The first thing to know is that the ticket for the Colosseum also gets you into the Forum and the Palatine Hill, and vice versa.
Secondly, the Palatine and the Forum are in the same complex, and you access them through the same entrance (more on that later), while the Colosseum has to be entered via a separate entrance: a huge door in the base of the massive stadium.
Here are your options:
Method 1: buy an entrance ticket with a downloadable audio guide for €18. This has the advantage of a guided tour for a fraction of the price, and allows you to make your own schedule, change the order of the things you look at, etc. The ticket will also get you in to the Forum and Palatine Hill.
Method 2: book a group guided tour of the Colosseum for €49 per adult or a private guided tour starting at €52.50 per head (minimum 2 guests). Having a guide is the best way to bring the monument alive, helping to recreate the sights, sounds, and stories of gladiatorial combat and wild animals as you gaze at the vast structure. Your ticket is also good for the Forum and Palatine.
Method 3 go direct to the official Colosseum website and buy a basic entrance ticket for the Colosseum and Forum/Palatine there. Despite the odd web address and unfriendly user interface, that is in fact the official website! (Note the authorities have recently changed the ticketing rules, so if you can’t get availability at this site, you may still find tickets at the link in Method 1.)
Colosseum key info
Colosseum opening hours 2019:
Feb 16 – Mar 15: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Mar 16 – Mar 30: 8.30am – 5.30pm
Mar 31 – Aug 31: 8.30am – 7.15pm
Sep 1 – Sep 30: 8.30am – 7.00pm
Oct 1 – Oct 26: 8.30am – 6.30pm
Oct 27 – Dec 31: 8.30am – 4.30pm
(last admission always 1 hour before close)
Only closed Christmas day and New Year’s Day
Nearest metro station:
Colosseo (Line B)
Whichever way you buy the ticket you’ll be emailed a PDF voucher, and then you will need to print it out. This voucher needs to be converted into a ticket at the first site you visit.
For the Colosseum this can be done at any of the ticket-holders-only booths just inside the Colosseum door. However during peak months of the year there are temporary booths on the other side of the street from the Metro station that will do this too. If you are entering the Forum/Palatine complex first, you do this at the main Forum ticket booth, indicated on the map. Note that the lines here are usually much shorter.
Note that the Colosseum operates a strict capacity control of 3,000 people at any one time, which during peak times can affect your waiting time even if you have a ticket.
Insider tip: if you haven’t been able to buy a Colosseum ticket in advance, we recommend making your way to the ticket office at the Forum entrance (marked on the map above: down the lane opposite the end of Via Cavour) where the lines are much less brutal, and you can buy a combined ticket there without so much waiting in line.