As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, a visit to the Colosseum is an unmissable experience while in Rome... but figuring out how to buy tickets for the Colosseum can be a surprisingly daunting task.
We've put together this guide to help you buy tickets to the Colosseum in Rome without the confusion - learn exactly what you're getting, and make sure you pick out the best Colosseum ticket for you!
Sections of the Colosseum
First things first: if you start researching how to buy tickets for the Colosseum, you'll quickly notice a dizzying array of distinct sections and areas of the Colosseum - all marketed as being unmissable, of course.
To keep from getting confused, here's the rundown on the parts of the Colosseum you should be familiar with before buying Colosseum tickets.
Ground Floor & First Floor
These are the sections of the Colosseum included with any standard entrance ticket.
You'll be able to walk all the way around the Colosseum, peer down below the floor into the maze of what were once tunnels, and admire the ruins.
It will be crowded, yes, but once you walk far enough away from the entrance point, you can usually find a semi-peaceful spot to relax and take it all in.
The underground of the Colosseum is not actually underground (anymore), as most of the Colosseum is no longer covered with a floor, but it is a backstage area.
This is where the slaves used to manage the animals that lived under the Colosseum, and there's a rebuilt winch on display along with other artifacts.
This part of the Colosseum is most valuable to people who have a strong interest in Ancient Roman history.
This is a newly rebuilt section of the arena floor that once covered the entire Colosseum.
To reach it, you'll walk through the original gate that gladiators once strolled through, and watch the Colosseum open up in front of you.
It sounds a bit mediocre, especially because you can admire the Colosseum from a similar height on the opposite side with a typical ticket, but it is a very cool experience. Also, since only tour groups can access the arena floor, it's typically not crowded.
Want to view the Colosseum from a higher vantage point than simply the first floor?
Look for a tour that includes the third tier, which is exactly what it sounds like - the third floor of the Colosseum.
This access is typically only sold with specialty tours, and usually comes with a hefty price tag.
Ticket Options for the Colosseum
If you start combing through different options when learning how to buy Colosseum tickets, you'll quickly find that there is a seemingly endless number of options.
At the end of the day, though, there are essentially four different ways to buy Colosseum tickets (not including the dozens of distinct companies selling similar tours).
Basic Colosseum Tickets
This is the cheapest and most straightforward option for buying Colosseum tickets: simply show up, wait in line, and walk right in after you purchase your ticket.
The downside to this approach, of course, is that the lines vary from "very long" to "absolutely insane" depending on the time of year.
Standard tickets cost 12 Euros
and include entrance to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill
. The ticket is also good for 2 consecutive days, so if you'd rather visit the Colosseum one day and save Palatine Hill and the Forum for the next day, you can.
Independent Skip-the-Line Tickets
If you'd like to buy a Colosseum ticket that allows you to walk right into the Colosseum instead of waiting in line, but doesn't come with the expense or structure of a tour, consider purchasing a skip-the-line ticket in advance.
Some of these tickets come with a specific time reservation and some do not, so be sure to check which kind you're purchasing before you buy!
Other than that, the ticket essentially works the same way as a standard Colosseum ticket.
These tickets usually sell for around 20 Euros or less, and if you are traveling during the summer or only have a couple of days in Rome
, I'd strongly consider going this direction if your budget allows for it.
Guided Colosseum Tours
Have a special interest in Ancient Roman history? Want to have access to a guide to help give more context to the sites? Simply want to access restricted areas like the underground or arena floor?
In that case, a guided tour of the Colosseum might be the experience for you.
These tours vary in price dramatically depending on what they include, but they start around 40 Euros. Less expensive tours may only visit one restricted area and be rather short; more expensive tours may include multiple areas of the Colosseum and also provide a guided tour of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
We recommend this tour which covers all areas of the Colosseum
, or this tour which covers only the basic entrance
. These tours include a guide to provide you with plenty of facinating historical information during your tour.
We loved the context provided by the guide in the Colosseum, and it was even more beneficial once we moved over to the Roman Forum, which requires a bit of context to truly appreciate.
If you do choose to go this route, consider reading up on a bit of Ancient Roman history first - there are plenty of great books about Rome
out there - to make sure you get the most out of your experience.
Premium & Special Experience Colosseum Tours
Plenty of variations of Colosseum tours can be found. Why not try Virtual reality
, tours at night
, or third tier access? If you're willing to open your wallet, the sky is the limit (literally: helicopter tours over Rome exist) when it comes to how you can experience the Colosseum.
Specialty tours come with a big price tag, of course, so these Colosseum tickets are best for people who are traveling with a large budget and have a special interest in Ancient Roman history.
Travel Tips for the ColosseumIf budget is a concern, consider a winter trip.
Generally speaking, Rome (Christmas time being the exception) is far less crowded in the winter than the summer, and that includes the Colosseum.
You'll essentially never see the Colosseum being completely uncrowded, but showing up early on, say, a February morning might be the best way to visit the Colosseum without making arrangements in advance.
There's no need to book a tour to get to the Colosseum - it has its own metro stop.
... And the stop is conveniently labeled "Colosseo" (it's on Line B).
Once you leave the metro station, the Colosseum itself pretty much knocks you over with how close it is - it is literally impossible to get lost between the Colosseo metro stop and the Colosseum itself.
The Colosseum manages its own tour guides.
If you choose to purchase a tour of the Colosseum, your tour company will not be in charge of what guide you get for the Colosseum itself - only archaeologists employed by the Colosseum can give those tours.
However, your company will be in charge of picking/hiring a guide for the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, if that is part of the tour you book.
The best views of the Colosseum aren't inside it.
For great views, head to the popular wall that's on the north side of the Colosseum (go east after exiting the metro stop and head a few meters along Via Nicola Salvi and you can't miss the steps up). This is the popular, "Instagram-famous" spot that allows you to get excellent photos of the tallest portion of the exterior of the Colosseum. It may be crowded, but it's free! Also, A few small cafes are along this street which offer some nice views while you have a drink.
Fantastic views of the Colosseum can be found from Palatine Hill (with the Roman Forum in the foreground) and within the Roman Forum itself. These views aren't free, but the Roman Forum is included with your ticket to the Colosseum.
The time that the Colosseum closes varies with the season.
The Colosseum is open year-round, every day except for Christmas and New Year's Day.
However, it is open later in the summer than in the winter - if you're planning a late afternoon visit, be sure to double-check the schedule
The Colosseum always opens at 8:30 AM, and the last entrance is always one hour before closing.