While visiting Rome with kids, the time will come when you’ll face a full-on mutiny if you suggest even one more museum. This is the moment to head to the Castel Sant’Angelo. This underrated and overlooked site in Rome is a must-do. We are so glad we tried it!
Unlike the Colosseum, Vatican, and Forum, kids are let loose at Castel Sant’Angelo. This mausoleum turned fortress dates back to AD 123, when it was used by Hadrian’s time, then later used for defense of the bridge to the Vatican and as a refuge for popes. You enter right along the Tiber, and almost immediately go across a steep bridge that once opened and closed. Inside, kids can run along the fortress walls, checking out battlements, a catapult, cubbies from which to shoot arrows…the works. Further inside, you can walk the interior hallways and imagine guards and knights, torches and prisoners in chains. Not much has changed, really. Even the flooring is original. There’s a huge hole in the floor where kids can glimpse the dungeon, and up higher, you can tour through papal rooms still decorated for the popes who hid out here over the years. This interior section is actually quite amazing.
At the very top of the Castel, the views of the city are stunning. Be sure to allow time to take photos and use the view to pick out landmarks you’ve visited during your time in the city. There’s even a small cafe where you can pause for hot chocolate and espresso along the battlement one floor below the top (they don’t let you linger here at the tables if you haven’t ordered, however). Near this cafe are the interior rooms housing armor and weaponry through the ages. Unfortunately the descriptions are in Italian only, but let’s face it…by this point in a trip to Rome, kids are done reading things.
We spent several hours here, and loved the freedom to run around and explore at will. Afterward, we walked across the pedestrian bridge into Centro Storico (the old city) where we weren’t far from the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.
Pricing and hours:
Tickets at the time of our visit were €10 for adults and half that for kids 18 and under. We found no line when we visited a few hours before closing. Check opening and closing time, as it varies by season. During our winter visit, the fortress was open until 7 pm, with last ticket sales at 6:30 pm. I recommend touring around 5 pm in winter to be there for the sunset.