The Colosseum (Colosseo) remains the largest amphitheater ever built and is one of the most recognizable and iconic symbols of Rome. The 5-story, elliptical structure measures 617-feet long, 512-feet wide, and 187-feet high and is made of travertine and brick. In its heyday, it held crowds of more than 65,000 blood-lusting spectators. Considered an architectural wonder of the ancient world, it's not surprising that the Colosseum tops the list of must-see attractions of Ancient Rome.
But when it comes to buying tickets to Rome's most popular attraction, lines can be quite long—especially in peak tourist season. If you don't want to spend your vacation waiting in a queue, here are some helpful tips for avoiding long lines at the Roman Colosseum's tickets office.
Buy Combination Tickets in Advance
We recommend buying a combination ticket at either the nearby entrance to the Palatine Hill – the ticket window rarely has a line – or from the official website. The combination ticket includes admission to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill and Museum. Another advantage to buying this combo ticket is that it's good for 2 days, so there's no need to rush to see all three sites in one day. This is the simplest ticket option available – you can't get a ticket just for the Colosseum.
If you purchase your ticket online or at a non-Colosseum ticket window, you don't have to wait in the long ticket line at the amphitheater. But you'll still need to go through the security line (there's no way around this), which can move quite slowly.
Skip the Line
Want to skip the line? Sign up to take a guided tour! A number of tour companies offer to skip the line tours with a guide, where each member of the tour is given a headset and listens to the guide's narration. Some tours include the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, or the underground chambers of the Colosseum normally closed to the public.
With any guided tour, the more money you're willing to spend, the more exclusivity you get. We've taken some guided tours where the tour group was quite large and we felt herded around, and other (more expensive) tours with smaller groups that were more interesting and educational.
As with pre-purchased tickets, you'll still have to go through security to enter, though your guide might be able to get your group through more quickly.
Take an Audio Tour
Another way to avoid the ticket line is to go the Guided Audio Tour window and purchase an audio tour. You'll need to bring an original ID that will be held as a deposit until you return the device at the end. The self-guided tour lasts 1 hour and 10 minutes and is available in several languages. The audioguide costs €5.50, plus the cost of admission to the Colosseum.
Purchase Tourist Passes & Discount Cards
If you're planning to visit some of the other sites of Ancient Rome, you might want to buy a pass or discount card, such as the Roma Pass or the Vatican & Rome Card. Not only do they all save you time, but they are also a cost-effective solution, especially if you plan to visit several more Roman attractions. Note: You'll need to plan ahead because passes and cards must be purchased before you get to the Colosseum.
- 48-Hour Roma Pass. This 2-day pass features free entry into the 1st museum or archaeological site (we recommend making the Colosseum your first stop), unlimited and free access to Rome public transport, reduced rates for all other sights thereafter (during the 48 hours), and discounts to events, exhibitions, and tourist services. Price: €28. A 72-hour pass (€38.50) adds free entry to the first 2 sights.
- Vatican & Rome Card. This combined card includes the Roma Pass and all its benefits, plus 3 days of free entry to the Vatican City sights and attractions, including the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St Peter's Basilica. It also comes with a free Rome bus tour and fast-track or priority entrance. Price: €113 adults. €80 children.
Colosseum Location, Tickets, and Hours
Location: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma
Hours: Daily 8:30 am to 1 hour before sunset. Closed January 1, May 1, and December 25. Ticket office closes 1 hour before the site closes.
How to Get There: Metro Line B – Colosseo stop – or take bus 75, 81, 673, 175, or 204, or Tram 3.
Admission: Ticket price is €12. Audio tours cost €17.50 (includes audioguide rental and entrance fee). There is a €2 service charge for tickets purchased online. Note that these prices were current in October 2018.
Free admission: Children under 18 years of age are free, as is anyone visiting on the 1st Sunday of each month (although entrance on these Sundays can't be reserved, so prepare for crowds and long lines). Persons with disabilities and one companion are free with valid medical documentation, but no reservations are required.
Reduced price tickets: European Union citizens, youth between the ages of 18 and 25, and school groups are eligible for a discounted admission of €7.50.
Visiting Tip: The above tips can reduce or eliminate wait times, however, because the Colosseum is a protected and sensitive structure, it's subject to security checks at the entrance. Be advised that waiting in line at the metal detector might be necessary for safety reasons. Note: Backpacks, big purses, and luggage are not permitted inside the Colosseum.