Visiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum

Colosseum, Rome guide including tickets, opening hours, special access and fast track


The Colosseum Rome, tour guides

Hire a guide: tours at the Colosseum

 

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Visiting the Colosseum in Rome is a “must see” for most first time visitors.

The Colosseum (or Coliseum), Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill are all located in the same archaeological area Rome adjacent to one another.

 

The Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill all have separate ticket entrances but share the same admission ticket valid for two days valid for all three sites. You can walk freely between the Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill during the validity of the admission ticket.

 

The Colosseum has fast track, skip the line tickets reflecting the issue of long entry queues at the Colosseum at some opening times.
Colosseum guided tours will add value to your visit to the Colosseum, (there is little public information or exhibits you have access to with the standard ticket).

 

Some Colosseum tours offer access and experiences not available to the standard ticket holders like the Colosseum underground tours and Colosseum night tours.


The Colosseum is unique and will be a memory that will stick with you from your visit to Rome so it makes sense to invest some time planning ahead your Colosseum visit.


How much time should you budget? Which Colosseum entrance ticket is appropriate and will a tour or experience be a good investment, and what about those Colosseum entrance queues?


The Colosseum skip the line entrance

Skip the line entrance: the Colosseum

Our opinion is that the Colosseum in Rome is justifiably a “must see”, the following paragraphs contain tips and information that will help you make your visit to the Colosseum more rewarding.

Opening hours & admission prices the Colosseum + Roman Forum

 

Colosseum - tickets and opening hours

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

 

Opening hours are from 8.30am 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.

 

Discounted rate for EU citizens aged between 18-25.

 

Free Entrance:
- Free entry on the first Sunday of the month (no reservation possible) – expect long queues

- Free for European and non-European people under 18
- Free for EU citizens over 65

- Free for people with disabilities and their companion, with valid medical documentation of the disability

 

Colosseum and Roman Forum - skip the line/fast track entrance tickets

There are various grades of ‘skip the line’ option for the Colosseum, the cheapest uses the same entrance as the general one, the more expensive options use an entirely different entrance.

 

Skip the Queue/ Fast Track tickets can be purchased in advance, currently €16. Your tickets are e-mailed to you, so no delivery charges or lengthy delivery periods. However, do be prepared that this has become an increasingly popular option and you will still have a shorter queue to get through, to go through security.

 

Special access - Colosseum underground chamber and arena

There is another option which, for an increased fee, allows you entrance on the other side of the amphitheatre, through ‘Gladiator’s Gate’, the entrance the gladiators themselves would have used all those years ago. Here you will explore the tunnels where they once prepared for fights and where lions and tigers were once caged.

The Colosseum Interior

The arena: inside the Colosseum

 

As well as the Gate, you will also see other areas normally off-bounds such as the Arena Floor and even the highest existing level of the Colosseum – the third tier. Some argue that being on the arena floor offers the best view of the Colosseum.

 

You can buy these tickets in advance, (see below) to assure yourself that you have them; there are also many guides available just outside the Colosseum itself who will approach you, often with a reasonable deal.

 

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 from the Roman Forum

View from the Forum: the Colosseum from the Roman Forum


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 - gaining access

The area around the Colosseum is quite spacious with plenty of room for the large numbers of visitors posing for pictures. In the streets just beyond the immediate area there are plenty of places to eat or get a drink at one of the many cafés and restaurants. Guides wait around the area offering walking packages/ special access deals/ skip the queue tickets, for the Colosseum as well as the Roman Forum/ Palatine Hill.

 

The Colosseum security access

Security: to enter the Colosseum

If you wish to purchase from a guide when you arrive, be aware that they are not selling these deals outside the Roman Forum/ Palatine Hill, so if you have already visited in the morning, with a pre-purchased ticket you will not be able to take advantage of them.

 

There are a great number of street vendors selling anything from water to hats and selfie sticks.

 

There have also been cases of people trying ‘persuasive’ selling techniques outside, while you might be sat down having a rest. There is not much you can do about this other than to decide whether you wish to buy impromptu ‘gifts’ in advance or not, and then stick to this.

 

If you don't have an advance entrance ticket be prepared for long queues, which wrap their way around the outside of the building as well as inside through security. See above for skip the line tickets.


Be prepared for airport-style security as you enter the Colosseum; this has tightened up a lot in recent years and as a result had the consequence of making the queues even longer, especially at peak times, such as during festivals and holiday periods.

 

Your bags will be checked upon entering; you are not allowed to bring any drinks inside, with the exception of water. Large bags are not permitted.

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.

 

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.

 

The more recent addition of the exhibition area will extend your visit (you could easily spend an hour in this part). Whilst not a substitute for a guide or audio guide, it will certainly give some background insight into this famous, ancient site.

The Colosseum - a recommended route

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; we suggest you start and buy your ticket at the Palatine Hill entrance.

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

Colosseum map: relative location of entrance gates

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 five 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.

 

Time needed to visit the Colosseum

Most people visit the Colosseum as part of a longer day, combining with Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum in the morning or afternoon. Your ticket allows you to see all three over two days (re-entry is not permitted) so you could take a more leisurely look at any or all of these in this time.

 

The Colosseum museum

Colosseum museum: information about the Colosseum through the ages

There is now an exhibition at the Colosseum, inside – a relief from the sun at times – which is interesting, with many signs in English and models and artwork relating to the Colosseum over the centuries.

 

Outside in the amphitheatre itself there are few signs to read – an audio guide or hired guide are preferable to get the most out of your experience.

 

The exhibition will extend the time spent at the Colosseum, so it is now worth allowing for at least a couple of hours to do it justice.

 

Hotels near the Colosseum

For a selection of recommended hotels near the Colosseum see our dedicated page.

Hotels near the Colosseum



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 small group

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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