In Rome, you will find many places that leave you speechless just by contemplating them, but none of them compare to the Colosseum conquering your heart and soul. Here are all the details you need to know for a perfect visit to the most famous amphitheater in the world.
1. What are the best Colosseum tours?
Choosing a guided tour to the Colosseum is not easy, since you will find many options for all budgets. Here I summarize the best options with which you will stop feeling like a tourist and you will become a witness of the history of Rome.
2. Guided tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum
The best thing about this guided tour of the Colosseum is that it includes the entrance tickets (not all do) and also the visit to the Roman Forum with explanations by an expert guide. For me, this was a central part of the experience, since I would have overlooked many details of both places if I had done the visit on my own. In addition, I was also convinced by its value for money compared to other options.
All in all, what I appreciated the most about this tour was the fact that we were able to visit the Colosseum without waiting or standing in line, in a group of 25 people, and with access to areas not normally seen in an individual visit on your own.
3. Guided tour of the Colosseum in small group
This tour is pretty much the same as the previous one, and it also includes the entrance tickets and the guided visit to the Roman Forum. But for a minimal difference in price, this tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum in small group, will make your visit more exclusive and intimate, as it is a semi-private experience.
If the average tour of the Colosseum and Forum group is 25 people, this tour is done with a group of around 16 people. Don't think twice about this option if you are visiting Rome as part of a large group, this way the experience will be practically private.
Ana's Traveller Tip
If you want to have a breathtaking view of the Forum without paying an entrance fee, walk from Piazza del Campidoglio.
4. Private guided tour of the Colosseum
If you can afford it, there is an option that you should consider (I'm definitely doing this the next time I'm in Rome): A private guided tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. I tell you why below.
- It includes all areas of the Colosseum as well as the Palatine Hill and the Forum of Rome.
- It has all the advantages of the general tour (duration, guide, headphones, no waiting time...) but you also have the exclusive attention of a guide.
- It features personalized explanations that can focus on the details that interest you the most. Also, you will be able to ask any question regarding the city of Rome.
- It allows you to adapt the pace of the tour and the duration of each stop according to your interests: the guide is at your complete disposal.
5. Tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum guided tours
Here are the stops that all tours usually make, although if you choose the private guided tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, you can deviate from the premade itinerary and ask the guide to adapt it as you see fit.
Colosseum of Rome
It is the main point of the visit and the one that takes the most time. You have probably seen 'Gladiator' and know about the gladiator and animal fights that took place in the Roman amphitheater. But something I, for example, learned during the visit was that naval battles were also recreated here.
It was very cool to imagine the Colosseum in a different context and to see how all the displays of battle that took place here were possible thanks to the maximum use of the amphitheater's engineering.
It is near the Colosseum and next to the Forum. It is one of the oldest points of the city and the most central of the seven hills of the city of Rome. The guide chose this point to tell us the story of Romulus and Remus since it was at this point where Romulus founded the city.
If you don't know the history or you have forgotten it, I recommend that you don't look up anything before the visit and listen to the guide's explanations as if it were the first time you were told the story. Even if you choose the regular guided tour of the Colosseum, you will visit this part of the Forum as well, as it is included in the itinerary.
After visiting Palatine Hill we went on to tour the Roman Forum; it was one of the parts I was looking forward to the most because on a self-guided visit there is no information available to better understand what you are seeing. Probably, in the guided tour of the Colosseum in small group you will have more time to ask questions to the guide, but the truth is that in any experience guides are very professional and will try to solve any doubts that might arise during the visit.
After pointing out the different parts of the Forum (the temples of Saturn, Venus, Vesta, etc.) he explained to us what kind of activities and ceremonies took place here. We all knew that this enclave was the center of Roman social life, but it was only after the explanations we really understood the reason why.
6. What you should know about the Colosseum tour
Duration of tours
The duration of most of the Colosseum and Forum tours is three hours. At first, it may seem like a short time, but then you realize that, when you visit a place with a specialized guide, it takes twice as long as it would be if you were to see it on your own.
Later I compared my experience with that of other travelers who did longer tours and most of them agreed on the same thing: on a five-hour experience it was difficult to keep the attention the whole time and the final part was quite tiresome.
Details of interest
- The three points of interest included in the guided tour, Colosseum, Forum of Rome, and Palatine Hill, are next to each other so you will stick to the same area during the experience.
- The tour includes headphones to better listen to the guide, although as the group is not usually very large, they are rarely necessary.
- The premium option includes the Underground Colosseum, the visit to the Arena, and the third floor of the Colosseum. In my opinion, it is well worth it; since you are going to take your time on a guided tour of the Colosseum, I would not want to miss anything even if I had to pay a little more.
- The price of the guided tours will always be higher than the price of the ordinary ticket, but sometimes the difference can be just a couple dollars and it is sure to be money well spent.
- There are usually different times to choose from. Early in the morning or late in the afternoon is when you will find the least crowds both at the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
- They include cancellation: unforeseen events do exist and being able to reschedule your visit without losing money is an important plus.
- The tours include the tickets: not all tours do and sometimes the price shown is only for the guided tour.
- It also includes the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill: they are essential in any historical tour of ancient Rome, and they are in the same area and the admission is always included in the Colosseum tickets.
Ana's Traveller Tip
When choosing a guided tour, small groups and tickets included are the two things you should look for.
7. Get organized to visit the Colosseum of Rome
What to bring
When you prepare your backpack don't forget to put in the receipt that you will receive by email when you book the tour (your guide will give you your tickets in exchange for this voucher); if you can't print it don't worry because showing your email or giving your personal information will be enough in most cases. It is very hot in the Colosseum and especially in the Forum so bring water, a hat, sunscreen, and cool clothes if you are visiting Rome in summer. Although the guided tours are not usually long, packing a small snack might be a good idea since food is usually not included in these kinds of tours.
How to get to the meeting point
The meeting point will almost always be near the Colosseum and in the confirmation email you will be sent directions to find it, so it is pretty hard to miss it. To get to the Colosseum from the center of Rome you can use the metro line B to the Colosseo stop (the easiest option), buses C3, 60, 81, 85, 87, 175, 628, or tram number 3. If you are staying in the center of Rome you can probably just walk there; the Colosseum, although it is not in the city center, is accessible on foot.
Duration and schedules
The guided tours of the Colosseum usually last about three hours, not counting the trips between the itinerary's points of interest. You will spend about an hour and a half inside the Colosseum and another hour and a half visiting the Forum and Palatine Hill. Take into account that the complete experience will take you longer than three hours because you will have to go from one place to another (although they are quite close).
Eating in the area
If you finish the tour of the Colosseum and the Forum at lunch or dinner time, it is best to move away from this area to avoid crowds and reheated food (why settle for this when you can have the most incredible pizzas and pasta dishes in Rome?). After the guided tour, you can ask the guide to recommend a nearby place that is not too touristy and enjoy a more authentic meal.
Tour with children
If you are going to visit the Colosseum with children, the private guided tour of the Colosseum and the Forum can be a good option because this way the guide can introduce anecdotes that may interest them and adapt part of the narration for them. In any case, at the Colosseum, you will find tours totally adapted to children and it can be a good option to interest them in the history of this ancient place.
If you are traveling with someone with reduced mobility, make sure that the guided tour you choose is adapted for them. The Colosseum has several wheelchairs available for visitors.
8. Useful tips for guided tours
The main advice I am going to give you is valid for any guided tour in Rome. If you love photography, there are hundreds of places in Rome that will delight you but don't try to take too many pictures during the guided tour.
You will have plenty of time to take pictures of the Colosseum outside, so my recommendation is to enjoy the explanations and let yourself be seduced by the surroundings. But don't worry, here are a couple of places from which you can take stunning photos of these two monuments:
- The view of the Forum from the Plaza del Campidoglio and the Capitoline Museums is just spectacular and you will not have to pay an entrance fee as in other viewpoints in the city.
- Between the streets Via del Colosseo and Via Nicola Salvi there is a place from which you can take a great picture of the Colosseum. Although you won't be able to fully fit the amphitheater in the picture, you can try and experiment at different times of day and take truly beautiful pictures with a tiny pinch of creativity.
Prepare for the heat
Let me warn you again about the high temperatures. Keep in mind that the Forum is an esplanade where you will find no shade and therefore it can be very hot during the visit. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen at all times.
What to do with backpacks and luggage
Finally, please note that you will not be able to enter the Colosseum with large backpacks or luggage, so avoid taking this guided tour the day before you leave for the airport or just upon arrival without stopping by the hotel.
9. Other guided tours you may be interested in
Along with the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums are the most emblematic place of Rome and have so much to offer that it is completely worth it visiting them with the company of someone who can tell you all about its history. Check this article I wrote about Best Vatican guided tours .
Nor would I forget the Galleria Borghese, one of the most spectacular places in the city that often goes unnoticed by tourists. Here's our guide on Borghese Gardens and Gallery Tours & Tickets.
And, if you prefer more complete tours of the city, I recommend you to read Best Rome Tours. I am sure you will find the one that best suits your tastes, as you will find an endless offer of guided tours of Rome!