Enjoy this family tour in Rome and see the best sights

Arriving in a city like Rome with young children in tow, you’re bound to find yourself torn. There’s so much to discover and learn, history surrounds you in all directions, including right under your feet.

But children, or at least my children, quickly tire of dry facts read from a guidebook or lengthy labels describing historical sites, full of instantly forgettable names and dates.

If you’re faced with a similar situation then I would highly recommend tackling the city on a family tour of Rome.

Guest post and photos by Charlotte Lattimer

Disclosure: Charlotte Latimer and her family were offered a complimentary three-hour tour of Rome by Tapsy Tours; for more information please see our disclosure policy.

Family tours in Rome
Exploring Rome on a private tour with Tapsy Tours


Tapsy Tours is one company that offers tours for families. Their aim is to engage kids and families and ‘make Rome fun’ for children and adults alike. 

We eagerly signed up to try out their three-hour private guided tour of the city. It was a cold and drizzly day in early January but despite the inclement weather, we enjoyed our friendly guided tour and saw many of the city’s best sights.


[author] [author_info]If you’re looking for more ideas on things to do in Rome with kids then make sure to look at this post. If you’re exploring elsewhere in Italy then don’t miss our post on visiting Puglia with kids, a family-friendly treasure hunt tour in Venice and a brilliant walking tour of Florence for families. I also highly recommend this family-friendly villa in Puglia! [/author_info] [/author]


A child-friendly tour of Rome

Family-Friendly Tour of Rome, Tapsy Tours
Tess watching the world go by from our luxury van


I didn’t envy our tour guide, Jan, when he met us at the Constantine Arch next door to the Colosseum.

My son is eleven going on seventeen and just starting to cultivate that super cool, nothing interests me, hands-in-pockets attitude to life. My daughter, eight, is a self-declared hater of historical sites and museums; ‘those old places’ as she calls them, and detests walking more than anything else.

At least my husband and I were feeling positive, though even that was a struggle as the temperature dropped and the rain begun to pour.


Family tours in Rome
Following in Jan’s footsteps towards Saint Peter’s church


Thankfully we headed straight for a van – a luxury one at that, complete with sweets, wet wipes and an activity book and pencil for each of the children.

We began with a leisurely drive around the city, stopping first at Circo Massimo, the world’s largest  arena ever built (the size of six football pitches!). Here, Jan conjured up images of ancient Roman wild chariot races and athletic contests, all overlooked by the rich and famous emperors in their lavish palaces on the Palatine Hill above.


[author] [author_info]If you’re wondering what other European cities are great for families, take a look at this list of the best cities in Europe with kids![/author_info] [/author]


Family tours in Rome
Jan explaining Bernini’s vision for Piazza San Pietro

The Vatican City

Next stop the Vatican city, a miniature state of just 0.3 square kilometres, making it the smallest country in the world. I defy anyone not to be spellbound by the approach to Saint Peter’s church and the marvellous colonnade that surrounds Piazza San Pietro.

My family were no exception.

We listened attentively as Jan pointed out the window of the Pope’s apartment from which he blesses the waiting crowd on Sunday mornings, and described in detail Bernini’s intent that the colonnades surrounding the Piazza appear as outstretched arms welcoming pilgrims to the heart of the church.

We didn’t visit the Vatican museums on this trip to Rome but if you’re interested then take a look at the official website.


Family tours in Rome
The Colosseum

The Colosseum

Jan continued to throw out various facts and stories about the ancient city lying twelve metres below us, under layers of rubble and silt, as we made our way to the Colosseum.

We waved good-bye to our luxury car and friendly driver only to be greeted with a long line of people waiting outside in the rain for tickets.

Not a problem for us, however! Our group ticket allowed us to smugly skip the queue and head straight for the entrance for our Colosseum tour. Skipping the line is definitely one of the best things about a private tour of Rome.


Family tours in Rome
Jan describing a day’s entertainment at the Colosseum


Once inside, Jan’s stories of ancient Rome picked up pace.

We heard tales of frustrated young men arriving in Rome from the countryside to make their fortune and being drawn into the violent world of gladiatorial contests.

Morning shows at the Colosseum were attended by women and children; they were not permitted to view the more violent gladiator battles in the afternoon. Contests were also held between exotic animals from all over the world. These animals were pitched in unlikely battles against one another – a bear versus a hippo for example, or a rhinoceros versus a bull.


Family-Friendly Tour of Rome, Tapsy Tours
Tess wearing a laurel wreath: a mark of victory


Jan explained that the empty ground floor arches we were passing were once full of arcade stalls renting seat cushions and selling ready-made meals to hungry spectators. The brick walls and benches we were looking at were covered with dazzling marble slabs. And the open space above our heads was once a vaulted ceiling that kept the space dry but dark and full of atmosphere.

In short, the empty shell of the arena, impressive enough all by itself in terms of scale and design, came to life and we could imagine ourselves there amongst the crowds of the ancient people of Rome, caught up in the excitement of gladiatorial combat and watching attentively as various wild animals were released from hidden trap doors in the floor.


The Roman Forum with kids

With Rome’s main attraction of the Colosseum done and dusted we continued our tour with a leisurely walk through the Roman Forum.

On route we learned about the life of the ancient people of Rome – what they studied at school, what they ate and how they coped with illness and hardship.

We heard fantastic stories of Roman emperors, good and bad, including Caligula who had his horse appointed as a senator in order to ridicule and provoke the conservative Senate and impress his young fans and friends.


Family tours in Rome
Exploring the Roman Forum


What better place to finish our tour than the beautiful Capitoline Hill overlooking the Forum. Designed by Michelangelo, this home to the Etruscan bronze statue of the twins Romulus and Remus – legendary founders of Rome, suckling from Lupa the she-wolf.

Time to say goodbye to Jan. ‘What, already?!’ said my son – fine praise indeed!


Family tours in Rome
A reclining god taking a selfie, or so said Jack (11)!


Time for Pizza!

Having said good-bye to Jan it was straight to a local trattoria for warming minestrone soup, pasta and pizza.

Over lunch, my husband and I asked the children what they remembered from the tour. To our surprise, they were easily able to rattle off several impressive facts that they’d retained eg. the planets of our solar system are named after Roman gods, and the interior of the Colosseum hasn’t been cleaned since it was built.

I too was able to zoom in on certain details of the city around me in a way that I hadn’t before – recognising a Corinthian column here and a Baroque style of architecture there.

My only criticism, and it’s a small one, is that the activity booklet could have been used in a more interactive way. Leafing through it later I discovered that it contained some fun ‘treasure hunt’ style activities that I think my children would have enjoyed doing during the tour.

Other than that, though, it was an excellent way to discover the many layers of history and appreciate the stunning beauty of this eternal city.  Thanks to Tapsy Tours for succeeding in doing what they set out to do: making Rome fun for all the family.

[author] [author_info]For more information on this tour and booking details, take a look at the Tapsy Tours website[/author_info] [/author]


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4 thoughts on “Enjoy this family tour in Rome and see the best sights”

  1. What a wonderfully written review.  Talk about living life vicariously – I was right there, tagging along with the reviewer’s family.

    That’s it – decision made. The bucket list is calling and flights need booked.

    And yes, I suspect there is a very good chance that we will be booking every tour available (well, those suitable for a wheelchair user anyway).

    Thank you for both a fabulous read and, more excitingly for me, for inducing a warm glow of anticipation.

  2. What a great review, I can’t wait to take my kids to Italy! I know it will be a very different experience from the times I’ve been there as an adult. Organized tours like this sound like a must to make it the best possible experience for everyone.

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