The Colosseum is the beating heart of Rome. When you see it with your own eyes, your traveler's soul soars for a little while. You've seen it in photos, movies... but when you look up and stand in front of it, you realize that, at last, you're in Rome.
1. Where to buy tickets for the Colosseum
On the Internet
The Roman Colosseum can only hold 3,000 people at a time and lines at the ticket office can last for hours. Booking tickets in advance to the Colosseum in Rome is the first tip for any visit to the city. These are the main types of tickets for the Colosseum:
- Colosseum tickets with virtual reality guide - From $ 59
At the box office
If you decide to buy tickets on the same day at the ticket office even though you may find long lines, I recommend you go early (even before the ticket office opens at 8:30) or buy them at the ticket office of the Palatine Hill, where there are usually fewer people.
2. General admission to the Colosseum (including Roman Forum and Palatine Hill)
The first thing you should know is that the general admission to the Colosseum is a combined ticket that will give you access to the Colosseum, the Forum, and the Palatine Hill. The Forum and Palatine Hill are next to the Colosseum, so it is best to visit all of these landmarks on the same day.
What you will see with this ticket
- Of course, you will be able to see the interior of the famous Colosseum, the most famous amphitheater in the world. I assure you that no matter how many times you see it from the outside and photograph its façade, you will be completely blown away by its interior. In fact, as soon as I went in I realized how little had I seen of the Colosseum!
- The Roman Forum was the main area of ancient Rome (similar to the main squares of cities nowadays). It is a huge esplanade with archaeological remains that will leave you in awe if you can brave the heat.
- Adjacent to the forum is the Palatine Hill, which is the most central of the seven hills of Rome and one of the oldest parts of the city. Strolling around there is an incredible journey back in time.
How the reservation works
To control the influx of tourists, whether or not you buy tickets in advance, you must select an entry time. The last admission is one hour before closing time and you must be at the preferential ticket office (no queues) 30 minutes before the selected time. You will only be able to enter the Colosseum 15 minutes later than the selected time. Once inside, you will have no time limit other than the monument's opening hours.
Before purchasing your tickets, you should know that the Colosseum offers special ticket prices to the following visitors:
- Children under 18 years of age.
- Italian teachers.
- People with disabilities and their companion.
- EU tourist guides and interpreters that are visiting the Colosseum as a professional activity.
- History of Art and secondary school teachers.
- Teachers and students of Architecture, Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Educational Sciences and Literature, or any other academic studies with an archaeological or historical-artistic focus.
3. Colosseum tickets with access to the Arena
You can also visit the area of the Colosseum corresponding to the Arena. To do so, you will have to buy a special ticket, which is this Colosseum ticket with access to the Arena. Before going, I didn't even know that this area was accessible and the truth is that I didn't regret visiting it at all. If you are one of those who, like me, think that this kind of visit is a once-in-a-lifetime activity, it is definitely worth it to fully immerse yourself in the experience.
Why I like this option
During the visit, you will pass through the very same gate that was used by gladiators, which is a door that is not open to the general public with the general admission ticket. In addition, you will be able to go down to the arena, visiting both the first floor and the second floor. Don't worry if you are on a tight budget and this option is a bit pricey for you; the arena area can also be seen from the main section of the Colosseum.
4. Colosseum tickets with virtual reality guide
If you want to amp up your trip to Ancient Rome, there is the option of visiting the Colosseum with virtual reality. With this option, you will also skip the line and listen to an audio guide in several languages, while you use a pair of virtual reality glasses throughout the visit, seeing the Colosseum in all the glory of its former days. It is an ideal option if you are looking for a different experience that takes you back in time to AD 80 while you stand on the very steps of the Colosseum.
What makes this tour special
This guided tour of the Colosseum is undoubtedly the most original and informative (and a guaranteed success if you are traveling with your kids since they will not want to miss any detail of the virtual reality simulation). During the tour of the Colosseum, in addition to the audio guide's commentary, you will be wearing the virtual reality goggles, which will show how the Colosseum was in the time of Ancient Rome. It is a totally immersive and very complete experience.
Ana's traveler tip
If you want to feel like a real Roman in the arena of the Colosseum, the virtual reality option may be the best choice for you.
5. Colosseum tickets and guided tour
Maybe you are the kind of traveler who arrives at a monument, takes a picture, and moves on to the next one (although this might mean missing out on most of the wonderful details of Rome), or one of those who study every stone and corner of it with a magnifying glass. If you are not in either of the two extremes, but you do like to see things at the right pace, understanding what you're seeing, and enjoying the history behind them, I recommend you check out this guided tour of the Colosseum.
What it consists of
This tour has a duration of 3 hours, is led by a professional guide, and is available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. If you are passionate about Roman architecture and ancient history, you will have already fallen in love with Rome. I have written a guide on Colosseum Tours in case you want to organize your tour and see in detail what options are available.
6. Roma Pass, the city pass that will allow you to visit the Colosseum
In Rome there are so many things to see that if you are going to be in the city for a considerable time you have probably already considered purchasing a pass like the Roma Pass, which allows you to save time and money on your visits to the most emblematic monuments of the city.
What is included
The Roma Pass includes free admission to the Colosseum with an audio guide and allows you to skip the line. You can also visit St. Peter's Basilica and other museums with preferential access and an audio guide with a 20% discount. It also includes the transfer to and from Ciampino or Fiumicino airports.
How it works
You have the option to buy it for 48 or 72 hours and during that time you can use all urban public transport for free. In addition to discounts or preferential access to certain museums, with this card, you can get free admission to one or two museums of your choice.
See all the details in my guide about the Roma Pass
You may be considering the option of acquiring this card, but you may have doubts about whether it is convenient or not, exactly how much you will save, what is included, and what is not... In this article you can read all the information I have compiled about the Rome Pass and other passes.
Here's what I did on my last trip to Rome: combine the Roma Pass, with access to two of the six main attractions of the city, discounts, and transportation with the Omnia Vatican Card to visit Vatican City.
Is it worth it to use the pass to access the Colosseum? It depends on what you are going to see in Rome. If you are going to do an in-depth visit, you may want to save the discount for other tourist attractions, since the price of the combined ticket to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill is very affordable.
I recommend that you calculate how much the tickets cost for all the monuments or attractions you want to visit, and then compare the sum to the price of the pass to see if it's worth it. Just keep in mind that getting a pass is usually a very good idea to save money and time if you are planning on buying tickets for several monuments throughout your trip.
7. Organize your visit to the Colosseum step-by-step
Opening hours and days
The Colosseum is open all year round except for Christmas and New Year's Day. The opening time is always the same (8:30 a.m.), and the closing time depends on the time of the year. My recommendation: if you have decided to get your tickets at the door, go there as early as you can.
Best time to go
Here are a couple tips: avoid the middle hours of the day, as the heat will be quite unbearable. At least, the Colosseum has a couple shaded areas, but the same can't be said about the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill; keep this in mind if you are going to visit them on the same day.
How to get to the Colosseum
The Colosseum is within walking distance from the center of Rome, so if you are staying near the city center I recommend going there on foot; you will most definitely enjoy roaming the streets of Rome on your way there. As an estimate of how long the walk will take, getting to the Colosseum from the Trevi Fountain is a 20-minute walk.
In any case, you can take a cab to Piazza del Colosseo 1 or, if you are a bit further from the center and want to spend as little as possible, take the metro line B to the Colosseo stop or use the buses C3, 60, 81, 85, 87, 175, 628 or the tram number 3. The Colosseum is the most emblematic monument of Rome, so rest assured you will have no problem getting there whether you walk or get the public transport.
The surroundings of the Colosseum
Less than 1600 feet from the Roman amphitheater you will find emblematic places such as the Forum, the Palatine Hill, the Arch of Constantine, or the basilicas of San Pietro in Vincoli or San Clemente.
Duration of visit
Although it would be ideal to have all the time in the world to visit each of the monuments of Rome, the sad truth is that you can't avoid checking the time while on a trip. That is why it will help you to know that the estimated duration of an in-depth visit to the Colosseum is between 2 and 3 hours approximately. You can see it in less time, but keep in mind that you will at least need 1 hour to not rush the whole visit.
Eating near the Colosseum
Inside the Colosseum, you won't find any food, but you might find a street food stall nearby. However, my advice is to wait until you finish the full visit to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum (if you start early, it is more than feasible) and then look for a restaurant further away from the area to save money and get authentic Italian food. In any case, don't worry too much: in Rome all the pizza and pasta are simply delicious.
The Colosseum with children
The Roman amphitheater is a great place to visit with children (remember that children under 18 years do not need a ticket); especially those who like Roman History will have a great time running through its corridors. Just remember to bring plenty of water to keep them hydrated and protect them from the sun with hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Ana's Traveller's Tip
Get up as early as possible to visit the Colosseum, as you will find a reasonable crowd and enjoy a more relaxed visit. Plus, you will likely avoid the heat!
8. Practical information about your visit to the Colosseum
If you are already set on visiting the most famous amphitheater in the world as a must on your trip to Rome, you just need to quickly check these traveler tips that will make your visit much more comfortable.
- You can enter with small or medium backpacks, but you will have to pass them through the metal detector. Forget camping backpacks, bulky bags, or suitcases and trolleys; you will have to leave them at the ticket office at the entrance for an extra charge.
- The Colosseum is accessible for people with reduced mobility: there are three wheelchairs on the second floor and five wheelchairs at the main entrances to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
- When you discover the immensity of this architectural monument you will surely want to take a thousand pictures: I recommend that you set aside some time for this before or after the visit and soak in the ancient beauty of this place.
- It is essential to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and sun protection. In the Colosseum, you won't have much cover from the sun and the high temperatures can somewhat ruin your visit if you do not prepare correctly.
- If you are interested in an in-depth visit to the Colosseum, you can rent an audioguide, hire the virtual reality tour or, for the ultimate experience, consult the info on guided tours.
- If you want to use the official audio guide or video guide, you will have to ask for it at the ticket office. The first has a duration of one hour and 10 minutes and the second lasts 45 minutes. The audio guide rental costs approximately 5.50 euros and the video guide costs 6 euros; both will be returned at the end of the visit.
What you should know before you visit the Colosseum in Rome
What is probably one of the most emblematic monuments of Rome was ordered to be built in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian (a professional soldier before becoming emperor) and was used as an amphitheater for shows that the people could attend free of charge. The main events of the Colosseum of Rome were the famous gladiator fights and wild animal fights.
The Colosseum is one of the most visited monuments in the world; of the six million tourists a year that Rome receives, five do not leave the city without visiting it, observing its three floors of columns (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, just to freshen up your memory), walking through the galleries, watching the arena from the stands that held 55,000 spectators and marveling at the network of underground halls where the animals were kept.
The history of this marvel of Roman architecture (its name comes, by the way, from a huge statue of the "Colossus of Nero" that stood next to the amphitheater) is enough to fill thousands of books. But it's much more fun to do it on a visit. And for that, you will first need to get your tickets for the Roman Colosseum.
9. If you are interested in visiting the Colosseum, you will also be interested in...
If you are interested in visiting the Colosseum of Rome and are passionate about ancient history, you will likely be interested in visiting Pompeii. You can check out this post I wrote about Pompeii Day Trips from Rome.
If after visiting the Colosseum you feel like going for a walk around the city, you should go on a guided tour to fully discover all there is to the majestic city of Rome. You can also go on a guided tour of the city at night, where you will stand in awe at the city lit up past sunset. In this guide, you can find the most important Best Rome Tours.
Frequently asked questions
Can you get underneath the Colosseum?
Yes, you can visit the Colosseum's subterranean area and check out the area where the gladiators waited before going on stage.
Is there a dress code for the Pantheon?
Yes, the Pantheon is still a working church so short skirts, shorts, and bare shoulders are not permitted.
Is there anything worth a visit next to the Colosseum?
In fact there is: you can visit The Salita del Grillo and Trajan's Market, the Mamertine Prison and the Basilica of Saint Clemente.