Colosseum Tours and Tickets

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This post covers tours of Ancient Rome, namely tours of the Colosseum, the Forum and Palatine Hill. Most tour companies organize their tours around these 3 prime locations. Below, we list the various ways you can enter and explore these 3 main sights and we review several of the operators and provide a self-guided option. 

 


COLOSSEUM TICKETS

Of course, there are many more ancient Roman sights in the city, but most tour companies organize their tours around these 3 prime locations, as the 3 together comprise much of the ancient city, are all adjacent to each other, and are all included on one general admission ticket. 

Everyone needs the general admission ticket to enter any of the 3 sights. Tickets are good for 2 days, but you can only enter each attraction once. Palatine Hill and the Forum are considered one attraction as is the Colosseum.


BEFORE YOU BUY: Entry to the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill are included at no extra cost with the purchase of any of Rome’s tourist discount passes.  Also, tickets are included in the guided tour packages listed below. 


General Admission Tickets

  • €12 – adults
  • €7.50 – EU citizens 18-25
  • Free – under 18 

There is a €2 online booking fee per ticket through the official site for reserved tickets.  This is in addition to the prices above. We recommend buying and printing out your ticket before you arrive, then you will have what is called skip-the-queue tickets, which means you will not have to stand on either the ticket or will call queues.

 

Skip-the-line Colosseum

 

Without printed tickets, you will need to stand on a will-call line to pick up your tickets. This could take 30-60 minutes in the busy season. If you choose to buy tickets on site, this wait can be 1-2 hours or more during the busy season.

The official website isn’t the easiest to use and they often sell out. You can also get skip-the-line tickets for all 3 attractions here for an extra €6. 

Self-guided audio, visual tours as well as guided tours of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Forum are available but cost extra. 

Additionally, there are areas of interest in the Colosseum that are only accessible by special guided tours, such as the Arena, Underground, and Belvedere.

 


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PLAN YOUR VISIT

The Colosseum is one of the most popular sites in all of Rome, which means that you can expect fairly large crowds during peak hours. Bearing this in mind, it’s a good idea to plan out your trip to this landmark.

In this section, we will provide details about the best time to visit, security information, what to expect, and how to get here. 


Best Times to Visit

As with most big attractions around the world, there are going to be times when the Colosseum is especially busy. If you want to avoid the crowds, it will be important to consider when to see this landmark. 

Hours of Operation

The Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum open every day at 8:30 am.  It’s the closing times that change based on the season.

  • March 25 – August 31 – 19:15 (7:15 pm)
  • September 1 – September 30 – 19:00 (7:00 pm)
  • October 6 – October 27 – 18:30 (6:30 pm)
  • October 28 – February 15 – 16:30 (4:30 pm)
  • February 16 – March 15 – 17:00 (5:00 pm)
  • March 15 – March 24 – 17:30 (5:30 pm)

As you can see, the Colosseum usually closes to the public at about the same time that the sun sets. With that said, it’s worth noting that there are some companies offering night tours.

If you can take a night tour, this might be the best way to avoid a crowd at the Colosseum.

Visitors who are planning to see this landmark during the day will want to consider making their trip either in the morning or the late afternoon. The Colosseum is at its busiest between 11 am – 13:00 (1 pm), and we recommend avoiding those hours if possible.

If you can’t, then consider taking one of the tours offered by private companies, which have special access points which allows them to bypass the longer general security lines.

 

Weekday Slowest Visit Colosseum

 

You should also avoid coming on a weekend (if you can), as crowds are even bigger than usual on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you can’t avoid a weekend, then be sure to be here at the opening or book a guided day tour or a night tour.

 

Weekend Busiest Time Colosseum Visit

 

Guests who have been here indicated that early morning offers some of the best lightings for photos of the Colosseum. 

Even if you do show up when they open the doors, you may end up waiting in line for at least 15-20 minutes to get inside. Bearing that in mind, you may want to get there even earlier than 8:30 am. 

You should plan on giving yourself approximately 2-3 hours just to see the Colosseum: 30-60 minutes to get through the security check (unless you arrive very early) and another 30-60 minutes to explore.

Add another 30-60 min if you plan on visiting the Colosseum’s Underground


Getting Here

Once you arrive at this historic site, you’ll wonder how anyone could have missed it! That said, it is important to note that you will find the Colosseum just southwest of the city center in Rome.  We recommend using this Google Maps link for directions.

 

Where is the Colosseum

 

Most visitors will want to consider making their way to the Colosseum via bus, tram or metro. For more information, check out our post about how to use the metro system in Rome.

Alternatively, several bus tours provide a stop at the Colosseum. If you intend to use a hop-onhop-off service to get around town, there’s no need for you to purchase a metro ticket in order to get here. Check out our post on Rome bus tours for more details on this option. 


Security Information

A lot of measures are currently in place to ensure the safety of visitors who are coming to see this site. In addition to obvious things like weapons, certain items are not allowed inside the structure and they will not be kept for you.

If you bring the following items, there is a chance that you will be turned away and refused entry. 

  • Large Bags
  • Luggage
  • Trolleys
  • Bottles/Glass
  • Alcohol
  • Food/Drinks
  • Pets/Animals

No matter what size of bag you have, it will need to be visually inspected before you enter. This can hold up the line and make the wait to get inside even lengthier, so we recommend that visitors avoid bringing any bags with them. In fact, the staff often open up “no bag” security lines.

That being said, small bags and purses are typically allowed and will not cause any problems. The following items are also permitted at this Roman landmark.

  • Strollers
  • Cameras
  • Camera Bags
  • Smartphones
  • Water Bottles

Although food is not allowed inside the Colosseum. If you plan on visiting the Roman Forum as well, past visitors indicate that you shouldn’t have any trouble bringing food with you to that location. 

 


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WHAT TO EXPECT

Upon arriving at the Colosseum, you will need to pass through security.

According to several tourists, the queue for this checkpoint can take up to 30 minutes at the opening and 60 minutes during the middle of the day.

As a result, you will want to arrive well ahead of the time that you plan to see this historic landmark.

There is no way to avoid this queue, other than with a guided tour by private companies, which have special access points which allows them to bypass the longer general security lines or with a nighttime guided tours.

 

Colosseum Tours Rome

 

If you haven’t purchased a ticket in advance, you will need to wait in line for admission. This line can add another 15-30 minutes to your wait time, with some reports in reviews that the line can exceed 1 hour, so it is highly advised to get your tickets before arrival and have them prepared as you enter the Colosseum. 

For more details on this, read our ticket information section.

Travelers who choose to print their tickets before arrival or use a tourist pass will also be able to skip-the-queue. This pertains to the ticket queue and not the security line.

Private tour companies’ groups are allowed to pass through security very quickly, potentially saving you even more time on your trip to the Colosseum.

If you want to know more about these options, check our guided tour section below and read our post about Rome tourist passes.

 

Rome Discount Passes

 

Once you get inside, you will be able to get a good look at the structure from several different angles. You can also purchase or download an audio tour to enhance your experience and learn more about the history of this site.

Considering the size of the Colosseum, you may want to give yourself at least 30-60 minutes just to wander around and take it all in.

 

Colosseum in the Morning

 

In addition to the significance of the location itself, there is also an exhibition area which provides additional background and information about the Colosseum. You could easily spend another 30-60 min here.

You should plan on giving yourself approximately 2-3 hours just to see the Colosseum (including security and exhibition time). Add another 30-60 min if you plan on touring the Colosseum’s Underground or the Belvedere.

These timings assume that you are not buying a ticket onsite or visiting the will-call desk.

Add another 1-2 hours to visit the Forum and Palatine Hill. The amount of time is also dependent on the security lines to enter these two areas.

 

Palatine Hill

 

Your tickets will be valid for two days, so you can visit the Colosseum on the first day and the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill on the second (or vice-versa) without paying extra.

That being said, you could actually save time by taking a guided tour. This option will allow you to skip-the-queues and enjoy a focused trip around each site.

While some visitors could spend the better part of a day visiting the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, a guided tour of these locations usually take 3 hours to complete (3.5 with the Underground).

If you are disabled, wheelchairs will be available on both the first and second floors. There is also a lift which can be used to reach the second floor.

There are also historic landmarks in the area such as Circus Maximus which could make for a great additional activity.

 


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SELF-GUIDED AUDIO AND VISUAL TOURS

There are many options to tour the Colosseum that are considered add-ons to the general ticket, which include a self-guided audio tour, a self-guided video tour.

These are for the Colosseum only and do not include access to special areas, such as the Underground, Arena, and Belvedere, which are only accessible by guided tours.

Additional fees apply for the Forum and Palatine Hill self-guided audio tours and these and these can only be obtained on site.

This option is for those who prefer to explore at their own pace and/or do not want to pay the cost of a fully guided tour.

You will still need to pay the entrance fee and we suggest paying the €2 to skip-the-queue by ordering your tickets in advance. 

A big advantage of this option compared to a guided tour is that you can linger around inside the Colosseum for as long as you like, to soak of the views, or to visit the public exhibit.

The disadvantage is you won’t have an expert tour guide around if you have questions.

There is even a free audio tour from Rick Steves that we recommend, not just because its a free, quality production, but because he also offers a free audio tour of the Forum. 


Official Audio Tour + €5.50

You can also enhance your experience with an audio tour. The audio tour comes in many languages:  Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, Arabic, Latin, LIS + ASL and lasts 70 min. 

There are a limited number of audio tour units per session and they can be reserved in advance on the official website. There is an additional €2 fee for an advanced reservation. 

If you get frustrated with the main site, then you could buy your tickets here as well. 


Official Visual Tour + €6.00

The visual guide is a rented iPhone unit in the following languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese.  It lasts 50 min. There is an additional €2 fee for an advanced reservation. 


Rick Steves

We recommend the well-produced, free audio guides from Rick Steves.  You could download his app or you can listen to the audio in Itunes or any mp3 player. 

Rick Steves offers a free tour of the Forum and one of the Colosseum, as well as other locations throughout Rome.  The only missing tour is for Palentine Hill, but there you could use the official audio guide.  

NOTE: Rick Steves guide material is aimed at an American audience, so you won’t hear metric measurements and some references are specific to Americans, but this is only a slight inconvenience for a free, quality product.
 


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COLOSSEUM GUIDED TOURS

In this section, we cover tours that include general admission to the Colosseum. 

Read the following sections for tours that access to the Underground and the Belvedere.

Below the official guided tour details, we list the information for the very excellent private guided tours. 

 

 

Private companies have a few advantages over the official tour. First, they tend to have smaller groups than the official tour. 

Second, they have their own special entrance, which is even better than skip-the-queue for general admission and tours and admission because it allows for a quick walk through security.

Third, most of these tours are more time-efficient and visit both the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Lastly, they usually focus on having fluent English speakers. 

There are simply too many options available to list. Click here to see the full range of possibilities, which include virtual reality tours. 


Official Guided Tour +€5

This is for the official Colosseum guided tour with an official live tour guide but does not include access to the Underground, Arena, nor the Belvedere. 

The tour is optional and is conducted in English, Italian, or Spanish and it lasts 45 minutes.

The €5 fee for the official tour is in addition to the entrance fee. There is an additional €2 fee for an advanced reservation. Together, the total cost would be €21/adult and €9/child (under 18), which include the advanced reservation fees.  

There are several tour times per day, but the earliest is 10:00 am, which means you will need to wait for this tour if you arrive at the opening at 08:30 am.

You can purchase this on the Colosseum’s official website, but you need to make the purchase for the general admission ticket as well.

If you find their website too frustrating, you could also book it through Get Your Guide, but it’s €9 more per adult. 


PRIVATE COMPANIES

In addition to the official tours, there is no shortage of quality tour operators that offer their own tours of the Colosseum, the Forum, and Palatine Hill. 

We have listed the companies that get consistently great reviews on TripAdvisor, Google and other platforms. 

Expect to pay between €42 to €67 per adult depending on what you choose. In general, prices are determined by the number of participants per guide, with some groups capping off at 24 and others that limit their sizes to 12 or smaller.  Prices include all fees to enter all 3 attractions.

There are less expensive options available, but they are not as well-reviewed or don’t offer daily tours. 

There are simply too many options available to list. Click here to see the full range of possibilities


City Wonders (formerly Dark Rome Tours)

City Wonders is one of the larger walking tour companies in Rome. This tour covers the Colosseum, the Forum, and Palatine Hill. They also offer a tour of the Colosseum’s Underground.

They are not the cheapest, but they are extremely well-reviewed, averaging 5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor with over 13,000 total reviews. They also offer 100% money back if you cancel with 24 hours or more in advance.

On their tour, you will be provided with headphones to ensure that you hear your live guide. They also offer tours in Spanish, French, Italian and German, mostly on weekends.

  • €52 adult | €49 child 4-14 | 0-3 are free
  • Maximum 25 participants
  • 3 hours
  • daily tours in English 08:30, 09:30, 10:00, 14:00 & 15:00
  • More details or to purchase.

Roma Experience

This is another well-reviewed tour company, and while they are more expensive, the group size is capped at just 12.  With such a small group size, headsets are not necessary.

They only offer this tour once each day in the morning. They also offer a virtual reality version of this tour.

  • €67 adult | €55 student | €49 child 4-14 | 0-3 are free
  • Maximum 12 participants
  • Daily @ 08:30 (In the summer months, they also offer a tour @ 15:15)
  • More information.

Click here to see the full range of possibilities

 


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COLOSSEUM UNDERGROUND TOURS

Access to the Colosseum’s underground is only possible on a guided tour. Spaces are limited and there is an additional cost for ticket holders. 

The underground consists of the tunnels, cages, and jail cells where gladiators, prisoners, and exotic animals were kept hidden from the roaring crowd above.

Most guided tours also include a walk out onto the arena floor, which is also a privilege.

This is a must-do for history buffs

 

 

Below, we list some of the options available to you, including night tours of the Underground. There are too many to list. Click here for even more Underground tour options.

Private companies have a few advantages over the official tour. First, they tend to have smaller groups than the official tour. 

Second, they have their own special entrance, which is even better than skip-the-queue for general admission and tours and admission because it allows for a quick walk through security.

Third, most of these tours are more time-efficient and visit both the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. 

Lastly, they usually focus on having fluent English speakers. 


Official Underground Tour

The Colosseum has an official tour 90 min tour of the Underground. Tickets for these tours are not easy to come by because many tour companies and 3rd ticket agencies buy up many of the slots.

However, it may be worth a try anyway to book the tickets online through the Colosseum’s official website

One of the advantages of going with the official tour is that you can stay and linger around the Colosseum after your tour is over, something that isn’t possible with outside tours, as they will head to the Forum and Palatine Hill afterward. 

The official Underground tour is offered 3x daily: 08:25, 13:45, 15:45.

If you go with the official tour, then you will still need to buy the general access ticket, which is €14 with reservation. The additional prices below are for the underground tour.  There is an additional €2 fee for preordered tickets (which we highly recommend).

  • +€9 – adults
  • +€7 – concession 

So, together, the total cost would be €25/adult for the general admission ticket and tour of the Underground. If you add the general tour of the Colosseum to this, the total cost would be €32/adult.

But again, these cheaper tickets are hard to come by, particularly during peak travel months. Therefore, you may need to consider one of the private tour companies. 


PRIVATE COMPANIES

In addition to the official tours, there is no shortage of quality tour operators that offer their own tours of the Colosseum’s Underground.  

We have listed the companies that get consistently great reviews on TripAdvisor, Google and other platforms. 

Expect to pay between €79 to €119 per adult depending on what you choose. In general, prices are determined by the number of participants per guide, with some groups capping off at 24 and others that limit their sizes to 12 or smaller.  

There are less expensive options available, but they are not as well-reviewed or don’t offer daily tours. 

There are simply too many options available to list. Click here to see the full range of possibilities


City Wonders (formerly Dark Rome Tours)

As mention above, City Wonders is a well-reviewed Rome tour company. On their tour, you will be provided with headphones to ensure that you hear your live guide.  They also offer 100% money back if you cancel 24 hours or more in advance. 

  • €99 adult | €94 child 4-14 | 0-3 are free
  • Maximum 25 participants
  • 3.5 hours
  • Daily tours in English 08:20, 09:00, 13:00, and other times by season.
  • More information or to book.

City Wonders also offers a night tour of the Colosseum and Underground as well as the Forum. This tour is only offered in English.

  • €79 adult | €74 child 4-14 | 0-3 are free
  • Maximum 25 participants
  • 2.5 hours
  • Sundays-Wednesdays 19:00, 19:30, 20:00, 20:30, 21:00 and 21:20.
  • More information or to book.

There are many more night tour options


Roma Experience

This is another well-reviewed tour company. They offer two underground tours, one capped at 12 participants and another capped at 24.  The latter tour comes with headsets so that you can hear your tour guide.  They only offer this tour once each day in the morning.  They also offer a virtual reality version of this tour.

24 Person Tour

  • €99 adult | €89 student | €79 child 4-14 | €29 infant 0-3
  • 4 hours
  • Most Days @ 08:30 
  • More information

12 Person Max

  • €119 adult | €109 student | €99 child 4-14 | €29 infant 0-3
  • 4 hours
  • Most Days @ 08:30 
  • More information

There are too many to list. Click here for even more Underground tour options.

 


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Guided Tours of the Belvedere

The Belvedere is the uppermost level on the Colosseum and has very restricted access. The only option is through an official guided tour.

  • +€9 – adults
  • +€7 – concession

Both of these tours are special tours that are limited in availability.  Both tours last 60 minutes each. There is an additional €2 fee for an advanced reservation per tour.