Italy is an amazing country to visit, especially with kids. From easy transportation to phenomenal food to friendly locals, Italy has everything you need for a great family vacation! With so much to do, it can be hard to plan your itinerary, especially with toddlers in tow. This list shares my picks for the Best of Rome with Toddlers.
It is no secret that we LOVE Italy! It is one of the best places we have ever visited – with or without kids. We have been several times and it is always on our list to go back. When our daughter was 3.5, we took her to Italy for the first time. During this vacation, we split our time between Rome, Santa Marinella, and Assisi. Here are our favorite things to do with a toddler in and around Rome, from the sea to the rolling hills of Assisi.
In the heart of Italy is one of the best children’s museums we have ever visited – Explore, il Museo dei Bambini di Roma. There are so many hands-on experiences, exhibits to explore, and interactive activities for parents and kids. The entrance to the museum is by reservation. They only allow a certain number of people at a time. This turned out to be an amazing feature, as it meant smaller crowds, enchaining the experience. In addition, they reset the exhibits in between entrance times. I often find children’s museums to be a mess because there are kids and stuff everywhere and it’s not easy to interact or play, but Explora is not like that! Because everything has been reset throughout the day, you can dive right in and truly enjoy the exhibits with kids.
Our daughter loved being able to run around and explore without us chasing after her to keep her out of the large crowds. The museum kept her interest for the full reservation period (1 hour and 45 minutes). We booked online, but you can also book at the museum at least 15 minutes before reservation time. The museum would be great for ages 2-5. We highly recommend it! It is truly the top of the list for the best of Rome with toddlers.
Villa Borghese is likely already on your itinerary – and well, it should be! This wonderful green space in central Rome is a must for families, especially those with toddlers. Our little one loved running through the grassy areas throughout the park. She even got us to rent the surrey bikes and take a paddle-boat ride (she’s a good little negotiator!). We had a blast on the paddle-boat, and I highly recommend it! In the heat of a Roman summer, it was a great way to relax and enjoy time as a family. Kids will love seeing the birds and looking for turtles!
I have gone to Castel Sant’Angelo on every trip to Rome – and I absolutely love it! I think it is one of Rome’s most underrated sites. It’s a great place to visit with toddlers because there is a lot of roaming they can do throughout the castle. Typically, each room stays fairly unpopulated, so toddlers can have a little more free reign, as well. Our little one loved peeking through the castle’s arrow-slits and exploring each of the rooms. The museum aspect is easy to enjoy, without being overwhelming for kids or adults. Most importantly, the view from the top is incredible. You can see a lot of the city, including a great view of St. Peter’s Basilica! For me, it will always be a must-see. It is truly the best of Rome with toddlers.
About 30 minutes from Rome is Tivoli, which offers a lot of fun for families. First, there is a wonderful (REAL!) playground in the main piazza. Nearby, families can find breakfast or lunch to enjoy at the playground while the kids play. Our daughter absolutely loved this cute little playground, and even made a friend!
Afterward, go to Hadrian’s Villa. This amazing archaeological area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kids will love wandering the grounds and exploring the ancient ruins. Our little one loved searching for birds and finding little structures to hide behind. It rained the day we went, so it was pretty intimate without the crowds. In spite of the rain, we still had a great time! It’s definitely worth a little day trip from Rome.
Take a Road Trip
One of the best decisions we made was taking a road trip to Assisi. Not far from Rome, this wonderful city provides a relaxing break from the bustle of the city. It’s also a great day trip or overnight with toddlers in tow! For us, the draw was the quiet streets and great restaurants. While there are a lot of day-trippers to Assisi, not many stay the night. This means quiet streets great for wandering with toddlers. Not to mention ample opportunities to feed pigeons in the piazza!
In the piazza near the Basilica of Santa Clara is a carousel that is sure to delight! Our daughter rode it so many times, she was offered a free ride. In the three days we were in Assisi, I think she rode it 12 times! Finally, take the hike up to Rocca Maggiore for a wonderful view of Assisi. Our little one loved exploring the ruins and wandering around the grounds.
Park of the Monsters (Parco dei Mostri) in the Garden of Bomarzo
About an hour drive from Rome is a hidden gem of monster (and I mean truly giant!) statues. We absolutely adored the Park of Monsters (Parco dei Mostri)! It’s an easy drive from Rome and would make a great addition to anyone driving towards Orvieto (which in and of itself is well worth a day trip/overnight). Or, by driving the long way to Assisi, like we did. Either way, it is 100% worth the stop!
The entrance comes without much fanfare, so it’s easy to miss, but what’s inside it definitely worth it. The huge statues did not fail to impress our daughter — or us. We had a great time wandering the paths and enjoying the monsters. The elephant, turtle, wrestling giants, and monster face/cave were definite highlights. Our daughter loved exploring the grounds and was fascinated by each of the statues. We were in the park for just over an hour — some families could easily take a bit less or a bit more time. There weren’t many people when we went, so it was a very intimate experience. There is a modest gift shop and cafe on-site, as well.
Head to the Beach
Santa Marinella, Italy
Rome in the summer means a trip to the sea is a must. My daughter and I have saltwater and sea air in our bones, so going to the beach is always a pure joy! There are a number of seaside towns to choose from within an hour or so of Rome (by train or car). A day trip to the sea is definitely among the best of Rome with toddlers!
Our favorite seaside town is Santa Marinella. With quaint beaches and great gelato places, it is worth a day trip or overnight! There is a huge public beach a short walk from the train station, but families can find smaller beaches a little further up – well worth the walk! Spiaggia Libera is our favorite. It’s a little more intimate, but still has a great sandy beach, rocks to climb for adventurous older kids, umbrellas for rent, and restaurants close at hand. Watching my daughter run in and out of the waves is one of life’s great joys!
We Hope You Love Italy!
Italy, especially Rome, will always have a special place in our hearts. It has inspired us in countless ways and we will always be grateful for our time in Italy. I hope these amazing finds prove to be the best of Rome with toddlers for your family too!
Unless otherwise noted, all images within this article were taken by and belong to Antonia Grant.