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 requires knowing some tricks and hacks to truly enjoy it. Keep reading and I will tell you all of them to visit the Colosseum like a local.
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 hands on the coveted tickets. The most basic advice I can give you is to buy your Colosseum tickets in advance and of course, online.
At Hellotickets you will be able to choose different types of tickets (with or without a 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 an unforeseen event.
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 being exhausted by the time you get in the amphitheater after a long queue in the sun. In addition, prices are the same as on the web, since you don't get any discounts or special offers at the box office.
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 make you fully immerse yourself 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 Palatine Hill.
Believe me, if you just visit it on your own, you will be missing out on a lot of the excitement and you will leave there with the feeling of having seen a fascinating place but without understanding the 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 the guided tours of the Colosseum in this article.
3. Don't hesitate to visit the Colosseum arena
There is an essential part of the Colosseum that many miss out on simply because they don't even know you can visit. There is a great part of the history of the battles that were fought in the Colosseum that is strictly linked to its underground passageways, its arena, and its famous Gladiator's Gate, where 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. 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 number of people that usually stroll around the area contribute to generating that feeling of suffocation even in months when we do not plan to spend heat in Rome.
For this reason, 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 don't forget 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 vendors 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 kids 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, which is when most crowds build up in the area.
The same goes for holidays: there is a lot more national tourism, large groups of travelers, cruise ship passengers stopping for the obligatory visit to the Colosseum... if you are looking for a slightly quieter and more relaxed atmosphere, the best thing to do is to go on weekdays.
6. Take the opportunity to walk around the area on Sundays, when the 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) are pedestrianized and thousands of visitors and Romans rush through the area on foot.
This gives it a wonderful charm and I 100% recommend you to walk the area, but due to the large amount of people that accumulate around there, Sundays are not the best day to access the Colosseum.
You will see a big number of families, as it is also a great occasion to take pictures and take the day easy walking around this part of Rome without traffic (during the week cars pass by at high speed, so the views are not as enjoyable).
7. The best views, from the stairs to Monti or from Campidoglio Hill
The Colosseum inside is impressive: it is probably one of the pictures that will steal your heart and one of the best memories you will take from your trip to Rome.
But, indeed, 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 a view of the entire archaeological area, I recommend going up Campidoglio Hill (where the Capitoline Museums are located) and start descending through one of the enclosed walkways that go into a part of the Forum. The views are spectacular and so are the pictures you can take.
If what you want is 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 that go 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 customize the angle. You will find them just above the metro stop.
8. Don't fall into the restaurant traps for tourists
Eating near the Colosseum can be a delight... or a nightmare. Depending on how lucky you are or how far-sighted you've been to look for a good place in advance. As we do not always have time to search, compare and see menus in different restaurants and make a reservation, 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, traditional Italian pasta, 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 are not going to have any problems visiting it. However, the general recommendation for this area is that, as there are a large number of tourists who are more focused on the monuments than on their belongings, some pickpockets will be out and about 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 going to walk 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 on how to get to the Colosseum, in my article you will find the best tips to use public transport, which are the best routes to walk or even bike.
10. Try to always 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 first thing in the morning. In addition to avoiding large crowds of tourist groups, the ticket offices usually have fewer 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 finish spending the morning there, you will have the rest of the day to sit and have lunch al fresco and rest up a bit to continue walking around Rome in the afternoon.
By the way, if you are one of those who makes improvised visits to the landmarks of a city without getting your tickets in advance, the ticket office of the Roman Forum usually has fewer queues than the amphitheater (and the rates, prices, and tickets are the same in both places).