Book the cheapest and best tours of the Colosseum and Roman Forum online in advance when the availability and choices are the biggest to save on sightseeing in Rome and to avoid crowds.
The Colosseum is one of the most popular sights to visit in Rome and all of Italy. Booking tours to visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum is sensible as very little information is displayed inside the vast sites. Without a guide, it is hard to make sense of the wonderful history and events that occurred in the huge amphitheater, the important Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill archaeological park. If not booking a tour, do note that tickets for the Colosseum are only sold online — no tickets are available onsite and timeslots sell out during peak holiday periods.
Book Colosseum and Forum Tours in Rome
Booking a guided tour of the Colosseum is easy but picking the best tour is far more difficult — the basic Colosseum page of Viator offers nearly 2,000 options while Get Your Guide makes do with just over 400! Picking one of around 20 tours at Tiqets might be easier.
The official Colosseum guided tours are the cheapest options but like the cheapest Colloseum tickets are hard to book and only offered around a month in advance. These official didactic tours usually meet up inside the Colosseum so make sure to clear security in time to find the right guide.
Select the Best Colosseo Tours
A few things to bear in mind when selecting tours to see the Colosseum and Roman Forum: tours are basically the same so don’t overpay unless the more expensive tour offers more. The basic Colosseum tour is just over an hour (slightly longer and more expensive when going onto the arena or underground) and usually includes tickets for the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill to explore at leisure. Add another hour to two hours if guided tours of the Forum are included (the price often increases only moderately).
Some of the cheaper guided tours with good reviews include an express tour of the Colosseum (with free tickets for the Roman Forum) or full tours of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.
As with tickets-only, tours of the Colosseum could be only the basic main stands but few would regret adding the arena area (and the underground if available).
Visit early morning for the most pleasant weather as the amphitheater gets very hot on sunny days. The Colosseum is often quietest in the late afternoon (after 16:00). Nighttime guided tours are sometimes available and include the arena and underground areas.
Book Private and Small Group Tours of the Colosseum in Rome
Private, semi-private, and small group tours are of course more pleasant than larger tours and the price difference is often negligible. “Small group” is not legally defined so assume a tour that fails to state that the group will consist of a maximum of say six, ten, or 15 members could easily be 20 or 30 too. Tours of 30, 40, or even 50 members are best avoided.
Family and kids-friendly tours are also good options when traveling with children.
Save with Colosseum Combination Tours
Small savings are usually possible if booking combination tours — these are usually simply booking two separate tours at the same time rather than continuous tours. An advantage is that these tours often need not be on the same day and that all time-slot reservations may be made in a single transaction.
Popular sights that are often combined with the Colosseum and Roman Forum include for example the Vatican Museum (sometimes with breakfast), Saint Peter’s Basilica, or Santa Maria Maggiore — in most cases, visitors have to make their own way to the next site and find the new guide. Hop-on Hop-off buses are available between major sights but walking in Rome is very pleasant too and some tours end with a walking tour back to the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.
A few traditional Rome day tours including all transportation for the day (and sometimes even lunch) are available and could be good value for visitors with limited time or feeling unsure about navigating the streets of Rome alone. Typical sights combined with the Colosseum include the Vatican Museum and St Peter’s Basilica.
Tips on Visiting the Colosseum Amphitheatre in Rome
A few general tips on booking tours and visiting the Colosseum in Rome:
Be early to find the tour guide — major public works around the Colosseum may force detours and longer walks but there is enough to see and do in the immediate area to fill time while waiting.
Guides are easier to find for departing from an office or shop a block from the Colosseum than locating a guide with the purple / orange / pink t-shirt / umbrella / bag in the shade of the arch / left side of the metro exit / near the stairs going down.
For most tours, the use of audio transmitters is compulsory. Own old-style round point cable earphones usually give better sound and fit more comfortably than the cheap new sets provided (and may be used with most audio equipment in Europe).
The Colosseum is photogenic throughout the day and hiring a professional photographer for a private photoshoot outside the Colosseum is very popular with many visitors.
The queues outside the Colosseum are to clear security — no fast-access lanes or similar are available, even for most tour groups. Be prepared to wait on busy days, as the number of visitors allowed at any given time is limited, no further visitors are allowed until some have left.
Travel light but carry water and although there are toilets close to the entrance, few would regret going elsewhere.
An easy-to-use and frequently updated guidebook is Rick Steves Rome — it has good maps of major sights and is a great choice for independent travelers. The selection of Rome guidebooks is enormous to reflect the popularity of the Italian capital with international travelers.