When we travel, we usually like to play it low key. That usually means not filling our days with too many activities or attractions. But sometimes we do like to do touristy things, like taking a bus tour such as the Hop On Hop Off Rome tour. They help make our travels fun and interesting.
We’ve been in Italy for about a week now. Italy was my daughter’s pick for countries to visit during our around the world trip. But it’s also a country of significance to my husband, as it’s the first country he ever visited outside of the United States and Canada.
As for me, visiting Italy has always interested me, and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit a country that is steeped with so much historical and cultural significance to Americans. Our country was influenced by the Republican ideals of Rome, for goodness sake!
We kicked off our Italy trip with a visit to Rome with kids. There are just so many things to do in Rome with kids, and our two days in the city just wasn’t enough! Taking an open bus tour in Rome gave us just a taste of what the city has to offer.
This post was updated on May 27, 2020.
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Seeing the city with the hop on hop off Rome tour
While Rome isn’t always an easy place to get around with kids, we were able to experience a lot of things while we were there. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of things to do in Rome with kids. You can take a flip through Rick Steve’s Rome guide book for some ideas.
Of course there are the usual tourist spots to visit. While we were in Rome with kids, we visited the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Vatican City. We wished we could have had time to visit other ancient sites like the Roman Forum, Palatine Hills, Circus Maximus, the Pantheon or Trajan’s Wall, but we didn’t have time. And a visit to the iconic Spanish Steps also eluded us.
For our family, taking the tour was a great way to get ideas for what to see and do while we were in Rome with kids. It also gave us a some ideas for getting around Rome.
Getting around Rome
Rome is a relatively easy city to get around. The hop on hop off tour takes families to many of the tourist spots throughout Rome. Taxis are also available for families who are getting around Rome. However, unless you’re in a popular commercial area, it’s sometimes hard to catch one. Uber exists in Rome, but we found the price per ride was much higher than taxis.
For Romans, though, public transportation is the best way to deal with getting around Rome. The metro goes all over the city, and the maps at the stations are fairly easy to read. The buses also go traverse the city, and there bus stops throughout Rome.
You can buy bus tickets and passes at a tabaccheria (smoke shop) or at some bars. There are also ticket vending machines at a few of the main bus stops. A 100 minute ride costs 1.50 euros. You can also purchase 24 hour passes and 7 passes. Rome Toolkit has a great resource for getting around Rome using public transportation.
Tips for the Hop On Hop Off Rome tour with kids
For our family, taking a bus tour really helped us with getting around Rome. One of the first things we did when we arrived in Rome with kids was take the Hop On Hop Off Rome tour. It helped us get a lay of the land, and introduce us to the main attractions of Rome.
You can purchase your tickets ahead of time online, or you can purchase them at designated ticket counters in the city. There vendors that sell the bus tickets throughout the city, but some of them are not authorized. I recommend purchasing your tickets at the official Hop On Hop Off Rome tour ticket booth in Termini station.
The Hop On Hop Off Rome tour is actually perfect for families visiting Rome with kids. Here are a few of my tips for using the Hop On Hop Off Rome tour for getting around Rome.
Calculate the value of tour to you
Tickets for the Hop On Hop Off Rome tour range from 23 euros for an all-day ticket, to 34 euros for a 72 hour ticket. Children over five are half price. You can get on the buses any time of day between the hours of 9am-5pm from October to May, and 9am-7pm from June to September.
My suggestion is to book either an all day ticket or a 24 hour ticket (28 euros), so that you get used to where things are laid out in the city. Then use public transportation for getting around Rome during the remainder of your trip. You can save up to 14.50 euros per person by doing this.
The tour also gives you the option of bundling your ticket with Skip The Line attraction tickets. Do a bit of research ahead of time to find out what the tickets costs if you just book it directly with the attraction. You might end up saving more money that way.
For us, we chose to bundle our bus tour with a Skip The Line ticket to the Vatican City. That really helped us in avoiding the long line to enter the city. But when we visited the Colosseum, we bought tickets at the gate, and didn’t have to wait too long in line. It ended up saving us 6 euros per person.
Give yourself time to do the Hop On Hop Off Rome tour
When you’re traveling with kids, things take exponentially longer to do. So I suggest giving yourself a lot of extra time, especially if you’re going to be doing the Hop On Hop Off Rome tour on your trip to Rome with kids.
Plan about two hours to explore a stop. A place like the Vatican City is huge. It will take some time to cover a lot of ground if you’re exploring with little feet. Even the Colosseum takes about an hour to explore. Giving yourself time helps avoid crankiness and frustration, on your kids’ AND your parts.
Pick two or three stops to explore
Since you’re giving yourself extra time to explore places, you will definitely need to limit the number of stops you take on the bus tour. Try and limit the stops to two or three at the maximum.
For our tour, we picked Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, and the Vatican City. And even then, that was more than enough for us. Our kids were exhausted by the end of the tour.
If your little ones are young, think about their energy levels. Also, if you are just coming from a different continent, like we were, you may also need to consider jet lag. Our kids had a hard time adjusting to the time zone (and still are having trouble to some extent), so doing a lot of attractions on the Hop On Hop Off Rome tour would have been just too much for them.
Use the ride for nap time
One of the more difficult things to do in Rome with kids, especially little kids, is find suitable places for naps. If your little one still needs nap time or quiet time, the Hop On Hop Off Rome tour is actually a good place for them to take a nap!
Since there’s no limit to how long you stay on the bus during the daily hours, you can do multiple loops throughout the city at a time. One loop on the bus tour takes about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on the traffic. That’s more than enough time for your little one to rest, if he or she needs it.
Having fun in Rome with kids
We loved visiting Rome with kids. And we wish we could have had more time to explore the city. I’m sure you could be in Rome for months and still not get too all the things to do in Rome with kids!
The Hop On Hop Off Rome tour is the perfect introduction to Rome. And for new visitors to Rome, it’s a great first option for getting around Rome.
Have you done the Hop On Hop Off Rome tour with your kids? Share your experience with me in the comments!
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