Planning to visit the Rome Italy Colosseum?
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.
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:
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 around Italy.
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 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.
If you are here from March – October, a mix of high and mid seasons, the colosseum will pretty much always be crowded.
NB - In recent years, I am finding crowds and queues at the Rome Italy Colosseum in low season on weekends, especially when there is nice weather. If I were visiting Rome on a January or February weekend, I would indeed book the Colosseum in advance!
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.
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 :
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.
So, to sum up, the best times to visit the colosseum to avoid crowds, and also for your own comfort, are:
As of January 2020, there are two main ticket types for the Rome Italy Colosseum:
If you just walk up and buy a ticket to the Colosseum, the price is
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€.
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.
These three places make up a huge area we call "Ancient Rome."
Here's how the standard Rome Italy Colosseum ticket works:
CoopCulture is now offering a new kind of ticket on their website. This new "Full Experience" ticket is not well-explained. I have tried it out, and can tell you what it's like.
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:
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:
Here's how the Full Experience Rome Italy Colosseum ticket works:
The only discounts available at this time are for Europeans between 18-25. The ticket costs 2€, plus 2€ to reserve a time slot.
The Colosseum is free:
Here are the ways to get Colosseum tickets in advance and avoid the lines/queues:
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.)
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.
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.
You can break this up, and visit over a full day, with a lunch break in between.
Most tours given by tour agencies of the Colosseum include the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, and last around 3-4 hours.
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:
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.
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.
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:
A night visit to the Colosseum is a very special thing to do and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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?
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.
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).
You can book this on the CoopCulture website, or with a tour agency.
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.
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