Want to walk out onto the Colosseum arena floor? Feel what it was like to be a gladiator, with the crowd roaring all around you?
I think this is one of the questions I get the most about visiting the Colosseum - How can I visit the arena floor? It's easier than ever to book this visit. Here's how:
If you want to visit the arena of the Colosseum, here's what you need to know:
The word "arena" comes from Latin and it means "sand."
When the Colosseum was in use in Ancient Rome, there was a layer of sand covering the floor.
Can you guess why? To absorb all the blood.
If you visit the Galleria Borghese, you can see some really well-preserved mosaic floors depicting a lot of these battles:
Games at the Ancient Roman Colosseum included gladiator battles (not always to the death), animals fighting each other, gladiators fighting animals, prisoners being executed, sometimes by being killed by starving, exotic animals that had been brought over from Africa.
They also created elaborate sets to make the Colosseum look like a jungle or forrest, and then hunters, and sometimes the emperor himself, would "hunt" animals set loose there.
Today, we use the word "arena" to mean a theater or sports venue. And now you can see where that word came from.
When the Colosseum was in use, obviously the arena covered the entire floor area.
Today, most of the Colosseum arena floor is gone and from above, we can see down into the Hypogeum (Colosseum underground).
But they have recreated part of the arena floor, along with a trap door and elevator system that was used to bring animals up to the floor.
Why visit the Colosseum arena floor?
From here you get a completely different perspective of the Colosseum and what it may have been like to be on that floor, whether as a gladiator, doomed prisoner, or bewildered animal (that part makes me the saddest, to be honest.)
If you don't visit the arena floor, you can still get a pretty good look at the Colosseum underground from the main level.
But from the arena, you are really looking right down into the underground. And of course, it's a different sensation to feel as if you are actually standing where gladiators once stood.
It's also pretty cool to walk onto the arena floor from outside. You walk through a tunnel and out onto the arena.
This door is often called the "Gladiator's Gate" by tour companies. Supposedly it's where gladiators entered the arena. I am not sure this was the exact gate.
The Gate of Life, where gladiators entered, was to the east (more or less where this gate is.) And the Gate of Death, pretty self-explanatory, was to the west, towards the setting sun (more or less where the standard entrance is today.)
But it's still evocative to come through this gate, whatever you want to call it.
There's actually another really good reason to visit the Colosseum arena - you really do skip the long lines at the Colosseum main entrance.
To visit the Colosseum, normally you go in through the main entrance which is on the west side (closer to the arch of Constantine.)
Even when you have a timed ticket, you will still likely encounter lines and waits. In high season, it's very crowded with other people like you who also have timed tickets. Plus you have to get through airport-like security.
But when you visit the arena, you go in at a different entrance called the Stern gate.
This entrance is reserved for these special tickets (along with a visit to the underground). And the lines and waits are much shorter.
And once you are in the arena, you are in the Colosseum!
After you visit the Colosseum arena floor, you exit the floor onto the main ring of the Colosseum and then can visit the rest of the monument on your own, taking as much time as you need.
There are a few ways to visit the Colosseum arena floor:
As of January 2020, CoopCulture, the official ticket agency for the Colosseum, has made it much easier to visit the Colosseum arena floor.
You can visit the CoopCulture website and purchase a "Full Experience" ticket that allows you access to:
This ticket is good for 2 days, which gives you plenty time to see everything across these sites. You can, of course, also visit both sites in one day.
*When you choose to visit the underground, this visit must include a tour, either with your own guide or through CoopCulture. And when you visit the underground you ALSO get to visit the arena. You should choose the arena-only option if you 1) don't want to spend the time/money on a tour of the underground 2) do not want to have to take a tour.
One of my favorite ways to visit the Colosseum is at night. (This is usually available from sometime in spring through the end of the year/early January.)
One of the best things about visiting the Colosseum at night is how uncrowded it is.
But another very cool thing is that the visit includes the underground and the arena. And it's even more evocative at night!VIP Colosseum At Night Tour With Underground & Arena Floor
Many excellent tour companies offer tours of the arena floor.
This is a great way to see the Colosseum arena, because you will have someone explain what you are seeing, and all the history. And with a tour company, you'll also get a guided tour of the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum.
These sites are so rich with history that you'll be glad you have someone knowledgable bring it all to life. If you've never been to Rome before, don't miss taking a tour of these amazing archeological sites!Gladiator’s Gate: Special Access Colosseum Tour with Arena Floor
The Full Experience ticket costs 22 Euros if you buy it on site.
I do not recommend this unless it's really low season, like between January 6 - mid February (yep, that's it!)
The Colosseum night visit costs 24€.
Add 2€ to book in advance on CoopCulture. I highly recommend you book in advance most of the year.
Normal tickets to the Colosseum as well as Full Experience tickets are all 2€ for Europeans between and including ages 18-25.
Everyone under 18 is eligible for free entry to all the sites at the Colosseum archeological park, including the arena and underground.
People in a wheelchair and their helper are also eligible for free entry.
However, you cannot (at the time of this writing) use the Roma Pass or any other Rome City Pass to get the Full Experience ticket, i.e. access to the Colosseum arena floor.
One very cool thing is that with the Colosseum arena ticket you do NOT need to book a tour.
If when you purchase the Full Experience ticket, you choose the Arena (as opposed to the underground), you will simply be escorted onto the arena floor, allowed 20 minutes there, and then escorted out into the Colosseum.
Watch my video where I go into the arena and Colosseum on my own with the Full Experience ticket:
You CAN also book a tour, but only with an outside tour company. CoopCulture does not currently offer the option of just an arena tour.
But in case you are not a tour person or would rather not invest the time/money, you have the option of just visiting the arena on your own.
I am often asked if it's "worth" taking a tour, of just about anything.
Of course this is subjective. I have come to understand that not everyone is into taking tours - whether they prefer to just visit a site at their own pace, or perhaps they don't want all the details but to just enjoy what they are looking at, or for budget reasons, or they don't like to be "herded" in a group. I get it!
But if you are on the fence and are open to the idea of taking a tour, I think it's usually worthwhile. This is because I LOVE history and I love for someone to bring the place to life for me. The best option, although most expensive, for taking a tour of just about anything would be to hire a private guide. This way you can take the time you want, ask all the questions you want, and have the tour tailored to you.
If a private tour is not for you, I also suggest a small group tour with an outside tour company.
Usually when you book a tour of the Colosseum arena and/or underground with an outside tour company, you get a complete tour not just of these special areas but also of the Colosseum itself, plus parts of the Palatine Hill/Roman Forum.
Yes, the Colosseum arena is wheelchair accessible. From the CoopCulture ticket page:
There are two entrances to the Colosseum - the main entrance and the Stern gate. As mentioned above, the only entrance to the Colosseum arena is through the Stern gate.
When you arrive at the Colosseum from the metro and exit the metro station, you will need to walk to the opposite side of the Colosseum to the one you see facing you.
The same is true if you walk down the via dei Fori Imperiali from Piazza Venezia. Once you reach the Colosseum, you will need to walk around to the opposite side.