13 Exciting Things To Do In Rome With Teens + Tips For Visiting

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We loved visiting Rome with our two teenage daughters. We were excited to visit The Eternal City for many reasons, but we weren’t expecting our teenage girls to love it as much as they did. The reason for this? There are tons of things to do in Rome for teenagers.

One of the fountains on Piazza Navona

Our teens adore Rome because it has this unmatched, vibrant energy and loads of iconic landmarks to get their “I was in Rome” photos. Places like the Colosseum and the Pantheon captivated their young and curious minds and got them inspired and interested in art and architecture. 

They loved the bustling streets and lively piazzas, not to mention the delectable Italian cuisine from mouthwatering pizza to creamy gelato, which made even the fussiest of eaters in our family satisfied. 

If you’re not sure what to do in Rome with teens, then here are some of the top attractions that our teenagers enjoy in Rome!

Things To Do In Rome with Teenagers

Wander Around Trastevere

savannah walking under vine draped road

Rome can be a bit of an overwhelming city at times. It’s busy, it’s loud, it’s bustling, and when walking from attraction to attraction, you find yourself cursing to yourself for the third time as a scooter pulls out in front of you from nowhere.

This is why we loved the Trastevere neighborhood so much as it’s a far cry from this scene in Rome. 

It’s quiet, it’s trendy, and it’s fashionable. It’s filled with loads of hip cafes, bars, and boutique shops. It still has the iconic Roman architecture and cobbled streets that Rome is famous for but without the honking and chaos. 

This district is known as the former working-class neighborhood. People are drawn to the narrow alleyways, street art murals, and bohemian atmosphere.

Trastevere gave our teens a true insight into modern Italian culture. You can see how Italians go about their daily lives and feel the beat of the city as you meander through a labyrinth of alleys and quiet streets.

Because it’s located in the south of the city, across the river from the Colosseum, you get to avoid a lot of the hustle and bustle but still be close to the action, so we always recommend that you stay in this neighborhood when visiting the city.

It’s also worth noting that this is a lively district at night with backpackers heading to bars, but this didn’t bother us or our teenage girls as we picked a quiet place to stay down a side street.

Trastevere was also where our favorite restaurant in Rome was – Mama Eats. 100% gluten free, delicious and affordable, and never too busy. They also do non-gluten free versions of all their food if you request it! Their tiramisu was incredible!

Go On A Roman Street Food Tour 

people standing around listening to tour guide
Roman street food tour

One of the things our teenagers loved the most on our visit to Rome was a walking street food tour. Not only did we get to try some of the best Italian cuisine (beyond pizza) but we also learned a lot about the history of Rome and the Italian way of life.

The Roman Street Food Tour takes you to several spots in the city where you can sample some of the finest cuisines beyond the pastas and gelatos. You can try handmade, fresh suppli, Porchetteria La Rinascita, and graffe! I bet you hadn’t heard of those dishes before?

It’s not only a great way to experience new food, but a fun way to see the sites of Rome that you may just wander through, such as Piazza Navona and Campo de’ Fiori – which without a gelato in hand, wouldn’t be the most exciting place in Rome for a teenager.

I love the piazzas because they are always a fun place to be with a lot going on. They are surrounded by impressive buildings and monuments, there’s usually some form of street performer somewhere, pigeons flocking around picking up scraps off the floor, and people sipping espressos in the cafes. 

However, we found our teens didn’t appreciate sitting and just absorbing the atmosphere as much as the adults would, so we wouldn’t go out of the way to visit the piazzas otherwise. 

Do A Guided Tour of The Vatican

caz and the girls hugging outside the vatican
The Vatican Rome

Our teens love country counting, so when I told them they could visit the smallest country on Earth, they were so excited! Yes, The Vatican is also the center for Christianity, home of the Catholic church, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but who cares when you can tick another bucket list item off the list?

The Vatican may only be 0.44 square kilometers, but there’s a lot to see and do here, so we do recommend you plan a full day to spend here.

Our biggest tip is to make sure you book a tour of The Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel as early as you can. After about 9.00 am, the queues for The Vatican Museum go for miles (literally) and you can be waiting in line for up to 3 hours to buy a ticket.

People walking through a hall in the Vatican in Rome
Crowds can be intense. – inside the Vatican

Also, The Vatican Museum is HUGE. The museum has 70,000 exhibits in a space of 42,000 square meters – it’s just not possible to see it all. 

On a guided tour, you can then be shown highlights of the Catholic Church’s collection and see all the best bits.

After visiting The Vatican Museum and The Sistine Chapel, be sure to visit St. Peter’s Basilica. If you book the guided tour, you can learn more about the fresco paintings and the first Pope of Christianity, St Peter, who is also buried in the church.

You can learn more about how to visit The Vatican in our complete guide here. 

Visit The Colosseum, The Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill 

caz and the girls smiling at camera inside colosseum

Of course, no trip to Rome would be complete without visiting The Colosseum and The Roman Forum, which are the most iconic and important ancient ruins in Rome.

The Colosseum is one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World and the legendary amphitheater that once hosted gladiator battles and other spectacles in ancient times.

It was built in 72 AD and could once house up to 80,000 spectators. Next to it is The Roman Forum, which was the ancient marketplace and the heart of political, religious, and commercial life in ancient Rome. 

The ruins date back to the end of the 7th century BC. Some of the ruins were once some of the important sites in Roman history, including the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Temple of Vesta, the Curia Julia (Senate House), and the Rostra – where political speeches were delivered. 

savannah taking a photo of Temple of Antoninus Pius
Temple of Antoninus Pius

Walking through these ancient ruins is the best way to learn about the ancient life of Rome and imagine the grandeur of the Roman Empire. 

These are two other landmarks that are best seen on a guided tour because otherwise, you’ll have no idea what you’re looking at! There’s a serious lack of signage and without hearing about the history, it can be an underwhelming experience to visit. 

The guides not only explain the inception, history, and design of these two monuments but also tell stories about the foundations of Rome and what life would have been like during ancient times. It really helps to imagine what life in Ancient Rome would have been like.

Rest in Villa Borghese Gardens

craig and girls sitting on grass looking at phones in the borghese Gardens
Borghese Gardens

If you’re tired of walking around Rome or need somewhere to retreat to for a picnic, then our favorite free thing to do in Rome with teenagers is to meander around the Villa Borghese gardens.

The Villa Borghese is a landscaped garden and the third-largest in the city, where you’ll find the Rome Zoo, Pincio’s Water Clock, and Silvano Toti Globe Theatre.

It’s the perfect place to rest and relax under a shaded tree, watch the joggers and rollerbladers skate by, and enjoy some much-needed family time. 

If you want to, you can also rent rollerblades and bikes from the main gates, which is a popular way to explore the gardens.

You can also visit the Borghese Gallery inside the Villa Borghese to see world-renowned pieces of art by Renaissance painters such as Raphael, Titian, and Caravaggio.

Go Shopping (Or Window Shopping) on Via del Corso

caz and savannah walking through an archway
Walking into Via del Corso

Rome is one of the top cities in Europe for high-end fashion, and the shopping options here are endless. Of course, we all know that the Italian city of Milan is the fashion capital of the world, but it’s not just Milan that knows fashion in Italy.

Fashion brands such as Fendi, Prada, Gucci, Valentino, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, and Giorgio Armani have all hailed from Italy. What better place to shop for fashion, than the country that birthed some of the greatest designers in our history?

While we can’t all afford designer goods, you’ll be pleased to know it’s not just designer clothes that you can shop for in Rome.

woman and girls walking along Via del Corso in rome
Via del Corso

The city has always had a history of craftsmanship and artistry, particularly with leather goods, and is well known for producing some high-quality and luxury goods. 

You can find boutique stores selling handmade items and artisan goods, as well as thrift stores selling second-hand, high-quality fashion. 

Some other popular items to look out for are artisanal ceramics and art prints, which are commonly found in stores in Rome.

Snap Photos of The Spanish Steps

caz and the girls walking up the Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps

I’ll be honest, my teenage girls weren’t into visiting The Spanish Steps too much, so we didn’t spend a lot of time here. However, it’s one of the most iconic landmarks in Rome so you can’t go to the city without visiting the iconic steps for a “I Was Here” photo.

The Spanish Steps are gorgeous and intricately designed but don’t take too long to see. They were built in the 18th century and are known to be a popular gathering place, for locals and tourists alike, and it’s a fun place to sit and watch people watching.

At the bottom of the steps is the Piazza di Spagna, which is surrounded by designer fashion stores and luxury restaurants, and at the top of the steps is the Trinità dei Monti church, which was built in the 16th century. 

the piazza at the bottom of the spanish steps
Mission Impossible takeover

I’d say it would be a nice place to sit and eat a gelato, but unfortunately, you cannot eat on the steps and there’s a security guard who likes to shout and forcibly enforce this rule, as we had witnessed happen to other tourists visiting the steps.

When we visited, they were setting up for the premiere event for Mission Impossible that evening, which meant we couldn’t do much there. Perhaps another reason my girls weren’t that interested in it.

Throw A Coin In The Trevi Fountain

Mom and daughter in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome
The Trevi Fountain

Can you get any more iconic than throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain? It is perhaps THE most unmissable thing you have to do in Rome.

It’s said that if you throw a coin in the fountain, you will return to Rome – not to bring you good luck as many will have you believe.

Simply stand with your back to the fountain, and throw a coin over your left shoulder with your right hand.

The fountain is always packed with people, so you will need to wait your turn to find a spot for a photo. You should also note that the fountain is drained for cleaning every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8.00 am-9.00 am, so try to avoid these times.

We did not know this and arrived just as cleaning was finishing, so we didn’t miss out on throwing the coin in. A bonus is that crowds will be fewer during these cleaning times.

Do you think they’ll ever ban throwing coins in this iconic fountain? It’s said that tourists throw in a million euro into the fountain each year, so I highly doubt it!

Marvel at The Pantheon

Mom and daughter looking at an historic building in Rome
First tour of the day at the Pantheon

The Pantheon is another marvel of engineering by the Romans and just makes you think, “Gosh, how did they know to do that?” 

The former Pagan temple turned Catholic church is most famous for the domed ceiling, which has a circular opening in the center, called ‘The Oculus’, ‘The Eye of the Pantheon’ or ‘Eye of God’. It was originally used as the only light source in the building, but what makes it special is that the floor beneath it was built on a slant, leading to 22 hidden holes, where rainwater can drain. 

Pretty cool engineering trick from 125 AD, don’t you think?

It’s also a beautiful building and is home to the resting place of Rome’s greatest artists and royals, such as King Vittorio Emanuele II, King Umberto 1, and his wife Queen Margherita of Savoy, and the iconic Renaissance artist, Raphael.

It’s not a big attraction, but we recommend getting the audio guide to give you a brief history of the building.

Visit A Museum

person holding cup up in front of monument view

Rome has so many museums to visit, and they are some of the best in the world. The one you visit should largely depend on your interests and what your family is looking for, but our favorite museums in Rome are:

Galleria Borghese

Villa Borghese Gardens
Galleria Borghese

The Galleria Borghese inside the Villa Borghese is an art museum that contains works belonging to Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a prominent art collector and patron of the arts. 

The gallery contains an impressive collection of sculptures, paintings, and antiquities, as well as being inside a beautifully designed 17th-century building.

One of the key attractions in the museum is the stunning sculpture of “Apollo and Daphne” by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This masterpiece captures the dramatic moment of Daphne’s transformation into a laurel tree as she tries to escape from the pursuing Apollo. 

Another highlight is the painting “Sacred and Profane Love” by Titian, which depicts two women, one dressed in rich, luxurious fabrics representing sacred love, and the other in simple, earthly attire symbolizing profane love. 

It’s also home to Caravaggio’s famous painting “David with the Head of Goliath,” which portrays the biblical scene of David holding the severed head of the defeated Goliath. 

If your teenagers are interested in art or have been learning about these iconic paintings in school, then this is a museum to add to the itinerary.

The Capitoline Museums

tourists in room of Capitoline Museums taking photo of capitoline wolf
The Capitoline Wolf

The Capitoline Museums are a series of three buildings that flank Piazza del Campidoglio, which trace back to 1471 when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of ancient bronzes to the people of Rome. 

One of the standout attractions within the museum is the iconic bronze sculpture of “The Capitoline Wolf.” This ancient masterpiece said to date back to the 5th century BC but not confirmed, depicts the she-wolf suckling the mythical twins Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. 

The Capitoline Museums offer a blend of art and history and would be a great option for teenagers interested in history as well as art.

National Roman Museum

grassy courtyard in front of  Baths of Diocletian. Museum
Baths of Diocletian. Museum

The National Roman Museum is a great “all-round” history museum and takes you through several historic buildings, including the Baths of Diocletian, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, and the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. 

The museum’s collection contains artifacts that express the grandeur of ancient Rome, featuring sculptures, mosaics, and artwork that tell stories of the daily life, art, and culture of the Roman Empire.

The Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in particular houses an impressive collection of Roman frescoes, including the famous “Garden Fresco” from the Villa of Livia frescoes. 

If you only have time for one museum, this would be our top choice.

National Gallery of Modern Art

ront view of Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (GNAM, National Gallery of Modern Art) art gallery,
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna (GNAM, National Gallery of Modern Art)

The National Gallery of Modern Art is not only a great place to see Italian art from the 19th and 20th centuries, but it’s also located inside the beautiful neoclassical Palazzo delle Belle Arti, which is a work of art in itself!

One of the most famous pieces in the museum is ‘Un’onda di luce’ by Giacomo Balla, also known as Wave of Light, which is a futuristic painting from 1909 that depicts the effects of light reflecting on the water, which was avant-garde for its time.

The National Gallery of Modern Art is a great museum to learn about the evolution of Italian art and witness some of the most beautiful architecture in the city.

Galleria Doria Pamphilj

interiors and architectural details of Doria Pamphilj Gallery,
Gorgeous interior of Doria Pamphilj Gallery

The Galleria Doria Pamphilj is housed in the opulent Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, a 17th-century palace that has been meticulously preserved to showcase its grandeur. 

The museum has an impressive collection of Baroque masterpieces, including the renowned “Velazquez Portrait of Pope Innocent X,” by Diego Velázquez and the striking “Rest on the Flight into Egypt” by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

The Galleria Doria Pamphilj is the place to go to see Baroque art, which may or may not appeal to your teens. You decide!

Take A Cooking Class

savannah pointing to pasta on table
Savannah enjoying our cooking class in Tuscany

We didn’t have much time in Rome, so we weren’t able to do a cooking class, but my teens said they would have enjoyed this if we had time. 

In a cooking class, you can learn to make your own pasta from scratch, before turning it into fettuccine and ravioli, followed by learning to bake the classic Italian dessert dish, tiramisu.

A cooking class is a great way to get to know the culture of a city, as well as bring home a unique souvenir.

We love it when we can provide educational and fun experiences for our teenagers, especially as they love cooking and baking.

Take A Golf Cart Tour of Rome

man in golf cart in front of colosseum
Credit: LivTours

There are many ways to get around Rome – on foot, by open-top bus, or even by Vesper, but our teenagers were really excited to explore Rome by Golf Cart!

A golf cart is a great way to explore the streets of Rome in a comfortable and covered vehicle. 

As you get driven around the city, a guide will explain to you the history of the monuments, palaces, basilicas, and piazzas, with all their fountains and statues, so you can truly get a sense of the history of Rome.

Sadly, we were too late to book this and it was all sold out on our trip (another good reason to book in advance!), but we have earmarked it for our next trip – we did throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, so it’s gonna happen. Click here for rates and availability for a golf cart tour with LivTours.

Explore The Rome Catacombs

Rome Catacombs
Rome Catacombs

The catacombs are another attraction we missed due to time constraints, but our teenagers said how much they would have liked to see them.

The Rome Catacombs are located just outside the city center and date back to the 3rd Century AD. They were used as the burial place for half a million Christians and Jews, as well as 16 Popes.

You can only visit the catacombs with a guide so it’s important to book in advance. The guide will show you around the ancient burial sites and explain burial rituals and traditions.

There is more than one catacomb in Rome but the largest and most important is the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus. Join a guided tour of that here.

Tips for Visiting Rome With Teens

Girls walking along a cobblestone street in Rome

Below are some essential things to know before you go to Rome with teenagers:

  • Talk to your teens about what they’d like to do. Get your teens involved in the planning stage of the trip. Speak to them about what they might like to do or see. They may have learned about something in school, such as Pompeii, and want to visit it.
  • Make sure to visit attractions early in the morning to beat the crowds and get some awesome photos. This is especially important for The Colosseum and The Vatican, which are packed with people by 10.00 am.
  • Book attractions in advance. Try to book as much as you can in advance to avoid disappointment. Rome is the most visited city in Europe and it’s quite likely for tickets to be sold out on the day for key attractions, so a little pre-planning can go a long way.
  • Keep an eye on your belongings. We didn’t have any problems with this because we were aware of the potential dangers, but there are pickpockets in Rome, especially around tourist attractions. Don’t leave your belongings unattended and keep an eye on your cameras. Make sure your teens keep an eye on their valuables too, especially their phones!
  • Plan where you’re going to eat before you set out. I would say the biggest problem with traveling with teens is finding a place to eat that everyone is happy with. Save yourself time and drama by planning where you’re going to eat. This would also be an important tip if you were to visit Rome with kids.
  • Eat off the main piazzas. While on the subject of food, you can find cheaper prices in restaurants if you don’t eat on the piazzas and go down the backstreets.
  • Walk everywhere. Rome is very walkable, so put on your best walking shoes and walk as much as you can.
  • Be aware of scooters and bikes. This is a popular mode of transport to get around Rome and scooter drivers are known to whizz around cars and even go on sidewalks sometimes, so make sure to be vigilant of them when walking around and crossing roads.

Where to stay in Rome with teens?

Girl sitting on a couch in an apartment
Our apartment in Rome

One of the most common questions, we’re asked is where to stay in Rome with teens? We’ve not stayed everywhere, but we loved our spacious apartment in Trastevere.

Staying in this fun neighborhood gave us more of a local feel, it was in walking distance to everywhere, and we were surrounded by amazing restaurants and cafes at a more affordable price than the center of Rome.

And when the girls were exhausted and just wanted to lay on their beds chatting with their friends back home, Craig and I felt comfortable to leave them in the apartment, and walk around the corner for an aperol spritz, live music in the square, and gluten free tiramisu at Mama Eats!

See rates and availability for our Trastevere apartment here.

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