There are many places in Rome that will leave you speechless just by looking at them, but the Colosseum will win your heart and soul as a traveller. I'll tell you all the details to make your visit to the most famous amphitheatre in the world unbeatable.
How to choose the best guided tour of the Colosseum
Choosing the best guided tours of the Colosseum is not easy, you will find many options for all budgets. In general, the most important thing to look out for is that the tickets are included (so you'll avoid surprises of having to pay extra at the door and also having to queue) and you can choose between those with access to the arena or those that also include a tour of the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.
In Hellotickets, all options include tickets with skip the line access and depending on your budget you can choose between the different options. In addition, all of them have free cancellation if your trip suffers last minute changes. You can find them all here:
How long are the guided tours of the Colosseum?
In general, the Colosseum and Forum tours last three hours. At first I didn't think this was long enough, but I realised that if you visit the Colosseum with a guide, the time is twice as long as it would be if you were to see it on your own. There is also an express tour of the Colosseum that lasts only an hour and a half if you don't have that much time or just prefer a shorter tour.
I later compared my experience with other travellers who did longer tours and most of them agreed on the same thing: it was difficult to keep your attention the whole time and the last explanations were too dense.
Visit the Colosseum in a small group
Visiting the Colosseum on a guided tour has many advantages: you will get to know its history, legends and architecture in depth. Moreover, with tours that also include entrance tickets and a guided visit to the Roman Forum, the experience is much more complete. But if you are looking for a more intimate and authentic visit, I recommend choosing a small group tour.
While the average general tour of the Colosseum and Forum is 25 people, there are other tours like this one that have the option of an average of 16 people. You can consider this option if you are travelling with a large group and this way the guide will be practically private for you.
Once the tour was done, I can say that what I appreciated the most was the fact that we were able to visit the Colosseum without waiting or queuing, in a group of 25 people and with access to areas that you don't normally see on an individual tour on your own. This is something I was delighted to do on my visit to Rome.
Ana's Traveller Tip
If you want to have a breathtaking view of the Forum without paying an entrance fee, go from the Piazza del Campidoglio.
What you will see on the Colosseum and Roman Forum tours
Here are the usual stops on all tours, although if you choose the private guided tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum, you can deviate from the standard itinerary and ask the guide to adapt it to suit your tastes.
Colosseum of Rome
This is the main point of the tour and the one where the most time is spent. Most of us had seen Gladiator and knew about the gladiator and animal fights that took place in the Roman amphitheatre, what I, for example, did not know and what we were told on the tour was that naval battles were also re-enacted here.
It was very curious to imagine the Colosseum in a different context and to see how all the spectacles that took place here were possible thanks to the maximum use of the amphitheatre's engineering.
It is close to the Colosseum and next to the Forum and is one of the oldest points of the city and the most central of the seven hills of the city of Rome. I remember very fondly that they chose this spot to tell us the story of Romulus and Remus because it was at this point that Romulus founded the city.
If you don't know the story or have forgotten it, I recommend that you don't look up anything before the visit and listen to the guide's explanations as if you were being told the story for the first time. Even if you choose the standard group guided tour of the Colosseum, you will visit this part of the Forum as well, as it is included.
After seeing the Palatine Hill we went on to tour the Roman Forum; it was one of the parts I was looking forward to the most because during the individual tour there is no information available to better understand what we are seeing. Probably, in the guided tour of the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum you will have more time to ask your questions to the guide, but the truth is that all of them are very professional and they will try to solve your questions during the visit.
After pointing out the different parts of the Forum (the temples of Saturn, Venus, Vesta, etc.) he explained to us what kind of activities and ceremonies took place here. We all knew that this enclave was the centre of Roman social life, but I think after the explanations we really understood why.
Ana's Traveller Tip
When choosing a guided tour, it is better to choose small groups and with tickets already included.
Organise your guided tour of the Colosseum in Rome
What to bring
When you pack your backpack, don't forget to bring the voucher that is sent to you by email when you book your tour (the tickets will be given to you by the guide); if you can't print it out, don't worry because showing your email or giving your details will be enough. It is very hot in the Colosseum and especially in the Forum, so bring water, a hat, sunscreen and cool clothes if it is summer. Although the guided tours are not usually long, bring something to snack on as food is not normally included in the tours in this area.
How to get to the meeting point
The meeting point will almost always be near the Colosseum and the guide will tell you how to find it, so you can't miss it. To get to the Colosseum from the centre of Rome you can take the metro line B to the Colosseo stop (the easiest option), buses C3, 60, 81, 85, 87, 175, 628 or tram number 3. If you are staying in the centre of Rome you can also walk there; the Colosseum, although not in the centre, is accessible on foot.
Eating in the area
If you finish your tour of the Colosseum and Forum at lunch or dinner time, it's best to stay away from the area to avoid crowds and overheated food (a sin considering the pizzas and pastas you can have in Rome), but on a guided tour you have the option of asking the guide to recommend a nearby place that isn't too touristy for a more authentic meal.
Colosseum tours with children
If you are going to visit the Colosseum with children, the private guided tour of the Colosseum and the Forum can be a good option because, if there are children in the group, they often introduce anecdotes that may interest them and adapt part of the speech for them. In any case, you will also find tours that are totally adapted to children and can be a good option to awaken their interest in the history of the place.
If you are travelling with someone with reduced mobility, make sure that the guided tour you choose is adapted for this group. The Colosseum has several wheelchairs available for visitors.
Practical tips for guided tours
The main piece of advice I am going to give you is valid for any guided tour in Rome. If you love photography, there are hundreds of places in Rome that will delight you, but don't try to take too many photos during the guided tour.
You will have plenty of time to take pictures of the Colosseum from the outside. During the visit, enjoy the explanations and let yourself be seduced by the surroundings. In exchange, here are a couple of places from which you can take impressive photos of these two monuments:
- The view of the Forum from Piazza del Campidoglio and the Capitoline Museums is spectacular and you won't have to pay an entrance fee like at other viewpoints in the city.
- Between the streets Via del Colosseo and Via Nicola Salvi there is a high point from where you can take a great photo of the Colosseum. I also recommend that, even if the amphitheatre doesn't come out "whole" in the frame, try experimenting at different times of day from the square that surrounds it.
Beware of the heat
I must also repeat that you should be careful with the high temperatures. Bear in mind that the Forum is an esplanade where there is no shade and that during the visit the heat can be very intense. Take plenty of water to hydrate yourself and protect yourself from the sun.
What to do with backpacks and luggage
Finally, be aware that you won't be able to enter the Colosseum with large backpacks or luggage, so avoid taking this guided tour the day before you leave for the airport or just upon arrival without stopping by your hotel.
Other guided tours you may be interested in
Along with the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums are Rome's most emblematic site and have so much to offer that it's worth visiting them with someone who can tell you all about their history in an entertaining way. You can check out this article I wrote about Best Vatican guided tours .
I would also not forget the Galleria Borghese, one of the most spectacular places in the city and one that often goes unnoticed by tourists. I leave you here the guide of Borghese Gardens and Gallery Tours & Tickets so that you can consult it.
If what you prefer are more complete tours of the city, I recommend you read Best Rome Tours. I'm sure you'll find the one that best suits your tastes, as the range of tours and guided visits in the city is endless!