I am not only a tour guide in Rome, I am also a mother of two (ages 4 and 10) with experience working and traveling with children. Here are ten tips to help you to make your stay in Rome with kids a wonderful experience.
1. Book tickets in advance if possible. In this way you will avoid the long lines at museums, archaeological sites or other sightseeing attractions in Rome.
2. Bring plenty of sunscreen and snacks. Sometimes, especially in the archaeological areas, there are not snack bars. Bring with you a water bottle and just refill it. The water in Rome is safe to drink and it tastes good too. There are 2,500 drinking little fountains called Nasoni (after their nose-shaped spigots) with fresh water that you can use to fill up your water bottle.
3. Avoid group tours. Kids have their necessities and their rhythms. Booking a private tour you will have the opportunity to stop when needed and focus on what is interesting for all, adults and children.
4. Give them a durable and resistant camera. Taking photographs will keep them engaged and will keep alive their interest. In this way your children will preserve memories of your trip. Don’t forget extra batteries!
5. Try to fit in the same day different activities interesting for all. After a museum tour in the morning, arrange the afternoon in a park or square of Rome or in a place where children are allowed to be children, running around, climbing and jumping. A good alternative in case of rain could be Explora: a museum made especially for kids, where your children will find different settings, like a child-sized post office, grocery store, and bank. Booking tickets in advance is highly recommended.
6. Book a family-friendly hotel in Rome in a strategic location and where is possible to accommodate all in one family room.
7. Public restrooms are a rare commodity in Rome. Most bars will allow you to use the restroom if you ask politely, though it's courteous to buy a little something—such as a bottle of water or espresso or some candies. Don’t expect to find clean, fully equipped and comfortable bathrooms…
8. Take the subway or public transport. It will be a nice adventure for kids. The subway lines are only two: line A travels from north-west to south-east of the city, while line B goes from north-east to south-west. The two lines intersect in the heart of the city at Termini Station.
9. Don’t forget do plan a gelato tour during your stay in Rome! Your kids will remember for the rest of their life the taste of a roman gelato!
10. At last, but not at least: take your time to enjoy Rome! Don’t expect to see all the museums and all the Rome sightseeing at once! Rome wasn’t built in a day! So if you plan to visit 6 or 7 museums or attractions in only 3 days, and you are traveling with children, you will probably have to change your plans and you will be able to see less of what you originally planned. Don’worry, you will probably have the opportunity to come back to Rome the very next time! Just to be sure, don’t forget to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain!