Rome is one of the most spectacular capital cities in the world. It’s steeped in culture and history and no matter where you turn there’s something interesting to look at. Its ancient ruins are amazingly well preserved and the beauty of its churches is unsurpassed. Modern Rome has 280 fountains and more than 900 churches!
I don’t know about you, but the first thing I wanted to show my kids in Rome was the Colosseum, so I’ll recommend beginning your first day in Rome here. There are lots of tours and ticket options for visiting the Colosseum and you can choose the one that suits you and your family best. However a skip the line ticket of some sort is definitely worth buying.
We took a family friendly guided tour of the Colosseum and the Forum. This was really informative and our guide was great with the kids. The Colosseum doesn’t disappoint. It’s an incredible structure and your eyes can’t help but be drawn to it.
Your ticket to the Colosseum will also include entry to the Forum and Palatine Hill. Here you’ll find the spectacular ruins of ancient temples, palaces and baths – a great way to get a glimpse of roman history.
Vatican City and St Peter’s Basilica
Vatican City is the world’s smallest state and is the centre of Catholicism. Visiting the Vatican means crossing an international border, but you don’t need your passport. Getting skip the line tickets is recommended.
The Vatican Museums themselves are stuffed to the gills with treasures collected over hundreds of years. The wealth on display is quite staggering. The Sistine Chapel is one of the most famous things to see here and you shouldn’t miss it.
St Peter’s Basilica is also incredible. Linked to the Vatican by a doorway from the Sistine Chapel, this was our last stop on our Vatican visit. A great thing to do is the climb the steps to the top of the dome to get a fantastic view over Rome. Remember that you need to cover your shoulders and knees or you won’t be allowed in.
This amazing looking castle sits on the riverside and has a statue lined bridge to reach it. It’s a former papal fortress and a secret tunnel connects the Castel to the Vatican. The Castel has a long and bloody history which you can learn about in its large museum. The views from the terrace are also fabulous.
Tickets from €10.50 per adult.
Although it’s an ancient Roman building, the Pantheon has been a Christian church for centuries.
The Pantheon was designed by the Emperor Hadrian around 120 AD. It’s one of ancient Rome’s best preserved buildings and gives you an idea of what some of those ruins at the Forum must have looked like long ago.
Outside, the pillared entrance is imposing but the interior is a real surprise – there is a huge domed ceiling. Covered in decorated cloisters, the ceiling has a hole, or oculus, in the middle, letting the sunshine (or the rain) in. The artist Raphael is buried here so make sure you find his tomb.
Villa Borghese and its gardens
You’ll find the Borghese Gardens just up the hill from the Spanish Steps. If you turn left at the Spanish Steps you can get a great view over Rome before you explore the gardens. Even in winter the gardens were green and pretty, and the kids found a carousel to ride on which kept them happy.
There’s loads to explore in the gardens – you can ride a boat on the lake or try to catch a show at the replica of Shakespeare’s Globe. There is a Biopark (zoo) and hiring bikes is the best way to get around the park.
The Villa Borghese itself is now an art gallery with works by Raphael, Caravaggio and Titian and is highly recommended. Tickets for Villa Borghese gallery must be reserved in advance. Cost is from €22 per adult.
Every night at the Trevi fountain about 3000 euros are swept up from the bottom of the basin. The money is donated to a catholic charity who uses the money to provide services for needy families in Rome. The kids enjoyed throwing the obligatory coins into the water. Looks like we’ll be coming back to Rome!
The Spanish Steps is a famous meeting place for Romans and there’s a pretty fountain at the base. If you’re going to the Borghese gardens then you’ll be going right past it.Nearby the streets are filled with designer shops, so if shopping is your thing, this is the place to come!
Day trips from Rome
Other possible day trips include the ruined city of Pompeii or the Amalfi Coast. If you’re feeling really brave and you’re up for a long day, you could even try visiting Florence.
Where to stay:
- Hotel de Russie, Rome: One of the most prestigious luxury hotels next to Piazza del Popolo. roccofortehotels.com
Where to eat:
- Al Fredo alla Scrofa Restaurant –don’t miss the famous Fetuccine alfredo.
- Tartufi and friends for truffle lovers.
- Ginger Sapori e Salute for brunch and panini sandwiches on the go!
- Zuma Rome inside the iconic Palazzo Fendi.