Dreaming of Travel: Rome
Rome is referred to as the Eternal City, and for good reason. This place will take you back in time but also enchant you with the charm of the city as it has adapted to the modern world. Rome’s complex character makes it not only a place you need to visit but also one that you will find can captivate the whole family.
How to Get to and Around Rome
Flights to Rome, or Italy in general, are not hard to find. You may have to get creative with how you fly in though or be prepared to travel with a layover! If you’re worried about how to adjust to the time change – book an overnight flight so that the extended hours of travel can allow you to sleep and wake up in a new time zone, with only a little jet lag to battle before getting on the go!
Once you’re there, your best bet for navigating around is hiring a driver from the airport! Though public transportation is available, there’s nothing like getting to see this city on the go. And unless you’re confident enough to drive as aggressively as the locals do, allow someone who knows the ins and outs of the city to handle the navigating.
Personally, we loved being able to explore on foot, to really get to see every nook and discover every cranny full of so much history. We got so much more out of walking every kilometer of this cobblestoned city than we ever would have otherwise – just make sure that if you have a little one to have a good baby/toddler carrier on you, as strollers may not always work best!
Where to Stay in Rome
There isn't a wrong place to stay within the city, though staying away from the tourist meccas allows you to explore a little to find the hot spots. We stayed in two areas during our visit-- near the business district and near Vatican City-- and of the two, the latter was our favorite!
We stayed at Best Western Plus Hotel Spring House near Vatican City, which was a quieter part of the city. It also offered us some of the most stunning views as we walked in and out of Rome proper, so staying away from the action was great for us.
As for the hotel itself, we booked a family room (a standard in Europe) and were given a larger accommodation that was very generous for our family of four. Our Junior Suite room had a large bathroom, a main area with additional bedding, and an upstairs loft with a bedroom. After a long day of exploring, it was to have a separate space from the little ones as they rested, without feeling like we were on top of each other in cramped spaces. Plus, the very affordable breakfast add-on made this place perfect in our eyes!
What to Do in Rome
Villa Borghese is a wonderful spot for a family day out! The park is a great place to escape the city and still be wrapped up in the beauty unique to this place. The easiest and most enjoyable way to visit is by renting a surrey available in the park and cycling the grounds. This will give you a great feel for the whole area while you make many enjoyable memories as a family. You will find plenty of playgrounds and arcades right within the park to stop and enjoy, and many tranquil hidden areas perfect for a picnic!
Right on the outskirts of Villa Borghese is Bioparco di Roma - a zoo located in the heart of the city. This is a great spot to give your kids a break from sightseeing for some lighthearted fun!
Finding carousels around the city (and country) was one of our favorite pastimes in Italy – a simple delight to allow our kids to create their own special memories of our trip. While strolling the Tiber River, near Castel Sant’Angelo, you’ll find a carousel after the line of vendors selling local goods. This was a welcome stop after a day of exploring this lovely city. We also highly recommend traveling with an old phone and carrying case for some unique pictures and videos from your kids’ perspective!
You can’t go to Rome without a visit to the Colosseum! The best way to visit this iconic structure is with a guided tour. The knowledgeable guide not only gave us an enhanced way to visit but also easy access to the building without waiting in lines. She offered special attention to the little ones and customized our visit for them. Most tours of the Colosseum will also include the Roman Forum. Having your own guide and allowing them to work with your group alone is the only way to go!
A trip to Rome may not be complete for you without visiting the Vatican. And though this is a big investment in terms of time and patience, it is well worth it. We again were on a private tour, which went way over our kids’ heads but they recognize the significance of getting to visit a place with so much history. They loved stopping into the gift shop at the end so they could send some extra special postcards with unique postage back home.
There are so many great places to grab a meal so there are not many places that won’t be right! Our favorite restaurant in the city was one we stumbled on by chance while visiting the Trastevere neighborhood. Trattoria de Gli Amici is a lovely restaurant with indoor and courtyard seating, and with an even more beautiful mission! The restaurant helps to employ people that may otherwise have trouble finding work, and we found some of the best service during our meal here! We left feeling more than just full – but extremely fulfilled in supporting this cause!
Iconic locations like the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, the Imperial Forum, the Fountain of the Frogs, so many piazzas, and so many places for pizza and gelato-- these should all make your walking tour, and we highly recommend mapping them out accordingly. A big part of visiting Rome is experiencing the culture and just being there. So enjoy the journey as you traverse this city and take yourself on a trip back in time.
Finally, make a stop at the Trevi Fountain to toss a coin over your shoulder before you leave! The best way to end your trip is to make a wish that you'll be back again someday. We recommend going early in the morning to beat the crowds and relish in the memories you’ve made on this trip!
We visited Rome anticipating lots of history and plenty of walking, but didn't expect some of the intimacies we got out of it. We met some of the most truly heartwarming people, made everlasting memories, and enjoyed all the things that didn’t seem possible on vacation with young kids. We came to this city with so many great expectations, but we left with so much more than that!
Has your family been to Rome? What did you think!? If you have any great photos of your family enjoying a day out here (or anywhere for that matter!), be sure to tag us on Instagram @gethappyly for a chance to be featured!
Looking for other fun family vacation ideas? Check out our Dreaming of Travel posts on Costa Rica, Virgin Islands National Park, Maui or Puglia, Italy for some inspiration!
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