Hi! Are you coming to Europe? Crazy enough to do it with young kids? Well, this page is for you. Below I’ve grouped posts–with a focus on noting kid-friendliness–of some of the restaurants, accommodations, and attractions we’ve enjoyed.
And some tips to conquer jet lag LIKE A BOSS once you arrive.
Restaurants are tough for kids because most of them open later for dinner. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend these for kids, but we have enjoyed the following.
Antica Enoteca near the Spanish Steps is a fave, but our experience has been a little uneven. You can expect a respectable wine-by-the-glass selection, tasty meats and cheeses, and, occasionally, mindblowingly good pasta.
You can enjoy the Roman dish cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) at many places. Cacio e Pepe in Prati serves a mighty tasty one.
Cul de Sac is a cozy place near Piazza Navona to sample wines by the glass and local meats and cheeses. Antica Taverna, a few more blocks from Piazza Navona, has stupid good eggplant parmigiana and reasonably priced fare.
Pizzeria Gaudi near Villa Borghese has awesome pizza, plentiful pasta, and lights you turn on to get the waiters’ attention. (I would take kids if the hours don’t throw you.)
I’m looking forward to eating my way down this list.
And don’t forget your late afternoon passagiata.
Parco degli Acquedotti (Aqueduct Park). A great place to go for a run by a scenic, you guessed it, aqueduct.
Villa Torlonia, where you can tour the house Mussolini lived for a few years. They also have a bunker tour that I definitely want to check out some day.
Day Trips from Rome
We have found gardens great for sightseeing with the kids. Let’s face it; those guys are bad at museums, bad at guided tours, bad at staying quiet in churches. . . you get the picture. But they can handle running around outside. Check out Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Villa Lante in Bagnaia, Reggia di Caserta near Naples, or the Monster Garden in Bomarzo. If you stop in Tivoli, consider also visiting the remarkably intact ruins at Hadrian’s Villa.
I feel like all the guidebooks recommend Orvieto. Our experience was mixed.
Before you get to Orvieto, you pass by Orte. Cute and quaint, but I would plan your visit better than we did.
Civita di Bagnoregio. One you have to see to believe.
Want to strut around a palace? Try Villa Farnese in Caprarola, about an hour from Rome.
If you are looking to cool off, why not try Lake Bracciano? Cute towns to explore, a castle to conquer, and did I mention the water?
Speaking of lakes, we also enjoyed our time at picturesque Nemi, located on Lake Nemi. You may be able to catch the strawberry festival if you go in June.
You can also cool off at the beach. There are loads near by that I hope to try some day. I did take the Rome-Lido line past the Ostia stops to the end of the line at Cristoforo Colombo once. We enjoyed the private beach club of Mariposa. (Heads up, this is a black sand beach. DO NOT attempt to leave your shoes at your chair.) There are a few public beaches, but many are private. For a few euro, you can rent a chair, umbrella, or cabina (little room). You have access to bathrooms, showers, and restaurant. Mariposa also has a small playground. If you are less concerned on kid-friendliness, my friend swears by Club Shilling, also at the Cristoforo Colombo stop.
Also off the Rome-Lido line, don’t miss Ostia Antica. These extremely intact ruins provide insight into ancient life. Some of the cobblestones are a bit tricky with a stroller, but you can generally find some grass or other place to bump along. Cafeteria on site.
If you happen to be over around February, look for Carnival celebrations. We had a pretty epic time in Foiano della Chiana.
If you are looking for wine, check out Montepulciano, famed for its Vino Nobile and Rosso di Montepulciano. (And also for being a filming location for Twilight.) But be warned that this hill town is trickier with a stroller. There is a giant hill going up into town as well as a slope side-to-side, that is often connected by stairs.
- (If you come the last Sunday in August, you can witness the Bravio delle Botti, where the town neighborhoods compete in teams of two to roll enormous wine barrels up the hill.)
- We did Montepulciano off-season in February, which contributed to a less than stellar experience. It rained. Things were closed. We didn’t really give the town a fair shake.
- We did enjoy Caffe Poliziano, a gorgeous art nouveau spot with amazing views and kid-friendly hours.
- A friend enjoyed her experiences staying here and here. There is a language school in town. We ended up finding a place through the lodging listings on the school’s website.
- Tasting rooms are all over town. With some you can see cellars and other “cool wine stuff.” The main bonus of seeing the town in February was that we stumbled into the Vino Nobile Anteprima in the fortress where, for very little, we could taste wine from over 40 wineries. It was a delicious occurrence of vacation happenstance.
On a warmer trip, we enjoyed a tour, tasting, and lunch at the Salcheto Winery outside of Montepulciano. This sustainably designed winery was fascinating to see.
Also for wine lovers is Montalcino, famed for its Brunello. I thought this town was more accessible than Montepulciano from a stroller perspective. (I enjoyed Montalcino more overall, but I think this was mostly a weather thing.) Again, tasting rooms dot the town, including one where you get a card and machines dispense pours.
If you are looking for something tiny, adorable, and super flat, stop by Pienza while you are in the area. I think this UNESCO heritage site is definitely worth a stroll.
If you are around Perugia the second half of October, you can enjoy their chocolate festival. (During the rest of the year, you can also tour the Perugina chocolate factory outside of town. Get a reservation. I was bummed that the machines weren’t running during our visit, but they did have a tasting room . . . ) Perugia was fairly stroller friendly. If you park in the large lot outside town, you can ride the driverless “minimetro” into town. (Tickets 1.50 each.)
Spoleto is also surprisingly stroller friendly. Underground tunnels link beneath the town and pop you up through elevators at various locations. This means you miss some scenic walking, but you can get right up to the tower at the top of town, something we never would have been able to do otherwise.
To see list: Narni, Todi, Gubbio, Deruta, Spello
Puglia (heel of the boot)