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Tips for visiting the Colosseum Rome: Complete Guide

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Visiting the Colosseum in Rome? Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your visit!

The Colosseum is one of the most iconic structures in all of Europe. It’s also one of the largest amphitheaters ever built, and it was used for gladiatorial contests, public spectacles like animal hunts, executions, and re-enactments of famous battles. 

Colosseum at sunrise

Today it remains a major tourist attraction with thousands visiting every day. If you’re planning on going yourself, here are some tips for visiting the Colosseum so that your trip goes smoothly. 

Tips for visiting the Colosseum Rome

Tips for visiting the Colosseum

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The Colosseum is one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, and it’s no wonder why. It was built in 70 – 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian as an arena for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.

The Flavian Amphitheater as it was called, completed its construction in 79 AD. It was a gift to the Roman People. For nearly 500 years it was used for public entertainment and had a crowd capacity of 50 000 people. 

Upper levels of the Colosseum
Upper levels of the Colosseum

With so much history, it is a must add to your Rome itinerary

Where is the Colosseum located in Rome?

The Colosseum in Rome is located on the east bank of the Tiber River. Its exact address is Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy. 

Public transport to the site: There are buses, trams, and metro lines available to reach there. 

What is the best way to visit the Colosseum?

Depending on where you are staying in Rome, you may choose one of the ways to get to the Colosseum. 

View of the ruins complex
  • By metro: You can get to the Colosseum using the metro. Colosseo station (line B) is the closest to the site, in fact, it is right in front of the main entrance. You can use the metro if you are traveling or connecting from Termini or Ostiense/Piramide Station.
  • By bus: A few steps away from the station is a bus stop, leading to the Colosseum. Bus numbers include 51, 75, 85, 87, 118. 
  • By tram: You can also get to the Colosseum via tram. Tram 3 and 8 are located behind the Colosseum. 
  • Tour buses: There is a sightseeing (hop on and hop off) bus stop, located outside of the Roman Foram entrance, Via di San Gregorio. You can get down here to reach Piazza del Colosseo. 
  • Walking: We stayed at a central hotel in Rome, and reached Piazza del Colosseo in the morning, by walking. It took us 15 minutes to get there. 

Best Colosseum Tours and Tickets 

Entering the Colosseum is not free. You can visit the complex for photos, or walk but to explore the complex interiors, there is an entry fee. The admission fee to the Colosseum also includes entry to the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. 

Roman Forum (Temple of Julius)

Here are the admission fees as listed on the Colosseum Official website

  • Admission Cost: 16€
  • Reduced Ticket: 2€ (EU citizens 18 – 25 with ID)
  • Free: Anyone below the age of 18 years (EU citizen) 

Please note that tickets are to be purchased online (not on site), so do book it prior to your visit. Once at the Colosseum entry gate, you will be asked to provide proof of age and citizenship documents if you are getting the reduced tickets.

These ticket prices are for entry only, without any guide. So yes, you can visit the complex without a guide, by paying for an entry ticket listed above. 

Guided tours are one of the best ways to explore the Colosseum – you learn about the site, and also enjoy skip the line entry, which is so helpful during peak tourist seasons. 

Here are some of the popular tours for the Colosseum, 

Colosseum TourColosseum complex* with a guide3 hrBook here
Tour with Arena Floor Colosseum complex* with a guide + Arena Access4 hrBook here
Underground TourColosseum complex* + Underground & arena access3 hrsBook here
Night TourNight tour with Underground + Arena access (guide)3 hrsBook here
Fast track ticketsPriority tickets to Colosseum complex* (no guide)1 dayBook here
Hosted entry with multimediaColosseum complex* hosted entry + multimedia (no guide)2.50 hrsBook here
Colosseum + VaticanCombo tour of 2 sites with lunch (guide + entry tickets)8 hrsBook here
Moonlight Tour Combo tour of 2 sites at night (guide + entry tickets) 3 hrsBook here
*Colosseum complex includes: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill

Detailed tour information is below,

Colosseum Roman Forum and Palatine Hill tour (3 hours): This guided tour is for 3 hours, and it is one of the popular ones on Get Your Guide. It includes sightseeing on all 3 sites with a local guide, plus access to the main areas of the Colosseum (except the underground and the Arena area). This Colosseum is one of the affordable tours out there.  Book this tour here

Tour with Arena Floor, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill (4 hours): This tour lasts 4 hours, and it includes access to the Arena, along with informative guided sightseeing. It is pricier than the previous tour, but it is in-depth and takes more time. Check out this tour here

Colosseum Underground Tour (3 hours): This in-depth guided tour of the Colosseum complex with access to both the underground level and the arena. Check it out here

Night Tour (3 hours): This is the unique nighttime tour of the Colosseum. The tour begins in front of Trajan’s Column. Trajan’s Column is located on Via Dei Fori Imperiali next to Piazza Venezia. Price includes access to underground and arena as well. Book this night tour here

View of the Palatine Hill from the Colosseum (Temple of Venus)
View of the Palatine Hill from the Colosseum (Temple of Venus)

Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill Priority Tickets (valid 1 day): These are – fast track entry tickets – for the Colosseum grounds, and they are valid for one day. You do have the entire day to get there, just ensure you reach there 1 hour before closing. There is a separate line/queue for this ticket and Roma Pass holders. It is also one of the cheapest options. See availability here

Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill hosted entry (2.50 hours): This is a different tour, where you are greeted by a host, but you will explore on your own. The ticket includes entry to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill and a 25 minute ancient Rome multimedia video. Check it out here

Colosseum Archaeological Park and Vatican Museums with Lunch (8 hours): This is a full day guided tour of 2 popular sites in Rome. The tour price also includes lunch, a guided tour of the Colosseum complex with entrance tickets to the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel. Check availability here

Vatican & Colosseum Moonlight Small Group Tour (3 hours): This combo tour takes you to the Vatican in the morning, and then after gates close at the Colosseum (after 07:00 pm), you will enter the site with special access. Book your tour here

Colosseum Tips: 

  • Book your tickets and tours to the Colosseum, prior to your visit.
  • Fees listed on the official website are for entry only, not guided tours.
  • During peak seasons, you could be waiting for 1-2 hours in the queue. We recommend – skip the line tickets – to beat the crowds and save time!
  • In the off-season, particularly November through February, tour operators run special prices on guided tours. So definitely check it out on GetYourGuide (they have a generous cancellation policy).
Is it free to visit the Colosseum?

You can visit the Colosseum grounds for free. To enter the Colosseum – after the security gates – you have to pay an entry fee. This fee is valid for entry at Palatine Hill and Roman Hill. On the first Sunday of every month, you can enjoy a free entry to the site!

How much does it cost to visit the Colosseum?

To access the standard areas of the Colosseum (after security), it is a minimum of 16 euros per person. You can book priority tickets, access with a guide, and VIP access to special areas like the underground tour and the arena, which are additional costs. 

Tours range from $35 to $150 USD depending on the access level. 

Can you walk inside the Colosseum?

Yes, you can. There is also access to the second floor (using stairs) with a standard ticket. 3rd to 5th is also open to the public on certain days. 

Best Time to Visit the Colosseum in Rome

The Colosseum is one of the most famous landmarks in all of Italy, so it’s no surprise that it is on every Rome bucket list. Here are some tips to beat the crowds, 

Timing: Always check the seasonal hours (opening and closing) for the day of your visit. If you have an open entry ticket (without a guide) plan to arrive in the morning or in the evening, just before closing.  

Structures inside the Colosseum

Colosseum opening hours: 

  • Typically, the Colosseum opens daily at 09:00 am and closes 1 hour before sunset.
  • Opening hours are late during the winter months – opening at 10:30 am, with last entry at 06:15 pm.
  • The Roman Forum is open daily from 10:30 AM to 7:15 PM throughout the year.
  • Palatine Hill is open daily from 10:30 AM to 7:15 PM throughout the year.

Best day or month to visit the Colosseum: As mentioned above, we recommend visiting the Colosseum grounds in the morning or late at night when there aren’t as many people around. 

  • Weekdays are a tad better than exploring on the weekends
  • Off-season months from November through February are much better as the temperatures are pleasant, and the sites are less crowded due to the holidays. 
  • Summer months are very busy (and can get very hot during the day). If you must travel in the summer, make sure to avoid visiting between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm when the heat is at its worst.
  • On the first Sunday of each month, the entrance to the Colosseum is free. However, Free Sundays are suspended for 2021. Note that free entry also means super long queues!
  • The Colosseum is closed on 1 January and 25 December. 
Roman Forum Colosseum Grounds

Whenever you decide to visit, we recommend purchasing a Colosseum tour or Colosseum tickets to avoid long lines and have a better experience. 

  • Do reserve Colosseum tickets in advance
  • Also, note to arrive 15 to 20 minutes before your timed ticket or guided tour

When exploring on your own, most people spend 1-2 tours inside the complex. As part of the tour, you will be with the guide for the set duration (1 – 4 hours), and then you have time to explore on your own, take photos, etc. 

What to wear when visiting the Colosseum + Packing tips

There is no dress code for visiting the Colosseum, like churches. But the Colosseum site is HUGE, and it has a varied surface. There are stairs, and uneven areas, so you need to be prepared for your visit.

First off, when you book a tour, it will include the following information (to carry with you)

  • Photo identification: Like your passport or ID card, copy accepted
  • Copy of your tour booking
  • Arrival time or meeting time and place. You are asked to arrive 15 to 20 minutes away

Due to uneven surfaces, you must wear comfortable walking shoes. Each tour and exploration will take at least an hour+, so ensure you are comfy in your shoes.

During hot summer months, ensure you are wearing light clothing. We recommend wearing sunscreen and sunglasses at all times of the year!

On the day of your visit, don’t forget to carry 

  • Water bottle
  • Camera (no drones. Colosseum is located on a no-drone zone)

You must avoid carrying the following items,

  • Large bags or luggage are not allowed to be carried inside the Colossuem 
  • No selfie sticks or tripods
  • Almost all tours do not allow wheelchairs and strollers

Keep in mind, there is airport-style security inside the Colosseum. You go through security checks, and hence don’t carry prohibited items like weapons, etc. 

Adhere to your time slot for all tickets. This is important because at one given time the Colosseum can only accommodate up to 3000 visitors.

Photography Tips for the Colosseum 

Colosseum makes for one of the best photo spots in Rome. It is stunning, iconic, and actually quite easy to take pictures without a lot of crowds, and for free!

View of the Colosseum from the park nearby
View of the Colosseum from the park nearby

You can see the Colosseum peeking out from a park nearby. This is a great spot to capture the Colosseum in wide-angle (with skies and trees framing your image).

For best photos, arrive in the morning. We were at the Colosseum grounds just before 7:00 am and caught the beautiful sunrise. There were very few people at the site, except for a few people who were strolling. 

The gates don’t open until 09:00 am, so you can get great shots, minus crowds. Some of our friends have mentioned that they used a selfie stick and tripod to get photos (outside) in the early hours, without any issue. 

In the early hours too there are police vehicles patrolling the area. 

So yes, take photos in the morning, and then book tickets to enter the complex after 09:00 am. Need breakfast? Head to the Colosseum Metro (line B), you will find coffee and baked items!

Girl at the Colosseum in the morning
At the Colosseum in the morning

Golden hour is definitely the best time to take photos at the Colosseum. During the day, the sunlight is too harsh for portraits. Plus the inside of the Colosseum will be busy with visitors. 

Remember drones are not allowed, and tripods/selfie sticks aren’t too. (Although some vendors will try and sell selfie sticks outside the Colosseum, it is not allowed inside – as it could damage the structures)

We recommend not to carry huge camera bags – travel light to breeze through security. 

Safety Tips for Visiting the Colosseum

Being a popular landmark in a touristy city, you have to take care of yourself and your belongings when visiting the Colosseum.

The Arch Of Constantine from the Colosseum
The Arch Of Constantine from the Colosseum

Always beware of your surroundings, especially when you walk the Colosseum grounds, and wait in a queue to enter the site. 

There are people crowding at the entrance gate, and this is where you must be paying attention. Buy an anti-theft bag to store your wallet, camera, and other essentials.

Anti-theft bags are equipped with slash-proof material, and they will help ward off thieves. 

Don’t keep your cellphone and wallet in the back pocket of your jeans or pants. Pickpocketing is an issue at the Colosseum as well. 

Visitors walking the corridor checking exhibits at the Colosseum
Visitors walking the corridor checking exhibits at the Colosseum

For photography (changing lenses, clothing, shoots, etc) consider visiting in the mornings or evenings. Both times of day are great to beat the crowds – there will be fewer people, so you can surely take the time to adjust your camera or change outfits for that Instagrammable shot!

It is safe to visit the Colosseum before the gates open, and also at night! In general, be aware of your surroundings though. 

When you are visiting the Colosseum, you will also encounter people coming to you, trying to sell tickets or offer guided tours. In fact, we had an old gentleman ask us for tickets like 3 times, and later 2 more ladies offered us tours. Try not to engage in any talk, and just say, ‘we got them, thank you.’ And just move on.

What to See at the Colosseum Grounds 

The archaeological site of the Colosseum is extensive and includes several areas when you buy your entry ticket or a guided tour. 

Without a ticket, you can enter the Colosseum complex, walk around, or sit down at an empty bench. 

Outer ring of the Colosseum
Outside the Colosseum

Outside the Colosseum, you can check out the following, 

  • Statue Of Nero: Located right in front of the Colosseum (across from the metro station) is the base of the Colossal Statue of Nero. There is nothing left there as such (we went looking for it, lol), but there is a plaque that reads “Area Del Basamento del Colosseo di Nerone” – where it stood.
  • The Arch Of Constantine: This is a triumphant arch, located in front of the Colosseum. It is stunning to look at, and is a great photo spot. The Arch Of Constantine was dedicated to Flavius Valerius Constantinus or Constantine the Great, considered to the first Christian Emperor of Rome.  
  • The Outer Ring: This is the first layer of the Colosseum wall. You can see it from the metro station, park and the grounds. 
The Arch Of Constantine
The Arch Of Constantine (seen from the Colosseum)

The general area (after security) is open to anyone with an ordinary ticket. Grab the tickets below

So here what you must see at the Colosseum (general area),

  • 2nd Floor Exhibit Of Colosseum Concession Stand Food & Drink: Near the elevator on the 2nd floor of the Colosseum are some quirky artifacts displaying used cups and spoons from ancient times. 
  • 2nd Floor Balcony: Here you will find exhibits and displays of the Colosseum. As you exit, you can check out the center of the Colosseum – with empty seats, and performance area. This is a great spot for photos as well, capturing the iconic structural Colosseum as the backdrop. 

As a VIP or extra access ticket holder, you can visit some of the unique parts of the Colosseum that are not covered by the general ticket. Prices for these tickets and tours are expensive, but it is worth it. 

  • The Arena Floor: This is the actual area where gladiators performed. In ancient times, it used to be covered in sand for participants. Check out this tour for arena here
  • The Underground: These are the tunnels that lay underneath the Colosseum and were used by Gladiators and event organizers. Check it this tour for underground + arena access here
  • 3rd, 4th & 5th Floors: Although often closed, but our guide mentioned that you could access the higher floors for some amazing panoramic view. It is believed that this is where the slaves and lowest citizens sat. 
View from the second-floor balcony

Along with the Colosseum, you will have access to the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. Do check out the following areas

On The Palatine Hill

  • The access to the Palatine Hill is on Via di San Gregorio
  • Part of the Claudian Aqueduct: Aqua Claudia was one of the four great Roman aqueducts, today you’ll see a part of this structure after entering the Palatine hill entrance.
  • Caldrons For Heating Floors: When our guide mentioned that it was used for heating the floors, we were impressed. Today these are in ruins. These caldrons were used for heating water which in turn heated the floors.
  • Terrazza Belvedere del Palatino: One of the prime spots here, which we personally liked is the Terrazza Belvedere del Palatino. From here you can get uninterrupted city views of Rome and the UNESCO Heritage site complex.

In The Roman Forum

  • Arch Of Titus: When you walk towards the Forum, you’ll see the Arch of Titus. It was built to commemorate Titus’ victory after he suppressed a revolt in Jerusalem. 
  • Via Sacra: This is the street that runs through the arch, considered to be a victorious walk
  • Temple Of Venus: You will see this structure from the Coloseeum, second floor. This is the Temple of Venus, built under Emperor Hadrian. It was a huge temple, and now it remains in ruins. 
  • Temple Of Romulus: This is a temple dedicated to Valerius Romulus who was the son of Maxentius who was deified.  The bronze doors of the temple are said to be original, dating back to 309 AD. 
Arch of Titus
Arch of Titus
Temple of Julius Rome
Temple of Julius
  • Temple Of Julius Caesar: Temple Of Julius Caesar is one of the stunning structures at the Roman Forum, and an iconic one. It was the center of the Roman Forum for everybody to pray. 
  • The Curia (Senate House): This is considered to be one of the best-preserved structures at the Roman Forum where debated issues and topics of importance. 
  • Temple Of Saturn: Temple of Saturn, dating back to 497 BC.

Colosseum Interesting Facts

The Colosseum is one of the world’s most famous and iconic landmarks. It’s an ancient amphitheater that began its construction in 72 AD, by the Flavian ruler – Emperor Vespasian. It was opened by his immediate successor and eldest son, Titus in 80 AD.

Entrance of the Colosseum

It took less than a decade to be built. With this timeline in mind, the Colosseum is close to 2000 years old! 

Did you know? The amphitheater is more than 1,500 years older than the Taj Mahal!

Although we all know this structure as the Colosseum, it was actually named the Flavian Amphitheater, and it was the largest in the Roman world.

The amphitheater was created for public entertainment. It was used for gladiator fights, animal hunts, and other public events. It had a huge seating capacity of 50,000 people. What remains today is just a portion of the massive structure that once existed!

The most common shows that took place at the Colosseum were gladiator fights. They fought one another at the Colosseum arena and people came to watch these fights. It is believed that this kept the general public engaged, busy and happy through these shows!

So to them, it was like a sporting event or live entertainment.

Many of the gladiators who fought were actually slaves. Many lost their lives in the process, and many remained an ’icon’ when they won!

Colosseum levels inside
Colosseum levels

When you enjoy the Colosseum tour, you can see different tiers or levels of floors. Looking down you can view the sand-covered floor where many historic events took place. This is the ‘arena’. 

There are still remnants from ancient times where slaves were kept in tunnels, before being released into the arena during games. Exotic animals were also kept for slaughtering at shows. 

With a grim past, but with an architectural marvel, the Colosseum is now regarded as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. 

When you visit the Colosseum, it is like going through different pages of history. It saw greatness and grandeur – the colossal structure! There was the loss of lives, defeats, and deaths. 

Gradually even the Roman Empire fell into disarray, and it was left unattended. There were earthquakes, plundering, and damage. 

Ruins at the Palatine Hill

When you walk through the lanes, see broken columns, and ruins sprinkled everywhere, you will feel like your Ancient History class has come alive! 

The Colosseum, today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it has a place on the list of the New 7 Wonders of the World. 

Visiting Colosseum Grounds: Our experience 

We stayed close to the Colosseum and the city centre when we visited Rome. This made it easy to walk to the site in the morning for photos. 

We arrived at 7:00 am at the complex and got some amazing sunrise pictures without crowds. This was also great to go on a stroll at the complex before the gates open. 

We booked our skip-the-line tickets with a tour guide and met him near the Metro line B entrance gate. From there we flew through security and started the tour. 

Keep in mind the Colosseum only has a couple of designated washroom areas only! 

Our tour was for 3 hours. We took the stairs to reach the second-floor exhibits, heard stories of Ancient Rome, and checked out various structures inside the Colosseum. The balcony area with views of the arena (from there) was mind-blowing!

We spent 2 hours inside the complex and another hour at the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. We wandered the Palatine Hill area ruins first, before making our way to the terrace for views!

The tour ended after exploring the Roman Forum. 

In total, we spend about 5 hours (tour and our sightseeing time). We enjoyed every bit of it!

The weather in November in Rome was pleasant, and we had a great time. Highly recommend booking a tour to learn about the site, and then add an extra hour or so to explore on your own if interested!

Will you visit?

Colosseum TourColosseum complex* with a guide3 hrBook here
Tour with Arena Floor Colosseum complex* with a guide + Arena Access4 hrBook here
Underground TourColosseum complex* + Underground & arena access3 hrsBook here
Night TourNight tour with Underground + Arena access (guide)3 hrsBook here
Fast track ticketsPriority tickets to Colosseum complex* (no guide)1 dayBook here
Hosted entry with multimediaColosseum complex* hosted entry + multimedia (no guide)2.50 hrsBook here
Colosseum + VaticanCombo tour of 2 sites with lunch (guide + entry tickets)8 hrsBook here
Moonlight Tour Combo tour of 2 sites at night (guide + entry tickets) 3 hrsBook here
*Colosseum complex includes: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill

The Colosseum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome, and for good reason! It’s a truly unique experience that you won’t want to miss out on while visiting this beautiful city. 

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