This post covers tickets for the Colosseum, how to avoid long lines, available discounts, guided tours, nighttime access, as well as what to expect.
If you are planning to visit the Colosseum, you will need to pay for tickets to get in. Luckily, admission is fairly affordable!
Entry to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are included at no extra cost. Since your ticket is valid for more than one day, you should have plenty of time to visit all three locations.
NOTE: You can only visit each of the three locations just once. So, you can’t visit the Colosseum on both day 1 and day 2.
All tickets for the Colosseum are timed in order to make sure that the landmark doesn’t get too crowded. As such, it will be important to purchase tickets ahead of time to avoid long waits.
If the ticket you end up with isn’t valid for a few hours, you may want to check our post covering things to do in Rome to get some different ideas for activities you can enjoy in the meantime.
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, such as the Roma Pass and Omnia Card.
- €12 – adults
- €2 – EU citizens 18-25
- Free – under 18
There is an additional €2 per person for pre-booking (for tourist pass holders as well). We strongly recommend that you book and print out your ticket in advance of your arrival.
This way you will have what is called skip-the-queue tickets, which means you will only have the security line to deal with.
Without printed tickets, you will need to first stand on a will-call line to pick up your tickets. This could take 30-60 minutes in the busy season (DON’T DO IT).
If you choose to buy tickets at the Colosseum, this wait can be 1-2 hours or more during the busy season and your entry time might not be for a few hours later or sold out altogether (DON’T DO IT).
The official Colosseum’s website’s English page isn’t the easiest to use and they often sell out far in advance.
You can also get skip-the-line tickets for an extra €5 from a more user-friendly site.
Self-guided audio, visual tours as well as guided tours of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Forum are available but cost extra (though there is a well-done free audio tour available).
You should also read our “plan your visit” section below to learn more about avoiding lines and other helpful tips.
ADDITIONAL TICKET OPTIONS
The prices and information above is for general admission tickets to the Colosseum and does not include any special access areas, such as the Underground, Arena Floor, and the Belevedere.
There are also early-bird and nighttime tour tickets available for additional fees.
We cover them in our post on guided tours of the Colosseum.
This section covers all the different ways you can save money on tickets to the Colosseum.
In addition to providing details about tourist passes, we will also cover any additional discount opportunities you may want to consider.
Tourist Attraction Discount Passes
Admission to the Colosseum is included with almost every Rome tourist pass. The way you save money will depend on which service you choose.
Rome tourist passes typically include some of the following activities and attractions in addition to historic landmarks like the Colosseum:
- Vatican Museums
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- Baths of Caracalla
- Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella
- Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
- Leonardo da Vinci Museum
- Rome Catacombs Tour
- And more!
An all-inclusive option like the Omnia Pass will give you access to dozens of popular attractions for a specific number of days. The more activities you enjoy, the more money you’ll save.
Alternatively, with something like the Rome Tourist Card, you’ll receive a specific discount of 20% off most of the activities included with the service, ensuring you’ll be able to save some money no matter what happens.
Ultimately, regardless of which pass you choose, you should be able to save at least 20% – 50% off general admission prices for the Colosseum as well as other popular sights in Rome.
Roma Pass and Omnia Card purchasers who want to visit the Colosseum are required to make a reservation for a certain time and day online. The cost is €2 for the reservation fee per ticket through the official site.
Free Entry Days
20 times a year the Colosseum has free entry, however, these days are determined by the staff and usually aren’t available in the peak season.
Even during the slower seasons, you can still expect larger crowds than usual on free days. This may be a great way to save money, but we still recommend purchasing tickets to avoid long waits in line.
Here are the remaining free days in 2019:
- September 23rd
- October 4th
- November 4th
- November 22nd
- December 18th
Joining a guided tour of the Colosseum offers you several advantages over regular ticket holders. Here are 4 reasons to consider a guided tour.
First, it’s a great way to avoid waiting in long lines. Some private tours offer special access to the Colosseum, which allows you immediate access to the security line (no waiting at all).
Second, some tours also often cover a variety of subjects including the Underground, the Belvedere, and the Arena Floor. In fact, access to all 3 is available only with certain guided tours.
Third, some tours include early-bird or evening-entry to the Colosseum, which means that your group will enter approximately 30 minutes before it opens or once it has closed for the day.
Fourth, you will be led by an experienced local tour guide, not only through the Colosseum but also through the Forum and Palatine Hill.
Tours last approximately 3-4 hours in total and prices typically start at about €35 per person.
We cover them in more detail in our post on guided tours of the Colosseum.
If you’re interested in seeing a different side of this landmark, there are tickets you can get which allow you to visit after the sun goes down.
These opportunities are only available through organized tours of the Colosseum.
Night tours include access to the underground, which is usually off-limits during the day. This service is very limited, so it is recommended to purchase your tickets at least a few days in advance.
These underground tours are usually at least €50-€80 per person and they run for between 1-3 hours on average.
Check this list of night tours at the Colosseum for more details.
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, especially if you choose not to take a tour.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-on-hop-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.
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
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.
- Camera Bags
- 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.
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 allow them to bypass the longer general security lines or with a nighttime or early bird guided tours.
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.
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.
In addition to the significance of the location itself, there is also an exhibition area that 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.
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.