By Jessica Russo
Ahh, the Colosseum - the icon of Rome. You've always wanted to see it in person, and that time has finally come! Get ready to "ooh," "ahh," and take way too many pictures. Read this quick guide before you go and make locals think you're a pro.
Get there early (or late)
Breezing through the line at the Colosseum? Impossible!
Usually we'd say you're right, but there are two magical times during the day when the line isn't so bad. As long as you get there at either 8:30 AM (when the site opens) or in the late afternoon (an hour or two before the site closes), you shouldn't experience a long waiting time. One tidbit about going late: the Colosseum closes at different times throughout the year depending on time of sunset. Be sure to check this out before visiting!
And yes, it really is worth waking up that early.
Book that tour in advance
Booking a tour is a pro's way of skipping the line. No wait with a knowledgeable guide? Sign us up. If you are going to book a tour (which we do recommend), make sure you do it online in advance. Upon arrival, you'll find many people offering tours and preaching why their tour is the best. While these people aren't necessarily scammers, they usually charge much more than a tour you can find online. It's fine if you don't think you need a tour, but the history behind what you're looking at is truly fascinating to hear about.
How much is admission?
Regular admission is 12 euro. If you purchase tickets online in advance, there is an extra fee of 2 euro (highly recommended)!
What does admission include?
Standard tickets grant you admission to The Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. Make sure you budget time for all three! Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum are fascinating and they offer stunning views of the Colosseum. Did someone say Instagram?
You can go for free
Say whaaat? Yep, you read correctly. On the first Sunday of every month, entrance to the Colosseum (and many other government-managed sites in Europe) are free. Yay! Well...hold on. Free admission means more crowded and longer lines. Ask yourself which is more important - longer lines or a few extra euro?
How to get there
The Colosseum can easily be reached on foot or by public transportation from anywhere in central Rome.
- By metro, take Line B
- By bus, take Bus #75
- By tram, take Line 3
Another option: if you spring for a hop-on/hop-off bus tour during your trip, it will almost definitely make a stop at the Colosseum. Since it's already embedded in the price of the tour ticket, use it as transportation!
This is no time to risk discomfort. Chances are, you'll probably only see the Colosseum once in your life! We cannot stress this enough: wear comfortable shoes. Don't think "eh, I'll be fine! I wanna look cute." We've made that mistake before and we admit we regret it. If you're one of those people who says "but sandals are comfy!" No! Make sure your shoes have traction. The beautiful thing about these sites is that they are ancient. This means the ground is not perfectly flat! In the Colosseum - and especially in the Forum and on Palatine Hill - you'll find rocky, uneven ground that can be challenging at times. The "I broke my ankle at the Colosseum" story isn't that fun. Trust us.
Make sure you keep an eye on the weather forecast before you go. Chance of rain? Bring a poncho. Sunny day? Bring a hat and wear sunblock. You'll be exposed to the elements and sorry if you don't come prepared. Also, be aware large backpacks and luggage are not allowed inside!
How much time should we spend there?
It usually takes 2 - 4 hours to hit all three ancient sites (the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill). This is another reason to go early - a few hours spent at the Colosseum in the morning means you still have most of the day to explore.
Eat before you go
Picture this: the sun is shining, you have your camera ready, and you're about to step out into the area for the very first time. Suddenly, you hear your travel companion say, "ugh I'm staaaarving." Girl, please.
While there are a few restaurants in the surrounding area, there is no food served at the Colosseum or in the Forum. You will be doing a good amount of walking, so you want to make sure you've had something substantial before visiting. The last thing you want to remember about visiting an iconic site is how you couldn't wait to leave so you could find lunch.
Keep a hand on your wallet
The Colosseum is a crowded tourist attraction in one of the world's most visited cities. Just like we'd recommend around any tourist attraction in any big city: be careful.
Go back at night
No, you don't have to wait on another line or pay another entrance fee. For a completely different experience, simply walk or drive by the Colosseum in the evening as it becomes illuminated against the dark night sky. Many sites in Rome, especially the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and St. Peter's Basilica, look stunning all lit up at night. Do yourself a favor and experience them in the light and in the dark.