The Colosseum is one of the most amazing things you can see in Rome. Find out how to get the most out of your visit.
Here's everything you need to know, from how to skip the line, when to go, which ticket to buy, what's included, and more.
January 2020 - All the latest Colosseum news:
These past few months have brought a flurry of changes to the way you'll visit the Colosseum. Here are the highlights of the new prices, new rules, and new offerings:
Single full-priced entry to the Colosseum now costs 16€.
A standard 16€ ticket includes ONE-DAY ONLY access to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.
You must reserve a date and time to visit the Colosseum. This costs 2€. You do not need a reservation to visit the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill.
Your ticket also allows you to go from the Roman Forum through Julius Caesar's Forum and Trajan's Forum (MAYBE.)
There is a NEW TICKET called "Full Experience". This ticket costs 22€ (plus 2€ to book in advance online.) In addition to access to the above sites, this ticket also allows you: TWO days to visit (no re-entry), access to all the S.U.P.E.R. sites on the Palatine Hill/Roman Forum (subject to opening hours and availability), AND access to the arena OR underground. Confusing? Jump down here and I'll explain further.
The Rome Italy Colosseum is open every day during the year except for Christmas Day and New Years Day. (It used to also be closed on May 1, a big holiday in Europe, but this is no longer the case. The Colosseum IS open on May 1.)
The Rome Italy Colosseum opens daily at 8:30am. If you come earlier, there is hardly anyone around and you can get photos like this.
The colosseum opens at 8:30am, and closes “at sundown”.
This means in winter months, the Colosseum closes around 4:30pm (with last entry at 3:30pm).
In the late spring and summer months it closes around 7pm. The ticket office closes one hour prior to closing time. For more specific closing times, visit the CoopCulture website, the official website of the Colosseum and other archeological sites.
When is the best time to visit the colosseum in Rome?
If you're wondering when is the best time to visit the Colosseum to avoid huge crowds, there are three parts to this answer - time of year, day of the week, and time of day.
The Rome Italy Colosseum is one of the top attractions in Rome. Find out my tips for getting the most out of your visit.
Best time of year to visit the Colosseum?
The Rome Italy Colosseum is one of the city's top attractions, and one of the most visited monuments in the world (over 7 million in 2019!). So it always has visitors. However, unlike the Vatican, it isn't crowded when tourists are not here.
So is there a day of the week that is best for visiting the Colosseum?
In high season, the Rome Italy Colosseum is crowded every day of the week. You can barely discern a difference between the crowds during the week vs. the weekend.
But in low season, you will find the Colosseum less crowded during the week than on the weekend. This is true even when it's Culture Week in March and entry is free.
This is the line at the Rome Italy Colosseum on a February weekend. Yes, February is mostly low season. But is it busy at the Colosseum on the weekend? Even in low season? YES!
On the weekends, you have Romans going around their city with friends and family. You also have people who live near Rome and want to enjoy a day in the city. Then there are Italians and other European residents who find it easy to drive or fly into Rome on the weekend. So if you are one of these people, count on crowds at the Colosseum on weekends, even in low season.
Some things to keep in mind :
If you are here for Easter Weekend, the Colosseum closes early Friday, due to the Via Crucis. And on that weekend, it's open and will be packed.
If you are here over New Years', the Colosseum will close early on New Years' Eve, and may have later opening hours on New Years' Day (check on their website to be sure of opening times these dates.)
Best time of day to visit the Colosseum?
Just about any time of year, high season or not, I always suggest visiting the Colosseum either when they first open at 8:30am, or, 1-2 hours before last entry.
In high season, you will still see plenty of people at these hours but not nearly as many as during late morning and through the middle of the day. Think of the crowd amount as a bell curve.
In hot months, you should avoid coming in the middle of the day, as there is virtually no shade and no place to sit down.
Early Closing Hours in Winter
The Rome Italy Colosseum closes at “sundown” so in the winter months, you’ll need to come earlier in the day.
So, to sum up, the best times to visit the colosseum to avoid crowds, and also for your own comfort, are:
At 8:30am when it first opens. Even in high season, you will still find crowds at this hour, but much smaller crowds than later in the day.
One hour before last entry. Last entry is one hour before it actually closes, so if you go about an hour before that, you will have plenty of time to enjoy it and not feel rushed, but by then, the crowds have greatly thinned out. The "last entry" and closing times vary throughout the year, and are based on sundown. (The caveat here is that you need to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to visit the Colosseum, and also the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill if you want to visit those also. And as of 2019, you only have one day to do so. Mostly.)
One of my favorite times of day to visit the Colosseum is close to closing time. Then you can enjoy a bonus sunset as you leave.
How much does it cost to visit the Colosseum?
As of January 2020, there are two main ticket types for the Rome Italy Colosseum:
Standard ticket prices for visiting the Rome Italy COlosseum
If you just walk up and buy a ticket to the Colosseum, the price is
16€ for an adult
2€ for Europeans between the ages of 18-25. At the moment, this discounted rate is available only to European citizens.
Free for everyone under 18
If you book in advance, which allows you to skip the line, there is a 2€ fee.
This is true even for free tickets.
So for example, if you are eligible for a free ticket, i.e. if you are under 18, or have the Roma Pass or other City Pass, and you want to reserve a time so you can skip the line, you still need to pay the 2€ to reserve.
The new Full Experience ticket costs 22€ (plus 2€ to book in advance). The same conditions apply (discounts and free entry) as for the standard Rome Italy Colosseum ticket, i.e. the cost is still 2€ for European citizens aged 18-25, and free for everyone under 18).
It offers you:
One entrance to the Colosseum
One entrance to either the Colosseum arena floor OR to the Colosseum Underground
Entrance to the Palatine Hill/Roman Forum AND all the S.U.P.E.R. sites
Entrance to the Imperial Forums (Julius Caesar and Trajan)
How does the Full Experience ticket work
This is a little bit detailed so I am going to lay this out for you in two sections:
Here's how to purchase the Full Experience ticket:
You can try to do this in person like I did in January mid-week. But I must caution you that it's not a good idea in general. You run the risk of not getting to see what you want when you want to, or even not getting in at all. So my strongest suggestion is to purchase the Rome Italy Colosseum Full Experience ticket in advance.
When you go on the CoopCulture website
Here's how the Full Experience Rome Italy Colosseum ticket works:
You have 2 days to visit the sites above.
You can only visit each site once (no re-entry.) This means you can and must visit the Colosseum together with the arena OR underground on the same. And you must visit the Palatine Hill/Roman Forum/SUPER sites in one day.
To repeat - the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are actually ONE park, so you have to visit them together, along with any SUPER sites you want to see.
You CAN visit everything in one day if you want. You can also take a lunch/coffee break between visits to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill.
If you break this up over two days, you can visit the Colosseum and its related special access (area or underground) on one day, and the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill/SUPER sites another day. You can visit these sites in either order (i.e. you can visit the Palatine/Forum the day before the Colosseum), but they must be on two consecutive days.
Here is one of the tricky parts -
If you don't purchase your tickets in advance, you can go to the entrance of the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill and buy the ticket there.
On the first Sunday of every month between and including October - March
During Culture Week, which in 2019 is from March 5-10 inclusive
The Free Sunday Rule Has Changed!
January 2020 - This news might change again! We might go back to the Free Sunday year-round after all. Nothing is set yet. Watch this space!
The Colosseum is NO LONGER FREE every first Sunday of the month!
In 2019, the rules changed. The first Sunday of April - September inclusive, the first Sunday of the month is not the Free Sunday. You will pay normally for all state sites and museums in Rome.
In 2019, there were other free dates sprinkled throughout the year. In 2020, they have not yet decided whether to bring back the year-long Free Sunday, or to offer free entry on other dates throughout the year as they did in 2019. So as of this writing in January 2020, we still do not know beyond February and March (Free Sundays) when there will be free entry to the Rome Italy Colosseum. For your reference, I'm leaving up the list of free dates from 2019. But I will update this as soon as they announce the free dates in 2020.
3 March 2019 - First Sunday of the month
5-10 March 2019 - Museums Week (admission without reservation)
9 May 2019 - Remembrance Day for the victims of domestic and international terrorism
5 June 2019 - World Environment Day, established by the United Nations
29 June 2019 - St.s Peter and Paul (San Pietro e Paolo, Rome's Patron Saints)
23 September 2019 - Dies natalis Augusti
4 October 2019 - Day of peace of fraternity and dialogue between members of different cultures and religions and Saint Francis and Saint Catherine, patron saints of Italy
6 October 2019 - First Sunday of the month
3 November 2019 - First Sunday of the month
4 November 2019 - National Unity Day
22 November 2019 - World Philosophy Day
1 December 2019 - First Sunday of the month
18 December 2019 - International Migrants' Day
How to avoid the line at the coliseum? How to get tickets in advance?
One excellent way to skip the lines to the Rome Italy Colosseum is with the Roma Pass.
You can book a tour of the Colosseum. When you book a tour, the tour guide/company takes care of getting the tickets for you, and of course you skip the line.
You can pre-purchase tickets on the CoopCulturewebsite, the official concessioners for the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Rome (Beniculturali di Roma).
If you find the above website a not totally user-friendly, you can buy your ticket online through a ticket agency, like this one:
If you do not get tickets in advance, there is still a good chance you can avoid the lines:
As I mentioned above, you can purchase your tickets at the entry to the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill.
It's no longer the case that you can count on coming to the Palatine Hill to buy your tickets with no line.
Now, they run out of tickets, and in high season, you might find yourself out of luck.
If you did not get tickets in advance, and are just coming to the Colosseum and hoping to buy tickets, you can TRY to come to the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill entrances (in hopes of finding a shorter line), but you should come in the morning.
These sites only have a few tickets to sell now, and they run out, sometime around lunchtime (depending on the season). If you find that they are out of tickets at these entrances, try your luck at the Colosseum ticket offices (where you will find those long lines.)
The rules have changed! If you want to buy your tickets to the Colosseum without booking ahead, and are hoping to use the Palatine Hill entrance to avoid the line, you will need to come early in the day. By around lunchtime (depending on the season), these offices RUN OUT OF TICKETS!
Plan Your Visit to the Rome Italy Colosseum
The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome
Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.
I find that a typical visit to the inside of the colosseum, including walking around the two tiers you can visit with a standard ticket, takes around an hour. Of course you could spend less time if you want. But an hour is about right if you visit it as most people do, walking all the way around one tier, and then all the way around the other tier, and especially stopping to take pictures.
There is often a special exhibit on the second-level tier, so if you spend time there, add anywhere from 10-30 minutes.
Finally, there is a gift shop, so you might spend time there, as well.
How long will it take to visit the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill?
Typically, you will spend about an hour at each site, so a visit to "Ancient Rome", i.e. the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill will take about 3 hours.
Most tours given by tour agencies of the Colosseum include the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, and last around 3-4 hours.
What can you bring inside the Colosseum? What can't you bring?
I am often asked if you can bring a "small backpack" inside the Colosseum. Yes you can. This, of course, depends on what you mean by "small." Basically, you can bring a typical schoolbook-type backpack inside the colosseum.
You may also take in a clear plastic bottle of water.
Here are the things you may not bring with you inside the Rome Italy Colosseum:
Large backpacks (such as for camping) or bulky bags
Tripods (for now, selfie sticks are allowed so be careful as you walk around. A lot of people are using them and you risk running into one!)
Dark bottles and glasses containers
Is it worth taking a tour of the Colosseum?
I am a big fan of tours, especially to a place like Ancient Rome that is so full of history. Without a tour, you would need a really good guidebook, or audio tour, otherwise, you will just be looking at a bunch of ruins without any context ur understanding of where they came from and why they are there.
If you are not a tour person, you could take the audio guide at each location. Each site has its own audio guide. The Colosseum has one, the Roman Forum has another one, and the Palatine Hill has yet another one.
Tours of the Rome Italy COlosseum with CoopCulture
When you book a ticket to the Colosseum on CoopCulture, one of the options is to book a tour. This is a tour given by the guides employed by the Colosseum. The cost is minimal (only 5€ more than a standard ticket). So it can be worthwhile to take this tour. You will certainly get some history and a good start towards your unaccompanied visit to the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill.
TOURS OF THE ROME ITALY COLOSSEUM through a Tour Agency
Many tour companies offer a variety of tours to the Rome Italy Colosseum. They typically cost quite a bit more than the tours given directly by CoopCulture. Here's why:
Tour companies are businesses and they need to make a profit (CoopCulture is a government-funded agency so it's less focused on profits.)
Tour companies employ licensed guides, who need to make a living from their work (the licensed guides who work for the Rome Italy Colosseum may have other duties. Also, they are on salary, not paid per tour.)
Tour companies offer a more complete package. When you take a tour of the Colosseum with CoopCulture, you will get a basic tour of the Colosseum. Most tour companies include the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill at the very least, if not other special things to see along the way.
A night visit to the Colosseum is a very special thing to do and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
How To visit the underground of the Rome Italy Colosseum
The first time I visited the Rome Italy Colosseum, I thought, where is the floor?
It turns out that since it was made of wood, it’s long gone, and now, the underneath is exposed. What went on under there?
When you see the inside of the Rome Italy Colosseumn, you realize there is no floor. You can see underneath from here, but you can also go down there!
Imagine it’s 2000 years ago, you are a worker for the Roman empire, and it’s your job to get a lion in a cage…
You are underneath the Roman colosseum, it’s hot, it smells of sweat, smoke and animals… the lion is roaring, gladiators are down there with you, preparing for battle, your fellow workers are shouting at you and each other, there is a lot of marching and stomping on the wooden floor above, and the crowds are roaring. And now, you’ve gotten that lion in the cage, and you and your fellow workmen have to grab some pulleys and make the cage rise through a trap door so that it seems to magically appear in the middle of the amphitheater…
When you visit the Rome Italy colosseum, think about this while looking at the labyrinth of chambers and passageways of what was once below the floor. For more facts about the Colosseum, visit this page.
If you’d like to know more about the floor of the ancient Roman colosseum and what went on under there, you might want to read this fascinating writeup in the Smithsonian magazine.
They have the exclusive right to tickets for Underground Colosseum. However, they do give a certain number of tickets to a select number of tour agencies, so you may also be able to go with one of these agencies on an underground tour of the colosseum.
Rome Colosseum at dawn, one of the best times to see this amazing monument
How to visit the Upper Tiers of the Rome Italy Colosseum
One of my favorite visits to the Rome Italy Colosseum is of the Belvedere (top tiers). You get birds-eye views like this:
You can also look straight down on the entire Colosseum, and imagine what it was like to watch a game there (if you were a common woman or slave, you sat the the top).
View of the Rome Italy Colosseum from the top tier, or Belvedere.
The ground floor of the colosseum is accessible to wheelchair users. From there, you can take a lift/elevator to the second tier. You can also get around both the ground floor and second floor tiers in a wheelchair. Visits to the underground and upper tiers are not wheelchair accessible.
You may bring your own wheelchair, or request one upon arrival. They only have one wheelchair available on each floor, so don't count on one being available. If you need your own, you should bring it, or rent one in Rome.
Visitors who are disabled (with written medical proof, if not in a wheelchair), and their companion/caregiver, may enter the Colosseum/Roman Forum/Palatine Hill for free.