Colosseum tickets – need-to-knows
Without a doubt the most important thing to skip the lines is to buy Colosseum tickets online in advance.
You should also know that the ticket for the Colosseum gets you into the Forum and the Palatine Hill, and vice versa.
Your visit to the Colosseum is timed – you must choose the date and time – but the Forum/Palatine can be visited with the same ticket any time within 24 hours before/after your Colosseum visit.
How to skip the line at the Colosseum
Here are your options for skipping the line at the Colosseum:
1. Buy a Colosseum entrance ticket from a reseller
Buy a Colosseum skip-the-line entrance ticket for €24 from a reseller. The ticket will also get you in to the Forum and Palatine Hill. We recommend this because the official site is experiencing a ‘ticket drought’ (see below).
2. Book a small-group guided tour
Book a small-group guided tour of the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill. That way the tickets are already bought for you – and having a guide is without a doubt 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.
Having a guide for the Forum is highly recommended as it is absolutely and the ruins are unmarked, so they can bring the ancient city alive and bring you to things you wouldn’t otherwise even know are there (such as the secret servants’ tunnel under the Palatine Hill!).2
3. Use a Discount / Tourist Card
Insider tip: the Roma Pass does not include anywhere inside the Vatican because the Vatican is a separate country to Italy. However the Rome Tourist Card does include the Colosseum/Forum/Palatine, an audio guide to the Pantheon, a guided tour of St Peter’s Basilica, and entry to the Vatican, so is better value.
[Note too that both the Roma Pass and Omnia Card require you to book a Colosseum time-slot too for €2. Even if you have your card in your hand this must be done on the “standard ticket” page of the official website. If you can find an available time-slot, you have to go through the motions of buying a full-price ticket, and in the “options” section you will find the page that allows you to pay €2 just for an entrance time. Whereas with the Rome Tourist Card you can decide the time and date of your visit at the time of purchase.]
If you’d prefer, you can book a VIP guided tour of the Colosseum and Forum with Underground and Arena access. Though somewhat more expensive than a small-group guided tour, you benefit from one-on-one interaction with your guide to ask as many questions as you please, and you get the chance to see where the wild animals were kept beneath the arena, stand on that famous arena floor where so many fought for their lives.
The cheapest and easiest method should be to go direct to the official Colosseum website and buy a basic entrance ticket for the Colosseum and Forum/Palatine there.
However this is last on our list of recommendations because there is very restricted availability: as noted in the key info on this page, there’s a “ticket drought” from the official ticketing website, which often crashes as well. Tickets are released for sale in small batches, on an irregular schedule, so it’s usually impossible to find tickets for the day/time you want. This is why we recommend paying slightly more to buy from a reseller, to guarantee you get the date that you need. These companies buy tickets in advance in the hope of reselling them, so are more likely to have the dates you are looking for.
How Colosseum tickets work
Whichever way you buy the ticket – unless on a guided tour, when it will be taken care of for you – 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.
Colosseum key info
Colosseum opening hours 2020:
Jan 2 – Feb 15: 8.30am – 3.30pm
Feb 16 – Mar 15: 8.30am – 5.00pm
Mar 16 – Mar 28: 8.30am – 5.30pm
Mar 29 – Aug 31: 8.30am – 7.15pm
Sep 1 – Sep 30: 8.30am – 7.00pm
Oct 1 – Oct 31: 8.30am – 6.30pm
Nov 1 – 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)
Important note: the authorities that run the Colosseum have recently changed the ticketing rules and it has become increasingly difficult to find a ticket for the date you want on the official website (below). However you may still find tickets for the date you want via a last-minute ticket reseller system.