The Colosseum closes at “sundown" so in the winter months, you’ll need to come earlier in the day.
More on opening and closing times below.
The best times to visit the colosseum are:
In low season months, from November through February (except for the Christmas and New Year holidays)
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.
If you are here from March – October, a mix of high and mid seasons, the colosseum will pretty much always be crowded. But 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.
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.)
Get the Roma Pass. I don’t actually recommend this as the best money-saving deal. But it does allow you entry to the colosseum in Rome 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 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.
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.
If you do not get tickets in advance, there is still a good chance you can avoid the lines:
Purchase your tickets at the entry to the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill. There is one ticket, good for 2 consecutive days, that includes the Roman Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. (You will probably want to visit the Forum as well anyway). There is always much more of a line at the entrance to the Colosseum than at the Forum entrance or Palatine Hill entrance. 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. If you already visited the Roman Forum and/or the Palatine Hill, then you have a ticket for the Colosseum.
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.)
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.
How To visit the underground of the Rome Italy Colosseum?
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.
The underground of the ancient Roman colosseum has recently been opened to the public and it is now possible to visit it. You may purchase tickets through the official web site above.
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.
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