Approximately 16,000 people visit the Colosseum every day and even with the internet at their fingertips most show up without tickets. Lines for admissions can get long, days hot, and the Colosseum becomes crowded. That said, you are reading this article which means you are planning ahead. Play your cards right and you need not worry.
In this post, we’ll explain how to visit the Colosseum in Rome without waiting in line; Colosseum admissions, hours, tours and more
Sean’s Pro Tip: Planning can be tough. You read a bunch, forget it, then read more. I like to bookmark helpful posts in a folder so I can circle back prior to or during my trip.
Doing a tour of the Colosseum is by far the best way to visit the structure. They are our most popular experiences and really make visiting the museums more comfortable and fun. Check out our Colosseum Tours.
What This Article Covers
- Facts & History
- Hours & Colosseum Ticket Prices
- How Long to Budget for Your Visit
- Colosseum Tour Options
- 29 Stop Itinerary for Colosseum, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum
- Where to Eat Nearby
- How to Get to the Colosseum
Colosseum Facts & History
Domus Aurea & Nero’s Fire
Domus Aurea translates to the House of Gold and was a great sprawling palace built by Emperor Nero. He built it across the area affected by the great fire of 64 AD which built down the valley between the Palatine, Esquiline, and Caelian Hills. This is why Nero was famously blamed for causing the fire. Historians speculate his golden compound was between 100 and 300 acres in the center of Rome. Much of the compound was dismantled after Nero’s death by one Emperor after another. Vespasian most famously removed a massive lake Nero had built to construct the Colosseum.
Construction on the Colosseum began in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian, the first of three Flavian Dynasty Emperors. Titus had just returned for a major victory in Jerusalem with an estimated 60,000 Jewish slaves. The building was completed in 80 AD but modifications and upgrades were made under Emperor Domitian.
Why Was the Colosseum Built?
Estimates place Colosseum occupancy between 50,000 and 80,000 people. It was built to host events of bloodshed and fighting which were extremely popular around the Roman Empire. The Romans were war-loving people and the games represented that. Gladiatorial fights came in all different types from 1:1 battles fights to full battles and even naval battles.
If you build a building as epic as the Colosseum, you’re going to want to put your name on it. The Flavian dynasty did, but the name was eventually forgotten and replaced by a nickname – the Colosseum. Nero built a massive statue outside the Colosseum known as the Colossal Statue of Nero! It was a 30meter+ tall bronze statue of the sun god Sole with Nero’s head perched on top. The statue most likely survived up until the 5th century when it was most likely dismantled during one of the three major sacks of Rome. It was long enough to all but erase the Flavian dynasty’s legacy from history.
The Last Games
Jan 1 404 AD was. the last recorded game inside the Colosseum. Saint Telemachus apparently tried to stop a fight in the Colosseum midway through and was stoned to death. At the time, Rome was ruled by Christians. Emperor Honorius did nothing to stop the martyrdom, which happened in 391 AD, but it is written that the event inspired and changed him and eventually he brought an end to the fighting.
Earthquakes & Damage
The Colosseum has lived a good long life. For a 2000-year-old complex monument, it’s in great shape. There were a number of major earthquakes after the glory of the Roman Empire that caused damage. A powerful quake in 443 would have caused damage followed by two more in 484 and 508. Repairs would have been made however and human vs animal games would have taken place until 523. For the next 700 years, things were calm but the building became a sort of stone quarry for many who were looking to make a living or create art. After a serious amount of self-inflicted damage by Romans, a quake in 1349 caused the southern third of the Colosseum to collapse.
The Colosseum Quarry
The quake of 1349 was probably good news for many who were building in Rome. Materials that were out of reach were now on the ground and accessible. They were used for art, buildings, and much of what you see in Rome. This continued for over 400 years until Pope Benedict XIV decreed in 1749 that the Colosseum was a sacred site of Christian martyrdom and was no longer allowed to be vandalized. There are many arguments that Christians never died in the Colosseum but regardless, Pope Benedict XIV saved the Colosseum.
Soon after the decree of 1749, popes began commissioning projects to restore the Colosseum. There were heavy foliage and plant life growing inside the Colosseum which would have tremendous negative effects on the building over time. These were removed and in 1807 a project began to reinforce the outer ring of the Colosseum which can be seen today.
Triangular brick support now reinforces the Colosseum and can be seen today. There were also excavations that took place throughout the 19th century. After over a thousand years of abusing the structure due to poor economic conditions, it was finally time to preserve it. By the 1930s, the Colosseum looked very similar to what you see today other than some cool things like a replica of a trap door and elevator being built into the stage.
Two major cleaning projects happened in our era. From 1993 to 2000 and another in 2013 which was sponsored by Tod’s shoe company, an ultra-popular Italian designer.
Restorations have been made to the arena floor, underground and 3rd, 4th and 5th levels that allow tours to explore these areas. Companies like ours are now able to run extremely cool and exclusive tours to these restricted areas. Check out our .
Colosseum Ticket Prices & Hours
Colosseum Covid Hours:
COVID 19 Hours
10:30 am to 7:00 pm through Sept 30 2020
9:30 am to 6:30 pm Oct 1st to Oct 24th
8:30 am o 4:30 pm Oct 25 to Oct 31st
The Colosseum has not released any schedule past Oct 31st 2020 for Covid 19. Below is normal annual schedule.
Regular Colosseum Hours:
The Colosseum opens daily at 8:30am and closes 1 hour before sunset daily. We must urge you to purchase a Colosseum tour or Colosseum tickets in advance if you are planning a visit during warmer months as lines can be very long.
|Jan 2nd – Feb 15th||8:30 am – 4:30 pm|
|Feb 16th – Mar 15th||8:30 am – 5:00 pm|
|Mar 16th – last Saturday of March||8:30 am – 5:30 pm|
|Last Sunday of March – August 31st||8:30 am – 7:15 pm|
|Sept 1st – Sept 30th||8:30 am – 7:00 pm|
|Oct 1st – Last Saturday of October||8:30 am – 6:30 pm|
|Last Sunday of October – Dec 31||8:30 am – 4:30 pm|
Colosseum Ticket Costs:
Admission to the Colosseum includes the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. They are visible from the Colosseum but fenced into a different area. Once you enter the Palatine Hill you can visit the Forum without exiting the fenced-in area. They are connected by Via Sacra. Once there, you will undoubtedly figure it out.
Admission Cost: 16€
Reduced Ticket: 2€ (EU citizens 18 – 25 with ID)
Free Ticket: 0€ (Anyone > 18)
Be ready to supply documentation with proof of age and citizenship for reduced tickets.
Top Colosseum Tours
How Long To Budget for Your Visit
Short Answer: 2 to 3 hours
The Colosseum is massive for a two-thousand-year-old stadium. Once inside, there are tons of things to do depending on which type of ticket you get. With general admission, you’ll have access to the 2nd and 1st floors.
If you join a guided tour of the Colosseum you can visit the arena floor, underground, and top tiers. At times, as high as the 5th tier which is very cool.
You should plan on spending at least 60 minutes in each area give or take. If you bring a snack, you could easily walk around and explore the entire Ancient City for 4 or 5 hours.
Colosseum Tour Options
You can purchase Colosseum tickets on your own but you’re still miss a lot a lot of the experience. Joining a guide elevates the experience and makes it much more memorable. When you purchase a Colosseum tour from The Roman Guy you are also reserving a Colosseum ticket. All our tours include an English speaking guide and enter without waiting in line for admissions.
Colosseum Underground Tour (3.5 hours)
This is our best selling Colosseum tour for good reason. It includes access to the main areas of Colosseum as well as entrance to the Underground (hypogeum) and Arena Floor. It is a little on the pricey side due to how difficult it is to acquire these tickets but the non-stop flow of five-star reviews for this products tells us it is worth it. This tour also includes the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. Click on the above tour title for the itinerary, price, and description.
Colosseum Highlights Tour (3 hours)
This three-hour journey checks all the must-see boxes off your list for a great price. It includes general access to the Colosseum in a small group of 18 people max. Top-quality English speaking guides will be with you the entire time. That same guide will then take you to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Hits everything you have to see and you’ll have a great time. Click on the above tour title for the itinerary, price, and description.
Privileged Entrance Arena Floor Colosseum Tour (2.5 hours)
This super popular tour includes special access to the Colosseum including the time to walk out onto the arena floor that the gladiators fought on thousands of years ago! You’ll walk through the gate of death that many gladiators exited from after defeat. An English speaking tour guide will be with you the entire time including the Roman Forum. Click on the above tour title for the itinerary, price, and description.
This is everything that the Colosseum Underground tour includes plus access to the Belvedere (Beautiful View) levels. These areas are not always open, so make sure you click on the link and check for availability. It is our most inclusive and most expensive Colosseum tour.
This is our least expensive and most unique way to visit the Colosseum Underground; at night! This is more of a brief tour that includes a walk above the Forum from Via dei Fori Imperiali. Then you enter the Colosseum at night and explore the underground. You’ll also walk out onto the arena floor which is a real treat at night. This tour can start and run pretty late so be sure to factor that in but its a great and unique way to visit the Colosseum.
This tour is for those who are only in Rome for a day or want to knock out all the site-seeing quickly. This tour covers all the top monuments in the city including the Colosseum, Vatican, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and more. Click on the above tour title for the itinerary, price, and description.
Popular Tours from Rome
29 Stop Itinerary for the Colosseum, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum
Below is an itinerary you can follow through the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum. We feature 28 things you should see while visiting in itinerary fashion. You can follow our list on your visit.
If you are looking for pictures and better descriptions of each place, be sure to check out our article Top 28 Things to See at the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. It is the exact same list but includes photos and longer descriptions.
Outside of the Colosseum
1. The Base of the Colossal Statue of Nero
Right across from the Colosseum metro station and in front of the Colosseum is the base of the Colossal Statue of Nero. It isn’t much to look at today, but an important element to pass by on your way in. You’ll see a plaque reading “Area Del Basamento del Colosseo di Nerone.”
2. The Arch of Constantine
Flavius Valerius Constantinus or Constantine the Great to most of us was the first Christian Emperor of Rome. A triumphant arch was built and dedicated to him for his victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. It is an epic arch right in front of the Colosseum.
3. The Outer Ring
The first thing you’ll notice when you get closer to the Colosseum is that it was built from multiple rings to support seating. The remaining portion of the outring will be facing you as you walk out of the metro station and definitely puts this building into perspective. Three sets of arches stand on top of one another to form the 159-foot tall outer ring.
4. Ludus Magnus
Just across from the Colosseum on Via di San Giovanni in Laterano sits the remains of the Ludus Magnus which was the closest and greatest gladiator training school in the empire. It has many cells for slaves and even an underground tunnel directly connected to the Colosseum.
5. Flavian Amphitheatre Plaque
An important thing to note is that the Colosseum is only a nickname for the structure. The building is actually named the Flavian Amphitheatre after the dynasty that built it. See the plaque attached to the middle ring of the Colosseum directly facing the Temple of Venus.
Inside of the Colosseum
6. The Arena Floor
The word arena means sand and the Colosseum is apparently where the use of the word derives. They’d say “down on the arena” which referred to the sand that covered the stage. Now we use the word when referring to stadiums as a whole, “the basketball arena.” You can’t access this area with general admission but we a guided tour that takes you onto the arena floor!
7. The Underground (Hypogeum)
Yes, underneath the Colosseum there is a complex labyrinth of tunnels that were used by Gladiators and event organizers. It is without a doubt the most exclusive area of the Colosseum. General admission won’t get you there, but we have a Colosseum Underground tour that takes you there.
8. The Cross
In the year 2000, a cross was placed inside the Colosseum in memory of all the Christian martyrs that were killed inside the Colosseum. While it is almost definite that Christian salves died inside the Colosseum, it is dubious they died because they were Christian. The Romans didn’t really care about the Christians nor persecute them heavily.
9. 2nd Floor Exhibit of Colosseum Concession stand Food & Drink
Find the elevator inside the Colosseum on the 2nd floor. There you will find some very cool artifacts including cups and spoons used inside the building. There were concession stands similar to a modern stadium that sold all types of foods including oysters! We’re not as different as you’d think.
10. 2nd Floor Balcony
Once out of the concession stand area, look down at the center of the Colosseum and head clock-wise. When you get to the apex of the ellipse you’ll find an awesome balcony to snap a pick. Look down to your right and you’ll see a reconstruction of some of the original seats of the Colosseum.
11. 3rd, 4th & 5th Floors (currently closed)
These areas are often closed, but if they are open during your visit, try to secure access to the top tiers of the Colosseum. You’ll find yourself at a far higher altitude than expected. The view is amazing but you’d be where the slaves and lowest citizens sat. We have a tour that covers the area. If you see departure times that means it is open. It also includes the Underground and Arena Floor.
On the Palatine Hill
From the Colosseum exit, head to the Palatine Hill entrance with your Colosseum admission ticket. You can find this entrance on Via di San Gregorio, 30.
12. Claudian Aqueduct
Aqua Claudia was one of the four great Roman aqueducts. Caligula started the project and Claudius completed it. It is approximate 43 miles long (69km), most of which is underground. The duct emerges from the ground as it reaches Rome and extends to over 100 feet (32m) off the ground as the ground slopes downward. This was important if you wanted to get good water pressure on the top of a hill. You’ll see a piece of this structure after entering the Palatine hill entrance
13. Hippodrome Circus of Domitian
From here, head up the hill until you see the massive Hippodrome of Domitian. A massive private events stadium for the famed Emperor of Rome and last of the Flavians.
14. Caldrons for Heating Floors
They won’t look like much, but as you pass by the north-facing end of the Hippodrome (the only way you can walk) you’ll see some ruins on your right. These are caldrons for heating water. When Domitian built his palace, he wanted heated floors.
15. Mosiac Palace Floors
As you pass into the Domus Augustana or House of Augustus, be sure to look down and see mosaic floors beneath you. This is almost definitely your direct connection with many famed personalities in Rome of the 1st, 2nd & 3rd centuries who would have walked on these same pieces of tile.
16. Circus Maximus Balcony
As you walk across the hill, step inside the walls of the palaces and towards the circus Maximus. You’ll be standing on a massive balcony which was part of the structure of the Temple of Apollo, and have the best view of the Circus Maximus.
17. Casa di Livia
Attached to the House of Augustus on the east-facing hill you’ll find the Casa di Livia. If timed correctly, you can get inside and see some amazing frescoes dating back thousands of years!
In the Roman Forum
18. Arch of Titus
Walking down into the Forum, you’ll find yourself running into the Arch of Titus. This arch was built to commemorate Titus’ famed victory that quelled the revolt in Jerusalem in which he brought 60,000 slaves and endless wealth back to Rome which resulted in the Colosseum being built.
19. Via Sacra
The road running through the arch is known as the Via Sacra. It is a sacred and triumphant road that the victorious walk down when returning from battle.
20. Temple of Venus
With the Arch of Titus at your back and the Colosseum in front of you, you’ll see a structure to your left. Head up to that building and work your way towards the Colosseum. There is a great balcony to take a picture (where I took the feature image for this article). The Temple of Venus, built under Emperor Hadrian, was a massive temple with a great view of the Colosseum.
21. Basilica of Constantine (Temple of Maxentius)
As you leave the Temple of Venus the way you came in, you’ll see a massive structure on your Right. That is the remains of the Basilica of Constantine. The structure was massive and started by Maxentius. Unfortunately for him, Constantine beat him in battle and made sure to name the building after the victor, himself!
22. Temple of Romulus
Don’t mistake this with the Romulus who founded Rome. This temple was dedicated to Valerius Romulus who was the son of Maxentius who was deified. Eventually, paganism was made illegal and this temple was converted to the Basilica os Santi Coma e Damiano. The bronze doors are said to be original to the 309 AD structure.
23. Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
This temple was built in 141 AD by Emperor Antoninus Pius for his late wife who was deified. Later Antoninus’ name was added to the temple after he died and was deified.
24. Temple of the Vestas & Eternal Flame of Rome
While facing the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, turn around you’ll see a circular altar in a shaded area on a slight hill. This is where the Vestal Virgins cared for the famed Eternal Flame of Rome.
25. Temple of Julius Caesar
Possibly the main event for many lovers of Roman history. The temple of Julius Caesar sits in the center of the Roman Forum for all to worship. You’ll still find flowers on his altar from the many Romans who thank him for what he accomplished.
26. The Curia (Senate House)
One of the best-preserved structures in the forum due to many renovations, this building is the famous place that Roman Senators argued, postured, and debated.
27. Arch of Septimius Severus
To the left of the Curia, you’ll find the massive Arch of Septimius Severus constructed in 203 AD. This arch became the model for the arch of Constantine 100 years later which is more visible in front of the Colosseum. Built to commemorate Caracalla and Geta, initially joint Emperors, for their Parthanian victories.
28. Temple of Saturn
Possibly your last stop in the Roman Forum, see the remains of the Temple of Saturn, an ancient Roman Temple that dates as early as 497 BC.
29. Mamertine Prison
Just outside the northern facing exit of the Forum, you’ll find the Mamertine Prison. It is not actually inside the structure so make sure you are ready to leave as you won’t be allowed reentry. According to Christian Dogma, St. Peter called this prison home in the 1st c AD prior to escaping. You can see the depiction in the Raphael Rooms of Vatican Museum.
Where to Eat Inside & Nearby
Below list is a great resource, but check out our annually update list of the best restaurants near the Colosseum for more options!
Unfortunately, there are currently no snack stands or food and beverage shops in any of the archeological areas. There are a few fountains.
One on the 2nd level of the Colosseum by the elevators.
One next to the arch of Titus.
The third on the via sacra a few meters down from the arch of Titus. Normally less busy.
Colosseo Metro Caffe – Piazza del Colosseo 58
Right inside the metro Colosseum, there is a bar that serves coffee, sandwiches, and more. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you want a quick bite to eat before going inside or a snack on the run. You can also grab a beer here and take it with you.
Trattoria Luzzi – Via celiomontana, 1
Some people say this place has gone downhill but the food tastes the same to me. Great for pasta or any other typical Roman dishes. They also serve pizza which I have surprisingly never had but the prices are good and I am sure the pizza is too.
Ai Tre Scalini – Via Panisperna, 251
This is a little further away from the Colosseum on foot but if you are not hangry, it is perfect for a long lunch or dinner. They serve tons of wine by the glass and seasonal dishes. It has a really cozy atmosphere that gets a little crowded but is always worth it.
How to Get to the Colosseum
By far the easiest way to arrive. Metro line B stops at “Colosseo”. As soon as you walk outside its the first huge ancient amphitheater on the left.
Also pretty easy. Many busses run by the Colosseum. Look at the bus map and make sure the bus # you are about to get on goes by “Colosseo”. Here are a few busses that pass by the Colosseum in Rome: 40, 51, 60, 75, 81, 175, 204
The colosseum is the center of three roads that intersect together and is easily reachable by foot. Via di Fori Imperiali, Via Labicana, and Via Celio Vibenna all sort of wrap around the structure. If you can find one of those roads you’ll most likely be able to see the Colosseum and take it from there.
Obviously, using a map app on your phone is a great way to get around. If you are a bus person, Roma Bus is the top free app.