool to cool off in after a day’s exploring. Alternatively, the Camping Village Fabulous has a kids club, a swimming pool and lagoon style pool, and is only a short drive from the gates of the ‘Eternal City’.