The Colosseum one of the most popular sights in Rome, and one of the most recognizable landmarks in the entire world. Here are some useful tips for visiting the Colosseum!
No matter if you’re a serious history buff or a Gladiator fan – you can’t miss a visit to the Colosseum on a trip to Rome. I was super excited to see the Colosseum when we were in Rome for the first time, but visiting this historic landmark can be a bit overwhelming.
To ensure that you get the most out of your visit to the Colosseum and to avoid any disappointment, it pays off to plan your visit well in advance.
In this article I’ll be sharing my best tips for how to visit the Colosseum, how to buy tickets, and other things that you should know based on my experience traveling in Italy.
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The Colosseum is a famous Roman amphitheater that was built between 72 and 80 AD. The three-tired theater is the largest amphitheater ever built, and the largest (still standing) amphitheater in the entire world.
It is the largest ancient structure to have survived: It stands 157 feet (48 meters) tall and measures 620 by 513 feet (189 by 156 meters). The Colosseum was built to hold more than 50,000 spectators.
Roman theaters were generally built in the same way: circular or oval open-air structures with raised seating. They were used for popular events such as gladiator fights, chariot races, animal slayings and executions.
There are around 230 amphitheaters that were built during the Roman Empire, however, none compare to the Colosseum, which is unique in its style and grandeur. Because it was built by the Flavian Emperor Vespasian and his sons Titus and Domitian, it is also known as the “Flavian Amphitheater”.
The Roman theater has three stacked arcades: the lowest one built in Doric style, the middle arcade built in Ionic style, and the highest one in Corinthian style. It was built in this way to reflect the civilization that created it.
Even though the Colosseum has been severely damaged by earthquakes, visitors can still experience most of the structure that ancient Romans saw when they entered the Colosseum to watch a gladiator fight or spectacle.
The Colosseum is located right in the center of Rome, and the entrance is near the Arch of Constantine.
The nearest metro station is “Colosseo” on the B Line – it is right across the street from the Colosseum, about a 3-minute walk to the entrance.
If you are taking the metro from Termini, take the metro that is going to Laurentina. It’s a 3-minute train ride, or two short stops.
If you have a Rome Hop On Hop Off Bus Ticket, they also stop at the Colosseum. (Hop On Hop Off bus tickets are included in both the Rome and the Vatican Pass).
There are a different ways to see the Colosseum. You can simply see it from the outside (which is free), or you can book a ticket to go inside.
If you want to go inside, you have the option to book tickets for different areas of the Colosseum.
Furthermore, you can choose to visit the Colosseum independently, or join a guided tour.
The general admission ticket to the Colosseum is €18 (€16 + €2 online booking fee) and also includes the Roman Forum and the Palatine. With this ticket, you’ll be able to visit the first and second levels of the Colosseum, including three overlooks, however, NOT the arena level or the hypogeum, the underground area of the Colosseum. (You need to book a guided tour to visit these restricted areas – see below for more details.)
Discounted Tickets: European Union citizens between the age of 18 and 25 only pay €4 (€4 + €2 online booking fee) to visit the Colosseum. However, you must show an ID at the entrance verifying the right to a reduced ticket.
Children / People With Disabilities: Children under 18 and disabled people (plus one family member / helper) don’t have to pay to visit the Colosseum.
Full Experience Tickets: Include entrance to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine as well as the S.U.P.E.R. sites (the Palatine Museum, Neronian Cryptoporticus, House of Augustus, House of Livia and Temple of Romulus) AND a tour in English are €32 (discounted: €12) plus the €2 booking fee per ticket. This ticket option includes access to the arena level and an accompanied visit to the underground, but it does NOT include Level 3 of the Colosseum. “Full Experience Tickets” are valid for 48 hours from the first use.
If you are buying a ticket that includes a guide through the official Colosseum website, be careful when selecting the ticket option: the English version of the website is unfortunately not very well translated and can be a bit confusing. You don’t want to accidentally book an Italian tour.
If you are pressed for time or simply don’t want to waste time waiting in line, I recommend spending a few more dollars on the Skip-The-Line Ticket (around €22). Just be aware that you must book this ticket with an allocated starting time, and tickets usually sell out, so book your ticket well in advance. Skip-the-line tickets are not sold through the official Colosseum website, but are available through GetYourGuide.
The General Admission Ticket includes the Colosseum (without access to the arena), the Roman Forum archeological area, the Imperial Forums and the Palatine. It also includes admission to temporary exhibitions at these sights.
The ticket is valid for 24 hours, so you don’t have to visit all three sites in the same day. You can decide in which order you visit the sites included in the ticket. The 24 hours start when you access the first monument.
Note: If you buy the ticket online, it is not necessary to print it out, you can simply show it on your smartphone upon arrival at the Colosseum.
The general admission ticket to the Colosseum doesn’t include access to the arena, the underground area and Level 3 of the Colosseum. To visit these areas, you need to book a special ticket or a guided tour (see below for more details).
You need to plan in at least one hour to visit the Colosseum, and if you want to visit the other sights included in the Colosseum ticket, plan in at least one hour for those, too. If you want to take in each monument in more detail, you’ll need about 2 hours for each site. Both the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum are larger, more spread-out areas.
As for distances between the sights: The Palatine is a five-minute walk from the Colosseum, the Roman Forum is also less than five minutes away and the Imperial Fora is about 10 minutes from the Colosseum. If you’re pressed for time, it is possible to visit all three sites in half a day, but ideally, you’ll want to plan in 6 hours for all three sites.
If you have more time and really want to understand the Colosseum, I highly recommend taking a guided tour. There is little signage throughout all the monuments included in the Colosseum ticket, which means that you will have little understanding of what you are looking at unless you are listening to a podcast about the sights, or you are using a guidebook.
The 1-hour Express Tour is perfect for people who don’t have a lot of time, and the ticket also allows you to skip the line. Get 1-Hour Express Tickets Here
Colosseum Tour with Arena Floor, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (from US$39)
A tour is required to see the arena floor and hypogeum, the fascinating underground area of the Colosseum. The hypogeum was where gladiators and animals were waiting before their battles, and visiting it with a guide means you’ll learn a lot more about the spectacles that visitors came to see at the amphitheater, the life of the gladiators, and the battles that were fought.
Colosseum Tour with Underground Hypogeum & Arena Floor
This is a great tour for anyone visiting Rome with kids, since it aims to entertain children and tell stories about ancient Rome in a way that they’re enjoyable for youngsters and adults alike.
Colosseum and Ancient Rome Family Tour for Kids
There are several ways to buy tickets to the Colosseum. The official ticket website is of course the obvious choice but be aware that you can often only get general admission tickets through the official Colosseum website.
You can buy special access tickets that include a guide through the official Colosseum website, too, but the English-speaking tours are limited and thus often sold out. No worries though: If there are no tours in English available for any of the dates you’re planning to be in Rome, you’re usually still able to find guided Colosseum tours in English through third-party websites.
If you want to book a guided tour or access to special areas, you will have to book through a third-party tour operator who is licensed to offer these tickets.
There is also a ticket office right at the Colosseum but you’ll most likely have to wait in line to purchase a ticket. Since tickets are timed and visitor numbers are capped at 3,000 a day, I strongly recommend buying your Colosseum tickets online.
After clicking on the “Buy Tickets” button, a calendar will pop up, and you can select the date you’re planning to visit the Colosseum on. After choosing a date, you will see all the available time-slots on the date you selected. If there aren’t any tickets available anymore for the time you’d like to visit, try a different date.
It is worth noting that you can only book a timeslot up to one month in advance, so if your trip to Rome is still in the distant future, you may want to put a reminder in your calendar to book a Colosseum ticket a month before your visit.
USEFUL TIP: When selecting a time-slot, remember that it gets quite hot in Rome after noon. I recommend booking a ticket to the Colosseum for the early morning, or an hour before closing, if you visit during the summer months.
If you have a Roma Pass (which gives you free admission to a couple of landmarks / historic sites and reduced ticket prices to all other museums and archeological sites as well as free use of public transportation), you still have to reserve a time-slot online and pay the €2 reservation fee.
This means you should check availability for the Colosseum as soon as you purchase the Roma Pass, to make sure there are still time-slots available during the days your pass is valid (they are usually valid for 48 or 72 hours). You’ll find the option to reserve a time-slot for Roma Pass holders on the official ticket website.
On the first Sunday of every month, the Colosseum can be visited for free. This includes all sites that are usually included in the Colosseum tickets: The Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palatine.
Be Warned: The sites included in the free ticket tend to get very crowded when they can be visited for free. If you are on a tight budget and would like to take advantage of the Free First Sunday, I recommend arriving as early as possible.
The Colosseum is open seven days a week, and it opens 9am year-round.
Closing times differ, depending on the time of year:
Note: Final admission is one hour before closing time.
Colosseum Closed: The Colosseum open year-round, with the exception of two days: Christmas Day (25th December) and New Year’s Day (1st January).
I hope you enjoyed my guide to visiting the Colosseum in Rome! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:
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