Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

Filled with amazing sights and smells, Rome is home to many tourist attractions that are worth seeing if you’re an avid traveler. For someone who is traveling for a short amount of time, your family might find it hard to fit everything in for one trip. While there are many ways for your family to enjoy Rome, a good starting list should include at least one architectural landmark fountain, one museum ,  a noteworthy church and the famous catacombs.

As much as sticking to a set list has its advantages, you should also leave enough leisure time for exploring. You can take this time to visit neighborhoods like Trastevere and Campo De Fiori. If you look around long enough, you might even come across places like Rome’s cat sanctuary or The Vatican, with time to find some of Italy’s best eateries.

The Colosseum

Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

The Colosseum , our first stop is one of the most visited locations in Italy. It is an iconic symbol of Rome and its history. Commissioned around A.D 70-72 by Emperor Versapian as a gift to the Roman people, the Colosseum was home to 100 days of games, some of which included gladiator combat and wild animal fights. Built of sand and concrete, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater in history. It’s open daily from 8:30 am to 3:30, seven days a week. At night, the Colosseum lights up, making a magnificent view.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Be aware that there is an uneven terrain with many stairs to climb, so closed toe shoes are important to wear.
  • Bring a water bottle, especially on hot days, because you’ll need it, along with a mini fan if your child is temperature intolerant.

Torre Argentina

Kitty corner to the Colosseum (no pun intended), there is a cat sanctuary among the ancient ruins of Rome that kids and adults alike can enjoy. Torre Argentina is open most of the day, and you and your family can visit their nonprofit store and chat with the volunteers who come to feed the cats.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Bear in mind there are over 100 cats living in this area, if you or anyone in your family is allergic then it’s not a recommended location.
  • Explain to your child that these are feral cats that should be approached cautiously and with respect.

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill sits at the center of the famous seven hills of Rome and has a close link to Roman mythology. In Rome’s Republican era, Palatine Hill was the place for occupants to take up residency due to its beautiful views soaring 230 feet above the city. It was also believed that the air at that height was cleaner than “diseased” air of the working class below.

Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

The Farnese Garden’s are beautiful and open to visitors at the northwest end. Tickets are on sale at the ticket queue outside of the ruins, and the wait is minimal at best, so you don’t have to allow for an extra time as you would for other sites. You can access Palatine Hill from the Hop On Hop Off Tour buses that run between the Colosseum and Palatine Hill.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Palatine Hill is a steep hill, so wear closed-toe shoes and bring plenty of water.
  • There’s an interesting museum to visit recommended for children 8 and up.
  • Arrive early in the day to avoid the extreme heat and the hordes of tourists.

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum was the center of the Roman empire. Up until the 4th century AD, it was the site of critical decision-making for Europe’s future for over a thousand years. The Roman Forum sits between Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Hills. You can access the Roman Forum easily by foot or by bus as there are several stops near the location. Admission prices are just 12 euros, and the forum is open in the summer from 8:30 am to 7:15 pm and in winter from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The Forum is closed December 25th and January 1st.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • If possible, the best way to visit both Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum is to get a guided, narrated tour, especially for kids who are interested in history.
  • If you come on your own, be sure to come early to avoid crowds.

The Pantheon

Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

The Pantheon is known today as one of the most iconic buildings of ancient Rome. It is also the most well-preserved piece of architecture from that period. Dedicated to the gods of pagan Rome, the Pantheon is built by Emperor Hadrian in 27 B.C. to replace Marcus Agrippa’s Pantheon, which burned down in 80 A.D. When visiting the Pantheon admission is free to visitors and there are no lines to wait in or fees to pay when arriving. You can explore the marvel that is the Pantheon individually, or you can go on a guided tour that will help shed better light on the history of the Pantheon.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Though the marble flooring is beautiful, it can become slippery after rain.
  • Make sure that you try the 1 euro pizza slices in the nearby pizzerias.

Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore is one of five great ancient basilicas of Rome. It stands on the site of a temple dedicated to the goddess Cybele and according to legend, the first church was built by Pope Liberius on the location of the apparition of the Virgin Mary. Over the passing decades, the church has had many other names. The interior, exterior and 5th-century indoor mosaics are some of the most noteworthy aspects of the Santa Maria Maggiore that draws in both pilgrims and tourists alike. It’s open to the public daily from 7 am to 7 pm.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Prepare your kids for the fact they will need to be quiet since it is a place of worship.
  • Make sure your children dress appropriately, especially for preteen girls.

Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

Piazza Navona and Fountain of Four Rivers

Piazza Navona was built in the 1st century, AD on the location of the Stadium of Domitian. The ancient Romans would gather to watch the games, and it has since become a popular tourist destination for travelers. Features of interest at the Piazza Navona include the Fountain of Four Rivers, and two other fountains, Fontana Del Moro on the southern end and the Fountain of Neptune at the northern end. The Piazza Navona is located just west of the Pantheon and is situated in the historic center of Rome, which is also one of the liveliest squares in the city known for its nightlife, outdoor cafes, and nightclubs.

Fountain of Four Rivers depicts gods of the great four rivers in the four continents recognized by Renaissance Geographers: The Nile in Africa, the Ganges in Asia, the Danube in Europe and Rio de la Plata in America. Back in Baroque Rome, fountains were seen as a sign of great generosity associated with the papal family. These fountains were not only a means of entertainment for passersby but also a vital source of water for the people, making it not only a beautiful fixture but also an important source of sustenance. It was Pope Innocent X Pamphilj who commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to construct the Fountain of Four Rivers.
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Autism Travel Tips:

  • If your kid is intolerant of crowds, be sure to arrive extremely early in the morning since the place crawls with tourists throughout the day and even more so at night.
  • Beware of pickpockets, make sure that any valuables that you or your family members carry are in either a money belt or in zipping pockets.

St. Peters Basilica

St. Peters Basilica is an Italian Renaissance Church in the Vatican city. Designed by some of the best artists of that period, Michelangelo, Bramante, Maderno and Bernini, St.Peter’s is known as one of the largest churches in the entire world. Not to be missed is the famed Sistine Chaple that took Michelangelo and his apprentices over five years to paint and complete while standing on ladders with their necks tilted back. Considered the holiest of Catholic shrines, St. Peters is also home to the burial site of St. Peter himself, a former apostle of Christ as well as the first known Pope. St.Peters is open to visitors from April-September from 7:00 to 19:00 and October-March from 7:00 to 18:00.

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Autism Travel Tips

  • The lines surrounding St. Peters are quite long, so it’s idea to arrive early and expect a long wait.
  • There is no AC, so the temperature inside can quickly reach 100 degrees between the outside heat and the hordes of people inside.
  • Expect close physical proximity to other patrons.
  • After you’ve taken your pictures of the balcony where the Pope himself stands to greet people, you can visit the Vatican Museums, which also has lines as long as found at St. Peters.
  • You should have a mapped strategy when visiting or take a guided tour so you can get the most out of your visit.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain is one of the most photographed fountains in all of Rome, frequently features in Hollywood movies. It is considered to be a “must see” attraction for first-time visitors. Situated in the center of the city, Trevi Fountain sits amongst a maze of streets and alleyways. Many tourists enjoy visiting in the evening before wandering off to enjoy a meal. Admission to Trevi Fountain is free of course and is easily accessible by foot or bus. Although the Trevi Fountain is beautiful to look at it, it also serves a higher purpose: providing water to fountains all over the city.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Just like in other fountains in Rome, Trevi Fountain has many tourists, especially in the summer, who come to check out the filming locations of nostalgic movies like Holiday in Rome.
  • As we discovered, the best time to take a decent selfie with few crowds were the early Sunday mornings when the locals and most of the tourists were still sleeping.5527069588_7597a0ca51_z

Catacombs of Callixtus

The Catacombs of Callixtus are known as the greatest and most important catacombs in all of Rome. There is a guided tour that is free of charge to visitors, and the guides are known to speak several different languages to suit the needs of their various guests. The entirety of the tour will last about 30/40 minutes on average, and there are some discounts available on ticket pricing as well as free options for children under 6, professors or teachers who are accompanying student groups.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Though historically significant, this is not a recommended place for kids that are afraid of the dark or who are sensitive to smells, because this place has both, since it is mainly underground.
  • Be aware that the ground is uneven, and you’ll have to walk through narrow pathways, so unless your kid feels comfortable enough to do this, it would be best to skip this destination.

Campo de’ Fiori

Campo de’ Fiori is situated right in the middle of historic Rome and is an outdoor market for tourists and residents alike. Day and night, the Campo de’ Fiori market is a bustle of activity. The name Campo de’ Fiori translates to “field of flowers” and is thought to originate back when the site was an open meadow. Known for its outdoor market by day and nightlife by evening, Campo de’ Fiori is the only outdoor market in all of Rome.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Perfect spot for antsy kids to run around and for families to buy some Italian delicacies and have an outdoor picnic.
  • For those looking for souvenirs, this is as close to heaven as it gets; however, don’t be afraid to haggle the price down – whatever the price asked, start with half and work yourself to 2/3rds.

Top Spots in Rome to Visit with Kids

Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps were built between 1723-1725 by little-known architect Francesco de Sanctis. It is a must see tourist location if you’re visiting the holy city. The steps are constructed in a wide, irregular pattern and consist of 138 steps altogether. Whether you’re looking for a good place to rest or snap a picture, the Spanish Steps are a beautiful work of art that your entire family can enjoy.

Autism Travel Tips

  • Antsy kids can get a kick out of running up and down the stairs, providing they’re not too crowded.
  • Make sure to visit one of the many gelato places situated around the bottom of the steps.

General Autism Travel Tips

  • Beware the hectic pace of their transportation avenues.
  • When sightseeing or hunting for the best place to shop or eat, it might be best to avoid buses or the subway, as there are often long waits between stations with the possibility of getting lost between stops.
  • In Rome, your best method of transportation is your feet, although it’s important to bear in mind that Rome is a large city full of hills that can make walking unbearable in the hot summer months.

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