The best time of day to visit the Colosseum

Unlike most of Rome’s other major attractions, numbers of visitors inside the Colosseum are strictly limited – to 3,000 people within the amphitheater at any one time.

This used to lead to long lines outside even for ticket-holders, since the automated entry/exit system only allowed new people to enter the Colosseum as other people left. In an attempt to manage this situation, the authorities that run the monument imposed a new rule in 2019 which means that now every ticket purchased, having originally been valid for any two-day period within the calendar year in which it was purchased, has to be bought to enter the Colosseum at a specific, designated time and date. (Note: even with a skip-the-line ticket, you still need to join a small line for an airport-like security check but it is rarely more than five minutes’ wait.)

The flipside of these changes is lack of availability of official tickets (don’t worry, there are  lots available), since these very specific date and time-slots get bought up by tourists and tour operators weeks or even months in advance. Furthermore the Colosseum ticket office only releases tickets every three months – meaning you cannot ever book your ticket more than three months in advance.

But al is not lost! We have an arrangement with tour partner Carpe Diem that offers tours of the Colosseum, Palatine, and Forum at 10 am – skip the hot weather and the crowds at the same time, and don’t worry about getting a ticket as they take care of that for you!

If you can’t make an early visit but are arriving when the weather is hot, we instead recommend getting a time-slot towards the end of the day

Back when it was the Flavian Amphitheater the Colosseum had a canvas roof. These days it’s open to the sky, and the heat of the day in Rome can become unbearable, so an early evening visit will be much more pleasant and cooler, with dramatic shadows as the sun sets, though you can still feel the heat radiating back at you from the stones. Note that the last entrance into the Colosseum is 1 hour before closing time.

See all available Colosseum tickets and tours >

colosseum icon Rome Vacation Tips

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)

Map of the entrances and exits to the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine hill in Rome from Rome Vacation Tips.Click to enlarge or download

Here are all the options to get your scheduled tickets:

  1. Book your Colosseum ticket as soon as you know your dates of arrival to Rome (check back if they haven’t been released yet), and build your other sightseeing around this. You could try to to the official site, find the date you are in Rome and keep clicking the numbers on the page until you get to the end of the day and see a green ‘available’ button. However due to the changes this is increasingly difficult – see screenshot.
  2. If you can’t find tickets there, buy from a reseller, which may hold pre-bought tickets more suitable to your visit.
  3. Book a group guided tour of the Colosseum that will deal with the ticketing problems so you don’t have to.
  4. Book a private guided tour that will deal with tickets for you too.

Remember that your Colosseum ticket also gets you into the Forum and Palatine and there are no such restrictions there. You can enter either the day before your time-slot or the day after, so in this case we absolutely recommend an early morning visit.

Have a look at all available Colosseum ticket options >

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Photo credit: AFP

Tickets in advance!

Because of ticket supply problems following the end of Covid restrictions, it is strongly advised that you buy tickets and tours in advance to visit attractions in Rome.

Buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment.