Seven Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines

Seven Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines

Getting tickets to the Colosseum in Rome is easier than you can imagine. Continue reading to find a way that suits you!

You have finally arrived in Rome, the Eternal City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ve had a great time till the moment you’ve laid foot there. The Colosseum from a distance looks mighty, and you can’t wait to get in and explore it. But the minute you approach the entrance, you’re in for a bad surprise: the line to get tickets to the Colosseum is almost as mighty as the site itself. You are ready to give up and settle for just a photo from the outside.

Don’t give up just yet! There are ways to get into the Colosseum without waiting in line for hours, and some excellent Colosseum tours that you are guaranteed to enjoy.

In this post, I will explain how to get tickets to the Colosseum so that you don’t have to wait in line for hours. But first, let me provide some information on what you can expect when visiting the Colosseum.

Why You Must Visit The Colosseum When In Rome

Rome is a gorgeous city, one I enjoy visiting any time I have a chance. Apparently I am not the only one, as tourists crowd it any time of year. I don’t think a week would be enough to visit all the main attractions in Rome (read more about the various things to do and see in Rome in this post). Anyways – whether you have just a day there, or a month, you simply can’t skip visiting the Colosseum.

This is one of the symbols of Rome, heritage of the Roman Empire and usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the city, and first in the line of places people want to visit when there. Known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was where the battles between gladiators and wild animals used to take place.

Needless to say, a good traveler wouldn’t dream of going to Rome without visiting the Colosseum – save for those who make it a point to stay out of the tourist track. Don’t get me started on what I think of those obsessed with off the beaten path travel (I have often claimed I am an unsuccessful backpacker, because I am more than happy to go to all the most touristy places). Let me just say this: no sane traveler would dream of going to Rome and skip a visit to the Colosseum. It is – quite simply – a must; no matter how hard it is to get tickets to the Colosseum.

tickets to the Colosseum

Tickets to the Colosseum include also a visit to the Roman Forum

Why is the Colosseum always packed?

The Colosseum is – by far – the most iconic attraction in Rome, if not in Italy. I’d dare say that it is obvious that such a place attracts large numbers of visitors. In 2018, a whopping 7.4 million people visited the Colosseum – which means that it received on average more than 20000 people per day, with some days seeing up to 30000 visitors.

Only 3000 people are allowed to get inside the Colosseum at once, and with increased security measures (which all visitors have to go through) this means that – unless you have a skip-the-line ticket, you can expect to stay in line for up to two hours.

If you have limited time in Rome, or if you are visiting in the summer when it’s terribly hot, you’re probably going to hate yourself for not having found other solutions to get tickets to the Colosseum.

But worry not! I am here for you. Indeed, I am a massive fan of getting online skip the line tickets for famous tourist attractions. They usually include a guide, which in the case of the Colosseum is particularly handy as this way you may also have access to the underground, the arena floor and the third ring.

IN SHORT: These are the most popular tours and tickets to the Colosseum what will allow you to skip the lines:

PLEASE NOTE: All visitors, including those that have skip-the-line tickets, have to go through security checks and have their bags scanned when visiting the Colosseum, so expect to wait in line for that – though that is a much shorter and faster line than that to the ticket counter.

TIP: Avoid carrying large bags when going to the Colosseum. Only small bags and backpacks are allowed. There is no cloak room at the Colosseum but you can leave your bags in a luggage storage nearby (I will point out where at the end of this post). Otherwise so make sure to leave any bulky stuff in your room.

TIP: As of 30 September 2018 all tickets to the Colosseum have to indicate a specific entry time and they will be for individuals or group. You will have to indicate a specific date and time slot for your visit when you buy your tickets.

Continue reading for more tips on how to make the most of your time when visiting the Colosseum and, most importantly, to avoid the lines to get in!

Colosseum tickets

The Colosseum is a must see attraction in Rome

Visiting the Colosseum more in depth

The basic tickets to the Colosseum include visits of the main floor and the second tier. The basic visit will take you at least one hour. If you want to visit the arena, the underground and the third ring you will have to get special tickets which are inevitably more expensive, and you will have to calculate a bit more time. Keep in mind you need to add waiting time at the security line as well.

Having said so, I wholeheartedly recommend getting tickets to the Colosseum that include the underground and the third ring, as they are the best preserved parts and the most interesting ones.

The underground has pretty much remained buried from the end of the Roman Empire until around 100 years ago. There are gorgeous marble coatings; some of the structures built on orders of Domitian and even traces and parts of the elevator that lifted wild animals and gladiators to the arena floor.

Even the channels that used to carry water all the way inside the Colosseum are still visible – apparently water was used to flood the arena to recreate the perfect environment for naval battles! – as well as the sewage system thanks to which various objects testifying to the way of life of the spectators have been found.

To me, this is enough to make me want to invest in tickets to the Colosseum that include a guided tour of the underground! Indeed, while the rest of the Colosseum is certainly nice to visit, it’s a bit bare as throughout the centuries it’s been plundered of its marble and all the other decorations (did you know that in medieval times it was used as a sort of quarry?).

Some very steep steps take to the third ring. Getting there isn’t the easiest thing, but that’s where you’ll get the best view of the Colosseum, as well as that of the Roman Forum and the nearby Constantin Arch. This part of the site can’t be visited with just the standard ticket: you’ll need to get tickets to the Colosseum that include a guide and access to underground, arena floor and third ring. It’s surely more pricey but trust an expert: it’s worth it!

TIP: Keep in mind that the only way to get to the Colosseum underground (as well as the arena floor and the third ring) is on a guided tour. Regular tickets to the Colosseum don’t allow visits to these parts of the site.

These are the best tours of the Colosseum that also go to the underground:

Continue reading to discover the best ways to get tickets to the Colosseum and skip the lines.

tickets to the Colosseum

When visiting the Colosseum, make sure to also go to the arena floor

Seven Absolutely Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines

There are several ways to get tickets to the Colosseum and skip the lines. Below, I will highlight all the possible solutions you have, pointing out which one is more suitable for any kind of traveler and budget.

In general, skip-the-line tickets to the Colosseum bought online via a third party are the best way to avoid standing in line for hours. There are different kinds of skip the line tickets, depending on the kind of tour you want to opt for – group tours, private tours, night tours etc.

Of all the ways to get tickets to the Colosseum, my favorite is the night tour one. It is the most expensive one – because it also is the most exclusive one, with only limited numbers allowed each night. Yet, I find that there is something special about visiting the Colosseum at night, when it glows in the darkness.

I will share more details on how to do night tours of the Colosseum in a bit. Meantime, here are all the best ways to get Colosseum tickets.

Way N. 1: Buy your tickets to the Colosseum at the ticket office of the Roman Forum

Perfect for: off season and last minute travelers.

Advantages: It is very budget friendly.

Disadvantages: Entrance to the Colosseum is timed, and certain time slots are often unavailable, especially in the high season. This way to get tickets to the Colosseum requires some flexibility, as you may not necessarily get your preferred time slot to enter the Colosseum. There may be no tickets – yes, at times tickets to the Colosseum are sold out!

Whenever you buy tickets to the Colosseum, regardless of which one you get, you’ll get a pass for the Roman Forum. A tour of the Colosseum usually includes a visit to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. The vice-versa is also true: in other words, if you buy tickets to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, you can also visit the Colosseum.

My advice is to go see the Roman Forum first, and then the Colosseum. The line to the Roman Forum is much much less, and once you are done with your visit you can proceed directly to the Colosseum with your tickets in your hands already. And since the ticket has a 48 hours validity, you don’t even have to visit both on the same day.

Tickets to the Colosseum (including access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill) cost €12.

In case you decide to visit the Colosseum before the Roman Forum, make sure to get there nice and early – I’d say at least 30 minutes before opening time (more about the opening times later).

Some background information about the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum is one of the most incredible places to visit in Rome, and it is right next to the Colosseum – so most people visit it on the same day. Tickets to the Colosseum often include also a guided tour of the Roman Forum.

When Rome used to be a Republic, the Roman Forum was a thriving place, with food stalls, temples, brothels and the House of the Senate. The stalls were later substituted with a proper mall and tribunals, and the Forum became a ceremonial center during the empire.

The Palatine Hill is one of the nicest places to visit in Rome. According to legend, this is where the twins Romolo and Remo were raised by the wolf, and Romolo, having killed his twin brother, founded the village that later on became Rome. Historically, the Palatine used to be the place where the emperors and the aristocrats lived. Many online tickets to the Colosseum include a visit to the Palatine – it’s a great way to complete a tour of Imperial Rome.

Way N. 2: Buy the official Colosseum tickets online

Perfect for: no frills travelers.

Advantages: It is very budget friendly; it includes an audio guide.

Disadvantages: You have to reserve a specific time entrance separately.

This is the official website to get tickets to the Colosseum. Online tickets for adult visitors cost €14 – that’s €12 for the actual ticket, and €2 for the online handling fee. Visiting the Colosseum is free for children up to 18 years of age. The price of this ticket also includes an audio-guide.

Remember to print your ticket and take it with you!

visiting the Colosseum

Skip the line tickets to the Colosseum are the best way to fully enjoy your time there

Way N. 3: Take a guided group tour

Perfect for: Learning more about the Colosseum

Advantages: You have a guide or audio-guide that explains you loads about the Colosseum; you don’t have to worry about booking a time slot for your visit (the company running the tour will do that for you).

Disadvantages: You will be in a group of up to 20 visitors, meaning you won’t really be going at your own pace.

I am a big fan of guided tours when it comes to archaeological sites. A place like the Colosseum deserves an expert guide that is able to give you detailed information about its history and architecture.

More than that, with a guided group tour you don’t have to worry about standing in line to get your tickets to the Colosseum. Indeed, you will enter the site through a gate reserved to groups, and security checks will be more lax and thus faster.

All you have to do is picking a guided tour that best suits your interests and needs. I am a fan of in depth visits, so I recommend one that gives you access to areas that are normally closed to the visitors who have the basic tickets to the Colosseum – ie the underground, the arena floor and the third ring.

Guided group Colosseum tours cost an average of €45 per person depending on the tour, and last around 3 hours.

These are the best guided group tours with skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:

Way N. 4: Take a guided private tour

Perfect for: Anybody who doesn’t enjoy large group tours.

Advantages: You are the one dictating the pace of the visit; the tour company will take care of all the arrangements.

Disadvantages: It’s more expensive than the guided group tour option.

Guided group tours often imply a slow moving group: there always is someone who takes forever in taking photos; or who asks questions you may not find interesting. It often means seeing less, because someone moves to slowly and ends up holding down the rest of the group. If this is something you’d rather avoid, then you may want to invest in a private guided tour of the Colosseum.

Private Colosseum tours prices depend on the number of persons in the group. The starting price is usually €70.

Private guided tours of the Colosseum have the same advantages of the group ones – not having to wait in line, being able to access areas normally close to the public, etc. But in this case, you will have a guide all to yourself and won’t have to wait for the group.

These are the best guided private tours with skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:

tickets to the Colosseum

Get night tickets to the Colosseum for an incredible experience

Way N. 5: Buy night-time tickets to the Colosseum with access to the underground 

Perfect for: A unique, exclusive experience.

Advantages: You really get to see everything; it is a very intimate experience.

Disadvantages: It’s the most expensive option.

If you think that the sight of the Colosseum during the day is amazing, try picturing it at night. I once saw it from the plane as I was landing in Rome and let me tell you, it was splendid! As I have anticipated before, this is my favorite way to visit the Colosseum, and of all the various options I have given to get tickets to the Colosseum and skip the lines, this is the one I recommend the most!

But there’s more: as only a few people are allowed at night, visiting the Colosseum this way means having a special, private and truly unique experiences.

Night tours of the Colosseum start at 9:30 pm, so you have time to have dinner before your visit. Tours last around 2 and a half hours.

The guided night tours give you access to the main areas, the first and second ring, and the arena floor. And you’ll also have access to the undergrounds.

TIP: If this is an experience you want to do, you have to act fast and book well in advance – as I have said, only a few people are allowed inside the Colosseum at night, so tickets sell out fast.

Night-time tickets to the Colosseum cost around €87 per person.

These are the best night-time Colosseum tours:

Colosseum tours

A guided tour of Rome may be an excellent idea to skip the line at the Colosseum

Way N. 6: Take a guided tour of Rome

Perfect for: Those who have very little time to visit Rome.

Advantages: A good guided tour that takes you to all the most famous attractions; you don’t have to worry about making separate reservations as the company running the tour will do that for you.

Disadvantages: Tour can be a bit rushed and they can be quite expensive.

If you have very little time in Rome but still want to make the most of it, you may want to opt for a guided tour of the city that takes you to all the most famous attractions. Most tours include a guide; some budget friendly options will only have an audio-guide; all of them provide skip-the-line entrances to the various attractions.

These are a few good guided tours of Rome that go to all the most famous attractions:

  • Rome: the Eternal City in a day – the best of all the guided tours to see the highlight of Rome, as it goes to all the main attractions with a live guide and with skip-the-line tickets. The tour costs a lot – €1200 euro. But if there are a few of you willing to split, it may be well worth the price to see the best of the city.
  • Skip the line ancient Rome and Colosseum half day walking tour – a very good, and very budget friendly guided tour option to see the most important tourist attractions of Rome. It includes tickets to the Colosseum.
  • Best of Rome: Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica and Colosseum pass – this audio-guide tour of Rome costs €75 and includes Colosseum tickets, with visits to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill; St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican.

Way N. 7: Buy the Rome City Pass

Perfect for: Those planning to see more attractions in Rome.

Advantages: You get skip the line entrances to a bunch of other attractions in the city.

Disadvantages: It hardly is a money saver; you have to reserve a time slot for your visit on a site different from the one you use to buy the pass, so it may be confusing.

The Rome City Pass is a good option if you are planning to visit many attractions in Rome as it normally includes tickets to various attractions, including the Colosseum. There are several Roma Pass options on sale – you can have a better idea of what the advantages and the inclusions of the Roma Pass are in my post The Best Roma Pass Options And How To Make The Most Of It.”

For the purpose of this post, I have selected 3 different city passes that will allow you to skip the line at the Colosseum:

  • 72 hours Roma pass: the least advantageous option of all, it includes tickets to the Colosseum and it’s valid for 72 hours.
  • Vatican and Rome card: perfect if you also want to visit the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. You only really save €10 on the total price of the attractions visited, but at least you’ll be able to skip the lines.
  • Rome tourist card: this pass includes skip-the-line tickets to many attractions including the Colosseum, and discounts on a bunch of them. It is the best option, if you make good use of it. It costs €67.50.
Colosseum Rome

The mighty sight of the Colosseum at night

Other Useful Information For Visiting The Colosseum

Book in advance

I can’t stress this enough, really. Depending on when you intend to visit Rome, you have to buy your tickets to the Colosseum up to four months in advance – that’s how popular a site it is. Even if you are a last minute traveler, make sure to check out availability online before going all the way to the Colosseum to discover that you won’t be able to visit.

What to do if tickets to the Colosseum are sold out

If you visit Rome during the busy summer months or if for some reason you don’t book well in advance (once again, let me stress you really have to book in advance, but I appreciate yours may be a last minute trip), you may find that you can’t find a suitable time slot for the basic entry tickets to the Colosseum are sold out – I am referring to the tickets that don’t include a guided visit or an audioguide.

If this is the case, there are still a few things you can do to get in, but they will obviously involve investing a bit more money (a small price to pay, in my opinion!).

Firstly, take a can look at this site to see if anything is available – they are just regular fast track tickets with no guide options, but the site is very user friendly – tickets cost €18, so it is a bit more expensive than buying them at the official site.

If nothing is available on that site, then consider investing in one of the more expensive ticket options – ie those that include a videoguide or an audioguide. Check out this tour to see if it is available. 

Alternatively, opt for a proper guided tour with access to the various exclusive places – it’s going to be significantly more expensive than the basic €12 ticket, but you will enjoy the service of a guide sharing plenty of details about the Colosseum. You can pick from the many options I have outlined above.

How to get to the Colosseum

The Colosseum is in (errr) Colosseum Square. The best way to get there is to either get subway B getting off at Colosseo, or the cablecar n. 3.

Opening times

These are the opening times of the Colosseum:

From the last Sunday of October until 15 February – 8:30 am until 4:30 pm;

From 16 February to 15 March – 8:30 am to 5:00 pm;

From 16 March to the last Saturday of March – 8:30 am to 5:30 pm;

From the last Sunday of March to 31 August – 8:30 am to 7:15 pm;

From 1 September to 20 September – 8:30 am to 7:00 pm;

From 1 October to the last Saturday in October – 8:30 am to 6:30 pm.

Keep in mind that the Colosseum is closed on the main Italian national holidays – 1 January, 25 December, and the morning of 2 June (it opens at 1:30 pm). It also closes early on the Friday before Easter, to allow the Via Crucis.

Good to know

As of March 2019 all skip-the-line ticket holders will have to indicate a specific date and time for their visit, which means you will have to pay that extra €2 for the reservation fee. If you buy your tickets directly on the Colosseum official site, don’t forget to do this or you’ll risk having to wait in line as precedence will be given to those visitors that have reserved a specific time slot.

Remember to be punctual and respect the time slot you have been allocated. Make sure to get to the Colosseum in advance, as the personnel actually does check the time on your ticket and won’t let you in if you are late!

The best time of year to avoid the crowds at the Colosseum

The Colosseum tends to be crowded year round, but certain times are worst than others. In general, if you are flexible with your travel dates I’d suggest visiting in the winter months, between November and February, which is low season in Italy.

If you visit in the low season and during a weekday, you’ll have better chances to avoid the crowds.

If, on the other hand, you visit Rome in the peak summer months (from May to September) you’ll find there won’t be much of a difference between weekdays and weekends in terms of crowds.

Prices for tickets to the Colosseum and free visits

Tickets to the Colosseum cost €12 and include a visit to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Tickets are valid for 48 hours after purchase, with one entry per site.

Like in all museums in Rome, in theory the Colosseum is free to enter each first Sunday of the month. However, keep in mind that as of 2019 the rules have changed and there are no free Sunday entrances between April and the first Sunday of September.

In any case, I hardly recommend trying to enter the Colosseum on a free Sunday, as the line is humongous and the site terribly crowded.

Security checks

Please beware that as of April 2016 new security policies have been adopted, which means that anybody wishing to visit the Colosseum, including those who have skip-the-line Colosseum tickets, have to go through the metal detector. Security checks can take up to one hour, so keep this in mind when you plan to visit. Also remember that backpacks and large bags aren’t allowed.

Toilets and other facilities at the Colosseum

There are toilets at the Colosseum, but I honestly recommend using toilets before getting in, so that you really make full use of your time at the site.

There are no other facilities such as a kiosk or even a cloak room inside – but there are plenty of places right outside where you can get a drink if you need it.

Accessibility of the Colosseum

When getting your tickets to the Colosseum, you should double check whether the ticket is suitable for people with limited mobility. In general, despite being such an ancient building, the Colosseum is quite accessible. There are no steps to get through the main entrance, and there is an elevator for visitors with limited mobility so that they can access the arena floor. There are signs that point to the accessible route.

Much like the rest of the historical center of Rome, the area right outside the Colosseum is cobblestone – so not exactly easy for people on a wheelchair.

Luggage storage facilities near the Colosseum

As I have said before, there is no cloakroom at the Colosseum and you aren’t allowed to bring bulky items inside. You should leave any large bags in your hotel room. However, if you are in Rome just for a day, in transit while you head somewhere else, you may need to leave your luggage in a storage facility. If you are passing by Roma Termini station, you may be better off leaving your stuff there. Otherwise, you can opt for a luggage storage which is located in Via dei Chiavari, at about 2 km and 20 minutes walk from the Colosseum. You can check it out here.

Stay tuned as I will be writing a post on how to visit Rome in a day!

Other attractions near the Colosseum

Don’t forget that right by the Colosseum you will find two among some of the most famous attractions in Rome – the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. In fact, your tickets to the Colosseum will also give you access to them. Within easy walking distance there also are the Circus Maximus, the Baths of Caracalla and the Capitoline Museums.

Other than those, not far from the Colosseum you will find the beautiful Altare della Patria in Piazza Venezia, and the archeological site of Largo di Torre Argentina, now one of the most famous cat colonies in the Italian capital.

Going to the Vatican? Find out How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line”and How To Get St. Peter’s Basilica Tickets And Skip The Line.”

Have you ever been to the Colosseum? What are your best tips to make the most of it and how did you get tickets to the Colosseum?

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Discover how to get tickets to the Colosseum and skip the lines - via @clautavani

27 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome

27 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome

For as many times as I have been there, I have never had troubles finding incredible things do to in Rome. The range of Rome attractions is just fabulous. I don’t think many other places in the world can offer such a great mixture of historical landmarks, archaeological sites, churches, museums, antique and modern art. The only one I can think of is Jerusalem, and even then the Israeli capital, to me, lacks the grandeur that Rome has.

To read more about Jerusalem, check my post “Traditional And Alternative Things To Do In Jerusalem.”

But aside from the many tourist attractions in Rome, I enjoy its amazing restaurants and “trattorie” – where the locals also go; I would never stop eating the fantastic street food and gelato; and I find the attitude and the dry sense of humor of the locals incredibly funny.

Rome is vibrant and lively; it’s chaotic yet lovely; it’s dirty yet utterly gorgeous. It is a place anybody should travel to, at least once in a lifetime – but more than that, if possible. I have lived there and could not get enough of it: there are simply too many places to visit in Rome.

There’s only one issue that travelers may have when they visit Rome: it is a major tourist site and tourist attractions in Rome do get crowded, with lines that can at times be discouraging and make them regret going, especially if they only have a couple of days to visit. Sure enough, I don’t like waiting in line for hours. But worry not! I know what to do in Rome, and have tips to avoid the lines and still visit all the iconic attractions.

So, here’s an outline of all the things to do in Rome and a few tips about what to do to avoid the massive lines.

Rome attractions

Without a doubt, visiting St. Peter’s is one of the things to do in Rome

11 Unmissable Things To Do In Rome – And How To Avoid Waiting In Line To Get In

Visit the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica

Without the shadow of a doubt, visiting the Vatican is one of the unmissable things to do in Rome. St. Peter’s Basilica is the most famous church in Christendom. The church is sumptuous and splendid in its Renaissance and Baroque style, and inside there are works of Bernini, Michelangelo’s Pietà, and Vignola’s cupolas.

Right next to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums well deserve to be included among the best things to see in Rome. This is where the Sistine Chapel and Raphael Rooms are located. They are incredible works of art. The rest of the collection of the Vatican Museums is stunning: some of the most important world art. The museums are housed in palaces originally built for Renaissance popes.

Every time I go to Rome I promise myself that I will pay a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. I have been to the Basilica a few times already, and to the museums once. I would love to go again. But visiting the Vatican isn’t that easy: last time I was in town I saw a line so long that I was completely put off. I could not work out the patience to stand for hours at end – not even if visiting is among the top things to do in Rome.

Check out my posts How To Get St. Peter’s Basilica Tickets And Skip The Line” and “How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line.”

But I finally realized what to do in Rome to avoid the humongous lines at the Vatican: I can either get a fast track admission online, or I can even opt to skip the line entirely and on top of that, I will even have a guide to take me around. That means saving a lot of time that I can use to explore other Rome attractions, and I don’t even have to print the voucher because mobile vouchers are accepted (I love it when I can save paper).

Unfortunately, these fast track and skip the line tickets don’t include access to St. Peter’s Top of the Dome, one of the most amazing tourist attractions in Rome, but I know of a way to get there. Continue reading to find out.

These are some of the best tours of the Vatican:

Rome attractions

One of the prettiest things to see in Rome is the view from the Dome of St. Peter’s

Walk up St. Peter’s Top of the Dome

There aren’t many places to get a proper view of Rome. Yet, one of the best things to see in Rome is precisely that – a gorgeous panorama. St. Peter’s Top of the Dome has the most spectacular view ever, I think. It shows St. Peter’s Square, Via della Conciliazione, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Tiber River. In other words, it would be a pity to miss it.

The bad news is that there’s always the longest line to reach the elevator that goes all the way to the first level of Dome (and then there’s stairs to get to the top). Last time I went to the Top of the Dome it was 2006 and I remember standing in line for a while, with my ex boyfriend becoming increasingly impatient despite me saying that this was one of the unmissable things to do in Rome.

The good news is that I have finally discovered what to do in Rome in order to skip this line: it is now possible to get online tickets, which can either be printed or saved on the phone. No more excuses not to go!

These tours of the Vatican all include a visit to the Dome of St. Peter’s:

what to do in Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo is one of my favorite tourist attractions in Rome

Explore Castel Sant’Angelo

Visiting Castel Sant’Angelo is one of my favorite things to do in Rome. It is a massive fortress whose construction started in 139 AD. It was initially intended as Emperor Hadrian’s mausoleum but it then became a medieval citadel, a prison and a place of safety for popes during times of political unrest – there is a corridor that connects the Vatican Palace to the Castle and that provided an escape route for popes.

One fun fact about Castel Sant’Angelo is that it was the the set of Angels and Demons, one of Dan Brown’s most famous novels. One more reason to include it in the list of things to see in Rome.

The lines to get inside Castel Sant’Angelo are not nearly as bad as those at St. Peter’s Basilica and at the Vatican. Yet, I’d rather book my ticket in advance and get in through the fast track than have to wait for my turn to then dodge money out of my purse and wait for change. Sure enough, getting a fast track advance ticket to Castel Sant’Angelo is what to do in Rome to get a chance to visit this awesome place.

Here’s some of the best tours of Castel Sant’Angelo:

Discover the Capitoline Hill and Museums

Among the things to do in Rome, I recommend paying a visit to the Capitoline Hill and Museums. The palace was designed by Michelangelo and it is a real work of art in and of itself – easy to see why it is one of the top tourist attractions in Rome.

Inside the Capitoline Museums there is a fabulous collection of classical sculptures kept there since Pope Sixtus IV donated a group of bronze sculptures to the city of Rome in 1471. There’s also paintings by Caravaggio.

A guided tour of the Capitoline Hill and Museums generally includes a visit to the St. Mary of Aracoeli Basilica. I recommend getting tickets online in order to skip the line and avoid any hassle.

Here’s the best tours of the Capitoline Hill:

places to see in Rome

Visiting the Coliseum is quite simply one of the unmissable things to do in Rome

Go to the Colosseum

In proper unsuccessful backpacker style, hitting all the places that many avoid labelling them as “too touristy” and trying to distinguish themselves from tourists and pointing out they are travelers, I would never dream of visiting the Italian capital and skipping what is considered to be one of the top tourist attractions in Rome – the Colosseum.

Learn how to care less about what other travelers think on my post “How to be an unsuccessful backpacker.”

Visiting the Colosseum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with the historic center or Rome, definitely is among the ultimate things to do in Rome. This is one of the most iconic and photographed tourist attractions in Rome. I still think that not even the best photos do it justice. It is just that beautiful that nobody with a pinch of salt in his brain would dream of skipping it when in Rome.

Yes, the line to get inside the Colosseum is long and if one has limited time in the city, it can be annoying. But once again, I suggest getting online and buying a guided tour (that’s when a guided tour does come in handy!) with a skip the line entrance: this is what to do in Rome in order to enjoy one of its top attractions completely hassle free. The bonus is that the guided tours usually include a visit of the arena floor, of the third tier and even of the undergrounds.

If you want to know more tricks on how to avoid the lines to the Colosseum, read my post Five Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines.”

Here’s some of the best tours that include a visit to the Colosseum:

what to do in Rome

The Roman Forum is one of the best tourist attractions in Rome

Head to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum is one of the greatest things to see in Rome, and it is located right next to the Colosseum – so most people visit in on the same day. In the early Republic days this was a chaotic place with food stalls, brothels, as well as temples and the Senate house. Eventually the food stalls were replaced by business centers and law courts and the Forum remained a ceremonial centre under the Empire.

As this is one of the top tourist attractions in Rome, there obviously is an entrance fee to go in – well worth the price in my opinion. However, on certain days the line to get in is long and one my be discouraged. Trust me though, it is worth the effort.

Anyways, if one can’t be fussed standing in line to get a ticket, getting an online ticket for a guided tour and to skip the line is among the things to do in Rome. The good news is that tours of the Roman Forum sold online are generally sold together with visits to the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill, thus allowing the visit of three of the best tourist attractions in Rome in one go and skipping the lines for all of them.

The Palatine is one of my favorite places to visit in Rome. According to legend, this hill is where the twins Romulus and Remus were brought up by a wolf and where Romulus, having killed his brother, founded the village that later on became Rome. Historically speaking, the Palatine was once the residence of emperors and aristocrats.

I certainly wouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit all these tourist attractions in Rome in one go, especially if I could do it completely hassle free.

These are some of the best tours that include a visit to the Roman Forum:

Rome attractions

Villa Borghese is one of the coolest places to visit in Rome – photo courtesy of Jean-Pierre Dalbéra (flickr)

Go on a tour of Villa and Galleria Borghese

Villa Borghese is one of the most interesting places to visit in Rome. The gardens are a truly enchanting place – especially the Pincio terrace. But art lovers also enjoy the incredible art exhibit with paintings and sculptures of Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio and Titian.

Going on a small group tour of Villa and Galleria Borghese is one of the nicest things to do in Rome to fully enjoy this incredible place – not to mention, purchasing the tour in advance allows to save time and to skip the lines at the entrance. They even have VIP tours, for an even more intimate experience.

Here’s some tours of Villa Borghese:

Rome attractions

Meeting the locals is what to do in Rome for fun

6 Absolutely Fun Things To Do In Rome

Most people who visit Rome go there to immerse themselves in its incredible history and millenary culture. However, Rome is an incredible vibrant and fun city. Places like Campo de Fiori, Piazza Navona, Via del Corso are not only among the best tourist attractions in Rome, but also the go-to places for a stroll, for a bit of shopping and to enjoy a good gelato (the best gelaterie are Grom in Piazza Navona and Lemon Grass in Via Ottaviano, by the way).

But going for a stroll, shopping, eating gelato, going to open air concerts and to the White Night are old classics. So I have put together a short selection of things to do in Rome just for fun.

Rome attractions

Driving a vintage Vespa is one of the most fun things to do in Rome – photo courtesy of Jarred Elrod

Go on a Vespa tour

I grew up watching old movies like Roman Holidays and La Dolce Vita, and with the myth of Vespa scooters – I used to have one, but sold it once I moved overseas. Needless to say, going around in a Vespa scooter is one of the coolest things to do in Rome to appreciate the city a bit like the locals do. Vespa Tours can be booked online. Some can be done independently and they include itinerary and maps.

Those who are not too confident to dodge the streets of Rome by themselves can opt for a guided Vespa tour. Personally, I’d prefer that: Rome is huge and it is easy to get lost in the maze of boulevards and narrow alleys. A local guide is bound to take tourists to the nicest places to visit in Rome without getting lost.

Other cool tours are the Vintage Vespa one – but it’s only for those who already know how to drive a manual transmission Vespa; and Rome by Night. Considering that public transportation in Rome isn’t the best at night, a night tour may be what to do in Rome to enjoy a bit of sightseeing and nightlife at the same time.

The following are some of the coolest Vespa tours in Rome:

Or drive an Ape Calessino 

One of the most fun things I did in 2016 was touring Sardinia on an Ape Calessino (tuc tuc). I can only imagine how much fun it would be to go around Rome in one and I was really glad to find out that it is now possible to rent Ape Calessino to drive around town – this is certainly one of the most fun things to do in Rome.

places to see in Rome

Who said that art can’t be fun? Spotting street art is what to do in Rome – photo courtesy of Valeria Preci (flickr)

Spot all the street art 

It is only obvious that art galleries rank among the best known tourist attractions in Rome. But let’s face it: art can at times be a bit boring. I enjoy a museum every now and then, but I find street art and urban renovation projects to be more fun – even if only because they need to be discovered throughout a city.

Going to Quadraro is what to do in Rome to admire some incredible street art projects. This part of town is not nearly as touristy as the rest, so the benefits in going are many: it is local, it is free and it is fun.

Go on an off-the-beaten path tour

All travelers like going local – including a proper tourist like myself. But in a city like Rome this isn’t exactly easy, because it is huge and extremely touristy. The good news is that there is a company, called Withlocals, that offers off-the-beaten track tours guides by a local. This is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Rome if wanting to learn a bit more about the culture and way of life of its people (without getting lost). You can even get a local to walk you around. Check out local guides in Rome here. 

Join a food tour

If there is one thing that I truly enjoy in Rome, that’s eating. I am not even a foodie at all, but the food in Rome is heavenly. Whether eating at a fine restaurant or at a local trattoria; grabbing gelato on the go; biting into some street food it’s really hard to go wrong. Going on a food tour is what to do in Rome to enjoy all of its flavor.

The good news is that there’s a variety of tours that can all be bought online. There are wine and food tasting tours; beer and food tasting tours; day tours and evening tours; Michelin stars food tours for extremely refined palates; Withlocals Roman Food Tour: the 10 tastings (I’d personally opt for this: eating street food is what to do in Rome!). They even organize food tours based on location – Testaccio food tour and Trastevere food tour are just two examples.

Here’s the best food tours in Rome:

Take a cooking class

We all love Italian food, and one of the perks of visiting Rome is the chance of eating all the delicious pasta, gelato, saltimbocca, abbacchio (lamb), and the many specialties of Roman Kosher cuisine (did you know that one of the largest Jewish communities outside Israel lives in Rome, by the way?). One of the most fun things to do in Rome, that unveils at least some of the secret of Italian cuisine, is joining a cooking class. It’s a great way to learn a bit more about the Italian culture and way of life!

These are some of the best cooking classes in Rome:

places to see in Rome

Ideas on what to do in Rome that is budget friendly: walking along the Tiber river

6 Things To Do In Rome That Are Budget Friendly

I won’t deny it: Rome isn’t exactly a budget friendly destination. Any long term traveler will agree with me if I say that the best way to travel on a budget is to travel slow and spend longer in a place. Flash packers who only have a few days to enjoy tourist attractions in Rome are bound to book hotels in the city center, to eat out all the time and will benefit from all the skip the line tickets.

However, I also know what to do in Rome when on a tight budget. My first advice is to rent an apartment rather than go to a hotel or bed and breakfast. That means having a kitchen and being able to cook, thus saving massively on meals – besides it is fun to shop for groceries in the many markets of Rome and to cook using fresh local produce.

I know that eating out is one of the most fun things to do in Rome, and it is still possible to do so – eating in trattorie or gorging on street food is what to do in Rome in this case.

The good news is that there’s a wide range of tourist attractions in Rome that are completely free to visit. All the squares in Rome can be accessed for free. Going to places like Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, Piazza di Trevi (with its famous fountain) and even Piazza Venezia with its view of Campidoglio is what to do in Rome to enjoy free attractions.

Visiting churches is one of the most budget friendly things to do in Rome – they are usually free to visit (at times there is a really small fee to access the cloister).

But there’s more: a bunch of museums and other tourist attractions in Rome, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine, and Castel Sant’Angelo – are free on the first Sunday of each month. The entire list can be seen here: it’s in Italian (no equivalent on the English version of the site) but it is rather self explanatory. Of course, free access implies waiting in line to get in, but if time is not an issue this is definitely what to do in Rome if on a tight budget.

Rome attractions

Picking a room with a view is definitely what to do in Rome – this is the view from Orange Garden B&B dining room

Where to stay in Rome

As any proper tourist destination, Rome has a wealth of accommodation options that range from budget backpacker hostels, to holiday rentals, guest houses and bed and breakfasts, hotels and luxury hotels. Choosing where to stay in Rome is more a matter of location than anything else – checking what unmissable tourist attractions in Rome are nearby may be a good way to select a hotel.

I find that staying in the area around Vittorio Emanuele metro station is one of the things to do in Rome to have easy access to a number of attractions, including the Colosseum which is a bit of a walk, but totally doable, and San Giovanni in Laterano Church. Not to mention my favorite restaurant in town (Trattoria Vecchia Roma) is located there. A good place to stay in Vittorio Emanuele is Zefiro Home.

If visiting the Vatican is one of the top things to do in Rome, the Orange Garden B&B may literally be the top choice. I stayed there during one of my last visits in Rome and the view of the Dome of the Vatican from the dining room is simply stunning.

what to do in Rome

The Pantheon is one of the iconic tourist attractions in Rome

How to get to Rome

As one of the world’s most visited city, Rome is really easy to get to. There are two airports: Fiumicino, which is the main airport, a bit outside of Rome; and Ciampino, which is closer to the center and used by budget airlines.

While there are no trains connecting Ciampino to Rome city center, getting the train from Fiumicino to Roma Termini Station is what to do in Rome to get there on the cheap – a one-way ticket costs €14.00 euro. Tickets can be bought online on Trenitalia website, or directly at the station.

An even cheaper way to get from either Fiumicino or Ciampino airport to the center of Rome (where all the nicest tourist attractions in Rome are located) is via bus or shuttle. Tickets can be bought directly online. There’s even shuttle and transfer services connecting Civitavecchia (the nearest port) to Rome – they also can be bought online.

Check out my post on How To Get From Fiumicino Airport To Rome City Center.”

Best time to visit Rome

If you ask me, it is always a good time to visit Rome. Yet, there are some months where the nicest tourist attractions in Rome are even more crowded than usual. I tend to avoid the summer months for example, because it is too hot and there are too many tourists (and even if I can get skip the lines tickets, I still don’t enjoy a place when it is too crowded).

I find that going in October is what do in Rome to be able to enjoy great weather, less tourists and all that the city has to offer.

Have you ever been to Rome? What are your recommendations on things to do in Rome? Do you have any tips to avoid the lines at tourist attractions in Rome?

Check out my post The Best Roma Pass Options And How To Make The Most Of It.”

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