In this article we will talk about one of the 7 wonders of the world, known for being the largest amphitheater ever built and which today hosts more than 7 million visitors a year: the Colosseum, the most important monument in Rome and the number one symbol of the city’s ancient past.
I am lucky enough to see the Colosseum almost every day and to know its most beautiful sides. What about you? Surely you know what it looks like and where it come from. But are you sure you have all the information you need to plan your visit?
Read on to find out how to get there, all possible visit options, ticket prices, timetables and more to help you make the most of this incredible place. quite possibily the highlight of your Roman itinerary.
A little history of the Colosseum
How old is the Colosseum?
Why was it built??
Who built it???
First things first, let’s start with its name.
Originally known as Anfiteatro Flavio (Flavian Amphitheater), it was re-named Colosseum during the Middle Ages, because of a colossal bronze statue standing right next and representing Nero,the famous emperor who once set the city of fire.
Nero chose this area to build his mansion, the Domus Aurea, and created an artificial lake in front of it. It was right on this spot that another emporor, Vespasian, decided to build and amphitheater.
Works began in 72 A.D. and ended in 80 AD with Vespasisn’s the successor, the emperor Titus. Designed to host games, shows and the gladiator fights, the amphitheater was intended as a symobol of the Rome’s grandeur and as a place for the entertainment of its people.
The Colosseum is 48.5 meters high, and has and elliptical shape with an external travertine marble facade divided into four orders with 80 arches.
Inside there is a large arena and a flight of steps for the audience that could host u to 70,000 spectators.
Over the centuries, the Colosseum has repeatedly risked being destroyed, both by strong earthquakes and because of the “Christianization” of the city’s outlook. Moreover, the amphitheater was in many occasions stripped of its decorations and structural elements that were used for other buildings in the city. Luckily for us, even if it’s missing some pieces, the Anfiteatrio Flavio aka the Colosseum, aka the indisputable symobol of the Italian capitale, it’s still here foreverybody to visit.
So let’s take a look at our options.
Colosseum: official tickets, costs and visit options
Unless you are fun of insanely long queues, I recommend you plan your visit to the Colosseum well in advance. After all you’ll be joining the nearly 20,000 people visiting the amphitheatre every day.
There are quite a few options you can chose from so let’s see what they are:
|Colosseum, Forum, Palatine (Ordinary Admission )||€16,00||€2,00|
|Full experience with Undergrounds or Arena||€22,00||€2,00|
|Full experience*** con Sotterranei + visita guidata||€31,00||€2,00|
|Full experience*** con Sotterranei e III Livello + visita guidata||€37,00||€2,00|
|Full experience*** con Arena (con guida propria)||€22,00||€2,00|
On line reservation fee: € 2.00
Free entrance for: Children under 18 years old (EU and no-EU countries);
People with disabilities and one family member;
All other categories listed on Coopculture official website
The Full experience ticket entitles you to an entrance the Colosseum including the Underground and / or III Level or the Arena, Roman Forum and Palatine hill, the SUPER sites and the Imperial Forums.
Tickets are valid for 2 days with a single access per site.
IMPORTANT: if you are planning on visiting the underground and the III level or the Arena, you’ll have to book the guided tour in advance. You won’t be able to visit by yourself: visitors must be accompanied by an authorized guide. The entrance to this area is the Stern entrance which I’m going to talk about in a moment.
Every first Sunday of the month, ordinary admission is free. This does not include basements, the arena and the third level.
Audio guide and video guide
|Audio guide (70 min. long)||€5,50|
|Video guide (45 min, long)||€6,00|
Audio and video guides can be purchased upon online booking or at the ticket offices and collected at a the desck right after the entrace. You will need to leave an identity document that will be returned to you at the end of the visit at the same desk.
Where to buy tickets for the Colosseum
Tickets can be purchased at the official ticket offices at the entrance to the Colosseum or online on the CoopCulture website with an additional 2 euro booking fee. All tickets include the entrance to the Colosseum and access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill and are valid for two days with a single access per site.
Online purchase (recommended)
There is no skip the line tickets for the Colosseum. However, online booking allows you to choose the date and time of admission. Once you have purchased your ticket you can choose to collect it at a specific cash desk by the entrance to the Colosseum or to have it sent to your email in digital copy. E- tickets can be printed out or exhibited on your mobile phone. This second option will allowe you go straight to security without queuing anywhere else.
If you want to visit the undergroung and the third level of the Colosseum, you are strongly adviced to book your tickets at least a couple of months in advance, especially in high seasons.
Purchase at the ticket office (not recommended)
If you buy your tikcet at the ticket office, you’ll be automatically assigned an admission time exclusively within the same day. If the tickets for the day are already sold out you’ ll have to come back the next day and queue again. If tickets are available, you may still have to wait a while, even a few hours, before you can enter.
You might want to use this waiting time to visit the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. I recommend you do so only you have to wait a really long time: this wonderful archeological site requires a minimum of 2-3 hour visit up to a whole day.
Ingresso al Colosseo
Esistono due ingressi per entrare nel Colosseo.
Ingresso senza biglietto online: si trova sulla piazza del Colosseo, nel lato che si rivolge verso il Foro Romano e si riconosce per la fila lunghissima!
Ingresso ordinario: sempre sulla piazza del Colosseo, questo ingresso è riservato ai possessori del biglietto con Ingresso Ordinario o Ingresso Ordinario + Visita al Colosseo. Qui troverete diverse file che vi porteranno alla biglietteria, per l’acquisto o il ritiro della prenotazione, o direttamente ai controlli di sicurezza se avete già il biglietto in mano o siete parte di un gruppo con guida. La divisione è ben segnalata, affidatevi ai cartelli o allo staff per trovare la vostra fila! Ingresso Stern: si trova nel lato che dà su via Labicana e si chiama ufficialmente Ingresso Stern. Questo ingresso è riservato ai possessori dei biglietti che comprendo l’accesso all’arena, ai sotterranei, al terzo livello e al Belvedere che hanno inclusa una visita guidata obbligatoria. Nel momento dell’acquisto verrà infatti automaticamente prenotata una guida interna che vi accompagnerà con un gruppo in questi luoghi. Anche se ufficialmente come detto sopra non esiste un biglietto salta fila, questa è sicuramente l’opzione che più ci si avvicina. Infatti i tempi di attesa da qui sono notevolmente ridotti rispetto al resto. Nel caso in cui preferite essere accompagnati da una vostra guida autorizzata in questi settori, dovrete affidarvi a lei per l’acquisto dei biglietti e per l’organizzazione. L’ingresso sarà ugualmente quello riservato a questi gruppi.
Entrance to the Colosseum is included in both options of Roma Pass, but you still have to select the day and time of your visit. This can be done on line on the CoopCulture website with an additional 2 euros fee for each ticket. You can also book your time slot by phone, (+39 06 39 967 575) or in person at the ticket office. This last option will save you the 2 euros booking fee but you might have to stand in line for quite a while and you’ll be assiged a time only within the same day, and only if places are still available.
Remember that you need to have your Roma Pass with you because you’ll need to show it at the entrance.
Roma Pass does not include entrance to the Arena, Underground or Third Level of the Colosseum.
Colosseum: timetables and some useful information
The Colosseum’s working hours vary throughout the year based on the sunset time. So during the winter it closes eralier while in the summer it stays open longer.
|Last Sunday of October – February 15th||08.30 am– 04.30 pm|
|February 16th – March 15th||08.30 am– 05.00 pm|
|March 16th – Last Saturday of March||08.30 am – 17.30 pm|
|Last Sunday of March – 31st of August||08.30 am– 19.15 pm|
|September 1st – September 30st||08.30 am– 19.00 pm|
|October 1st -Last Saturday of October||08.30 am– 18.30 pm|
Closed on: December 25st and January 1st
Now we know everything on how and when to visit the Colosseum so let’s take a look at what we are actually going to see there and at a couple more things that I am sure we’ll turn out handy.
WHAT DO YOU SEE WITH ORIDNARY ADMISSION
On the ground level of the Colosseum you’ll see part of the inner and outer rings.
On the second level (first floor) you’ll see the whole inner ring and part of the outer one.
On the secon level there is a permanent exhibition “The Colosseum tell its story” and temporary exhibition that you can check on the official website of the archelogical park.
There is no obligatory route so you can chose for yourself what to see first and how to move around.
Toilets are located on the ground floor, you’ll find them on your right when you enter the Colosseum. The queue to the toiltes can be just as long as the one to the ticket desk.
Re-usable water bottles are an indispensable accessory for any responsible tourist and inside the Colosseum there are fountains where you can fill them up: one is located on the ground floor shortly after the entrance and and one the second level, right by the elevators.
The elevators reserved for people with disabilities, pregnant women, families with strollers and anyone with special needs.
Outside the Colosseum you’ll be the potentianl target of salepeople trying to sell overpriced water bottles, guided tours and non-existing skip the line tickets. Needless to say, I wouln’t recommend buying from them.
Also watch out for men dressed like gladiators who are most likley going to approach you and offer to pose with you for a souvenir photo. It may sound like a fun idea for you next instagram story but bear in mind that today’s would-be Centurions are mostly known as scammers and could charge you a ridiculous price for their service.
How to reach the Colosseum
The easiest and fastes way to reach the Colosseum is definitely by metro line be B. The Colosseum metro station is right in front of the monument so once you get out of the metro you just need to cross the street and you you’ll basically be already in the admission line.
If you’re staying in San Giovanni or Trastevere neighborhoods, the best thing for you would be to catch the tram number 3. On this tram route you will also get a panormanic view of Ludus Magnus, the ancient gladiators gym. You will need to get off at Via Labicana stop, a 5 min. walk from the Colosseum.
There’s quite a few buses going to Colosseum:
Bus 51 from Piazza San Silvestro and from San Giovanni;
Bus 75 from Trastevere;
Bus 85 from San Giovanni or from Corso;
Bus 87 from San Giovanni .
Getting around the city on foot is in many cases a good idea and walking to the Colosseum will definitley be very pleasant. If you are walking from one of the main squares or monuments in the center, you should consider at least 20 minutes to get there. However, from San Pietro or the Vatican Museums, I recommend you use the metro.
Where to eat: restaurants in the Colosseum area
Logically you would think that the area around the Colosseum must be full of tourist traps but that’s actually not enitrely the case. This area is actually very popular with Romans and students and as such it offers quite a few high quality and reasonably priced places.
The faculty of engineering of La Sapienza University is located right above the Colosseum, next to the wonderful church of San Pietro in Vincoli, home to the incredible Moses sculpture by Michelangelo.
Hungry students equal generous portions at affordable prices. And this is, for example the case for Caffè dello Studente: a simple, rustic bistro just a stone’s throw from the Colosseum yet somewhat away from the crowd. They have pizzas and traditional pasta dishes but I recommend you try their panini. Ideal for a quick, relatively cheap lunch.
Grammo Bistro is another option for excellent gourmet sandwiches or cold cuts and cheese platters. It’s located on via San Giovanni, just behind the Colosseum.
If you climb up the stairs right next to the metro exit you will find a large downhill road: via degli Annibaldi. Walking along it and passing the intersection with Via Cavour you’ll end up in the Monti district. Here you’ll be really spoilt for choice.
My favorite place in the aera is La Casetta,a cute little house covered in ivy that serves delicious desserts.
A good option for lunch is definitely Avocado bar. As the names suggests, this unusal place is specialized in avocado based dishes, including desserts. Food is delicious, healthy and totally instagrammable.
For local, wholesome food and good wine go to Ai Tre scalini, a small traditional trattoria with a warm and cozy atmosphere, super popular among locals. Also great for aperitivo, if you manage to get a table.
If not, you can always try le Tavernelle, aperitivo here is just as good and you can also stay for dinner.
For you daily dose of dough+tomato+ mozzarella, go to Alle Carrette,a family run pizzeria with an extensive menù of wood oven backed pizzas.
If you fancy some traditional, Roman cuisine I recommend Taverna Romana.
Another place is Suburra 1930, a fashonably vintage place offering traditional and modern food, a great selection of wine and delicious cocktails.
Via San Giovanni Laterano, right in front of the Colossuem, is also known as Rome’s Gay street. The best and most famous place on this street is Coming out perfect for basically any time of the day, starting from brunch upto evening cocktails and live music.
If you go across the Colosseum’s archeological park you’ll get to Voodoo Bar, a very trendy place especially popular during the summer. Come here for aperitivo or an evening cocktail in their gorgeaus garden to get a away from the city for a couple of hours in a tropical atmosphere.