Visiting The Colosseum and Roman Forum - A Practical Guide

Make an informed visit to the Colosseum and Roman Forum

The Colosseum Rome

Official Opening Hours & Admission Prices The Colosseum + Roman Forum

A visit to the Colosseum is almost a prerequisite for any first time visitor to Rome.

The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill are located in the same archaeological area as the Colosseum and all three share the same admission ticket. The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill all have separate entrances and you can walk freely between the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The Colosseum is opposite one of the exits to the Roman Forum and directly opposite Colosseum Metro station.

The entrance ticket covering the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill is valid for 2 days.

The Colosseum - What Is It?

The emperors of Rome built this large amphitheatre for gladiatorial shows and hunts of wild animals which became the symbol of the Eternal City.

In 80 A.D. there was a magnificent inauguration with games that lasted one hundred days during which five thousand beasts were killed. The shows were free of charge and the seats were assigned according to the class of spectators.

The Colosseum was built primarily to entertain the masses in brutal and barbaric games. Some were beast on beast combat to the death. Others were people fighting animals to the death, while the most popular was the human on human combat. Gladiators were slaves, often captured in war, that were trained in special schools to fight each other to the death.

The gladiatorial games were over by the year 438 A.D. while the shows with hunts of wild beasts continued until 523.

The Colosseum - What To Expect On A Visit Today

The area around the Colosseum is quite spacious with plenty of room for the large numbers of visitors posing for pictures and the usual mix of vendors selling tourist tat and locals dressed as Romans ready to pose with you for a sometimes very steep fee. Further back there are plenty of places to eat and the Colosseum is a major public transport hub including a Metro Station.

If you don't have an advance entrance ticket be prepared for long queues, though see ticketing advice below.

The Colosseum Ticket Queue

The Colosseum Ticket Queue... Or Skip The Queue
Buy Ticket At Palatine Hill & Use Empty Entrance On Left

After gaining entrance past security there are lifts, but most people will use the stairs up a few flights. There is a chance you may spend more time queuing to get in than actually within the monument. For most people, expect to stay around 45 to 60 minutes .

Other than take in the spectacle presented to you from all angles, there is little more to see and do unless you have invested prior in reading up about the Colosseum or are taking a Colosseum tour, audio or otherwise. There is a small exhibition area.

Colosseum Special Access Option

2011 marked the public opening of the Colosseum’s underground chambers for the very first time, as well as the Colosseum’s third tier, which hasn’t been open in decades. You can get special access to both areas and see Ancient Rome the way no one ever has. You’ll follow in the footsteps of the gladiators themselves as you explore the tunnels where they once prepared for fights and where lions and tigers were once caged. You’ll also go up to the highest existing level of the Colosseum – the third tier.

These newly opened areas can only be visited with a guided tour, (see below) and must be booked in advance.

Entrance Gates At The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill Plus A Recommended Route

Relative Location of Entrance Gates of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
The Colosseum Interior
The Colosseum Interior

Inside The Colosseum

As the entrance ticket to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill also includes the Colosseum most people will visit all three at the same time, (your ticket is valid for 2 days).

The ticket kiosk at the Colosseum has by far the longest queues and there are other reasons we suggest you start and buy your ticket at the Palatine Hill entrance.

The ticket gate for the Palatine Hill often has no queues at all and is midway down the road Via di San Gregorio that runs from the Colosseum along the base of the Palatine Hill less than 5 minutes walk from the Colosseum. Many of the Hop On Hop Off sightseeing buses and tour buses board and drop between the Colosseum and the entrance to the Palatine Hill.

From the Palatine Hill entrance, walking uphill exploring the Palatine Hill is more gradual than from the Roman Forum and has more shade. After performing a circuit of the Palatine Hill you will get a great birds eye view down onto the Roman Forum as you descend into it, getting a good initial orientation in the process.

The entrance of the Roman Forum is a long way from the Colosseum, but there is an exit only gate right next to the Colosseum.

Tickets, Opening Hours & Thoughts On Visiting

The standard admission ticket covers all three monuments, The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

Opening hours are from 8.30 am to one hour before sunset, exact times are again on the link at the top of the page.

You can order tickets in advance and avoid the queues for which there is a small booking fees. Your tickets are e-mailed to you, so no delivery charges or lengthy delivery periods.

Within the Colosseum, there are parts you can only visit as part of a “special access” guided tour (see section below) for which the standard ticket has no validity.

Time taken to visit will vary wildly.

If you have a keen interest in the subject matter or have read widely about ancient Rome in the build up to your trip then its possible that you will need most of the day at the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum.

At the other extreme its clear that many tourists just turn up cold, buy their ticket and expect to be “entertained”. The consequential result is often a very quick half-day visit to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

There is not that much in the way of information provided anywhere in the three sites.

You've come a long way and spent significant money to put yourself inside the Roman Forum and Colosseum, its worthwhile investing in at least an audio guide, if not a tour to make sense of the spectacle in front of you.

Colosseum & Roman Forum Walking Tour Prices

Colosseum Tours With Access To Underground Chambers

Experience the full glory of Rome's Colosseum on a walking tour with skip-the-line entry with access to parts of the Colosseum not open to those using standard admission tickets.

Accompanied by an expert guide who is passionate about Roman history, you'll gain rare access to areas of the Colosseum that are newly opened or normally off-limits. Enjoy private viewing of the Colosseum's underground chambers, arena and upper level.

Colosseum Underground Chambers Walking Tour
Colosseum Underground Chambers By Night Tour

Walking Tour Covering The Colosseum, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum

Taking a walking tour with an expert guide with headphones provided and fast track entrance tickets provided is an efficient and cost effective way of covering the Colosseum, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum in one morning.

Walking Tour Covering The Colosseum, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum

Other Colosseum & Roman Forum Guided Tours

There is no getting away from it, a visit to the Colosseum & Roman Forum means a lot of time on your feet, walking around the vast site. Walking tours are available taking up a morning or afternoon taking you to all the best parts of the attraction and giving you an informed insight to what you are witnessing.

Colosseum & Roman Forum Walking Tour Prices
Ancient Rome Walking Tour Prices
Moonlight Tour of the Colosseum and Ancient Rome
Colosseum and Ancient Rome in Virtual Reality
Colosseum & Roman Forum Segway Tour Prices
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