Julie Italy 58 Comments

The Colosseum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. If you are planning your first trip to Rome, most likely the Colosseum is on your to-do list. In this guide, we cover what you need to know about how to visit the Colosseum, including what to do when you are here, the best time of day to plan your visit, and whether or not it is worth it to take a tour.

The Colosseum is Rome’s most popular landmark to visit. Lines to enter can be enormous and the last thing you want to do is spend your valuable time waiting in line.

Fortunately, with proper planning, you can avoid this long wait and have a great experience at the Colosseum. We have visited the Colosseum twice, on a self-guided visit and on a tour, and have a lot of helpful tips to share with you.

Interesting Facts About the Colosseum

Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum (also called the Flavium Amphitheater) is the largest amphitheater that was ever built at the time. It could hold up to 80,000 people, spectators who were drawn here to watch gladiatorial contests, executions, animal hunts, and re-enactments of famous battles.

It gets its name from the “colossal” bronze statue of Nero, which sat right next to the Colosseum. The statue no longer stands but the name remains. In Italian, you will see the Colosseum written as Colosseo.

In medieval times, once the Colosseum was no longer used as an amphitheater, it was used as housing, a fortress, a quarry, a cemetery, and a small chapel was built inside of the Colosseum.

In 1349, an earthquake damaged much of the structure and the stones that fell from the Colosseum were then used to construct other buildings in Rome.

Beginning in the 17th century, efforts were made to protect the Colosseum, as people realized the importance and history of this building. Between 1993 and 2000, it underwent a major renovation, and smaller projects continue today.

It is one of the seven New Wonders of the World and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Colosseum Things to Do | How to Visit the Colosseum

Things to Do in the Colosseum

There are several levels of the Colosseum: the underground, first level, second level, and the third level (top tier). There are several different ticket types and which one you choose determines which of these levels you can visit.

First Level of the Colosseum

This is the level of the arena floor. From this level, you can walk the circumference of the Colosseum, with several viewpoints into the underground. The arena floor was once made of wood and covered with sand, but this disappeared once the Colosseum was no longer used as an amphitheater. From this level, you look down into the inner workings of the underground rooms and hallways.

Colosseum First Level | How to Visit the Colosseum

First level

 

Colosseum Cross

Cross on the first level

The Arena Floor

Part of the Arena Floor was recently rebuilt, giving visitors a sense of what it is like to stand in the arena. This is also the best spot to look into the Underground. For entrance onto the Arena Floor, you will need a special ticket.

How to Visit the Colosseum | How to Visit the Colosseum

View from the Arena Floor

The Underground

The Underground, also called the hypogeum, is the area under the Arena Floor. This is where the animals were kept and where the gladiators waited to be released. It’s a maze of underground tunnels and rooms and can only be visited on a guided tour. This is one of Rome’s best history lessons and well worth it, in our opinion.

Colosseum Underground Tunnel | How to Visit the Colosseum

Underground tunnel

 

Colosseum Underground Tour | How to Visit the Colosseum

Colosseum Underground and the bottom of the Arena Floor

 Colosseum Underground Photo

Underground passage

 

Colosseum Underground Photo

View from the Underground | How to Visit the Colosseum

The Second Level

On the second level, now that you are higher, you get one of the best views of the Colosseum. There are various viewpoints into the Colosseum, but one of the best is from west side of the Colosseum, where you get a panoramic view of the interior plus the Arena Floor.

The second level is included on the standard ticket.

Colosseum Second Level | How to Visit the Colosseum

Second Level

 

Colosseum Second Level View | How to Visit the Colosseum

View from the second level

Second Level Terrace

On the west end of the second level, once you take your photos of the interior of the Colosseum, turn around and walk towards the exterior of the Colosseum. This takes you to a terrace that overlooks the Arch of Constantine, with views of Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Here is the view.

Arch of Constantine

Arch of Constantine

For more clarification, below is a photo of the Colosseum, taken near the Arch of Constantine, with a view of the terrace.

Second Level Terrace Colosseum | How to Visit the Colosseum

Museum of the Colosseum

On the second level is the Museum of the Colosseum, which displays archaeological artifacts, mosaics, and graffiti from the Colosseum. It is included on the standard ticket.

Colosseum Museum | How to Visit the Colosseum

Museum of the Colosseum

 

Colosseum Mosaic Floor

Mosaic Floor

Third Level (Top Tier or the Attic)

This is as high as you can go in the Colosseum. It has recently reopened and on the ticketing website it is called the ‘Attic.’

Things to Do Outside of the Colosseum

Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch that is dedicated to Constantine the Great. It is the largest Roman triumphal arch and it was built between 312 and 315 AD. It is located next to the Colosseum and free to visit.

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is located just a short walk from the Colosseum. This is ancient Rome, a complex of government buildings, temples, and marketplaces from 2000 years ago.

From the Colosseum, you will enter the Roman Forum by walking along Via Sacra and entering at the Arch of Titus.

Via Sacra Rome | How to Visit the Colosseum

Via Sacra

Notable things to see in the Roman Forum include the Via Sacra, the Temple of Venus, the Temple of Romulus (the bronze doors date back to 309 AD), the Temple of Antonius and Faustina and its “hanging door,” the Temple of Vesta, the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Septimius Severus, and the Temple of Julius Caesar.

Roman Forum Photo

Roman Forum

A visit here lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how many sites you visit and/or your tour.

The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are included on the standard Colosseum entrance ticket.

Palatine Hill

Sitting on Palatine Hill is a complex of archaeological excavations, the remains of temples and palaces, and a museum. During the time of the Roman Republic, many imperial palaces were built here, including palaces for Augustus, Tiberius, and Domitian.

There are several sites on Palatine Hill, such as the House of Augustus, which requires an additional ticket (it is included on the S.U.P.E.R ticket, also called the Full Experience ticket).

While on Palatine Hill, make sure you visit Terrazza Belvedere del Palatino for a bird’s eye view of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. It’s one of the best views in Rome. Here is the view:

Roman Forum

View of the Roman Forum from Palatine Hill

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Since Palatine Hill is included on a ticket with the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, grouping these three sites together makes the best use of your time. To visit all three, plan on spending anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, depending on how quickly you move.

Viewpoints of the Colosseum

For close up views of the Colosseum, take some time to walk around the entire building. This takes about 15 minutes, depending on how frequently you stop for photos.

Views of the Colosseum | How to Visit the Colosseum

View of the Colosseum near the intersection of Via Nicola Salvi and Via Labicana

 

Colosseum Exterior

View of the southern side of the Colosseum

For one of the best views of the Colosseum, to go Giardinetto del Monte Oppio. This small park is located next to the Colosseo metro station, it’s free to visit, and this is the view that you get:

Best Colosseum Views | How to Visit the Colosseum

The view from Giardinetto del Monte Oppio

How to Get to the Colosseum

METRO: The closest metro stop is Colosseo, on line B. This metro station sits across the street from the Colosseum, and once you exit the station, the Colosseum will be right in front of you.

TAXI OR UBER: It’s possible to take a taxi or Uber to get to the Colosseum. Taxis can be hired from taxi stands throughout the city.

BUS: It’s also possible to get to the Colosseum by bus, whether it is by public bus or on a hop-on hop-off tourist bus.

ON FOOT: Depending on where you are staying in Rome, or what you plan to do before your visit, you can walk to the Colosseum. We use Google Maps for walking directions in Rome.

ENTRANCE INTO THE COLOSSEUM: The entrance into the Colosseum is on the west end of the building. These GPS coordinates (41°53’26.5″N 12°29’28.6″E) give you the approximate location.

Italy Travel Guide Rome

How Much Does It Cost to Visit the Colosseum?

The answer to this question depends on which levels you want to visit. Here are the Colosseum ticket types.

Standard Ticket

Cost: €18 (€16 entrance fee + €2 reservation fee)
Includes: Level 1 and Level 2 of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
Valid: Valid for 24 hours

Standard Ticket + Audioguide

Cost: €23.50 (€21.50 entrance fee + €2 reservation fee)
Includes: Level 1 and Level 2 of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, audioguide for the Colosseum
Valid: Valid for 24 hours

Full Experience Ticket

Cost: €24 (€22 entrance fee + €2 reservation fee)
Includes: Level 1 and Level 2 of the Colosseum, Arena Floor, guided visit to the Underground, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, entrance into the S.U.P.E.R sites (Casa Augustus, Palatine Museum, House of Livia, temple of Romulus, Santa Maria Antiqua, Criptoportico neroniano, and Aula Isiaca)
Valid: Valid for 48 hours

Full Experience Attic

Cost: €24 (€22 entrance fee + €2 reservation fee)
Includes: Level 1 and Level 2 of the Colosseum, Attico, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, entrance into the S.U.P.E.R sites (Casa Augustus, Palatine Museum, House of Livia, temple of Romulus, Santa Maria Antiqua, Criptoportico neroniano, and Aula Isiaca)
Valid: 48 hours
Good to Know: There are only 8 tickets sold per time slot. If you can’t get a ticket through the official website, take a look at this private tour that includes the Attic.

FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH: Admission is free the first Sunday of every month. Expect BIG crowds on this day. It may sound like a good idea to visit the Colosseum for free, but lines can be long to enter and the crowds can take away from the overall experience.

Roma Pass

If you have a Roma Pass, your entrance fee is included. However, you will still need to book a time slot to enter the Colosseum. This must be done in advance and there is a €2 reservation fee.

Tickets for Children

Children can enter the Colosseum for free but you will still need to book a time slot in advance, which you can do on the official website. Learn more here.

The Colosseum at Night

Evening tours of the Colosseum are offered, which allow you to see the Colosseum illuminated at night. These tickets sell out far in advance, so if this sounds like something you want to do, make your reservation as soon as you know your dates of travel. Learn more here.

You can also take this tour, which includes a nighttime visit to the Colosseum plus the Underground and the Arena Floor.

Colosseum Arena Floor

Arena Floor | How to Visit the Colosseum

Purchasing Your Colosseum Tickets

For the best experience, book your tickets in advance, ideally at least several weeks before your visit (but even 4 weeks is better, especially from April through September). Tickets go on sale one month in advance as of May 2024.

In helping people purchase tickets, we have noticed that tickets are being purchased as soon as they become available, especially the Full Experience tickets. For example, on April 8, tickets become available for May 8 (and sometimes selling out within 24 hours of becoming available). The earlier time slots of the day sell out almost instantly, so set a remimder on your calendar to purchase your tickets as soon as your date becomes available.

Tickets to the Underground and Attic are limited and sell out fast. It can also be difficult to get tickets to the nighttime tours of the Colosseum.

Purchase your tickets on the official website (scroll down to the page to the “Tickets” section and then chose your ticket type). When you make your booking, you will also reserve a time slot. We recommend reserving the first time slot of the day for the lightest crowds (opening time is at 9 am). On our most recent visit to the Colosseum, we entered at opening time and there was no line (this was in September 2022). If the above link does not work, here is a direct link to the official ticketing website.

IMPORTANT (UPDATE AS OF MAY 2024): The colosseo.it website is now the official ticketing website for tickets purchased for May 2024 and beyond. Unfortunately, this is replacing the coopculture.it website. In our experience, the coopculture.it website was easier to use and had lots of helpful information, but it is no longer updated. Also, we have had issues with the colosseo.it website being down (as have other travelers, as you can read in the comment section below). With all this being said, it could be easier to purchase your ticket through GetYourGuide (see the tour options in the next section).

What if Tickets are Sold Out?

If tickets on the official website are sold out, we recommend booking a guided tour of the Colosseum.

A portion of the entry tickets into the Colosseum are sold to third-party providers, who then resell the tickets at a slightly higher price or as a guided tour. It will cost you more money, sometimes just a few extra euros, but it is worth it to get the time slot you want and not miss out on this experience.

This tour only includes the Colosseum but takes just one hour of your time, so it’s a good option for those who want a quick visit to the Colosseum.

This skip-the-line guided tour includes your entrance into the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill and is one of the cheapest tours that we found of the Colosseum.

This skip-the-line tour includes entrance into the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill and has the option to add on the Arena Floor.

This private tour includes the Attic, one of the hardest tickets to get on the official website.

If you want to tour the Colosseum and the Underground, take a look at this tour (it includes the Colosseum, Arena Floor, Underground, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill).

Finally, if you want to tour the Colosseum at night, this tour gets rave reviews and includes the Underground and the Arena Floor.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: In recent years, tickets were not available for purchase at the Colosseum, you had to purchase your ticket online in advance. However, the official website now states that tickets are only available online and also available at the Colosseum, which is very contradictory. To be safe, I recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance.

When is the Colosseum Open?

The Colosseum and Roman Forum are open every day.

Hours vary by season. In the winter (October 27 through February 28), opening time is 8:30 am and closing time is 4:30 pm. The remainder of the year, the Colosseum opens at 8:30 am and closes between 5:30 pm and 7:15 pm, depending on the month. These hours always seem to be changing so I recommend getting updated hours here.

Best Time of Day to Visit the Colosseum

I recommend visiting first thing in the morning, at the first time slot of the day, to tour the Colosseum with low crowds. Crowds also tend to be lighter at the end of the day, just keep in mind that the last entry is one hour before closing.

What We Did

We have visited the Colosseum twice.

Our first visit was in 2014. We entered midday and toured the Colosseum on our own, without a guide. We realized that there is a lot to see and without a guide, you don’t really know what you are looking at.

In 2022, Tim and I returned to Rome and took a guided tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill, including the Arena Floor and Underground. This tour lasted 3 hours and we got a lot out of it. The history of the Underground is fascinating and we learned a lot, not just about the Colosseum but the other ancient archaeological sites on Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum.

Skip the Line Tours of the Colosseum

It is well worth it to take a tour of the Colosseum. This allows you to visit the Underground, but if you visit the Colosseum with a guide, you also learn a lot about the history here (and the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, if you add those to your tour).

The cheapest “tour” is to book a standard ticket into the Colosseum plus the audioguide (€23.50).

We wanted to take a nighttime tour of the Colosseum, but these tickets sell out far in advance so we were unable to do this, but it’s a unique way to tour the Colosseum and people rave about this experience.

If you are unable to purchase entrance tickets into the Colosseum or you prefer to take a guided tour to get the most out of your visit, here are some highly rated tours of the Colosseum.

 

 

Helpful Tips for Visiting the Colosseum

Dress Code

There is no dress code for the Colosseum. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

Backpacks & Luggage

Large backpacks and luggage are not permitted inside of the Colosseum. Small backpacks are allowed.

What to Do After Your Visit

Here are a few nearby places to visit. For a more complete list, read our article Best Things to Do in Rome.

  • After your visit to the Colosseum, visit Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum.
  • For lunch, we recommend La Prezzemolina. This small restaurant is within walking distance of the Colosseum and Roman Forum and serves delicious Roman style pizza. It’s one of the best cheap eats in Rome.
  • Visit the museums and viewpoints on Capitoline Hill.
  • Visit the Altar of the Fatherland for 360° views of Rome.
  • Have a cocktail at The Court at Palazzo Manfredi for views of the Colosseum (the bar opens at 5 pm).
  • See the Ludus Magnus (the remains of the gladiator school), which are located a short walk east of the Colosseum

Roman Forum View

Roman Forum from Capitoline Hill

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to see the Colosseum?

The best way to see visit the Colosseum is on a guided tour. On a guided tour, you can visit the Underground and tour the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill with a knowledgeable guide, so you get the most out of your visit.

How long does it take to visit the Colosseum?

It takes 1 to 2 hours to visit the Colosseum. With one hour, you can tour the first and second levels, visit the museum, and take photos from the Arena Floor. A tour of the Underground adds on roughly 30 minutes to your visit to the Colosseum.

Can you visit the Colosseum without a tour?

Yes, you can purchase a ticket online in advance and visit the Colosseum without taking a tour.

More Information about Rome

For a full list of things to do in Rome, check out our article Best Things to Do in Rome. For the best viewpoints of Rome’s famous landmarks, take a look at our article Best Views of Rome.

Learn how to plan your time with our One Day in Rome Itinerary, 2 Day Rome Itinerary, 3 Day Rome Itinerary and 4 Day Rome Itinerary.

In our article How to Visit the Vatican Museums & St. Peter’s Basilica, we cover what you need to know to plan your visit, including if a tour is worth it, how to avoid the lines, plus information about the “secret rooms” in the Vatican.

For advice on where to eat, read our guide about Where to Eat in Rome, that has restaurant recommendations near the Colosseum, Vatican City, and the historic heart of Rome, plus some great rooftop restaurants. We also have a guide to the Best Rooftop Bars in Rome.

Get recommendations on where to stay in Rome in our Rome Hotel Guide.


If you have any questions about how to visit the Colosseum, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Italy

ITALY ITINERARIES: If you are just beginning to plan your Italy itinerary, take a look at our 10 Days in Italy Itinerary for five different ways to spend 10 days in Italy. We also have a detailed 10 day itinerary that includes Rome, Florence, the Cinque Terre, and Venice. For those with more time, check out our 14 day Italy itinerary, which covers the highlights of Italy.

VENICE: Learn more about Venice in our article Best Things to Do in Venice. We also have guides about How to Visit St. Mark’s Basilica, where to get the Best Views of Venice, and how to spend Two Days in Venice.

FLORENCE & TUSCANY: If this is your first visit to Florence, read our guide to the Best Things to Do in Florence and the best rooftop bars in Florence. If you plan to visit Tuscany, learn about the Best Things to Do in Tuscany, how to spend One Day in Siena, how to plan your Tuscany itinerary, and check out our guide to the Best Day Trips from Florence.

VERONA: Verona is a beautiful city in northern Italy. Learn how to spend one perfect day in Verona.

AMALFI COAST: Find out the best way to get around the Amalfi Coast and what it is really like to drive the Amalfi Coast. Learn about the best things to do on the Amalfi Coast, how to hike the Path of the Gods, and things to do in Ravello and Positano, and how to visit Paestum, an archaeological site that is located just outside of the Amalfi Coast.

 

We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, and Puglia.

 

How to Visit the Colosseum Rome

 

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Comments 58

  1. Avatar for Ashley Judk
    Ashley Judk

    Hi Julie,
    I am visiting Roma for the first time in October. What would you recommend is the best way to visit the Colosseum/Forum etc.
    Kind regards,
    Ashley.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      I recommend purchasing your ticket in advance, ideally for the first time slot of the day. Visit the Colosseum and then end with the Roman Forum. If you prefer to do this with a guide, you can book a guided tour of both, which ranges from group tours to private tours. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Mandeep
    Mandeep

    Hi Julie,
    Finally have most of our trip to Italy booked which I mostly based on your itinerary. Thank you for all the information. The Colosseum is the last “tour” I have left to book. I was hoping to book the underground guided tour (full experience) via the ticketing.Colosseo.it website. Firstly they only release the tickets 30 days in advance but they seem to sell out fast. I have yet to figure out what exact time they are released and they seem to sell out fast. Second, it seems like this tour does not provide a guided tour to the rest of the Colosseum, just to the underground. I think I would want a guided tour to all of it, or am I misunderstanding that. I am considering getting a guided tour of the Colosseum hoping with Underground or Arena but it seems to be quite a bit expensive on other sites. But I also heard that getting a tour from third party is not guaranteed as it is based on them obtaining tickets. Please advise as to what is the best way and reasonable cost way of getting a guided tour of the Colosseum. Looking for August 1st.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      The cheapest way to visit the Colosseum would be to book a ticket directly on the official website, for a ticket that includes the Arena Floor and a tour of the Underground (the Full Experience ticket). You would only tour the Underground with a guide the rest would be done independently. If you want to take a guided tour of all of the sites in the Colosseum, then you will have to book a guided tour with a 3rd party. We did this and had a fantastic experience (we used a company called Liv Italy). However, you are correct, it gets to be very expensive. Another way to do it cheaper is to book your ticket on the official website and then purchase a guidebook to the Colosseum and use this as you go through it. They probably sell them onsite (again, it could be expensive) or you could purchase one before your trip and bring it with you. We’ve done this at other places and it works well. If tickets are sold out, you may have to go through a third party anyways. I hope this helps! Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Erica
    Erica

    If we can get full experience tickets timed entry at Colosseum in later afternoon with less crowd, can we visit the Roman Forum and other sties included in the tickets first before heading to the Colosseum, just like we will do in Siena and Florence?
    Thanks.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Erica. I think that will work but I am not 100% sure. I tried to confirm this on the official website but it was currently down, so unfortunately I cannot give you a definitive answer, but I think it is worth a try. Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Teal Lockard
    Teal Lockard

    My son and I are traveling to Italy using your 10 day itinerary over 13 days (May 7-21). I am having a lot of trouble scheduling Colleseum tickets for May 9th. For several days, the http://www.colosseo.it site is down. 🙁 I can choose April dates, but this site is down when I try to select a May date. I want to see the underground and arena floor if possible. But, it looks like the Colleseum doesn’t offer a “guided tour” of the underground — (only an “escort?”)
    Advise?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Teal. It looks like the colosseo.it website is working again (it goes out a lot; we once had links to that website in this post but since that website was down so frequently it wasn’t worth sending people to it). However, it looks as if they are switching the ticketing process solely to that website for any tickets purchased from May and beyond (and later today I will be adding those links back in). And yes, it looks as if it is only an escort to the underground. We took a guided tour of the Colosseum that included the underground (with LivItaly) so I don’t know exactly what is involved if you use the official website to visit the underground. What you would be missing out on would be some history of the underground and I don’t know if the that guide will provide that for you. So, I recommend trying the colosseo.it website again. If you can’t get tickets then look into joining a tour by a 3rd party. We have some links in this guide. Good luck! Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Teal Lockard
        Teal Lockard

        I finally got into the site this AM and there is only 1 “in English” slot open for the Full Access ticket that includes the Underground and none with a guide for the 3 days we will be in Rome. So, I will look for one of the outside tours. The price difference is nuts! But, I would rather have a guide to tell us what we are seeing.

        1. Avatar for Julie Post
          Author
          Julie

          I’m glad you were able to get into the site but it is a bummer they didn’t have what you were looking for. I hope you have a great 3 days in Rome! Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Ronnie
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      It would be more time efficient to visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill before the nighttime tour so you don’t have to come back to that part of Rome. But putting that on a different day works too, it just depends on what your itinerary is and how much time you have in Rome. Cheers, Julie

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