Colosseum 101 – All You Need to Know

Colosseum 101 – All You Need to Know

Para la versión en español haz click aquí.

The Roman Colosseum is probably Italy’s most visited tourist attraction, and it’s not hard to see why. At almost 2000 years old, this wonder of antiquity is still pretty impressive and magnificent.

Here I will share with you some basic tips for visiting this attraction that can’t be left out of any itinerary in Rome.

Where to buy your tickets

You can obviously purchase your tickets at the Colosseum’s own ticket office, but please never do this. It will surely mean long lines and wasted time, especially during high season.

What you should do is buy your tickets online at the Colosseum’s ONLY official website:

You will also find an infinite amount of webpages belonging to third parties that offer many kinds of Colosseum tickets and tours. If possible, try to avoid these, as they are generally more expensive. In my recent trip to Rome in July, I only tried to buy my tickets two weeks before, and there was no more availability of the tickets I was looking for. Therefore, I had no other option but to pay for a tour with these other third parties, and I ended up paying double and unsatisfied. So please, don’t repeat my mistake and make sure to get your tickets with enough anticipation, especially during summer.

When you buy your tickets online, you will be charged a 2 euro “reservation fee” for each ticket.

Different kinds of tickets

There are several kinds of Colosseum tickets, depending on what you want to see and do.

Open Ticket

Price: 12 euros + 2-euro reservation fee

Valid for two consecutive days, starting on the ticket’s first use, it allows a one-time access to the Colosseum and one-time access to the Roman Forum located just besided it. This kind of ticket can only be used from 2:00 pm onwards, and includes access to the first and second levels/rings of the Colosseum.

Ticket with Scheduled Entrance Time

Price: 12 euros + 2-euro reservation fee.

Includes the same as the previous ticket, but for this one you have to select a date and time of entry to the Colosseum when you purchase your ticket. You will only be allowed inside the Colosseum on the chosen date and time (can’t change it after buying it), and the entrance to the Roman Forum is within the ticket’s validity time of 2 days.

Underground and Arena Tour

Price: 21 euros (open ticket + 9 euros for the tour) + 2-euro reservation fee.

Additional to the open ticket, this ticket includes a guided tour of the Colosseum’s underground level and arena. In the underground level you will see the corridors and chambers hidden beneath the arena floor, where both gladiators and wild beasts were prepared for the spectacle happening above. You will see how the elevators that were used to lift animals into the arena worked. Standing on the arena, you can picture what gladiators felt standing here surrounded by the imposing tiers of seats.

There are tours in Italian, English and Spanish. For this type of ticket, you must also select a date and time of entry when you purchase your tickets. If you buy these tickets, you don’t enter the Colosseum through the “regular” entrance, but by the “Stern” entrance, located on Via Labicana street. If you arrive by metro to the Colosseum, turn left as soon as you exit the station, and after walking for about one minute you will see this entrance.

Belvedere Guided Tour

Price: Price: 21 euros (open ticket + 9 euros for the tour) + 2-euro reservation fee.

Additional to the open ticket, this ticket includes a guided tour of the Colosseum’s upper rings, where you will have an outstanding panoramic view of the whole amphitheater.

Same as for the previous tickets, there are tours in Italian, English and Spanish, and you must also select a date and time of entry when you purchase your tickets. Likewise, entrance to the Colosseum is through the “Stern” entrance.

Underground + Panoramic view

Price: 27 euros (open ticket + 15 euros for both tours) + 2-euro reservation fee.

As you might imagine, this tickets include access to everything I have mentioned above: the underground level and arena, and all the rings/levels of the Colosseum. There are tours in Italian, English, French and Spanish, and as you might have guessed, you must also select a date and time for your entry when you purchase your tickets, and access is through the “Stern” entrance.

General Recommendations

– The first Sunday of every month the entrance is free.

– Even though the Colosseum’s webpage states that it is forbidden to enter with bags and/or backpacks, the truth is that it is quite normal to see people carrying backpacks inside. However, I have read on many blogs that the problem comes when the bag/bagpack is TOO big. Who determines what “too big” is? The Colosseum’s employees working at the entrance. So just to be sure, don’t take any particularly large bag or backpack with you when you visit the Colosseum. There are no lockers there for you to store your belongings while you enter.

– If you have a tripod for your camera, I would advise against taking it, unless it is extremely portable and small so that it can easily fit in a small backpack. Mine is not too big, but it doesn’t fit inside my backpack, so I decided to leave it at the hotel. I don’t know if I would have been allowed to take it in, but one thing I can tell you is that I don’t remember seeing ANYONE inside using a tripod.

– If you are going during summer, make sure to wear fresh clothes and comfortable shoes, and ideally a hat. There’s not a lot of shade inside, and the stairs between the different rings/levels are steep and the steps pretty high.

– It’s best to buy a bottle of water outside from the vendors found near the entrances. You can buy water bottles inside at the bookstore, but you will probably have to wait in a long line for that.

Leave your comments and share your experiences!

If you have taken any of the mentioned guided tours, please share your experience in the comments and help other travelers make the best decision when they go! If you have done a tour with a third party company, you can also share your reviews!


2 comments found

  1. Great post! It was very interesting and helpful 🙂 I’ve been to Colosseum once, but I might be going back to Italy this March and probably visiting the Colosseum again, so I’ll definitely reference this post before going!

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