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Visit the Vatican and Colosseum in One Day - yes it is possible!

Can you, should you, visit the Vatican and Colosseum in one day in Rome?

The answer is, yes, you can!

graphic showing both vatican and colosseum pixHow to visit the two biggest sites in Rome in a single day.

Read on to find out the best way to conquer this busy day.

Visiting the Vatican and Colosseum in one day - Can you? Should you?

You definitely can visit the two biggest sites in Rome in one day.

As to whether you should do so is another matter entirely.

If your schedule allows it, I suggest visiting these two intense sites on separate days.

But if you have limited time in Rome, and want to fit them both into a single day, it's definitely doable. Just a bit tiring!

Here's what to do:

How to visit the Colosseum and Vatican in a single day

saint peter's basilicaOnly have a day in Rome? You can easily visit the Vatican and Colosseum in a day. Find out how!

On this page we'll cover:



Options for visiting Ancient Rome and the Vatican on the same day, and how to organize things

Saying you want to visit the Vatican and Colosseum in one day can have several meanings.

You can visit them both on the inside and outside, or on the outside only.

You can visit one of them on a more in-depth level than the other.

You also need to decide which to visit first.

Here is what to consider when you decide how you want to visit the Vatican and Colosseum in one day:

Vatican and Colosseum in one day - from the outside

Seeing the Colosseum from the outside

If you only have a day in Rome or otherwise want to see these two important sites in a single day, the least tiring way would be to visit them on the outside.

I am always amazed that I can just walk right up to the Colosseum and see it up close on the outside.

roman numerals above the colosseum archesYou can walk right up to the Colosseum on the outside and see the Roman numerals used to indicate seating areas back when the emperors held games here.

You can see it from all the different angles and get some great pix.

You can also see the Arch of Constantine and even the Arch of Titus (which is inside the Roman Forum but it's right at the entrance so you could see it without actually going inside.)

arch of constantine and colosseumFrom this spot, you can see the Arch of Constantine to the right, the Colosseum in front of you, and if you turn 180 degrees, you can see the Arch of Titus at the beginning of the Roman Forum.

You can also see the Roman Forum from above without going inside, by climbing to the top of Capitoline Hill and going to the back terrace for a stunning vista.

roman forum from aboveI love this iconic view of the Roman Forum from Capitoline Hill.

And a stroll along the via dei Fori Imperiali will really put you right into Ancient Rome, both literally and figuratively.

via dei fori imperiali - street of the imperial forumsIf you walk between the Vatican and Colosseum in one day, you will pass through the via dei Fori Imperiali and see plenty of Ancient Rome sites along the way.

Seeing the Vatican from the outside

As for seeing the Vatican from the outside, by this I mean visiting Saint Peter's Square.

No lines, no stress.

Just cross the border from Italy to Vatican City and you're in!

saint peter's squareYou can visit the Vatican and Colosseum in one day more easily if you visit only the outside of both, like visiting Saint Peter's Square here.

Visiting the Vatican and Colosseum in one day, both from the outside, and the walk between the two, should take around 4 hours.

So you will easily have a chance to enjoy some other sites along the way and also sit down for a leisurely lunch between seeing them.

Colosseum and Vatican in one day - on the inside

If you want to visit the Vatican and Colosseum in one day, both on the inside, you'll need to plan and to pace yourself.

Visiting the inside of the Colosseum

Let's start with what a visit to the Colosseum entails.

colosseum insideVisiting the inside of both the Vatican and Colosseum in one day is doable but you need to plan and you need to pace yourself.

Any ticket to the Colosseum also includes entry to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

Most tour companies take you through both the Colosseum and the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill park (it's actually one large park.)

If all you want to see is the Colosseum on the inside, and you don't want to or have time to see the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill, you can simply skip them.

Visiting the Colosseum normally on the inside takes around an hour.

If you also include the arena floor, or the Colosseum underground + arena, then add 30-40 minutes to your visit, so around 1.5-2 hours tops.

If you also visit the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill, you should allow for around 2 hours although you could spend less time if you really breezed through.

Bottom line is that a typical visit to the Colosseum + Roman Forum + Palatine Hill takes around 3-3.5 hours.

Visiting the inside of the Vatican

As for the Vatican, a typical visit on the inside involves visiting the Vatican Museums so you can see the Sistine Chapel.

This will take anywhere from 1- 2 hours, depending on whether you do a turbo visit and bypass most of the museums to just get to the Sistine Chapel at the end, or also visit/tour the museums.

A visit to the Vatican also usually involves visiting the inside of Saint Peter's Basilica (not including climbing the dome.)

st peter's basilica insideThe central nave of Saint Peter's basilica in Vatican City.

Visiting the basilica should take around 1-1.5 hours, depending on how long you spend in line.

Which to visit first, the Colosseum or the Vatican?

This depends on whether you want to go inside one or both sites or not, and also what time of year it is.

If you visit both sites from the outside only, it doesn't really matter which you visit first.

Things to keep in mind when deciding which to visit first, the Vatican or the Colosseum:

  • The Colosseum (and Forum/Palatine) opens at 9AM. Closing time in winter is 4:30PM and in summer around 7PM, with last entrance one hour prior (there are varied hours throughout the year based on sunset time. Visit CoopCulture for a complete listing.)
  • The Vatican Museums open at 9AM but there are tours you can take that start very early, allowing you to race to the Sistine Chapel and get in there before the crowds. These usually start about 7:30AM.
  • The Vatican Museums normally close at 6PM with last entry at 4PM, but on Fridays and Saturdays from late April - end of October, they stay open until 10:30PM with last entry at 8:30PM.
  • The Vatican Museums are closed Sundays except for the last Sunday of the month when they are open 9AM - 2PM and they are free.
  • Saint Peter's Basilica is open 365 days a year from 7AM. Closing time is 6 or 7PM depending on time of year. The basilica is closed during Papal Mass and Papal Audiences.
  • Both the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums are closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The Vatican Museums may be closed on other religious holidays.

So, for example, if you are visiting in summer on a Friday or Saturday, you could easily visit the Colosseum + park in the morning, have a leisurely lunch, and head to the Vatican in the afternoon, and visit the Museums at night.

If you are visiting in the winter, you may want to visit the Colosseum + park first, as last entry there is at 3:30 PM, while the Vatican Museums allow entry through 4 PM and are open until 6 PM.

As of September 2022, you cannot take the shortcut between the Vatican Museums and Saint Peter's Basilica unless you are on a tour, so you'd have to consider wait times to get into each of them.

How to get between the Vatican and Colosseum

If you organize a tour that will take you to the Vatican and Colosseum in one day, like this superb one with Walks of Italy, you may already have transportation between the two sites included.

If you are visiting these sites on your own, you'll need to know how to get between them.

Here are your options:

Getting between the Vatican and Colosseum by taxi

There are two issues with getting between the Vatican and Colosseum by taxi:

  1. Where do you get the taxi?
  2. How much will a taxi cost?

In Rome, to get a taxi, we go to a taxi stand.

There you will find taxis lined up and you take the first one in line.

At the Colosseum, there is a taxi stand right outside on the Piazza del Colosseo between Via Claudia and Via Santi Quattro.

taxi rank at colosseumThere is a taxi rank right near the Colosseum.

If you find yourself further along the via dei Fori Imperiali near the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, you will find another taxi stand there.

Finding the taxi rank at the Vatican is another matter.

It's quite simple if you exit the Vatican Museums and want to go from there to the Colosseum. You will see the taxi rank as soon as you exit, just a bit to the left.

taxis at vatican museumsThere is a taxi rank right at the entrance/exit of the Vatican Museums.

But if you visit Saint Peter's Basilica and want to go from there to the Colosseum, you will have to hunt a little bit to find the taxi rank.

With your back to the Basilica, exit Saint Peter's Square to your right. Walk a short way until you see a pedestrian underpass.

Walk through the underpass, keeping left, and you will come out on Via delle Fornaci.

There you will see the taxi rank.

You can see a map of Vatican city here.

As to how much a taxi between the Vatican and Colosseum should cost, calculate no more than 15€ but it ought to be even a bit less than that. Read more about taking taxis in Rome on my dedicated page.

GETTING BETWEEN THE VATICAN AND COLOSSEUM BY Metro

It's fairly easy to take the Metro between the Colosseum and the Vatican, but it's actually a bit of a trek.

At the time of this writing, the "new" line that is due to open sometime this millennium linking the Colosseum and the Vatican directly is far from being finished.

So whether you take the Metro from the Vatican (Ottaviano Red line A) to the Colosseum (Colosseo Blue line B), or vice versa, either way you will need to go to Termini station and change lines.

The whole thing will take around half an hour.

GETTING BETWEEN THE VATICAN AND COLOSSEUM BY Bus

There are many buses that will get you between the Vatican and Colosseum. In most cases you will have to change lines somewhere in the middle.

The 81 bus goes between the two without having to change.

The easiest thing to do is find a bus stop, and open Google maps on your smartphone.

They are linked to the ATAC (Rome public transportation) schedules and you can choose the public transportation option to see which bus is coming and where to change and to which bus.

GETTING BETWEEN THE VATICAN AND COLOSSEUM on foot

I am a big fan of walking and especially walking in Rome where you can see so much just in one city block let alone crossing the city from one end to the other.

A walk between the Vatican and Colosseum will take an hour or so but also consider how much walking you will be doing at each site.

So if you decide to walk, just make sure to pace yourself and stop often for coffee, lunch, gelato, or just a rest!

No matter what season you visit Rome, here are 4 things never to leave at home:

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What tours are available to help you with these visits

If you want to see the Vatican and Colosseum in a single day, the easiest way is to book a full day tour that includes both sites AND transportation between them

Because these sites are very intense to visit, booking a full-day tour will remove as much of the stress as possible and allow you to enjoy the sites to the fullest.

Another option is to book separate tours at each location, and make your way between them on your own.

What tickets/passes to buy if you visit them on your own

If you're trying to see the Vatican and Colosseum in one day on your own without an organized tour, you should book both sites in advance anyway.

First of all, you will want to avoid any waiting in line.

Second of all, many sites in Rome are now requiring advance booking and it's sometimes not possible at all to book on site.

This will mean you'll need to plan the time for the second site you visit. Just know each site has about 15 minutes' leeway on either side of whatever time you book.

If you book a visit to the Vatican Museums at 1:30 PM, you can show up anywhere between 1:15 and 1:45 PM. Same for the Colosseum.

If you're considering a pass that includes both sites, forget the Roma Pass which does not include the Vatican Museums.

But there are other Rome city passes that do.

Tickets and passes for visiting the Vatican and Colosseum

For more about what tickets/passes to book, visit these pages:

Seeing the Vatican and Colosseum in one day as a shore excursion

 shore excursion with a tour

The best way to visit the Vatican and Colosseum as a shore excursion is with a complete tour that includes round-trip transportation from and back to the ship.

This will be the most relaxed and stress-free option as you won't have to worry about logistics.

Shore excursion on your own

Alternatively, if you want to do this on your own, you can take the train into Rome and back to the ship. 

You can organize the visits on your own as above, but you'll need to be very organized with timing and allow plenty of time for getting back to the ship.

If you go on your own, you will probably not be able to see both sites on the inside.

If you have to pick one, choose between Renaissance art (Vatican Museums) or Ancient Rome (Colosseum.)

Make sure to give yourself enough time to also have a minimal break in between for resting and grabbing a bite.

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