The Colosseum is one of the most visited attractions in the world. Century after century it continues to capture the gaze of millions of visitors who come to Rome with the idea of strolling through the remains of Ancient Rome.
The visit does not disappoint anyone, but like any place that concentrates thousands of tourists, it has its tricks. I'll tell you all of them here to make your visit more pleasant.
1. Buy tickets online and in advance to avoid queues
By now you should know that any attraction in Rome (especially the Colosseum and the Vatican) involves long hours under the sun to get your coveted tickets. The most basic advice I can give you is to buy your Colosseum tickets in advance and of course, online.
On Hellotickets, for example, you will be able to choose different types of tickets (with or without guided tour, with or without access to the arena, etc) and you will also be entitled to a refund if you need to cancel the tour or ticket due to unforeseen circumstances.
The ticket offices are crowded and you run the risk of either running out of availability for the day and time you wish to visit the Colosseum or entering the amphitheater already tired and exhausted after a long queue in the sun. In addition, the prices are the same as on the web, not for buying at the box office you will have access to discounts or special offers.
2. A guided tour, always better than a visit on your own
The Colosseum not only has a lot to see, but it has an incredible history full of anecdotes, legends and context that will immerse you in the epic battles that took place inside. In addition, the guided tours, as well as the tickets, also include a visit to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.
Believe me, if you just visit it on your own, you will be missing a great part of the excitement and you will leave there with the feeling of having seen a fascinating Colosseum but without understanding its context and the charm of the ruins of the Roman Forum.
An expert guide will help you immerse yourself in the history of one of the most exciting places in the world. If you only plan to visit the Colosseum once in your life, don't hesitate and join a guided tour. You can read more about guided tours of the Colosseum in this article.
3. Do not hesitate to visit the arena of the Colosseum
There is an essential part of the Colosseum that many miss by the simple fact of not even knowing that it can be visited. There is a large part of the history of the battles that were fought in the Colosseum that is strictly linked to its subway passages, its arena and its famous Gladiator's Gate, through which those who were about to fight in the Colosseum made their triumphal entrance.
If you feel like joining a guided tour, you should know that there is a specific tour that takes you to see the gladiators' gate and the arena of the most famous amphitheater in the world. As if the visit to the Colosseum wasn't interesting enough, this gives it a unique plus- get your camera ready!
4. Protect yourself from the heat: bring water or soft drinks, a hat or cap and sunscreen
Even if you don't visit Rome in the middle of summer, keep in mind that temperatures around the Colosseum and the Roman Forum are always a bit higher than in the rest of the city.
The cobblestones, the absence of trees and shadows, and the amount of people that usually stroll around the area contribute to that sweltering feeling even in months when we do not plan to spend hot weather in Rome.
Therefore, it is best to be well prepared: in addition to comfortable and appropriate footwear, carry cool water in your backpack, cover your head with a cap or hat and do not hesitate to put on sunscreen.
At the end of the day it is quite common to see more than one tourist completely burned in the area. If you don't want to carry too much weight, around the Colosseum you will also find street st alls selling cool drinks and ice cream.
If you have also traveled to Rome with children, you should keep in mind that some visits require extra planning. Here is an article about visiting the Colosseum with children so that everything goes smoothly.
5. Avoid holidays and weekends
This is not always possible, but if you visit Rome for several days, try to avoid Saturdays and Sundays, when the area is most crowded.
The same goes for public holidays: there is a lot more national tourism, large groups of travelers, cruise ship passengers stopping for a visit to the Colosseum... if you are looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, it is best to go on weekdays.
6. Take the opportunity to walk around the Colosseum on Sundays, when Via del Fori Imperiali is pedestrianized
You should know that on Sundays, much of the area around the Colosseum and the Roman Forum (specifically from Piazza Venezia) is pedestrianized and thousands of visitors and Romans take to the area on foot.
This gives it a wonderful charm and I 100% recommend you to make the walk, but due to the large number of people that accumulate there, Sundays are not the best day to access the Colosseum.
You will see full families, it is also a great occasion to take pictures and take the day easy walking through this part of Rome without traffic (during the week cars pass through here at high speed, so the views are not as enjoyable).
7. The best views, from the stairs to Monti or from the Campidoglio Hill
The Colosseum inside is breathtaking: it is probably one of the most heart-stopping sights and one of the best memories you will take away from your trip to Rome.
But it is true that its surroundings, the Roman Forum, the Triumphal Arch and the remains of Ancient Rome that are preserved in the area make it even more special. For views of the entire archaeological area, I recommend going up the Campidoglio Hill (where the Capitoline Museums are located) and start descending along one of the marked walks that go into a part of the Forum. The views are spectacular and so are the photos.
If you want to capture the Colosseum in full splendor and not have to fight with your camera or your cell phone because its enormous dimensions do not allow it to fit completely in your lens, the stairs leading up to the Monti district will give you the perfect panoramic view from the most beautiful side of the Colosseum. There are areas with railings, ramps and stairs (not too high) that will allow you to have a perfect angle. You will find them just above the metro stop.
8. Don't fall into the gastronomic traps for tourists
Eating near the Colosseum can be a delight.... or a nightmare. Depending on how lucky you are or how much foresight you have had to look for a good place in advance. As we do not always have time to book, search, compare and see menus in different restaurants, I leave you a list of what are, for me the best places to eat near the Colosseum.
Whether you go in the morning, afternoon or evening, you will find the perfect place to enjoy a good pizza, a traditional Italian pasta, an ice cream or even a cocktail with the best views. Take note and enjoy!
9. Beware of pickpockets in the vicinity
Rome in general is a very safe city and you will not have any problems visiting it. However, the general recommendation for this area is that, as it has a large number of tourists who are more focused on the monuments than on their belongings, some pickpockets go out to make a killing around the Colosseum.
Put your wallet and documentation in a safe place (avoid backpacks full of valuables) and you won't have to worry about anything but enjoying your visit. If you are walking to the Colosseum take the same precautions, the beauty of the place will probably leave you spellbound and it is normal to let your guard down.
By the way, if you need more information to organize how to get to the Colosseum in my article I leave you the best tips for using public transport, which are the best routes for walking or even cycling.
10. Always try to go first thing in the morning
Especially if you don't have your tickets bought from home, it is best to head to this area early in the morning. In addition to avoiding large crowds of tourist groups, the ticket offices usually have less queues.
It is also a good way to avoid the central hours of the day, when the sun is not yet too high and strong and the visit is more bearable. Try to visit the Colosseum first (it is usually the first thing to fill up) and then visit the Roman Forum.
Once you have finished spending the morning there, you will have the rest of the day clear to sit down for lunch on a terrace and recharge your batteries to continue walking around Rome in the afternoon.
By the way, if you are one of those who go to the Colosseum on the spur of the moment and without tickets, the ticket office of the Roman Forum usually has less queue than the amphitheater (and the rates, prices and tickets are the same in both places).