Question sent in by Victor.
The lines for the two most famous attractions in Rome are notorious, and standing for often way more than an hour in the blazing summer sun can be miserable. Thankfully these days avoiding the really long lines is very simple.
Method 1: book a guided tour. This has the advantage at the Vatican of allowing you to skip the line into St Peter’s Basilica too. More about that here.
Method 2: buy tickets online. Despite the slightly bizarre web addresses, these are the official websites for tickets. There is no need to use anyone else’s website to buy tickets.
- Vatican tickets (valid for date and time booked)
- Colosseum and Forum tickets (valid after purchase until the end of the calendar year, and for 2 days after first use)
You should have a printout for the Colosseum ticket as the machines require a barcode to be scanned, though the Vatican will officially honor your ticket from a smartphone.
Having these tickets will allow you to walk past the long, long line and enter via the right-hand side of each entrance – where there may still be a line, but a much shorter one – after which, in both places, you will need to verify your printout at the ticket booths (where there may be yet another short line).
At certain times of the year, e.g. Easter, even the lines for people with tickets are long. Also the Colosseum operates a strict capacity control of 3,000 people at any one time, which can affect your waiting time.
Insider tip: if you have not been able to buy a Colosseum ticket in advance, we recommend making your way to the ticket office at the Forum entrance (down the lane opposite the end of Via Cavour) where the lines are much less brutal. It’s the same ticket for both places and will allow you to skip the lines at the Colosseum just down the road.