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 tickets and 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.
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.
GOOD TO KNOW: As only 3000 visitors at once are allowed, and this rule is strict, you may experience a slight delay in getting in. Just be patient and make sure you get Colosseum tickets in advance.
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:
- Colosseum skip the line
- Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill + Guide
- Colosseum, Arena floor and Underground tour by night
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!
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, for which you will need specific Colosseum tickets allowing entry to that part of the building. Regular tickets to the Colosseum don’t allow visits to these parts of the site.
These are the best Colosseum tickets that also allow access to the underground:
- Ancient Rome Tour: Colosseum Underground, Arena & Forum
- Colosseum underground guided tour
- Premium Colosseum Tour with Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
- Underground Colosseum, Arena Floor, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
- Colosseum underground by night
Continue reading to discover the best ways to get tickets to the Colosseum and skip the lines.
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 and get Colosseum tickets for night visits 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. Colosseum tickets usually include 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.
As of 1 November 2019, tickets to the Colosseum (including access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill) cost €16. This ticket is valid for one day. Two-day tickets (which allow you to visit the different sites on two consecutive days) now cost €18.
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 €18 – that’s €16 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.
GOOD TO KNOW: For groups of 13 visitors or more (up to 50 participants), you need to use a special booking procedure.
Remember to print your ticket and take it with you!
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Once you buy your Colosseum tickets via the official website, this can’t be reimbursed and you can’t modify the reservation or change it to another date.
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.
GOOD TO KNOW: All guided group tours of the Colosseum follow a more or less strict schedule, so you can’t really stay at the Colosseum after the tour, unless your tour is only focussing on the Colosseum, without the Forum and the Palatine Hill.
These are the best guided group tours with skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:
- Skip the Line: Colosseum, Forum & Ancient Rome Guided Tour – of all the group tours, this is the one I most highly recommend
- Premium Colosseum Tour with Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
- VIP Colosseum underground tour with Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
- Ancient Rome Tour: Colosseum Underground, Arena & Forum –a great option if you want a more in depth tour of the colosseum
- Colosseum underground guided tour
- Colosseum: Priority Entrance + Arena Floor, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill Package
- Colosseum S.U.P.E.R – seven unique experiences in Rome
- Colosseum + hop on hop off bus 48 hours
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 too 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:
- Colosseum private tour with arena floor access – by far the most complete tour of all!
- Colosseum and Roman Forum skip the line private tour – a bit expensive but you will be sure to visit everything in depth
- Skip the line private tour: the Colosseum for families
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 by night tour with Colosseum underground – the top choice for night time tours
- Underground Colosseum, Arena Floor, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
- VIP Colosseum night tour with underground and arena floor
- Colosseum underground by night
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: Tours 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 and include Colosseum tickets:
- Rome in a day tour with Vatican, Colosseum and historic center – a great tour that goes to all the best places to visit in Rome. It costs €129 and includes a guide – very good value for money.
- 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 Colosseum tickets. 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 Colosseum tickets, and discounts on a bunch of them. It is the best option, if you make good use of it. It costs €67.50.
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 video-guide 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 €16 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.
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.
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 Colosseum 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.
TIP: 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! As a general rule, make sure to get to the meeting point at least 15 minutes in advance.
Modifications to the reservation and refunds
Keep in mind that once you purchase your Colosseum tickets via the official website, the date of the visit can’t be changed and the ticket can’t be reimbursed.
The same doesn’t apply for tickets bought via third party sites, in which case you can cancel or modify your reservation and get a refund.
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
As of 1 November 2019 tickets to the Colosseum cost €16 and include a visit to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Tickets are valid for 24 hours after purchase, with one entry per site. The €18 tickets are valid for 48 consecutive hours, during which you have one entry into each site.
The cost of Colosseum tickets for citizens of the European Union between 18 and 25 year old is €2. All citizens under 18 can get in for free.
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.
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 in Via dei Fori Imperiali, 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 with reduced mobility.
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.
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.
Further readings about Rome
For more information on how to make the most of Rome, great itineraries and tips to skip the lines, make sure to read the following posts:
- How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line
- How To Get St. Peter’s Basilica Tickets And Skip The Line
- A Complete Guide To Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica Dome
- Seven Smart Ways To Get Galleria Borghese Tickets And Skip The Lines
- A Guide To Visiting The Pantheon, Rome + What You Should Know About Pantheon Tickets
- A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Rome
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In A Day
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In 2 Days
- The Perfect Itinerary For 3 Days In Rome
- A Fantastic Itinerary For 4 Days In Rome
- A Wonderful Itinerary For 5 Days In Rome
- A Great Itinerary For A Fabulous Week In Rome
- 31 Incredible Places To Explore Rome Off The Beaten Path
- 20 Great Day Trips From Rome
- All The Food In Rome You Should Eat: 25 Delicious Dishes
Make sure to also read my post “17 Reasons To Visit Italy As Soon As Possible.”
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?