The Colosseum is one of the most visited attractions in the world. Century after century it continues to capture the gaze of millions of visitors who come to Rome with the idea of strolling through the remains of Ancient Rome.
The visit doesn't disappoint anyone, but like any place that attracts thousands of tourists, it has its tricks. I'll tell you all about them here to make your visit more enjoyable.
1. Buy your tickets online and in advance to avoid queues
By now you should know that any attraction in Rome involves long hours in the sun to get your coveted tickets. The most basic advice I can give you is to buy your tickets to the Colosseum, the Forum and the Palatine Hill in advance and, if you can, book the guided tour to the Colosseum because it is worth it.
In Hellotickets, for example, you can choose different types of tickets (with or without guided tour, with or without access to the arena, etc) and you will also be entitled to a refund if you need to cancel the tour or the ticket due to an unforeseen event. Here is more information about Colosseum tickets.
The ticket offices are overcrowded and you run the risk of either running out of tickets for the day and time you wish to visit the Colosseum or entering the amphitheatre already tired and exhausted after a long queue in the sun. Also, the prices are the same as on the website, so you won't get any discounts or special offers for buying at the box office.
2. Choose a guided tour, always better than a visit on your own
The Colosseum not only has a lot to see, but it also has an incredible history full of anecdotes, legends and context that will immerse you in the epic battles that took place inside. Furthermore, the Colosseum guided tour, as well as the Colosseum tickets, also include a visit to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.
Believe me, if you just visit it on your own, you will be missing out on a lot of the excitement and you will leave there with the feeling of having seen a fascinating Colosseum, but not really understanding its context and the charm of the ruins of the Roman Forum.
An expert guide will help you immerse yourself in the history of one of the most exciting places in the world. If you only plan to visit the Colosseum once in your life, don't hesitate and join a guided tour. You can read more about guided tours of the Colosseum in this article.
3. Don't hesitate to visit the arena of the Colosseum
There is an essential part of the Colosseum that many miss out on simply because they don't even know it is open to visitors. There is a large part of the history of the battles that were fought in the Colosseum that is strictly linked to its underground passages, its arena and its famous Gladiator's Gate, through which those who were about to fight in the Colosseum made their triumphal entrance.
If you fancy joining a guided tour of the Colosseum, you can book a tour of the Colosseum arena and the Roman Forum that takes you to see the Gladiators' Gate of the world's most famous amphitheatre. If the visit to the Colosseum wasn't interesting enough, this adds a unique bonus- get your camera ready!
4. Protect yourself from the heat: bring water, hat and sun cream
Even if you're not visiting Rome in the middle of summer, be aware that temperatures around the Colosseum and Roman Forum are always a little higher than in the rest of the city. The cobblestones and the absence of trees and shadows contribute to this feeling of suffocation.
For this reason, it is best to be well prepared: in addition to comfortable shoes, bring water, cover your head with a cap or hat and don't hesitate to put on sun cream. You also have the option of reserving tickets to the Colosseum and avoid the long queues at the entrance.
At the end of the day it is quite common to see more than one tourist completely burnt. If you don't want to carry any weight, there are also stalls around the Colosseum selling drinks and ice cream. And if you are travelling to Rome with children, you should be aware that some visits require extra planning. Here is an article on how to visit the Colosseum with children.
5. Avoid public holidays and weekends
This is not always possible, but if you are visiting Rome for several days, try to avoid Saturdays and Sundays, when the area is most crowded.
The same goes for public holidays: there is a lot more domestic tourism, large groups of travellers, cruise ship passengers stopping for the obligatory visit to the Colosseum... if you're looking for a slightly quieter and more relaxed atmosphere, it's best to book your tickets to the Colosseum on a weekday.
6. Take the opportunity to walk around the area on Sundays
You should know that on Sundays, a large part of the area around the Colosseum and the Roman Forum (specifically from Piazza Venezia) is pedestrianised and thousands of visitors and Romans take the opportunity to walk around the area.
This gives it a wonderful charm and I 100% recommend you make the walk, but due to the crowds, Sundays are not the best day to make use of your Colosseum tickets.
You'll see entire families and it's a great time to take photos and take the day easy to walk around this traffic-free part of Rome (during the week cars speed through here, so the views aren't as enjoyable).
7. Look for the best views, from the stairs to Monti or from Campidoglio Hill
The Colosseum inside is impressive: it's probably one of the most heart-stopping sights and one of the best memories you'll take away from your trip to Rome.
But it's true that its surroundings, the Roman Forum, the Triumphal Arch and the remains of Ancient Rome that remain make it even more special. For views of the entire archaeological area, I recommend going up Campidoglio Hill (where the Capitoline Museums are located) and starting to descend along one of the marked walks that lead into part of the Forum. The views are spectacular.
If you want to capture the Colosseum in its full splendour and not have to fight with your camera because its enormous dimensions don't fit in the shot, the stairs leading up to the Monti neighbourhood will give you the perfect panoramic view. There are areas with railings, ramps and stairs that will give you the perfect angle. Be sure to take a stroll around this area after your guided tour of the Colosseum...
8. Don't fall into the tourist food traps
Eating near the Colosseum can be a delight.... or a nightmare. Depending on how lucky you are or how good you are at finding a good place in advance. As we don't always have time to book, search, compare and look at menus in different restaurants, here is a list of what are, for me, the best places to eat near the Colosseum.
Whether you go in the morning, afternoon or evening, you will find the perfect place to enjoy a good pizza, a traditional Italian pasta, a gelato or even a cocktail with the best views. Take note and enjoy!
Also, remember that another interesting plan for your trip is to book a gastronomic tour of Rome so you don't miss out on any of the country's culinary specialities.
9. Beware of pickpockets
Rome is generally a very safe city and you won't have any problems visiting it. However, the general recommendation for this area is that, with a large number of tourists who are more focused on the monuments than their belongings, pickpockets may be out and about around the Colosseum.
Put your wallet and documents in a safe place (avoid backpacks full of valuables) and you won't have to worry about anything but enjoying your visit to the Colosseum. If you are walking, take the same precautions, the beauty of the place will probably leave you spellbound and it is normal to let your guard down.
By the way, if you need more information on how to get to the Colosseum, in my article I leave you the best tips for using public transport, which are the best routes for walking or even cycling.
10. Always try to go first thing in the morning
Especially if you don't have your Colosseum tickets bought from home, it's best to head to the Colosseum first thing in the morning. As well as avoiding large crowds of tour groups, the ticket booths tend to have shorter queues.
It is also a good way to avoid the middle of the day, when the sun is not yet too high and strong and the Colosseum visit is more bearable. Try to visit the Colosseum first (it tends to fill up first) and then visit the Roman Forum.
You will then have the rest of the day to sit and eat lunch on a terrace and recharge your batteries to continue walking around Rome in the afternoon. By the way, if you're the kind of person who goes to the Colosseum on the spur of the moment without tickets, the Roman Forum ticket office usually has a shorter queue than the amphitheatre (and the rates, prices and tickets are the same in both places).