Short answer: yes, you can visit the Colosseum and Vatican in one day. But it’s not exactly ideal, and really the only reason I would suggest doing it this way is if you’ve got a very small window of time in which to see the sights of Rome (e.g. you have a layover, or only a weekend in the city).
If you are thinking about seeing the Colosseum and Vatican in one day, then first and foremost I will say that you’re going to have to prepare yourself for a very long day! That means having everything you’ll need with you, packed in a day pack, and get ready to hit the ground running.
You’ll need to have things like a refillable water bottle, so you don’t have to make detours to shops to buy a drink but can use the many nasoni (drinking fountains) of Rome, as well as some snacks so you don’t need to spend time lingering over long lunches or trying to find somewhere to eat (though I do have some lunch recommendations for you!).
As you will see, planning in advance is key. As well as making sure you’ve got the right stuff packed into your bag, you’ll also have to make sure you’ve booked tickets for both the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums. Making sure your time-slots match up at both attractions is crucial if you want your day to run smoothly.
You should also plan exactly what day of the week that you’re visiting. On Sundays, for example, the Vatican Museums are closed, so that’s not exactly a good day to plan your visit to the Vatican and the Colosseum! And on Wednesday morning, St. Peter’s Basilica is closed for the Papal Audience, so if you are visiting independently you need to take this into account too.
Planning also means making sure you know where you’re going. Don’t worry, I have you covered for that too.
Last but not least: dress accordingly! It may be fine to visit the Colosseum wearing shorts and a T-shirt during the summer months, but at the Vatican there’s a strict dress code that means your shoulders and anything above your knees needs to be covered. You do not want to waste time arriving at the Vatican only to be turned away because you’re not wearing the right clothing.
Now, let’s finally get to it. Here’s how to see the Colosseum and Vatican in one day.
Make sure to read my post A Guide To Visiting The Colosseum.
How To Visit The Colosseum And Vatican In One Day
Take a Vatican and Colosseum Combo tour
Probably the easiest way to see the Vatican and the Colosseum in one day is to opt for Vatican and Colosseum combo tour. This way, you put your sightseeing in the hands of a tour company or professional guide who has probably done this hundreds of times before. They know what they’re doing in terms of getting from one site to another, for starters.
But also, once you’re at the destinations, a guide will help you hone in on the most important features and pieces of art that are the highlights of both the Vatican and the Colosseum.
One (positive) thing to note about full day tours of Rome is that they might not just take to the Colosseum and the Vatican. In fact, they may be completely filled up with other destinations and attractions along the way.
If you’re only in the market for seeing these two iconic parts of the Italian capital, then you’ll need to search for a guided tour that only includes the two attractions specifically. That way you can maximize your time in these two attractions.
The best Vatican and Colosseum combo tour is Walks of Italy tour Rome In A Day Tour with Vatican, Colosseum & Historic Center. It lasts around 8 hours and will take you to the the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and other important city landmarks. You will have tickets to all the attractions, a guide for a small group and even transfers included. You can book it here.
For a guided tour that only goes to the Colosseum and Vatican, click here.
For a more budget friendly option, click here.
Book two separate tours
If you can’t find a Vatican and Colosseum combo tour that suits your budget and interests, then booking two tours might be the best way to do it.
Again, however, you’ll need to make sure that you’re booking tours that don’t take too long, or that the second one doesn’t start before or right after the first one ends. Matching up the start times of each tour so that they suit your schedule is important if you don’t want to miss out.
As I mentioned earlier, you need skip the line tickets for both the Colosseum and the Vatican. Generally all tours include this as part of the service, but make sure to double check the ones you are about to book include them: nobody wants to be standing in line.
Also, for tours in general – both separate and full-day – it might be a good idea to book a private tour rather than a group tour. With a group tour, things can end up taking longer than they need to, as the guide needs to cater to the needs of everybody in the group.
With a private tour, on the other hand, you are free to let the guide know that you want to see both the Colosseum and the Vatican in one day, and you have a time limit, so they may be able to facilitate some swift sightseeing for you.
Now, when it comes to tours here’s what I recommend:
For the best early morning tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, click here. This tour also goes to St. Peter’s Basilica.
For a complete Vatican tour that also includes St. Peter’s Basilica and climbing the Dome click here.
For the most budget friendly tour of the Vatican, click here. This tour does not include St. Peter’s Basilica.
For a guided tour of the Vatican Museums, Vatican Gardens and Sistine Chapel, click here. Beware it does not include St. Peter’s Basilica.
For a kids friendly tour, click here.
For a guided tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, click here.
For a family friendly tour of the Colosseum, click here.
If you prefer visiting the Colosseum and Vatican in one day independently, then you won’t have the luxury of the tour company or guide booking tickets for you. Instead, you’ll have to book them in advance yourself.
The Colosseum and Vatican Museums have time-slots for entry tickets, so you’ll need to assess how long you want to spend at each one and then decide which one you go for.
Here’s how I’d do it, if I didn’t want to join a guided tour:
- 7:00 am – Walk inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Plan to spend around hours exploring. You can even walk up St. Peter’s Basilica Dome. This is open daily from 7:30 am. You can get tickets directly at the door and they costs €8 or €10, depending on whether you want to walk up all the way or take the elevator.
- Wander around St. Peter’s Square then head to the Vatican Museums.
- 9:30 / 10:00 am – Get inside the Vatican Museums. It’s a massive museum, so factor in around 2.5 hours (if not more) to explore. The Sistine Chapel is the last thing you’ll see before heading out.
- Lunch – you can truly eat anywhere on the way between the Vatican and the Colosseum. For example, you could Da Luciano near Campo de’ Fiori for one of the best Carbonara in Rome – it starts serving lunch at 12:00.
- 2:30 / 3:00 pm – Walk inside the Roman Forum. There’s a gate right by the Altar of the Fatherland, and if you follow the trail it will take you all the way to the main gate (or exit) which is close to the Colosseum. Remember your Colosseum ticket will also grant you access to the Forum!
- Colosseum – pick a later time slot to give yourself plenty of time at other attractions.
As I’ve said already, skip the line tickets are essential in this case. These can be booked online in advance. Why do it? Because the lines can really take a huge chunk of time out of your day. At the Vatican Museums the line can be up to two hours sometimes.
You can get skip the line tickets for both the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum online via the official sites or via third party sites like GetYourGuide and Tiqets. These have the benefit of giving you a bit more flexibility in case you need to cancel.
To get Vatican Museums tickets on the official site, click here.
To get your tickets on GetYourGuide, click here.
To get your Vatican Museums tickets via Tiqets, click here.
Get your Colosseum ticket on the official site here.
Get your Colosseum ticket on GetYourGuide here.
Get your Colosseum ticket on Tiqets here.
Remember that your Colosseum ticket will also grant you access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill!
You may also want to consider getting a Roma Card instead. I recommend using the Best of Rome: tickets to the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican card, which also gives you access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine.
You also get a free audio-guide. You can get it here.
Practical Guide To Plan Your Visit Of The Colosseum And Vatican In One Day
St Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica always opens at 7:00 am every day throughout the year – though beware it is closed for the Papal Audience on Wednesday morning. Closing time varies. From 1 April to 30 September, it is open until 7:00 pm; and from 1 October to 31 March, it is open until 6:30 pm.
Make sure to read my post A Guide To Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Vatican Museums are open Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 am to 6: pm. Last admission is at 4:00 pm. Opening hours are extended to 10:30 pm (with last admission at 8:30 pm) on Fridays and Saturdays from April to October. The museum is normally closed on Sundays, except on the last Sunday of every month, when they are open only from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm.
Keep in mind that there are early Vatican guided tours that start as early as 7:15 am with admission inside the museum at 7:30 am.
Mornings are usually quite busy at the Vatican Museums, but you will have skip-the-line tickets to get in anyways, so you should not expect much delay getting in. If you are not going on a guided tour, book the earliest time slot available.
Don’t forget to read my post How To Get Vatican Museum Tickets.
The Colosseum opens daily at 9:00 am. Closing time varies depending on the season and can be anything between 4:30 pm in the winter months to 7:15 pm in the spring and summer months. It’s closed on 25th December and the 1st of January.
What should you visit first?
Honestly, if you want to visit the Colosseum and Vatican in one day I would suggest starting with the Vatican. There’s a lot to see here, but most importantly, St Peter’s Basilica opens the earliest at 7:00 am), while the Colosseum stays open the latest.
If you’re doing tours, then I would recommend a morning tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel – you can opt for one that starts at 7:15 am, and then go to St. Peter’s Basilica. Then go for an afternoon tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
If you want to spend more time soaking up all the Papal elegance of the Vatican, then there is one hack you can opt for: a night tour of the Colosseum – though keep in mind these are not available every day.
There are a surprising number of night tours that take in the Colosseum at night, which is great because it allows you longer to see the Vatican, and even time to catch a late lunch/early dinner before heading over to Roman Forum before you get in the famous ancient landmark of Rome itself. It’s also extra cool because the Colosseum is illuminated at night, making it look even more beautiful.
Night tours of the Colosseum are available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and typically start at 7:15 pm or 8:00 pm, running until 10:00 pm.
To book your VIP Colosseum at night tour with Underground & Arena Floor click here.
For a Colosseum under the moonlight tour, click here.
How to get from Colosseum to Vatican City and viceversa
The distance between Colosseum and Vatican is roughly 3.5 km (that’s around 2.2 miles). You can opt to walk between the two, or use the metro. A taxi or a bus may be a good option, but keep in mind that traffic can be really bad in Rome so you won’t really save much time.
It would take you around 45 minutes to walk from Colosseum to Vatican City – or the other way around, in case you visit the Vatican first, as I have recommended above. It’s long, but if you have the energy it’s not a bad idea.
The walk is actually really nice and it will give you the chance to view more places as you go along (though you won’t really have much time to visit).
It’s easy: from St. Peter’s Square, head towards Via della Conciliazione and walk all the way to Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II, from where you can get a nice view of Castel Sant’Angelo.
Once you cross the bridge, take Corso Vittorio Emanuele II all the way to Largo di Torre Argentina. From there, it’s a short distance to Piazza Venezia and the Altar of the Fatherland, where you’ll have to turn at Via dei Fori Imperiali. Follow that until you get to the Colosseum.
By public transport
It can take you anything between 30 and 45 minutes to go from the Vatican to the Colosseum by public transport.
If you want to take the metro, you’ll have to walk to Ottaviano, where you can take Metro Line A towards Anagnina and get off in Termini (it’s 6 stops). In Termini, change to Metro Line B towards Laurentina and get off after 2 stops, right at the Colosseum.
By bus, you’ll have to take line 81 from Risorgimento and get off after 19 stops at San Gregorio. The journey time varies depending on traffic but it can easily take you about 45 minutes – you may as well walk!
For more information on the Colosseum and the Vatican, make sure to read the following posts
- The Most Interesting Facts About The Colosseum
- A Guide To Visiting The Vatican Gardens
- What To Wear When Visiting The Vatican
- A Guide To St. Peter’s Square