Wondering if you should visit the Palatine Hill Rome? It's included in your Colosseum ticket, and in my opinion, it's one of the best sites you can visit from Ancient Rome.
Find out everything you need to know, including how to skip the line, the best way to visit it, what there is to see, and much more!
I love the Palatine Hill and think it's one of the things you should not miss on a visit to Ancient Rome (which includes the Colosseum).
I go often, and know it well, so I'm here to tell you everything you need to know about visiting the Palatine Hill Rome:
The Palatine Hill is one of the original 7 hills of Rome. In fact, it's the oldest.
It's also where Rome was founded (on April 21, 753 BCE, by Romulus and Remus, according to legend).
The ruins you can see on the Palatine Hill stretch from the time of the founding of Rome all the way through the Roman Empire and even into the Renaissance (when some nobles decided it would be nice to plunk some homes and gardens there).
When you visit the Palatine Hill, you can see the enormity of the emperors' palaces. In fact, the word "palace" comes from the word "Palatine."
Entry to the Palatine Hill is already included with your Colosseum ticket, so yes, you should definitely visit it!
At the very least, a visit to the Palatine Hill will give you one of the most stunning panoramic views over Ancient Rome.
There is so much to see on the Palatine Hill that even after several visits a year over several years of living in Rome, I have not seen it all.
The most important and, I think, interesting things to see when you visit the Palatine Hill are:
This is pretty amazing to me. Apparently the first emperor of Rome, Octavian Augustus himself, ordered archeological excavations on the Palatine Hill.
Upon discovering artefacts from the iron age, Augustus declared the Palatine Hill to be the birthplace of Romulus, and hence, of Rome itself.
The nobility of Ancient Rome (long before the Roman Empire) built houses on the Palatine Hill, and eventually it became the site for the grandest palaces of the Roman Emperors.
Augustus built his home on the Palatine Hill right near the huts of Romulus. (It's one of the things you can visit, and it's amazing! More on this below.)
Today, that is what we see the most when we walk around the very top. (Well really, much of what we are seeing are not seeing ruins of his actual palace. The giant ruins we see are actually of structures that supported the palace.)
Domitian's palace, stretches across much of the Palatine Hill, and has enormous barrel vaults and arched walls.
Other emperors, including Tiberius, Nero and Septimius Severus, also built palaces here, sometimes on top of previous structures.
We are not exactly sure what this beautiful structure was used for, but we do know it was part of Domitian's palace.
It's kind of hard to imagine, but this was the basis of a fountain in Domitian's palace.
You see it from above. Look carefully at the walls around the fountain and you can see some 2000-year-old paint remnants.
Since it's hard to imagine what so many of these buildings looked like, below you will see a rendering of Domitian's Palace as it probably looked in his day.
Go check out Maquettes-Historiques.net for more excellent renderings by André Caron of a lot of the structures I am talking about on this page.
This is another structure that was the basis of a fountain.
What's so fantastic about this, besides its shape, is all the intact marble flooring around it.
Speaking of floors, how about this section with this crazy undulating marble, which was probably a triclinium (dining area).
This section, and the oval fountain above, are part of what is known as Coenatio Iovis (Jove's dining area).
Or, it may have been just an area where the emperor could receive guests.
All of this is part of Domitian's Palace, which, at about 50,000 square meters, was one of the largest built on the Palatine Hill.
This octagonal fountain was yet another part of the Domus Flavia (Domitian's Palace) on the Palatine Hill Rome.
While there is not much left of it, you still get the sense that this was a pretty sumptuous structure.
All the way on the other side of the Palatine Hill from the above structures, and just next to the main overlook, there are some lovely rose gardens, put there in the Renaissance by Cardinal Farnese (nephew of the Farnese Pope , Paul III).
In the 16th century, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (see above) built what is considered Europe's first botanical garden right here on the slopes of the Palatine Hill Rome. They included a huge variety of plants, fountains, aviaries, and grottoes.
These gardens were recently brought back to life and we can now visit them, or at least get a sense of what they were like back in their heyday.
I was lucky to visit them during the opening with my friend Livia Hengel, who wrote all about the opening here.
Check out my YouTube video all about visiting the Farnese gardens:
You can see the Colosseum from many different points on the Palatine Hill Rome.
From up here, you get a very different view of it than from ground level.
You also have lots of views of Rome's tallest dome, St Peter's Basilica.
There are rabbits living on the Palatine Hill and once in a while you can spot one.
Considering how much green space and garden areas cover the Palatine Hill, I think those are some pretty lucky bunnies!
Below, I'm going to explain about the SUPER ticket. Take a look at my video if you want to see what it's like to see these special sites:
The Palatine Museum is right at the top of the Palatine Hill. It is a pretty awesome place to visit all by itself.
The Palatine Museum is divided into sections by era, starting with the earliest on the ground floor.
You can actually see through the floors to some ancient structures underneath, and you can see and touch some walls from original Ancient Roman structures there.
I could easily spend an hour inside this museum. It's so rich with artefacts and amazing statues and remnants of ancient structures. But even a short walk through it is worth the extra 6€ you pay to get the SUPER ticket.
I have barely shown you what's inside this museum. It's truly magnificent! Come see for yourself.
A cryptoporticus (from the Greek crypta and porticus) is a covered passageway.
In the case of the Palatine Hill Rome, it refers to one that Nero built to connect his Domus Aurea to other palaces on the Palatine hill.
You can walk through this tunnel and imagine the emperor Caligula being stabbed to death in here.
Pretty gruesome but that's the way things were back then.
Rome's first emperor built his house on the Palatine Hill. It was surely one of the most beautiful structures of its day, and we are lucky that today, so much of it is preserved.
The House of Augustus is one of my favorite things to see on the Palatine Hill.
The tour of his house takes a little over half an hour. You need to either pre-book your visit (you can do this at the gate or online when you purchase your SUPER ticket), or, you can just show up and wait for the next tour. Tours go throughout the day that it's open, in Italian or English.
Livia was Augustus' second wife, and was the first Empress of Rome. It seems she had her own own, right next to that of Augustus.
Here, on the Palatine Hill, you can visit her house, with a tour as you must with the House of Augustus.
And, as with the House of Augustus, the frescoes are incredibly intact. There is also an excellent light show that brings some of the paintings further to life.
This tour takes about half an hour and is so worthwhile. I can't recommend these enough, especially if you love Ancient Rome!
There is a new exhibit on the Palatine Hill as of this writing (2018), and you can only visit it with the SUPER ticket. The visit has two items, but they are sort of unrelated to each other.
First is the Aula Isiaca, which means "Room of Isis", which was made during the time of Augustus, and has those 2nd style paintings I love so much. They depict, as you might imagine, paintings related to the Goddess Isis.
The other thing you can see in the same space, is the Mattei Loggia.
A loggia is, in this case, a roofed area attached to a house or villa. It's named "Mattei" in reference to the other wealthy Renaissance family (besides the Farneses) that owned land and built things on the Palatine Hill.
These paintings are all in the "Grotesque Style", which was inspired by Nero's Domus Aurea.
This round temple in the Roman Forum was dedicated at first to Romulus, the young son of the Emperor Maxentius. Romulus died as a child, and was deified, so this temple was thought to be to him. It's also referred to at the temple to Jupiter Stator.
You can go inside the Temple of Romulus with the S.U.P.E.R. ticket. It's really special just to be inside, but also to see the frescoes from the medieval. There are also some artefacts from the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
You can also glimpse this temple from above if you visit the church of Santi Cosma e Damiano, which you can enter from the via dei Fori Imperiali.
In the 5th century, around the time Christianity had really taken hold in the Roman Emprire, but also when the Roman Empire was in its decline, this church was built in the Roman Forum.
The whole structure was buried in an earthquake in 847, which meant it was completely preserved and undisturbed until it was discovered in 1900. They didn't excavate for another few decades. In 2016, the church opened to the public.
Now, you can visit Santa Maria Antiqua on the palatine Hill Rome, but only with the S.U.P.E.R. ticket. I think visiting this site is worth the extra 6€ alone.
Now, you can visit Santa Maria Antiqua ("Old Saint Mary's") with the S.U.P.E.R. ticket. They call this church "the Sistine Chapel of the Medieval", and I find it astonishing.
Many of the frescoes are so intact, and truly beautiful.
When you go in, there is background music playing, something like Gregorian chants.
And because it's now only accessible with the S.U.P.E.R. pass, there are very few people in there, even in high season. So between the lack of crowds, and the music, and the stunning art, you really feel transported in time to this ancient church.
In my opinion, the best way to visit the Palatine Hill your first time is with a guided tour.
The area is huge, and as I said above, there is so much to see. A good tour, and good tour guide, can help you focus on some of the most interesting parts, while giving you the info and background stories to tie it all together.
Of course, with a tour, you will not see the SUPER sites, but you could visit those yourself, bu staying inside the Palatine after your tour finishes (you just have to upgrade your entry ticket.)
If you go on your own, you might consider getting the audio guide (you can decide on-site), which actually comes on a sort of smart tablet, and includes some visual aides as well.
If you have been before, or are feeling adventurous and want to go on your own, I recommend starting your Ancient Rome visit here.
First of all, it's the best place to purchase a ticket on-site, as there are almost never any lines, certainly not long lines. Second of all, you will be high up, and can then make your way down into the Roman Forum. Then you can visit the Colosseum once you exit the Forum.
The ticket you buy to enter the Palatine Hill is the same ticket to the Colosseum, and the same ticket to the Roman Forum. In other words, you buy one ticket for any of these sites, and they are all included.
A standard ticket costs 12€. There is a 2€ fee to pre-book this ticket online.
The Palatine Hill/RomanForum/Colosseum are all included in the Roma Pass. Here's how it works:
With the standard 3-day Roma Pass, you get to visit 2 sites for free. Let's say that one of the sites you want to visit free (and of course skip the line), is the Colosseum. I find this to be the most common site people use the Roma Pass for.
Well, when you use the Roma Pass, you still receive an actual ticket to the Colosseum. And on that ticket, it says, good for entry to the Colosseum/Roman Forum/Palatine Hill. So, you can use the ticket to visit the Palatine Hill.
Basically, if you use the Roma Pass to visit the Colosseum for free, you get two other sites, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, for free. And this all counts as ONE site as far as the Roma Pass is concerned.
Remember, with the standard ticket to the Colosseum/Roman/Forum/Palatine Hill, you can visit the Colosseum one day, and the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill on another day. It must be 2 consecutive days. (You can of course visit all of them in one day, too.)
There are two other types of Rome combo passes you can purchase, and they both include free skip-the-line entry to the Palatine Hill/Roman Forum/Colosseum:
A reduced ticket is 7.50€. This price is for Europeans between 18-25, journalists, and European teachers.
It is FREE to visit the Palatine Hill (and Colosseum and Roman Forum) under these conditions:
To see the more specific requirements, and see if you qualify for free entry, visit the official page for the Palatine Hill Rome, CoopCulture.
Just above, I listed the standard, discounted, free tickets and passes for the Palatine Hill.
There is another type of ticket that I highly recommend, called the S.U.P.E.R. ticket.
S.U.P.E.R. stands for "Seven Unique Places to Experience in Rome". With this ticket, you get to see 7 amazing places on the palatine Hill and Roman Forum, that you cannot visit otherwise (see higher up on this page).
You cannot use the Roma Pass or any other pass to get inside the sites on the SUPER ticket.
But you CAN upgrade any standard Colosseum ticket from the 12€ version to the S.U.P.E.R. version simply by going to the ticket office and paying the extra 6€.
This means that for whatever visit/tour you may do, for which you will get a standard entry ticket to the Colosseum/RomanForum/Palatine Hill Rome, you can always add on the SUPER sites if you want.
You can buy tickets to the Colosseum/Roman Forum/Palatine Hill online, on the CoopCulture website.
You can also buy them at many online ticket vendors that offer mobile tickets. And finally, you can buy the tickets right on site.
I ALWAYS go to the Palatine Hill Rome ticket booth and entry on via di San Gregorio 50 to buy my tickets to the Colosseum, or Roman Forum or Palatine Hill, because I find there is almost never a line, and when there is a line, it moves much more quickly than that at the Colosseum.
I can spend all day on the Palatine Hill.
The Palatine is a pretty enormous stretch of land (its circumference is 5,700 feet, or 1,740 meters). But besides the size of it, there is just so much to see, if you want to.
I think for most people visiting Rome with limited time, you will typically spend anywhere from half an hour to a couple of hours visiting the Palatine Hill Rome.
But if you use the S.U.P.E.R. ticket, you will need more time, even on a single day (You need almost two full hours if you want to visit the houses of Livia and Augustus alone).
The Palatine Hill (and Roman Forum and Colosseum) all open at 8:30 every day. Closing time is "one hour before sunset", and so changes a lot throughout the year. Last entry is one hour before closing time.
For the complete schedule, visit CoopCulture.
In terms of when to visit the Palatine Hill during the day, when the weather is warm, I would always suggest visiting it during the hottest part of your visit to Ancient Rome. This is the only one of the three parks that has plenty of shade and places to sit down.
The Colosseum and Roman Forum are both devoid of shade and seating.
So if you have a morning visit, go to the Colosseum first, then the Roman Forum and then the Palatine Hill closest to noon. If you have an afternoon visit, start at the Palatine Hill, work your way down to the Roman Forum, and finally visit the Colosseum.
The Palatine Hill is next to the Colosseum, across from Capitoline Hill, and above the Roman Forum. It also looks over the Circus Maximus and can be seen from the Aventine Hill.
You can enter the Palatine Hill directly on via di San Gregorio 30.
You can also access the Palatine Hill from the Roman Forum, simply by climbing up, either through the middle (and the Farnese Gardens), or on the side of the Roman Forum where the Arch of Titus is.
You can leave the Palatine Hill at the entrance on via di San Gregorio 30, or you can go into the Roman Forum and leave it from there, at the various exit points, in many different spots, depending on where you want to go.
If you plan to come to the Palatine Hill by Metro (subway), you'll be coming by Blue Line B.
Get off at Circo Massimo (closest to the Palatine Hill), or at the Colosseo stop (closest to the Colosseum but also only about a 10 minute walk from the Palatine Hill entrance).
If you decide to reach the Palatine Hill by bus, remember that on Sundays, the via dei Fori Imperiali is completely pedestrian, so you will have to get a bus that stops nearby.
There are dozens of buses that take you to or near the Palatine Hill/Colosseum. A few important lines are:
If you have a smartphone or device with data, you can easily use Google maps to see what transportation will get you there. You will want to either go to the Colosseum (Piazza del Colosseo 1) or to the Palatine Hill entrance (via di san Gregorio 1).
There are many different companies offering hop-on/hop-off open bus tours of Rome. They are all similar and every single one of them includes a stop at the Colosseum.
In fact, the "Colosseum" stop is actually right at the entrance of the Palatine Hill!
If you are enjoying a day of walking to, from and around the Ancient Rome sites, you'll want to walk up the via dei Fori Imperiali.
Another option is to come from the Circus Maximus, especially if you've included some sight-seeing on the Aventine Hill, and maybe to the orange tree garden or the rose garden.
There is no restaurant per se inside the Palatine Hill. What you see below is pretty much it for refreshments. Definitely bring some water, or a water bottle you can refill.
You should not bring a major picnic to the Palatine Hill, but I do see people eating sandwiches and think this is a good idea.
In fact I suggest bringing a bar or sandwich so you can snack and not have to leave due to low blood sugar. The Palatine Hill is the only one of the three parks that has lots of places to sit, grass, and plenty of shade.
It's not easy to navigate the winding, uneven paths and roads that cover the Palatine Hill.
With a wheelchair, it's next to impossible. (This is true of strollers as well. You are better off coming without a stroller if you can help it.)
I have found one company that offers a unique kind of wheeled-chair that allows someone who cannot walk a way to get around these kinds of archeological sites. The apparatus is called a "wheely-trekky" and it does look like a good solution for getting around the Palatine Hill in a wheelchair. Check out their page here. (nb - I am not affiliated with this company in any way. Please contact them directly for all enquiries.)
There IS better access for people in wheelchairs at both the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.
You can find restrooms (that are pretty clean and modern) on the Palatine Hill Rome at the following locations:
On the below map, you can see where the Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, and Colosseum are in relation to each other. I've also included entry and exit points, and specific places of interest in the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Zoom out of the map to see where the Palatine Hill is in relation to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Capitoline Hill and other points of interest.
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