The perfect 4 days in Rome itinerary with family: everything you need to know
Rome is a city of incredible charm, with an enormous amount of things to visit and experience. A great 4 days in Rome itinerary should be organized in order to have the opportunity to see all the important sites, but also to experience the soul of the city.
Rome is an open-air museum where you will feel like you have been catapulted into history, but it is also a vibrant city with a lively and fascinating culture. It is the city where I lived for more than thirty years and even if now I’m based in London I go back there at least 4 times a year with the kids.
If you visit the Eternal City as a family, you will discover that there are many little tricks to make the visit interesting even for the little ones.
This 4 days in Rome suggested itinerary will allow you to discover the most classic sites, integrated with small detours to admire some off the beaten path beauties and with some dedicated stops to engage any child.
The choice of stops is made to optimise the routes and move mainly on foot. If you have more than 4 nights in Rome and are travelling with small children, be sure to read the article dedicated to Rome with kids where you will find even more tips to make the trip a breeze.
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Tips to make a 4 days in Rome itinerary a success
- Start early in the morning with the most important site. This way you and the kids will have more energy and you will meet less crowds.
- Make a little preparation and book things in advance: When reading this itinerary, decide if there is something you want to change, then book in advance all the entrance tickets or tours you want to do. Most site tickets are sold out several days in advance and even if there are tickets available at the ticket counter on the day you risk a long queue!
- Four days in Rome are just about enough to see the most important sights. Each day I will highlight what to eventually cut short from the itinerary in case you need more time in the other attractions or you simple want to take it slower.
Without wasting time here is the best 4 days in Rome itinerary.
As always here you can download a map to keep on your phone to reference when you are around. You will find the detailed itinerary day by day.
4 days in Rome itinerary: DAY 1
Sites included in the first day:
- Palatine Hill
- Roman forum
- Celio hill
- Villa Celimontana
- Santo Stefano Rotondo
- Circus Maximus
- Mouth of truth (Bocca della verita’)
- The Aventine keyhole
9:30 AM Visit the Colosseum
It is difficult to consider starting an itinerary in Rome if not with a visit to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum, probably the most representative archaeological sites in Rome.
09:30 AM The Colosseum, (completed in the year 80 AD) symbol of Imperial Rome and declared one of the new 7 wonders of the world, remains the largest amphitheatre in the world ever built.
Used since the Middle Ages for various types of entertainment such as the famous ones involving gladiators, but also representations of battles and executions. It has recently been restored to make accessible parts previously closed to the public such as the basement and the arena.
Obviously, with the Colosseum being one of the major attractions in Rome, during the period of Covid restrictions tickets can only be purchased online
- The official Parcocolosseo website offers 2 convenient integrated tickets (“24h – Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine ticket” ticket, and “full experience” ticket) that include the entrance to the Colosseum, to the Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. With both, the entrance to the Colosseum is bound by a specific entry time. On the other hand, the entrance to the Palatine Hill, which also includes the Roman forum, can be done within the following 24 hours for the basic ticket and 48 hours for the ticket called “full experience”. There are usually no queues to enter the Palatine Hill.
- The 24h – Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine ticket costs € 18. Buy it here
- The full experience ticket, valid for 48 hours and also includes a visit to the undergrounds and the gladiator arena, costs € 24. Buy it here
- The 24h – Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine ticket costs € 18. Buy it here
These tickets are an excellent option to keep costs down. Once you enter the Colosseum you can decide to pay a small supplement to take the video guide that will help you appreciate the magnificence of this place. Unfortunately, the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum are not equipped with audio / video guides.
FLEXIBLE TICKETS – IMPORTANT TO KNOW
The tickets you buy on the official Colosseum website are the cheapest and they include what third party website call “skip the line” as you have to choose the entrance time. They are the same they just don’t promote it as skip the line tickets.
Said that, there is still a good reason to pay that extra €2-3. It is the possibility to cancel your ticket for a full refund up to 24h before.
You will not have this option with the ticket you buy on the official website.
GOOD TO KNOW Consider a visit of approximately 1.5 hours to appreciate the Colosseum in full.
11:00 AM Palatine Hill and Roman Forum
11:00 AM After imagining the gladiators in the Colosseum, it’s time to move to one of the most important hills in Rome, the Palatine hill. Leaving the Colosseum you will have to walk about ten minutes to reach the entrance on Via di San Gregorio.
The legend tells that Romulus and Remus were found right on the Palatine Hill by the she-wolf who suckled them, and on this hill is where Romulus decided to found a new city that he called Rome.
The Palatine Hill is directly connected to the Roman Forum, so once inside you will be able to explore both.
Wanting to summarize the differences we can say that the Palatine is where you will find the remains of important residences and imperial palaces, while the Roman forum was the political center of ancient Rome where there were public buildings, where people gathered for protests or to do business.
The sites are very large and it is not easy to find your way around with a clear idea of what you are observing. If you can take part in a tour (see the box above) it would be the best thing, otherwise you can download the official app of the Parco Colosseo website and follow one of the four suggested routes.
GOOD TO KNOW
Consider a visit of approximately 2- 21/2 hours Bring snacks and water as you will not find refreshment points inside.
1:30 PM For a quick lunch just move away from the tourist restaurants in front of the Colosseum. Caffe Propaganda is an informal bistro in via Claudia where you can find traditional Roman dishes and at reasonable prices.
BEST COLOSSEUM AND PALATINE HILL TOURS FOR FAMILIES THAT INCLUDE SKIP THE LINE TICKETS
If you are able to splash out on just one tour during your Rome itinerary, then investing in a tour of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum is truly the right choice. If you are travelling with small children, a dedicated tour will guarantee you the presence of guides able to involve the children for 3 hours and enable them appreciate the history of these incredible sites.
GOOD TO KNOW: these tours are fully refundable up to 24h before they start
BEST SMALL GROUP TOUR
Colosseum and Ancient Rome Family Tour for Kids.
This tour offers good value for money. kids 5 and younger pay only a nominal fee.
BEST PRIVATE TOUR
Skip-the-Lines Colosseum and Roman Forum Tour for Kids and Families
This tour is perfect if you have young kids and you prefer a private experience .
BEST GROUP TOUR IF YOUR KIDS ARE A LITTLE OLDER
Colosseum: Tour with Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
This tour is not designed specifically for family, but it could be a really great and cheap option if you have kids 10+.
2:30 PM Celio hill, Villa Celimontana, and Santo Stefano Rotondo
2:30 PM After lunch you can take a walk on one of the other hills of Rome, the Celio hill. The area is not very large, but it can be pleasant to enter the lovely Villa Celimontana where small children will be happy to find a small playground.
After the park, be sure to stop and admire the magnificent church of Santo Stefano Rotondo. Certainly there is no shortage of churches in Rome, but in this case you will find yourself in front of an unusual church. one of the oldest circular churches in Italy. The church is very impressive, but it could also impress children as the walls are frescoed with scenes illustrating the atrocities inflicted on Christian martyrs.
GOOD TO KNOW
Opening time: open from the last Sunday of October to the last of March from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM, while in Summer from the last Sunday of March to last Sunday in October from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM and 3:30 PM – 6:30 PM. Always closed on Mondays.
Cost: free to visit
4:00 PM Circus Maximus
4:00 PM Now go to the largest stadium ever built, the Circus Maximus. This entertainment space was used for various games related to religious holidays. In addition to the very popular gladiator contests were also the quadrille races and more. In addition to the games, political, social and religious events were also held.
Although what you see today is more like a large lawn, the intended use remains alive and is still the scene of concerts, demonstrations, and other cultural events.
In this itinerary for 4 days in Rome I suggest a walk to appreciate the grandeur of the space, but in recent years it became also possible to take part in a visit of the restored spaces including the Moletta tower which offers a beautiful viewpoint over the archaeological area. You can even include a virtual reality experience.
GOOD TO KNOW
Circus Maximus is always open and doesn’t need tickets to enter unless you want to visit the restored archaeological area. Check here the latest opening times and buy tickets for the archaeological area and the VR experience.
5:00 PM Mouth of truth – Cavalieri di Malta keyhole
5:00 PM At the other end of the Circus Maximus (from where you arrived) there is the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin where on the outside you will find the mythical stone depicting the face of a man, the mouth of truth.
Entertain the children with the legend that the stone eats the hand of liars.
If you have energy enter also the basilica. Santa Maria in Cosmedin is a small church with an evocative and severe interior and also a fascinating crypt.
Another thing to do in the area to intrigue children is to take them to look through the keyhole of the door at number 3 in Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. Not only will the children be fascinated, in fact, it is not unusual to find small lines of people waiting their turn to see the dome of St. Peter’s perfectly framed in the keyhole.
GOOD TO KNOW
You need to enter the basilica Santa Maria in Cosmedin to reach the “Bocca della verita”. Entrance is free but they expect a small offer. Entrance to the crypt is free too, but also in this case they expect an offer.
6:30 PM Testaccio
6:30 PM. As the first day is quite demanding, from here you can head to the popular neighbourhood of Testaccio, where if you have energy you can still wander a bit and get involved in the youthful and alternative atmosphere.
Sit down for an aperitif in one of the many places you will meet and then go to dinner at the restuarant Velavevodetto. In Testaccio, a bit like in Trastevere, you will really be spoiled for choice when it comes to eating, even choosing at random you will probably have an excellent dining experience.
Returning to the hotel, don’t be surprised if you see a Pyramid on the edge of a busy intersection near Porta San Paolo, there really is a Pyramid! It is a funeral monument erected to Gaius Cestius around 12 BC, when all things Egyptian were very trendy!
TIPS: If you stop in one of the bars on Via di Monte Testaccio, you will probably have the opportunity to discover another interesting story of the daily life of ancient Rome. Monte Testaccio, the hill that surrounds the aforementioned road, is actually a unique artificial hill made up of millions of fragments of amphorae used for the transportation of oils that could not be reused and therefore were disposed of here for about three centuries. Many bars and restaurants built against the mountain have brought to light the stratified amphorae and left the walls exposed for the benefit of interested customers.
ONE OF THE BEST TOURS IN ROME: Rome by Vespa Sidecar
If when you arrive in a new city you like to have an overview of everything before you start to explore the monuments, churches, and museums in more detail, this tour in a vespa sidecar is the most engaging tour you can do.
Ideal if your kids are 6 and older, you will be able to see Rome from a completely different point of view.
I owned a scooter in Rome since I was 18, and I can promise you that there is something magical about going around on a bike in Rome. In this case, with a side car you have the added bonus of the extra safety that you don’t get just with the 2 wheels.
If you like the idea of this tour you can do it the morning of DAY 1 and move the visit to Colosseum and Roman forum/Palatine hill to the afternoon. You will need then to give up the walk on the Celio hill, but you can still do Circus Maximus and the rest.
4 days in Rome itinerary : DAY 2
What you will see today:
- Domus Aurea
- Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli
- Rione Monti
- Imperial Forum
- Capitoline hill
- Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli
- Capitoline museum
- Jewish Ghetto
- Tiberina island
- Tiber cruise
The second day includes a mix of archaeological sites and areas of Rome where you can enjoy daily life.
9:30 Domus Aurea
9:30 AM Start the day by walking on another of the seven hills of Rome, today it is the Esquiline hill. We start with a spectacular visit that will also interest children a lot thanks to the use of virtual reality, the visit to the Domus Aurea.
The Domus Aurea was the residence that Nero had started building after the devastating fire of 64 AD. Nero had plans for an enormous complex consisting of several buildings, gardens, woods, vineyards, and even an artificial lake (where the Colosseum is today), extending from the Oppian Hill to the Palatine Hill.
Unfortunately, after his death, his successor decided to erase all traces of the notorious emperor and had the decorative coatings and sculptures removed, and the buildings filled with earth to use them as a basis for other structures, and so the ruins remained covered until the Renaissance.
After many vicissitudes, the part of the Domus Aurea on the Oppian hill can now be visited, but be careful, book your visit from Thursday to Sunday, because (even if a little more expensive) you can visit the whole site during an accompanied tour, that’s not the case on the other days.
You will also have the opportunity to appreciate the reconstructions of the missing parts and all the possible splendour of the building through virtual reality.
GOOD TO KNOW
The entrance is from inside the Oppium hill park (google maps sometimes will tell you something different), you can enter the park from via Labicana.
Opening times change through the year check them on the official website here.
10:45 San Pietro in Vincoli
10:45 AM From the Domus Aurea it is only 5 minutes on foot until you reach the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli. The Basilica, so called because it guards the chains that held Peter bound during his imprisonment in Jerusalem, is probably more famous because it houses the tomb of Julius II, the work of Michelangelo, in the right transept.
Here one of the masterpieces of the artist, the Mose is located, which has impressed with its vitality and realism since 1513.
GOOD TO KNOW
Winter opening time: Every day from 8.00 to 12.30 and from 15.00 to 18.00
Summer opening time: Every day from 8.00 to 12.30 and from 15.00 to 19.00.
11:15 AM Rione Monti
11:15 AM From the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli, go down the scenic staircase that will take you to Via Cavour, cross the streets and you can immerse yourself in the most enchanting area of Rome, the Rione Monti.
If you visit Rome in 4 days you could be tempted to skip these less famous areas, don’t! Take a leisurely stroll, stop for a coffee and browse the pretty independent shops in via del Boschetto, via Leonina and via dei Serpenti. It is a really good way to appreciate real life in a city that could feel like a museum.
12:00 AM Before moving to another area, you could stop for a quick lunch in Monti. Any restaurant or cafe that catches your eye is certainly fine. If you want a historic place, stop at the “Ai tre scalini” winery, or if it’s a nice spring day, grab a table at La bottega del caffe in Piazza della Madonna dei Monti.
1:30 PM Imperial Forum
1:30 PM Time to go back to via dei Fori Imperiali which takes its name from the Forums that were built by different emperors when the Roman Forum (the one you visted yesterday) had become too small for the capital of an empire, such as Rome had become.
The Imperial Forums are five: the Forum of Caesar, the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Trajan, the Forum of Nerva, and the Temple of Peace (built under Vespasian). At the same time as the construction of the forum of Trajan, the Traianeii markets were also built, the structure of which can also be admired from via dei Fori Imperiali. This itinerary for Rome does not include the entrance to this part of the forums, but there are walkways that from via dei Fori Imperiali allow for an excellent overview of the area. Here is the website in case you decide to include the entrance.
GOOD TO KNOW
If you visit Rome in the spring and summer months, be sure to attend one of the performances that take place in the forum of Caesar and Augustus. They tell the story of the place and are accompanied by extraordinary projections that make the experience truly engaging.
2:30 PM Capitoline hill (Campidoglio)
2:30 PM From the Imperial Forums you can now move to the fourth hill of the itinerary, the Capitoline Hill (colle Capitolino or Campidoglio).
To reach it, you could enter directly from Via dei Fori Imperiali, but to appreciate the access it is best to go around the altar of the Fatherland (Altare della Patria in italian and also called Vittoriano as it is dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele II) and climb up from the spectacular Capitoline cordonata (the large staircase leading to Piazza del Campidoglio).
When walking, of course, don’t miss a quick stop in Piazza Venezia where you can get an excellent shot of the aforementioned Vittoriano from a certain distance. However this monument, not particularly loved by us Romans, has a significant symbolic meaning for the Italian national unity.
Once on top of the Capitoline cordonata, the monumental Piazza del Campidoglio will open in front of you which, as well as the staircase, are the work of Michelangelo at the top of his career from 1536 – 1546.
Since before Michelangelo’s intervention, the area was used as the administrative seat of the city and the square for popular meetings. If with Michelangelo the function does not change, however, the area and the buildings are completely reconfigured.
First of all, Michelangelo changes the previous orientation towards the Roman Forum facing instead towards the basilica of San Pietro.
He then strongly remodeled the existing buildings (Palazzo Senatorio and Palazzo dei Conservatori), built the Palazzo Nuovo and paved the square, where he placed the famous statue of Marcus Aurelius (the one you see in the square is a copy of the original kept in the Capitoline museums.
Do walk to the back of the Piazza (on the side of Palazzo Senatorio) where there is a magnificent viewpoint over the Roman Forum.
GOOD TO KNOW
Piazza del Campidoglio is always open and it is worth coming back here at night if you can, as the Roman Forum view from the viewpoint is enchanting
Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli
Going up along the cordonata to reach the Piazza del Campidoglio you will not have missed the church that stands even higher, it is the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli.
The facade once covered with mosaics and frescoes has now remained bare brick, which makes it perhaps even more impressive. The contrasting interior features rich Baroque works. If you do not want to go down from Piazza del Campidoglio to go up again the staircase of the basilica (also called the holy staircase, as it could provide miracles if walked on your knees) you can try your luck and see if you find the old side entrance of the church open.
Turn around Palazzo Nuovo and you will find a more modest staircase to the left of which there is another entrance to the basilica. Inside, look for the statue of the “Holy Child”, a wooden statue of Jesus which, according to legend, has miraculous powers (unfortunately you will see a copy as the original was stolen in 1994).
GOOD TO KNOW
Opening time: The basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli is open 9 AM – 12:30 PM and 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM (winter time) or 6:30 PM (summer time)
3:00 PM Capitoline Museum
3:00 PM After enjoying Michelangelo’s work and the magnificent view of the Roman Forum, a very interesting thing to do with children is a visit to the Capitoline museums.
The Capitoline museums gather collections almost exclusively from Rome and tell their story. It may definitely not seem like a museum suitable for children, yet the introduction of an audio guide specifically designed for children makes it a pleasant and engaging journey. The children will listen to Marcus Aurelius, with his steed, illustrate what they are observing. The route lasts less than an hour, really well developed!
GOOD TO KNOW
Opening time: The capitoline Museum are open 9:30 -19:30 (last entry 1h before closing).
Cost: adults (26+) from €11.50, 6-25 years from €9.5, free for kids under 6years. €5 for the kids audio-guide. Buy the tickets here
4:30 PM Jewish Ghetto
4:30 PM It’s time to leave the Capitoline Hill and go down to another area rich in history and very fascinating, the historical Jewish Ghetto.
This area, inhabited by Jewish people before the arrival of the Christians, sadly became a place of confinement for them in 1555 by order of Pope Paul IV. Walls (of which only a trace remains in Piazza delle Cinque Scole) were raised to separate it from the rest of the city and for nearly three centuries Jewish people were forced to live inside.
In 1870 all the restrictions finally fell and in 1888 also the walls that delimited it were demolished as well as the whole ghetto to be then rebuilt above the level of the Tiber to avoid the continuous flooding.
Today this area offers picturesque views and you can stop and admire some interesting works such as the beautiful synagogue which also houses a museum, Bernini’s turtle fountain, and the ruins of the porch of Octavia. Half an hour should be enough for a stroll.
5:30 PM Tiber cruise
5:30 PM If you are visiting Rome between April 1st and October 31st at this point, after a lot of walking, you can relax with another activity that children will surely enjoy, a small cruise on the Tiber river.
From the Jewish Ghetto cross Ponte Fabricio and after the usual photos on the Tiber Island (the smallest inhabited island in the world), also cross Ponte Cestio and go down the long staircase on the right that will take you level with the river.
From there you shouldn’t have any problems identifying the dock for the boats that pass about every half hour. You can buy the return onboard. Arrive at the last stop (near the Ara Pacis) and go back.
On the boat you will have the opportunity to see the city from a completely different perspective. In case your visit falls outside the operating period of the boats on the Tiber, move directly to the next stop and spend more time in Trastevere.
GOOD TO KNOW
The boat operates from 10 AM till 7 PM. A return journey takes roughly 1 h
Ticket cost: € 15 (a little overpriced)
Tips: If your visit is in summer, before you go down the river stop at the little kiosk just at the end of the bridge “Ponte Cestio”. You can buy something really typical only in Rome called “Grattachecca”. Do not confuse it with the original “sicilian granita”. Grattachecca is a drink made with hand-grated ice flavoured with sweet syrup. Definitely refreshing!!!
7:00 PM Trastevere
7:00 PM Back at the starting point you can now go on a visit to another popular and characteristic neighbourhood, but also very genuine: Trastevere.
Arriving from the Tiber Island, the first square you will encounter will be Piazza in Piscinula, very pretty even if its use as a parking area diminishes its charm.
You can then begin to let yourself be carried away by the alleys that most inspire you, but don’t miss a stop at Piazza San Cosimato, Piazza Trilusa, Santa Maria in Trastevere, Vicolo del Cinque, Vicolo del Piede, and Piazza dei Renzi.
In Piazza San Cosimato you will have the opportunity to rest for a few minutes if your children are interested in the playground located in a corner of the square.
The space is quite large and even if, as often happens in Rome, it is not well maintained, it will certainly be good entertainment for ten/fifteen minutes.
Just a stone’s throw from the playground you will then have the opportunity to discover a delightful hidden corner, like so many in Rome if you know where to look, the cloisters of San Cosimato. The church of San Cosimato is part of the monastery which in the sixties was partly incorporated into the New Regina Margherita Hospital.
The church is small, but both cloisters are romantically decadent and once you enter they will give you a moment of tranquillity and peace.
GOOD TO KNOW
Access to San Cosimato cloisters takes place from the church, when open (in the morning at 11 during mass and a few other occasions) or from the hospital parking lot right next to it.
Piazza Trilussa, especially on summer evenings, is a meeting place for many young people, often there are stalls and street entertainers.
However the square of Santa Maria in Trastevere is the real beating heart of Trastevere. Admire the façade decorated with wonderful golden mosaics representing the Virgin Mary with the child. Inside, you are also captured by other mosaics in the apse, by the beautiful wooden ceiling as well as by many other works of art added over the centuries.
GOOD TO KNOW
Opening time: Santa Maria in Trastevere is open all day from 7:30 to 21:00. Always free
8:00 PM In Trastevere restaurants, pizzerias and taverns are many and 99% of them are excellent, if you are tired and do not want to start looking for the restaurants that I suggest in this itinerary, do not worry you will hardly be disappointed even if you choose at random.
However, if you want to be on the safe side, you can try: Peppo al Cosimato for traditional and non-traditional dishes, Dar Poeta for the fantastic pizza or Pro Loco which uses only Lazio products.
4 days in Rome itinerary : DAY 3
What you will see today
- Vatican Museum
- Saint Peter’s Basilica
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Food tour
9:00 AM Vatican Museum
9:00 AM Today the protagonists of the morning are the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. The Vatican museums are a very large and complex, many families, but also tourists without children, are discouraged even before entering.
Even in this case however, a minimum of organisation is enough to ensure the visit will be pleasant for the whole family. First, consult the Museums website, it is very well done and you can select the things you absolutely want to see. Don’t try to see everything, be realistic.
Among the most famous works: the gallery of geographical maps, Raphael’s rooms, the Pinacoteca, the Egyptian museum, the carriage pavilion, and obviously the Sistine Chapel.
Especially if the visit is with small children, buy the ticket online several days in advance, otherwise to buy them at the door the queues can be more than an hour.
The ideal is to start your visit as soon as the museums open, this will guarantee you a more peaceful visit with less crowds.
GOOD TO KNOW
Consider at least 2 and a half / 3 hours for a visit.
Opening times: from 9 AM till 6PM
Cost: The ordinary ticket to enter Vatican museum and Sistine chapel costs: over 25y €17, between 6 – 25y €8. Kids under 6 enter free and don’t need a ticket. When you buy the ticket online you have to add €4 fee for each ticket.
TOP TIP: I recommend you buy the tickets from a third party site like Get your Guide where you get free cancellation if you need to cancel up to 24 h before. Check here for availability.
12:00 PM Before tackling the next stage, I recommend a stop for lunch. It is much easier to find a variety of places to eat around the Vatican museums than around St. Peter’s Basilica. The entrance to the museums is directly in the residential district of Prati which is teeming with shops, cafes, and restaurants.
If you want to eat something fast, but excellent, walk 5-7 minutes to Romeo (via Silla 26A) where you will find simple pizzas and focaccias at the oven counter or some ready-made dishes at the deli counter. Or you can get a delicious slice of pizza from Alice Pizza in via delle Grazie 7, a little franchise that you’ll find in many corners of the Capital. It’s a chain, but their pizza is mouthwatering!
1:00 PM Saint Peter’s Basilica
1.00 PM St. Peter’s Basilica is around the corner. Approach it from via della Conciliazione to appreciate the embrace of the colonnade designed by Bernini in 1567.
Look for the two porphyry discs on the pavement on the sides of the obelisk. If you stand there you will become prey to the optical illusion that will show you only one row of columns.
Tickets are not required to enter and visit the Basilica, only if you want to climb the dome is it necessary. The Basilica is the largest Catholic Cristian church in the world and once you enter its magnificence and grandeur will leave you speechless.
Admire Michelangelo’s Pieta in the first chapel in the right aisle. In the middle of the church, as if to get lost in the vast space, the precious bronze canopy by Borromini, and at the bottom the chair of St. Peter.
From the sacristy you can then access the treasure of San Pietro where you can see the little that remains after the many lootings, or the caves where many popes are buried. (the caves are accessed from the right transept)
Finally, of course, climb the imposing dome designed by Michelangelo. The lift (for a fee) will only take you up to a certain level, then you will still have to climb 221 steps
GOOD TO KNOW
Opening time: from 7.00 AM to 6.30 PM in winter and until 7PM in the summer.
Entrance to the dome cost: € 10 with the lift and € 8 with the ascent on foot.
As mentioned, you don’t need tickets to enter, but the line can be quite long. If you know you are visiting Rome in a busy period then consider a tour to skip-the-line, see below.
BEST VATICAN MUSEUM AND S. PETER’S BASILICA TOURS THAT INCLUDE SKIP THE LINE TICKETS
When you book online your ticket to the Vatican Museum you must select a specific time and you will skip the long line at the entrance, unfortunately it doesnt work the same way for the S. Peter’s basilica. Only if you take part in some particular tour you will be able to enter the basilica without queuing outside.
BEST SMALL GROUP TOUR
Complete Vatican: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica
This is a small group tour. It is not designed specifically for families, but it is one of the best value for money options that will allow you to skip the line to S. Peter’s basilica. From the Sistine chapel you will enter directly into S. Peter’s basilica. This access is available only for tours with authorised guides.
BEST PRIVATE TOUR
Exclusive Private Tour: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica
Also this tour is not specially desiged for kids, but as it is private you will be able to take it at your own pace. Another great option to skip the line to S. Peter’s basilica. From the Sistine chapel you will enter directly in S. Peter’s basilica. This access is available only for tours with authorised guides.
3:00 PM Castel Sant’Angelo
3:00 PM The morning of this 4 days in Rome itinerary is particularly dense, but if you have energy from here you are just a few steps from Castel Sant’Angelo.
At the moment you will not be able to take advantage of the practical little “passetto” of the Borgo (a passage on a stretch of walls that connects Castel Sant’Angelo with the Vatican to allow the Popes to find refuge in case of danger), but the entrance is a 10-minute walk away.
Castel Sant’Angelo was initially built as a funeral monument for Emperor Hadrian in 125. It was subsequently used for various functions, including papal residence and obviously a military fortress.
Today you can admire seven levels and a beautiful terrace with a bar at the top from which beautiful photos of St. Peter’s Basilica can be obtained.
GOOD TO KNOW
Opening time: 9:00 AM – 7:30 PM
Ticket costs: adult €13, under 18y €3, 18-25y €1.
The terrace of Castel Sant’Angelo is very impressive, but if you are on a budget, you can perhaps postpone the entrance until the next visit . Buy the tickets on the official website.
5:00 PM Rome street food tour
5:00 PM Unintentionally, Rome is definitely a perfect place for street food and a very simple city in which to feed even the most demanding children. If you have time you can do some research and build your own independent food tour, but if what you are missing is time, then this food tour will be perfect to taste the best food in town.
In 2.5 hours you will have the opportunity to try a great variety of foods (which in some cases otherwise would be too large in portion). From suppli and pizza, to fried zucchini flowers, cured meats, cheeses and so on, you will arrive at the end and probably be full for the rest of the day! This is not a kids specially designed tour, but the food you will try is definitely a hit with kids!
The food tour will end around the area of Campo dei FIori. The tour itinerary starts again from here tomorrow morning, but you will be able to appreciate how the square is transformed. In the evening the young people are on stage among the thousand of places to stop for a drink or aperitvo.
GOOD TO KNOW
Rome Street Food Tour with Local Guide : duration 2.5 h,
Cost: €42, kids under 4 free. Check here the price
BEST SMALL GROUP FOOD TOUR
Try out authentic delicacies as you immerse yourself in the local culture of Rome on a small-group walking tour. Taste unmissable Roman foods such as pizza from a family-run establishment, Supplì (fried mozzarella rice balls) and typical seasonal dishes from Rome’s Jewish Quarter.
If a food tour is not your cup of tea you can take refuge in the Botanical Gardens, where in a relaxed atmosphere you will find a garden full of themed areas that create an oasis of peace in the chaos of the city. From Castel Sant’Angelo it is 20 minutes walking, or you can take bus n.23 from the left hand side of Castel Sant’Angelo.
After that you can have dinner in the Campo de Fiori area at the restaurant Pianostrada, an informal but modern restaurant a stone’s throw from the romantic Sisto bridge, or try the pizza of the historic pizzeria La Montecarlo, an culinary institution and very cheap prices for a crunchy and delicious pizza.
4 days in Rome itinerary : DAY 4
What you will see today
- Campo dei Fiori
- Palazzo Farnese
- Largo di Torre Argentina
- Piazza Navona
- Piazza della Minerva
- Piazza di Pietra
- Trevi Fountain
- Spanish steps (Scalinata di Trinita dei Monti)
- Explora – The children museum in Rome
- Villa Borghese
Today the day is mainly dedicated to the exploration of the historic center.
9:30 AM Campo dei Fiori
9:30 AM Start with a walk in Campo dei Fiori. Every morning a colourful market is held here. Although it has become very touristic, it keeps alive the atmosphere of the original destination as a place for cultural and commercial exchanges taken from the fifteenth century when its urbanisation began.
The premises surrounding the square are the modern versions of taverns and inns of the time and the picturesque alleys that branch off around the square keep alive the memory of the trades that mainly took place there.
The statue you see in the centre is of the philosopher Giordano Bruno, burned alive because he was a supporter of Copernican theories and now a symbol of free thought.
Around Campo dei Fiori
From Campo dei Fiori look out onto Piazza Farnese. You will find yourself in front of the imposing building of the same name. This incredible sixteenth-century building is now occupied by the French embassy, the building is massive and almost diminishes the other beautiful architectural elements of the square: the twin fountains and the church of Santa Brigida.
Let yourself be guided by the alleys that most attract you and explore the area, sit down for a coffee or grab a piece of pizza at the famous oven on the corner with Via dei Cappellari.
While wandering around, don’t miss to pass under the “passetto del Biscione” a small alley that connects largo del Pallaro with via del Biscione, on the eastern corner of Piazza Campo dei Fiori. This dark passage, now refurbished, features beautiful frescoes and a copy of a famous Madonna painting that is said moved her eyes and attracts many devotees. The hidden and difficult to identify location has also inspired the local saying “go and look for Mary for Rome” (cercare Maria pe’ Roma)
If you can read a bit of Italian search for Pasquino talking statue in the same square for a laugh. Since the sixteen century people have been attaching satirical messages (called Pasquinate) to the statue, nowadays, usually to criticise politicians or other public figures.
From there have a look at the ruins in Largo di Torre Argentina where in 44 AD Giulio Cesare was killed. You will see the ruins of four temples from the Republican era and the ruins of Marcello’s theatre. The square also hosts a cat colony that thanks to the hard work of many volunteers are taken care of. You can make a donation if you want.
10:30 AM This route is very fluid, but now you can move to the adjacent area where the first site of interest to stop is Piazza Navona. Initially built by Domeziano in the year 85 as a stadium (the Stadium of Domitian) for athletics games, it maintained this use until the Renaissance when it assumed the attitude that can be seen now.
Athletics games were the main activity, but in ancient times the square was also sometimes flooded with water from the fountains for water games and naval battles.
Three large fountains embellish the square, the Fountain of Neptune, the Fountain of the Moor, and the Fountain of the Four Rivers, perhaps the most famous for the curious rivalry between Bernini and Borromini. The fountain of the four rivers was designed by Bernini, while Borromini took over to finish off the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone just opposite.
Legend has it that the statue representing the Rio della Plata in the fountain of the four rivers is with the hand raised to protect itself from the imminent fall of the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. While the statue of the Nile is blindfolded so as not to see the horrible church.
Although the legend is probably a true representation of the rivalry of the two artists, it has no foundation as the fountain was built before the church.
11:00 AM Pantheon
11:00 AM From Piazza Navona go to Piazza della Rotonda to visit the Pantheon. Temple for all gods, past, present and future, this is the intention with which it was built by Marco Agrippa in 27 B.C. and rebuilt by Hadrian in 126 AD. Since 609 it has been consecrated as a Catholic church.
The Pantheon impresses with its evident majesty, but also let yourself be impressed by the fact that the dome (a half sphere) is the largest in the world made of un-reinforced concrete.
While you are inside, let the children notice the Oculus, the large circular hole of 9m that always remains open … and through which the rain enters when it rains outside.
GOOD TO KNOW
Opening time: Monday-Saturday 9:00 am-7:00pm and Sunday 9:00 am-6:00pm
Cost: Entrance to the Pantheon is free monday to friday, but reservations are now required for visits on Saturday and Sunday.
11:30 AM Trevi Fountain
11:30 AM From the Pantheon, explore the neighbouring areas, stop and try the famous coffee granita at the bar La Casa del Caffe Tazza d’Oro, let the children run around in Piazza della Minerva or even better in Piazza di Pietra, a pedestrian square dominated by the colonnade of the Temple of Hadrian and then move to the other side of via del Corso to reach the Trevi Fountain.
The Trevi fountain was revisited in 1640 by the architect / sculptor already met before, Gian Lorenzo Bernini who redesigned the fountain that was already on the square before. Unfortunately, it was not he who would finish the work that passed from hand to hand and took almost another century for Nicola Salvi to begin the work in 1732, then finished by Pannini which lead to the current configuration.
Tell the children the legend that if you throw a coin into the large pool with your back to it and catch it with your eyes in the moment it arrive in the water then you will return to Rome.
12:00 Spanish steps (Scalinata di Trinita dei Monti)
12:00 PM From the Trevi Fountain in less than a quarter of an hour on foot you will arrive in Piazza di Spagna.
I recommend that you make sure you get there by via dei Condotti which will offer you the most spectacular view of the square and the staircase. The square is famous for the majestic staircase that leads up to the church of Trinita dei Monti. Unfortunately although you can go up, you can no longer sit on the steps to admire the view as in the past. Another point of interest is the unique fountain called Barcaccia.
1.00 PM The area around Piazza di Spagna is touristy enough, but for lunch you shouldn’t have any difficulty in finding a Pizza by the slice shop or if you want to rest sitting at a table you can try Ginger, a beautiful and bright (even if a bit expensive) little restaurant offering healthy and sustainable food or Hosteria del Mercato. Both just 5 minutes walking from Piazza di Spagna.
3:00 PM Explora – The children museum in Rome
3:00 PM If you visit Rome with children then it’s time to visit a somewhat special museum: Explora – the children’s museum in Rome.
A perfect museum for children up to 10-12 years (3-9 years probably the best age to visit it). There are many interactive exhibits and games divided in different themes.
The entrances have specific times, usually there are up to 4 shifts a day. Usually one starts at 15. You will therefore have plenty of time to reach the museum, while still enjoying the picturesque streets between via del corso and via del Babbuino.
GOOD TO KNOW
Opening time: changing through the year. On Saturday and Sunday usually 4 slots 10-11:45, 12-13:45, 15-16:45, 17-18:45. Double check here on their website.
Cost: 0-12 months free, 12-36 months € 6, from 3 years € 9, adult € 9
5:00 PM Villa Borghese
5:00 PM From the museum you can now move to Villa Borghese.
To go up you can use the stairs that start from Piazza del Popolo, just below the large terrace of the Pincio, however if you are with a stroller you can follow the road and although a little longer you will still arrive at the top.
Stop first on the Pincio terrace which offers beautiful views over the city, then if you are too tired for a long walk in the park, to the delight of the children you can also rent the fun rickshaws.
Villa Borghese is quite large and there are actually several things to see if you want. Near the Pincio terrace there is a beautiful and curious water clock. There are also various museums scattered throughout the park. The “Galleria Borghese” is the most important, but in this itinerary there is actually not enough time to visit it, if you are interested in art you can take a look at the free Varlo Bilotti museum or the one completely dedicated to Pietro Canonica (also free).
Then there is a nice children’s cinema (the smallest cinema in the world) and the well-organized Casina Raffaello, a playroom that often also organizes interesting activities for children (to be booked in advance). If you have decided to walk around do not miss to arrive at the lake that houses a small temple dedicated to Aesculapius. It could be fun to rent rowing boats for € 4 for 20 minutes.
Do you still need to decide how many days to spend in Rome? Read here everything you need to consider.
BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO SPEND 4 DAYS IN ROME
The reality is that any period is good to visit Rome with family, but let’s say that it would be better to avoid January and February due to the cold and rain, and July and August due to the excessive heat, the rest depends on your preferences. Let’s have a look at some key facts.
MARCH – MAY. In Spring Rome begins to awaken from the winter slumber and although March and April still reserve the potential for cold and rainy days, the weather is generally nice and the air warm. You can start having lunch outdoors while enjoying the atmosphere of the dolce vita.
JUNE. June is a transitional month at times, already in the middle of the month it can be too hot, but generally it is still pleasant to walk around even in the central hours of the day. Schools usually close towards the middle of the month and the city tends to empty during the weekend when the Romans go to cool off at the sea (Tourists rarely perceive this difference, since nothing changes in the city center, but if you go to the more peripheral areas it’s more evident)
SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER. September and October are another two wonderful months to spend time in Rome with kids.
In particular, October is often referred to as the second summer and the Romans also have a name to identify this splendid period: “Ottobrata Romana”. This term is derived from past times when in October people went to the countryside for the harvest and then lingered in rich lunches where there was certainly no lack of wine.
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER. November and December are somewhat hectic months, the closer we get to Christmas the more traffic goes crazy. The rains intensify, but if it does not rain, the sun is usually still warm enough to make walks in the Eternal City very pleasant. In December then the Christmas climate will surely capture everyone, young and old.
HOW TO GET THERE
Let’s start by assuming you arrive at the airport. Rome has two airports: Rome Leonardo da Vinci (commonly know as Fiumicino) and Rome Ciampino.
In general, a taxi or a transfer service is the most comfortable option for a family, but also the most expensive. However, taxis have a regulated fare from the airports to the city center. From Fiumicino you pay € 50 including supplements and from Ciampino € 31. Sometimes with private transfers you can get cheaper rates. The journey from Fiumicino takes about 50 minutes, while from Ciampino it’s about 30 minutes.
If you arrive late at night and expect your children to be grumpy, this is definitely the best option. Obviously there are several other cheaper ways to reach the center.
Fiumicino airport to Rome
From Fiumicino you will have two types of train available, buses, and rental cars.
I must say that from Fiumicino the train is very convenient, even if in my opinion the one that goes to Termini station (the most central) is too expensive at €14 for a 30-minute ride. The advantages are that it is very frequent, free for kids, and you do not have to fold the stroller.
If you are staying in the Trastevere area you will have the opportunity to use the less expensive train (€ 8) which will leave you at your destination in 25 minutes. (usually there are trains every 30 minutes).
As for the buses you will have various options, even if only Terravision has a clear enough site to identify costs, times, and destinations. The prices are more advantageous than the train to Termini station, but children from 4 years pay the ticket, so saving money will really depend on your kids age. .
Unless you are planning a stay in Rome with kids longer than 5-6 days, I do not recommend renting a car. The car is obviously very convenient for getting around, but the parking lots and the ZTLs may require more effort than expected. However, if you want to test your tolerance for Italian drivers, then one thing you can do is use the sharing cars from the Enjoy company.
Enjoy is a amazing car sharing service! You can download the app and also register with a foreign driving license for a small fee of €5. Once registered you will have access to their entire fleet of flaming red FIAT 500 cars which has excellent coverage throughout Rome. The special thing? You can pick up the car in one place and leave it somewhere else within the covered areas, including airports.
We have used this service for years and since they also introduced the airport area we have also used it from there. At Fiumicino, cars are parked 7-8 minutes walk from the terminal (even if they are not very well marked with the app, you shouldn’t have difficulty finding them)
Ciampino airport to Rome
Ciampino is closer to the centre but connections to the city are more limited. As mentioned for Fiumicino, you can consider the fixed rate taxis or Enjoy car sharing, otherwise you will find a direct bus for termini or a cheapest option that combines bus and train / subway.
Terravision also in this case presents the clearest option in terms of costs and timetables. In about 40 minutes and € 6 you will arrive at Termini station. There are one / two buses per hour.
It is the same price for the SIT buses, but there are less available buses.
BUS AND TRAIN / TUBE.
With the ATRAL buses you will have another option: with a € 2.70 ticket you can take the bus to the Rome Ciampino train station and from there continue with the regional train. (The price is excellent of course but the trains are not very frequent, consult the timetables in advance)
The same bus company also runs buses approximately every half hour / forty minutes arriving at the Anagnina metro station. On holidays, services are extremely limited.
The ATRAL option is very interesting to save some money, but honestly the buses are not frequent enough to make it the valid default option.
If you have 2 children aged 4 and up, the most convenient thing from Ciampino is really a taxi. The difference with the SIT or Terravision bus is only € 7 cheaper and the taxi will drop you off anywhere in the centre, much more practical unless you are staying in the Termini area.
GETTING AROUND ROME
In Rome there are 3 metro lines, which obviously do not cover all routes of interest. You will therefore often have to resort to buses. Buses, hated (rightly) by all Romans, are always too crowded and unreliable with timetables; however, there are occasions when you will not be able to do without them.
To be honest if you choose your accommodation in the city centre, probably you will need to use public transport really little. Download city mapper to check the bus stops, but don’t rely too much on it for timetable.
I hope you will enjoy touring Rome! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.
If you are planning a tour in other European countries, you will find other detailed itineraries for London, Dubrovnik, Porto, Venice, Turin, Istanbul. You can also check out the little delightful Montenegro, Crete, and also how to enjoy Santorini avoiding the tourist traps!
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Where is Rome
This is one of the most fabulous article I have ever read about Italy and the nearby places. After reading it, I am motivated to take a train journey on my next holidays. The places look really beautiful and you have captured them well on your lenses. The details regarding the place of stay, train pass, places to visit, etc. would be a great guide for the future travellers.
Amazing! I’m really happy you found it inspiring!