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How to Spend 3 Days in Rome with Kids in the Summer

How to Spend 3 Days in Rome with Kids in the Summer

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Planning a trip to Rome with kids and want a totally doable itinerary? Keep scrolling to check out my kid-friendly 3 days in Rome itinerary from my last trip to Italy!
This kid-friendly 3 days in Rome itinerary was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Rome has a very special place in my heart. It was the first international city I ever visited and it blew my mind and made me want to explore the world.

We went back when my oldest was a toddler, which was a lot of fun. But, I was very excited to go back this year with my 6-year-old and 9-year-old to see what they thought of the Eternal City!

Plus, we met up with my cousin and her 7-year-old and 8-year-old for their first international trip! So we did a mix of exploration and family hang out time.

Keep scrolling to see exactly what we did and what our kids thought of our experience.

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Rome blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Rome with kids.

Popular Rome Tours/Activities

Kid-Friendly Rome Hotels

What’s Rome Like in the Summer?

Want to visit Rome in the summer? Be prepared for massive crowds and heat!

We visited in June and all our tour guides told us that this was the busiest tourist season in Rome ever. It was so busy that there were enough tour guides for all the tours and they had to cancel on people last minute.

Image of a crowded hallway in the Vatican Museums in Rome
This is what the Vatican Museums looked like in June. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

I think that a lot of people are doing their “revenge travel” this summer and everyone is in Rome!

The buildings (like the Vatican Museums) aren’t air-conditioned so you’ll want to bring along fans and wear lightweight and loose clothing to stay cool.

Honestly, if you have any flexibility in your schedule, I’d recommend visiting Rome in the late spring or early fall.

3 Days in Rome with Kids

Before I really get into the Rome in 3 days itinerary, I wanted to note that we started off our trip in Venice, took a train to Florence for a few days, explored Pisa and Cinque Terre, and then hopped a train to Rome. So we weren’t jet-lagged at this point.

We arrived in Rome in the afternoon, checked into our Airbnb, grabbed groceries, and then went right to bed. This itinerary starts the very next day and it’s part of our big 10 days in Italy itinerary.

DAY 1: Rome City Tour

Breakfast

A few of the grown-ups went and grabbed coffee and pastries at a local cafe. We fed the kids bread and jam, salami, and fruit that we bought at the grocery store the night we arrived.

This was an easy way to go and didn’t involve dragging 8 people to a cafe.

Family Friendly Rome City Tour

We kicked off our first day in Rome with a private Rome tour geared for families. I figured doing a guided tour would be a good way for the kids to see some of the city and learn about the ancient history and culture.

We met up with our tour guide Simone at Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona is one of the most famous and arguably one of the most beautiful of Rome’s many squares.

Image of Piazza Navona with the central Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
The large and lively square features three magnificent fountains, including the central Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Piazza Navona is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in the 1st century AD, and follows the form of the open space of the stadium.

Our tour guide took us to the Gladiator Museum in Piazza Navona where he showed us lots of gladiator costumes and a diorama of the underground Stadium of Domitian.

Image of a man and boy looking at gladiator outfits at the Gladiator Museum in Piazza Navona in Rome
The Gladiator Museum in Piazza Navona is really cool! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

There was also a chance to walk inside the Pantheon, which was awesome! It was totally free entry when we visited and the line moved really quickly.

We continued our walking tour of Rome by heading to the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. Apparently, it has just opened to the public 5 days earlier. It’s the site where Julius Caesar was stabbed.

Image of three kids looking at the cat sanctuary in Rome Italy
The kids loved spotting the different cats! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We also walked through the Jewish neighborhood and learned how only a handful of residents survived World War II and returned.

Our tour guide did a great job of explaining Italy’s part in the Holocaust in a kid-friendly and respectful way.

Image of kids eating pizza without cheese on a walking tour of Rome
We love tours that include snacks! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Our tour guide stopped and grabbed us snacks from a Jewish bakery as well as a pizzeria. The pizza didn’t have any cheese and he told us that it was a common snack for schoolchildren.

Image of a woman on a bridge over the Tiber River in Rome Italy
The Tiber River was really pretty! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We crossed the Tiber River and the tour ended in the Trastevere neighborhood where we cooled off with some gelato from Otaleg!

Lunch

Since we had some snacks on the tour, we ended up coming back to our Airbnb and making our own lunch. It was an affordable AND tasty option!

We made caprese salads for grown-ups and the kids had fruit and salami.

Siesta Time

I should mention that it was 99 degrees at this point and it felt even hotter in the city. We were melting.

The kids were all pretty tired and hot, so we opted to spend a few hours in our air-conditioned rental home. We figured we’d try to beat the heat a bit and head back out when the temperature dropped.

Early Dinner

Since knew we wanted to get back out to explore in the evening, we made meatballs and spaghetti for an early dinner.

We picked up the ingredients at the grocery store the night before and figured we could always have a late “bonus dinner” if we got hungry.

Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain

While looking at our Rome itinerary, we realized that we probably wouldn’t see the Spanish Steps or the Trevi Fountain on any of our tours.

So, we headed to these iconic Rome attractions on our own.

Image of a family at the base of the Spanish Steps in Rome
The crowds parted just in time to snap a quick pic! Photo credit: Nicole Dittrich

We got to the Spanish Steps in the early evening and it was PACKED. I already knew that it was illegal to sit on the Spanish Steps, but of course, there were a gazillion tourists doing it.

The police kept blowing their whistles to get everyone to stand up, but a few minutes later, people would start sitting down again. It was a constant cycle.

After we climbed up to the top of the Spanish Steps, we walked over to the Trevi Fountain. These were within easy walking distance from each other.

Image of two boys sitting on the edge of the Trevi Fountain in Rome Italy
We waited SO long to get a photo without a swarm of people blocking the shot! Photo credit: Nicole Dittrich

The Trevi Fountain was crowded beyond belief and we got as close as we could before feeling claustrophobic and needing to get out of that space.

We ended up getting gelato near the Trevi Fountain just to cool off and regroup a bit before heading back to our rental home.

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    DAY 2: Vatican Museum

    Breakfast

    Like the first day, some of the adults went to grab coffee and pastries to bring back to our rental home. This time, we tried a new spot that was just a short walk from where we were staying.

    It was really easy to feed the kids pastries, as well as fruit and salami that we had in the fridge. We knew we needed to fuel up for our tour of the Vatican City.

    Family Treasure Hunt in the Vatican Museums

    If you’re visiting Rome, you might as well visit the Vatican City. This is where you’ll find St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums.

    Find out whether or not it's worth touring the Vatican with kids with tips from top family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. Image of a mom and son in front of St. Peter's Basilica
    St. Peter’s Basilica is just one of the many attractions in the Vatican City. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    We did a private guided tour of the Vatican that was geared specifically toward families. It included skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

    It was about 3.5 hours long and we actually saved a ton of time because our tour guide was able to help us skip some rooms of the Vatican Museums.

    Image of two kids folding paper airplanes at the Vatican City
    The kids may have turned the scavenger hunt sheets into paper airplanes during the tour. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    Our tour guide was really awesome and she had a scavenger hunt for all the kids to work on during the tour. We saw a bunch of cool sculptures, amazing artwork on the ceilings, the gallery of maps, and so much more.

    Image of a boy looking at a statue in the Vatican Museum
    We learned that this statue was the inspiration for Jesus’ pose on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    One of the last stops in the Vatican Museums was the famous Sistine Chapel. To be honest, the kids weren’t all that impressed but I thought it was really cool to see in person.

    Then, we made our way over to St. Peter’s Basilica. Even though I had toured it before, I forgot how massive this place is!

    Image of a tour guide and kids at the Vatican
    Our tour guide was great at zipping us through the highlights. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    I was glad we had a guided tour so we could learn a bit about what we were seeing and just hit the highlights before the kids completely checked out. Check out all my tips for visiting the Vatican with kids here.

    Lunch Near the Vatican

    At this point, our kids were hot, tired, and hungry. So we literally walked to the nearest cafe to see if we could get a table for eight. I was shocked that we found a huge table inside the air-conditioned restaurant.

    Image of kids playing with activity books at a table at a restaurant in the Vatican City
    The kids loved the activity books they earned for completing the treasure hunt at the Vatican! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    It was a buffet restaurant and while the food was okay, we loved how convenient it was! We all really needed a break from the heat and something in our bellies to recharge.

    If we didn’t have tired kiddos in tow, we probably would have walked a bit further for better food.

    Siesta at our Rental House

    After doing a 3-hour tour of the Vatican City, our kids begged for some “chill out” time back at our vacation rental home.

    So we all embraced siesta time. It was still insanely hot outside all afternoon, so made the hard decision to just stay at our rental for the rest of the day.

    We stayed close to Roma Termini so it was a bit of a walk to go anywhere. If we had stayed closer to the heart of Rome, we might have gone out in the evening for a leisurely walk or to go shopping.

    Dinner

    We found a really great Italian restaurant just down the street from where we were staying, so we ordered an array of food options for take-out.

    It was here that we tasted the best lasagne I’ve ever had. The lasagne had very thin noodles, but more layers of noodles and it was in a bechamel sauce. I’m literally dreaming about it as I type this up. YUM!

    DAY 3: Colosseum and Roman Forum & Gladiator School

    Breakfast

    As you might have guessed, we grabbed coffee and pastries to bring back to our Airbnb. It really saved us a lot of time and effort to get the kids ready to go for our day of adventuring around Rome.

    Colosseum and Roman Forum Family Fun Tour

    Our first activity was a private guided tour of the Roman Forum and Colosseum. It included skip-the-line tickets for both Rome attractions.

    Image of a woman teaching a group of kids about the Roman Forum in Italy
    Our guide had great visuals for both the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    Our tour guide was really fantastic and she had a ton of books and visuals to show the kids what life was like in Ancient Rome.

    She showed them gladiator outfits and weapons as well as what the Roman Forum and Colosseum used to look like in Ancient Rome.

    Image of a woman showing kids a book about the Colosseum in Rome
    Our tour guide knew exactly where the kids could sit in the shade. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    She had a scavenger hunt for both the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, which the kids loved completing.

    But, I think they had the most fun seeing the Ancient Roman toilets and learning how they used to share the same toilet paper wipe. Ewwww.

    Image of a mom and two kids in the Colosseum
    Loved exploring the Colosseum with my boys! Photo credit: Nicole Dittrich

    I’m really glad we did a guided tour because we all learned a lot and she knew how to keep the kids engaged even in the heat.

    Plus, she knew exactly where to find places for the kids to sit in the shade and where to refill our water bottles. Check out our full tour review.

    Gelato for Lunch

    We were all pretty hot and tired by the end of exploring the Colosseum. So, we headed to a spot that is one of the best places to get gelato near the Colosseum.

    Image of a boy holding gelato in front of an oversized ice cream cone in Rome
    After exploring the Colosseum in the hot sun, gelato hit the spot! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    It was a bit of a walk and the kids started to get cranky. But the gelato at Gelateria S.M. Maggiore was seriously good and worth the extra effort.

    It was just what we needed to energize ourselves for an afternoon at the Rome Gladiator School!

    Rome Gladiator School

    This was hands-down the best thing to do in Rome with kids. My kids talked about Rome Gladiator School for weeks after our trip.

    Image of a boy in a stockade
    My son was giddy to be put in a stockade! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    It’s run by Gruppo Storico Romano, who also does re-enactment events in Rome.

    They have a whole wall of photos of celebrities who have participated in the Rome Gladiator School, including Shakira, Owen Wilson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and more.

    Image of a boy wearing a gladiator helmet at the Rome Gladiator School in Italy
    My son had a blast trying on the helmets! Photo credit: Darren Cheung

    Basically, we started off in their gladiator museum to try on different helmets, feel the weight of the weapons, learn about the evolution of the Roman army, and then learn about Roman gladiators.

    Image of a man and two boys wearing red robes and rope belts at Rome Gladiator School
    My husband and sons got to wear robes before gladiator training! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    From there, we put on our gladiator uniform (which consisted of a red robe and rope belt) and began gladiator training. Well, I opted out of training so I could take photos and videos.

    Image of kids and adults doing gladiator training in Rome Italy
    My kids had a BLAST training to become gladiators! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    Gladiator training consisted of an elaborate obstacle course, a competition to build a sudis the fastest, learning 5 sword movements, and then finally sparring with a partner.

    The grand finale was heading to their little arena for a massive gladiator battle. They had swords and shields and it was all pretty entertaining. Check the latest rates and availability.

    Dinner

    Remember how I told you about that amazing lasagne? It was so good that we ordered take-out from the same restaurant and got all the lasagne varieties plus other dishes.

    BONUS: Flytographer Photo Shoot

    We actually did a family photo shoot in Rome the morning of our 4th day before we flew out. I figured I’d share about it in case you want to include that in your own Rome itinerary.

    Image of a family walking in a piazza in Rome in the early morning
    I never would have been able to get this gorgeous shot on my own! Photo credit: Guido with Flytographer

    We met up with our photographer Guido at 6:30 a.m. at Campidoglio to beat the crowds and boy was it worth it!

    He got some amazing shots with the nice lighting in Campidoglio before we walked to the Roman Forum and then made our way to the Colosseum.

    Check out these tips for finding affordable Rome photographers by top family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. Image of a family in front of the Colosseum in Rome Italy

    I’m so glad we set aside time to do this because these are my favorite photos from our trip to Rome! Check the latest rates and availability.

    Book a Family Photo Shoot

    Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.

    Tips for Visiting Rome with Kids

    Stay Near Rome Attractions You Want to Visit

    We ended up staying near Roma Termini because we all took the train to get there from our previous destinations and we thought it would be convenient. But, we didn’t realize that the area is pretty far removed from stuff and can be sketchy at night.

    Next time, we’ll probably stay in another neighborhood.

    Plan Ahead

    Rome has so much to see, and it can be overwhelming to decide what to visit. Research and plan your Rome itinerary in advance, factoring in some downtime for the kids.

    Image of a woman in front of the Pantheon in Rome Italy
    I’m glad we had the chance to go inside the Pantheon! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    I figured we’d want to see the Roman Forum, Colosseum, walk around Central Rome, check out the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, throw coins in the Trevi Fountain, and climb the Spanish Steps.

    Ask Your Kids What THEY Want to Do

    My kids really wanted to see the Colosseum because it’s pretty famous and it’s one of the seven wonders of the world.

    Image of two boys wearing helmets and holding swords at the Rome Gladiator School
    Rome Gladiator School was at the top of the list for my boys! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    They also wanted to do Gladiator School because they figured it would come in handy knowing some ancient fighting techniques!

    Of course, they also wanted to taste test as many scoops of gelato as they could!

    Get Gelato

    I’m a big believer that you can never have too much gelato in one day. While I remember getting “breakfast gelato” when I was a teen, I found that most gelateria in Rome didn’t open until lunchtime.

    So, get one in the afternoon to cool off and then another one after dinner as dessert!

    Book Kid-Friendly Rome Tours

    Consider booking kid-friendly tours, especially for historically rich places like the Colosseum or the Vatican Museums. Guides often have a way of making history fun and engaging for younger audiences.

    Image of 3 kids looking up at an arch in the Roman Forum
    It was great to tour the Roman Forum with a local expert! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    I prefer kid-friendly or private tours to group tours because they are so much more understanding of kids’ attention spans and needs. Plus, it’s usually easy to adapt the tour to fit your family better.

    Visit Parks and Playgrounds

    Villa Borghese Gardens and Villa Pamphili are expansive parks where kids can run around and play. They also house some excellent museums that adults can enjoy.

    We planned on visiting those before we realized how unbearably hot the summer afternoons in Rome were during our trip.

    Embrace Siesta Time in the Summer

    If you are visiting Rome in the summer, it can be HOT. While you might be able to rally and power through, chances are that your kids will be fried.

    The sun rises earlier and sets later in the summer. Take advantage of this by getting an early start in the morning, relaxing in your room in the afternoon, and heading back out to explore after dinner.

    Rome Itinerary FAQs

    Is it worth visiting Rome with kids?

    Yes, it is worth visiting Rome with kids. The city is filled with history, culture, and fun activities that can engage children of all ages.

    From exploring ancient ruins and landmarks, such as the Colosseum, to participating in interactive learning experiences like the Gladiator School, there are plenty of kid-friendly attractions.

    Additionally, the Italian cuisine, with its pizzas, pastas, and gelatos, is often a big hit with the young ones.

    Are 3 days enough for Rome?

    Three days in Rome can be enough to see the major sites like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Vatican Museums, and St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as to explore some of the city’s neighborhoods and enjoy its cuisine.

    However, Rome has so much to offer that you could easily spend a week or more without running out of things to do. It really depends on your pace and what you want to get out of your visit.

    How many days are needed for Rome?

    The number of days needed for Rome depends on what you want to see and do. A 3-4 day trip can cover the most famous attractions, but to fully immerse in Rome’s culture, history, and cuisine, a week would provide a more relaxed and in-depth experience.

    Is it worth visiting the Vatican City with kids?

    Yes, it’s worth visiting Vatican City with kids. From exploring the vast collections of the Vatican Museums to marveling at the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, these experiences can be educational and awe-inspiring for kids.

    While you can visit on your own, guided tours tailored for children can make the visit more engaging and enjoyable for them.

    Why is Rome called the Eternal City?

    Rome is often called “The Eternal City,” a reference to the ancient Romans’ belief that no matter what happened to the world, Rome would go on forever. The name also reflects Rome’s long history and its role as a center of Western civilization.

    Despite the rise and fall of empires and civilizations, Rome has persisted through the ages, hence its “eternal” moniker.

    Is it worth visiting the Trevi Fountain with kids?

    The Trevi Fountain is PACKED during the summer. If you can swing it, go in the early morning before the tour groups show up. And remember to bring 3 coins to throw into the fountain!

    The first coin ensures your return to Rome, the second leads to a new romance, and the third guarantees marriage. The coins are collected daily and donated to Caritas, a Catholic charity, to help those in need.

    Is it worth doing a guided tour of Rome with kids?

    Yes, a guided tour can be a great way to experience Rome with kids. Guides often know how to make historical facts engaging for young minds, transforming sightseeing into an adventure. Tours also remove the stress of navigating busy tourist sites.

    What are the major attractions in Rome?

    Rome boasts several iconic landmarks. Some of the major attractions include the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Pantheon, Vatican City (including the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica), Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Piazza Navona, among others.

    How can I save money in Rome?

    There are several ways to save money when visiting Rome. Consider getting a Roma Pass or Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass which offers free entry to certain attractions and discounts to others, along with unlimited public transport.

    Many museums have free entry on certain days. Eating at local trattorias, away from the main tourist sites, can also be cheaper and more authentic.

    Using public transportation or walking, instead of taxis, can save money too.

    Do I need a skip-the-line ticket for top Rome attractions?

    If you’re visiting Rome during summer, lines for major attractions like the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, or Borghese Gallery can be extremely long. It is definitely worth investing in skip-the-line tickets to save time and make the most of your visit. Some city passes include skip-the-line options.

    3 Days in Rome Travel Tips Wrap Up

    Spending 3 days in Rome with your kids during the summer can be a whirlwind adventure filled with education, excitement, and unforgettable memories.

    With careful planning, you can maximize your time and visit all the major attractions, making your Roman holiday a worthy experience for the whole family.

    This Rome itinerary provides a perfect blend of history and fun, giving children a taste of the grandeur of the Roman Empire while keeping their interest piqued with interactive experiences.

    It may seem like a lot to cover in a short time, but Rome’s compact city center makes it doable and never feels overwhelming. The city is incredibly kid-friendly, with countless places to pause for a gelato break or to splash in a fountain.

    Undoubtedly, a visit to Rome, even just for 3 days, will offer your kids a firsthand experience of walking through history, where every cobblestone whispers stories of emperors and gladiators.

    So, whether you’re tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain or standing in awe under the dome of the Pantheon, the magic of Rome will surely captivate you and your little ones.

    Ultimately, a trip to Rome is about more than seeing ancient ruins and famous artworks – it’s about stepping back in time, sparking imagination, and creating lifelong memories.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it certainly can’t be fully explored in just three, but this taste of the Eternal City will leave you and your kids yearning for more.

    So here’s to your family, and your upcoming adventure of 3 days in Rome – it’s sure to be an experience your family will cherish forever!

    Looking for more Rome family activities? Check out my tips for visiting Italy with kids, top Rome travel tips, best Rome tours for kids, things to do in Rome with kids, how to become a gladiator for a day, is it worth visiting the Vatican with kids, where to stay in Rome with kids, how to book a Rome family photo shoot, how to spend 10 days in Italy with kids, Europe travel tips, and best day trips from Rome!

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