While the Vatican Museums and Pantheon in Rome may keep the grown-ups enthralled, the endless “old stuff” may not captivate kids for long.
So for anyone traveling with younger ones to Rome, what can the ancient city offer to keep everyone amused? Well, many things, as it turns out! Plus, many of the city’s kid-friendly attractions offer free admission to guests under 18.
Here are our top five ideas for visiting Rome with kids:
1. The Colosseum
Admission: €12; free for children under 18 (with ID)
Web site (in Italian)
With a history of gladiators, blood, exotic animals and vestal virgins, the Colosseum should get children’s imaginations running. (Did you know that during the opening ceremony over 5,000 wild beasts were slain and that crocodiles were brought to the 100-day event from all over the world to battle to the death? And what better way to rid yourselves of prisoners than get them to kill each other with ancient weapons in front of 80,000 spectators?)
Okay, so the fierce warriors and gory battles are no longer to be found, but a little story-telling and a gladiator costume or two go a long way in keeping the little ones amused.
2. Roman Bones, Ghosts and Ghouls at the Capuchin Crypt
Address: Santa Maria della Concezione Church, Via Veneto 27 (Barberini end)
Hours: 9 a.m-12 p.m. and 3 p.m.-6 p.m., closed Thursdays
Admission: By donation, with a minimum of €1
Prepare to be spooked at the sight of thousands of skulls and bones artfully arranged in the Capuchin Crypt under the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappucini Church. Five vaulted chapels are filled with the remains of Capuchin Friars, with about 4,000 skeletons total. You’ll find complete skeletons (with skin) as well as lampshades, fireplaces and artwork made of bones. Go on, if you dare…
3. Castel Sant’Angelo
Address: Lungotevere Castello 50 (just next to Piazza Cavour and the Vatican)
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday); closed on Mondays
Admission: €8; reduced entrance fee for visitors under 18
Made famous in the film Angels and Demons when Tom Hanks ran through the Papal corridor, the Castel Sant’Angelo has passages, stairways, cannons and ramparts that are just waiting to be explored. The castle offers a magnificent view over the Tiber River and the Vatican, so children won’t be the only ones eager to explore its ancient secrets.
4. The Time Elevator Experience
Address: Via SS Apostoli, 20
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily
Admission: €9 (adults); and €7 (children under 12)
This virtual ride brings the story of Ancient Rome to life—beginning with the dinosaurs and culminating in a five-dimensional journey through time and space. The 180-degree screen, moving platforms, flight simulators and 3D effects are guaranteed to entertain both adults and children.
This is not the cheapest option in town (especially as the film is not that long), but check to see if your hotel reception offers discount vouchers.
5. Climbing St. Peter’s Dome
Admission: €6 (stairs); €7 (using the elevator)
Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (April-September); 8:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m. (October-March)
Racing up the twisting spiral staircases to the top of the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica should tire the little ones out. (There’s an option to take an elevator to the roof if you feel short on youthful energy.)
The Dome was designed by Michelangelo, and there is a total of 330 steps to get to the top. During part of the climb, you have to walk on a slanted platform to accommodate the Dome’s sloping walls. Stagger to the top for a well-deserved rest.