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Rome Italy Colosseum
Top Tips - Skip the Line, Best Way to Visit, and More!

Planning to visit the Rome Italy Colosseum

rome colosseumThe 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.



Rome Italy Colosseum - Everything You Need to Know

Big news! The rules about the Free Sunday have changed!

The Colosseum is no longer free on the first Sunday of the month from and including April - September.

Jump down here to read more

Want to visit the underground, where gladiators, animals, and convicted criminals awaited their fate?

How about visiting the top tiers of the Colosseum, where you can get a birds' eye view of Ancient Rome?

On this page, I'll tell you everything you need to know to get the most out of your visit to this amazing monument.

Here's what you need to know:

When is the colosseum open?

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.)

colosseum early morningThe 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.

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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.

rome italy colosseum from the backThe 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, so it always has visitors. However, unlike the Vatican, it isn't crowded when tourists are not here.

If you are here from March – October, a mix of high and mid seasons, the colosseum will pretty much always be crowded.

If you come in low season (NovemberDecemberJanuaryFebruary), when there are fewer tourists, you will find it much less crowded. Especially on non-holiday weekdays.

Best day of the week to visit the Colosseum?

The Colosseum is open 7 days a week. It closes only December 25 and January 1.

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 much less crowded during the week than on the weekend. This is true even when it's Culture Week 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 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:

  • In low season months, from November through February (except for the Christmas and New Year holidays).
  • Mid-week if you can.
  • 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 on the same day.)
closeup of the coliseum in rome - before the renovationOne 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?

Standard ticket prices for visiting the Rome Italy COlosseum

If you just walk up and buy a ticket to the Colosseum, the price is

  • 12€ for an adult (this will go to 16€ in November 2019)
  • 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. 

You might be wondering why you still have to reserve a skip-the-line space if you have the Roma Pass (or other city pass) that allows you "free" entry to the Colosseum.

Well, to manage the huge crowds that have just been getting bigger every year, the entity that manages the Colosseum, CoopCulture, have implemented new rules. 

As of March 1, 2019, visitors to the Colosseum, including Roma Pass holders, MUST reserve a time slot. And this means paying that 2€.

If you don't reserve a time slot, you will have to wait until others with a reservation have gone in.

And since there is an occupancy limit of 3000 people, in high season, you risk waiting a very long time to get in if you do not book a time slot.

In fact, in high season, you risk not even getting in at all if you just turn up, especially late in the afternoon.

What's included in your ticket to the Colosseum

What I find amazing is that for the price of entry to the Colosseum, you ALSO get to visit the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.

roman forumThe Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are included in your ticket to the Rome Italy Colosseum.

These three places make up a huge area we call "Ancient Rome."

The phrase Ancient Rome could really refer to a much larger area.

In fact, even a lot of places outside the city of Rome were part of Ancient Rome (like Ostia and Pompeii, but that is another story.)

Here's how it works:

  • You have 2 days to visit the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. 
  • You can only visit each site once (no re-entry.)
  • The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are actually ONE park, so you have to visit them together.
  • 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.
  • There is only one main entrance to the Colosseum (although there is a second entrance for special visits. You will be informed if your visit begins at this other entrance, called the Stern gate.)
  • The entrance to the Roman Forum is on via dei Fori Imperiali, right where via Cavour meets it.
  • The entrance to the Palatine Hill is past the huge arch of Constantine on Via di San Gregorio 30.

BONUS TIP!

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.

NOT ANYMORE! FIND OUT ALL THE LATEST HERE!

Discount tickets for the Colosseum

The only discounts available at this time are for Europeans between 18-25. The ticket costs 2€, plus 2€ to reserve a time slot.

How to Get Free Entry to the Colosseum

The Colosseum is free:

  • For everyone under 18 years of age
  • For holders of a Roma Pass or other Rome city pass that allows entry to the Colosseum, and you choose this as one of your free sites
  • For anyone with a disability and their care-giver/companion (with valid medical documentation of the disability)
  • 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!

The Colosseum is NO LONGER FREE every first Sunday of the month!

In 2019, the rules have 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.

Here are the dates the Colosseum/Roman Forum/Palatine Hill will have free entry in 2019:

  • 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.

Here are the ways to get Colosseum tickets in advance and avoid the lines/queues:

  • Get the Roma Pass, or another type of Rome City Pass (they all offer skip-the-line entry to the Colosseum). I don’t actually recommend this as the best money-saving deal. But it does allow you entry to the Colosseum without waiting in the line to buy tickets. If you have a Roma Pass, you can skip the longer line, and go to the much shorter line for Roma Pass holders.
  • 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 CoopCulturewebsitethe 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.)

palatine hill entranceThe 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.

In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.

How long will it take to visit the Colosseum

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.

Again, you can break this up, and visit over a full day, with a lunch break in between, or even over two days. For example, you could visit the Colosseum in the morning, break for lunch, and then head to the Forum/Palatine Hill after lunch or the next day.

Most tours given by tour agencies of the Colosseum include the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, and last around 3-4 hours.

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. Just know that 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.

Wondering where the bathrooms are at the Colosseum?

Find out here.

Special Visits to the Rome Italy Colosseum

How to visit the Colosseum at night

Rome coliseum at nightVisiting the Colosseum at night is one of my favorite things to do in Rome

Yes! Now, most of the year, you can visit the Colosseum at night.

A night visit to the Colosseum is a very special thing to do and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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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?

rome colosseum insideWhen 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


You may purchase tickets through CoopCulture.

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.

coliseum in romeRome 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 (to 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.

You can book this on the CoopCulture website, or with a tour agency.

For more about Colosseum tickets, visit my page here.

Is the Colosseum Wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the Rome Italy Colosseum is wheelchair accessible, mostly. 

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.

There are accessible toilets.


If you would like more information about the colosseum in Rome, and the history of the colosseum, visit the official Rome website for the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Rome.


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