How to visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum

Wide shot of the Colosseum on the right, Velian Hill in the center, and Arch of Constantine on the left in Rome, Italy.

Last Updated on: 19th March 2024, 03:30 pm

How to get to the Colosseum and Roman Forum and the different ticket types

The Colosseum is the most recognisable landmark of Rome and one of the most recognisable landmarks of all of Italy.


In this guide:

• About the Colosseum

• About the Roman Forum

How to get to the Colosseum and Roman Forum

The different types of tickets for the Colosseum and Roman Forum and how to get them + Must know details

How to visit the Colosseum for free

 Best way to see the Colosseum and Roman Forum

The Colosseum

A front view of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy during the day with a blue sky.
The Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Photo copyright and credit: Author

What is the Colosseum?

The Colosseum (Italian: Colosseo) is an elliptical shaped sports stadium used for spectator sports entertainment such as animal and/or humans fights in ancient Rome, like the modern day boxing arena. Built in the first century and with seating for over 50,000 spectators, it is the largest entertainment amphitheatre of the ancient world.


At 189 metres long and 156 metres wide, the Colosseum is also the largest ancient amphitheatre in the world and took only 8 years to build, which is impressively fast considering the lack of efficient electrical construction tools and methods available today.


Unfortunately an earthquake destroyed part of the building in the 5th century, giving it its recognisable shape today. The damaged parts were not replaced with modern materials so what you see are the authentic remnants.

The Colosseum’s most famous use was for blood sports between humans and humans (gladiators) and animals and humans. Later on it was used as a cemetery and place of worship. Today it is an open-air museum, with exhibits in the stadium walkways around the building perimeter with a gift shop and elevator. The arena itself and the upper most level is only included in certain tickets.


Who was allowed to visit the Colosseum in ancient Rome?

Spectators of all social standing were allowed, but seating was categorised by class, with the best seats closest to the arena where the action is was reserved for VIPs: From the arena outwards, the emperor had his own viewing area near the arena, then the senators, and then the plebeians. This is in amazing contrast to many other ancient, and indeed, modern social and governmental systems around the world, as this meant the elite and the commoners were allowed to mingle in the same location, even be in the same venue as the emperor of their entire empire.


What is the Colosseum made of?

The Colosseum was constructed from travertine, marble, stone and timber but today there have been modern upgrades and additions for practical purposes.


Wheels accessible with lifts for those who cannot use stairs.

How long to spend here:

The Colosseum can be toured in a about 2 hours (provided that you buy tickets to the Colosseum online beforehand so you do not have to wait in a queue) give or take an hour depending on how thoroughly you want to investigate the exhibits there and whether you want to read all the information, and excluding queueing time of around 20-30 minutes (visitors have to queue for the entry time specified on their ticket), so even if you just have one day in Rome, this can be done. And even if you don’t have the time to tour the inside in detail or do not want to spend money on a ticket, the Colosseum can still be seen in all 360° from the outside for free.

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum in Rome, Italy.
The Roman Forum in Rome, Italy. Photo credit and copyright: Author

What is the Roman Forum?

The Roman Forum (Italian: Foro Romano) is an outdoor, open air rectangular shaped archaeological site that was once effectively the CBD in ancient Rome for about a thousand years before it was abandoned as the city outgrew the Forum. It was a city square 7th century, with markets, government buildings, and temples. It is located in a sunken ground area lower than the immediate surrounding area between the Palatine and Capitoline hill, with some hilly parts, gentle slopes, and stairs. Today, most of it is in ruins and lies in the archaeological site exposed to the air, and some of the buildings can be entered.

The Antoninus and Faustina Temple in Rome, Italy
The Antoninus and Faustina Temple in Rome, Italy, one of the more complete structures in the Roman Forum. Photo credit and copyright: Author

Is the Roman Forum worth visiting?

Entry to the Roman Forum is included in the ticket to the Colosseum, but, to be entirely honest, unless you are an archaeology and history buff, if you are really short on time and have other things you want to see, you won’t be missing out on anything if you do not visit the Roman Forum, provided you go to the Colosseum.


Some people insist that the Roman Forums is a must-visit for visitors to Rome. The truth is, the vast majority of the ancient structures inside the forum at ground level are in ruins and at best, partially complete. The more complete structures are the large columns which is why search results of the Roman Forum always shows pictures of the columns, and a few stone buildings. A few stone buildings, including a museum included on the entry ticket, can be entered but the interior have been modernised and upgraded. Of course, if you are a history and archaeology lover, and have the time, then by all means visit the Roman Forum. My personal honest opinion is that if you are very limited on time and only have time to see one thing, then the Colosseum is a much better choice than the Roman Forum, but if you have time to see both, then do so by all means.


How long to spend at the Roman Forum?

This really depends on why you are going there. For those who are interested, there are tickets that lets you see more (see below) and museums and temples to visit. To simply walk through and only look at superficially, you can do this in just a few minutes, and with a little more attention to the information, as little as half to one hour. For those who are truly interested and want to visit the other places, 2-3 hours is recommended, which is why the ticket allows you to visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum on two separate days if needed.

The Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Constantine in Rome, Italy during the day against a cloudless blue summer sky.
The Arch of Constantine in Rome, Italy. Photo credit and copyright: Author

The Arch of Constantine was built in the year 317 AD in the honour of emperor Constantine the Great. The Arch is located directly in the Colosseum plaza and does not require a ticket to see.

How to get to the Colosseum and Roman Forum

Like all other major tourist attractions in Rome, the Colosseum, can be easily reached by public transport.



By Metro

As previously mentioned, the entrance to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum are right next to each other and within meters from the entry/exit of the Colosseo Metro station, which is on line B. The metro exit/entry is on the northern side of the Colosseum.



Rome has only 3 metro/subway lines, A, B and C. The Colosseo Metro station is on line B. Depending on where you are, you may have to change lines, but all you need to do is make sure you get off at Colosseo stop. There is no way you can miss it.


Check here for the Rome metro timetables:


By Bus

There are several buses that stop outside the Colosseum at the bus stop called “Colosseo”, located on the southern side of the Colosseum. As of the time of writing, the bus numbers that stop outside the Colosseum are 51, 75, 85, 87, 117, and 118. You can check their official schedules and stops on the official website.



Check here for all the bus timetables:



Can you see the Colosseum from the outside?

If you don’t have the time to go inside, or simply don’t want to pay, you can absolutely just view the Colosseum from the outside. In fact, there is a grassy slope where you walk on to see it from a small distance away or walk almost right up to the perimeter of the structure and go for a walk around the outside. You can also walk around the outside of the Roman Forum and look in since the grounds around it are at a higher level than the sunken area of the Roman Forum inside.

Tickets to the Colosseum and Roman Forum and how to get them

Inside the Colosseum in Rome, Italy showing the stadium against a cloudless blue summer sky.
Inside the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Photo credit and copyright: Author

Paid tickets


There are several types of paid tickets, below are the three main types that are currently available for purchase. To see all ticket types including groups and types where sale is currently suspended, visit:


VERY IMPORTANT: tickets to the Colosseum have a scheduled entry time for ONE entry and there is a set number of tickets per day. This means that you can only enter the Colosseum at the time specified on your ticket.


This is to limit the amount of people in and queuing for the Colosseum at any one time, to reduce crowds and create a better experience for everyone. On a full availability day, tickets to the Colosseum are sold in 10 minute interval entry times, ie 9:30am, 9:40am, 9:50 am until last entry time 1 hour before closure. You should arrive onsite at least 15-20 minutes before your listed time for waiting in the queue. If you arrive late, you might not be allowed in the Colosseum and you will not get a refund if you are denied entry. However, there is no time limit to how long you can stay inside the Colosseum once you enter, and there is no scheduled entry time for the Roman Forum so if you wanted to, you could enter the Colosseum first thing in the morning and stay there all day and return the next morning to the Roman Forum (see ticket types below).


24 Hour single entry ticket: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Imperial Fora, Palatine Hill (no access to the arena)


What it is:

This online-only ticket gives you 1 entry to the Colosseum + temporary exhibitions inside, and one entry to the area of the Roman Forum, Imperial Fora and Palatine Hill over a 24 hour period, starting from the first time you enter either the Colosseum or the Roman Forum. In the Colosseum, this ticket gives you access to the first and second level of the stand only, so the third level, underground, and arena are not included.



16€ for people over 25 and 2€ for people 18-25, plus a 2€ reservation fee online per ticket.


Bookings now and ahead:

The 24 hour experience ticket is only available online on their website and can be booked up to 30 days in advance. You can also book the ticket on the day by scanning a publicly displayed QR code with your phone upon arrival. Info and bookings: 


Full Experience ticket

What it is:

There are 2 types of full experience tickets, the “Arena” and the “Undergrounds and Arena” ticket. It is basically the same as the 24 hour ticket except it allows you to access the arena and/or the underground as well. Each allows 1 entry to the Colosseum + ongoing exhibitions inside, and one entry to the area of the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill plus SUPER sites (which is basically a modern digital educational exhibit about Roman visual art, paintings, architecture and sculpture, see more about the SUPER Sites here: and is valid over 2 consecutive days.



Full Experience Arena ticket: € 22,00 + € 2,00 booking fee if booked online, else you can buy it onsite at the ticket offices where there may be a queue, especially in peak seasons. I have heard of extraordinarily long queues for the Colosseum ticket offices (around 3 hours) so consider getting it online to avoid the queues.

Full Experience Undergrounds and Arena ticket: € 22,00 + € 2,00 booking fee.


Bookings now and ahead:

This ticket can be booked on their website up to 30 days in advance or on the day at the ticket office outside the Colosseum. Info and bookings:


IMPORTANT: Bring your ID! The Underground and Arena ticket are non-transferable and you must present ID along with your ticket to get in.

How to visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum for free

Admission to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill is free for everyone on the first Sunday of every month. See how to get tickets at the end of this section.

At all other times, people, including those in a tour group, in certain circumstances that are set out by Italian law, are entitled to free admission tickets. You can see the full list of criteria on their official website:, however, since you are reading this in English, here is an outline of some of the situations that could be applicable to a non-European visitor, taken directly from the website:


According to Italian law, entry to museums, monuments, galleries and archaeological areas is free for:

All visitors under 18 (visitors under 12 must be accompanied by an adult)

Disabled people and their family member or other companion who demonstrates their belonging to social and health care services. This means you should be able to prove you belong to some sort of social/health care service with, for example, a card.

Students enrolled in the faculties of: architecture, conservation of cultural heritage, educational sciences and degrees in literature or literary subjects with an archaeological or historical-artistic focus of the faculties of literature and philosophy, or in corresponding faculties, and fine arts academies or courses established in the member states of the European Union. This means if you are an international or exchange student studying in this area in the European Union, you can get a free ticket. You must show your student ID card proving your enrollment in the current academic year.

To get free entry, you need a free ticket, but a ticket nonetheless. At time of writing, only the Full Experience ticket can be booked online meaning you will need to plan for extra time to queue at the ticket offices on site.



What the free tickets include:

The free ticket includes whatever the paid version of the same ticket type described above, includes, ie eligible people can choose a free ticket of the sights they prefer.



How to get the free ticket:


Free Sundays:

Free Sunday tickets are given on a first come first serve basis and needs to be collected at the ticket office in Piazza del Colosseo (the area outside the Colosseum), located near the Temple of Venus and Rome. See their website for details:


Places that are not included in the Free Sundays, taken directly from their website:

“For conservation reasons, and in compliance with the restrictions on free Sundays, it will not be possible to enter to the panoramic elevator and upper levels nor to the arena and underground areas of the Colosseum, the Farnese Aviaries, the Curia Iulia or the SUPER sites of the Roman Forum-Palatine (House of Augustus, Santa Maria Antiqua, Oratory of the Forty Martyrs, Temple of Romulus, Aula Isiaca with Loggia Mattei, Palatine Museum).”


Other free tickets:

At the time of writing it seems only the Full Experience free ticket can be booked online, others need to be collected in person at the ticket office mentioned above and below.

Free tickets are collected at the ticket offices located inside the Colosseum and at the ticket office in Largo della Salara Vecchia.


For ticket office locations, see map here: (click on the link next to the line that says “Find the ticket office”).

For details, see their website:

The Temple of Venus and Roma in Rome, Italy. Only half the temple remains: a cylindrical cross section of a building made of stone.
The Temple of Venus and Roma in Rome, Italy. Photo copyright and credit: Author


Colosseum and Roman Forum opening hours:

The Colosseum opens at 8:30 am, the Roman Forum at 9:00 am, both closes at 4:30 pm, Monday to Sunday

Last entrance for both is one hour before closure at 3:30 pm.

Best way to see the Colosseum and Roman Forum

Everyone has their own travel preferences. Here are some recommended itinerary ideas and suggestions to take into consideration, feel free to do what suits you best.

24 hour ticket itinerary (Colosseum and Roman Forum)

This ticket is great if you have two half days or up to 1.5 to 2 days. Here is how you could use the 24 hour ticket:

If you have 2 half days, you could spend half a day at the Colosseum and if needed, half of the next day at the Roman Forum. You can also do both on the same day if you start in the morning.

Full experience (as above + Arena or Underground or both)

If you are really into archaeology and ancient Roman ruins and history and want to experience the area in detail, then this is the ticket for you. Again, the entry time to the Colosseum is pre-scheduled so choose a time to suit you, arrive 15-20 minutes early (for the queue) and choose an earlier time so that you can spend more time in the Colosseum if necessary (since there is no limit to how long you can stay once you get in until close). I suggest not doing anything right before it that might cause you to be late to your scheduled entry, ie stay on site rather than going elsewhere.

Some useful tips for visiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum

Bring small snacks with you

No food is sold inside the Colosseum (and Roman Forum), and although the website does not specifically say, it makes sense that they would want to preserve and keep as a clean as possible a thousands year old structure so rubbish is not appreciated inside. There are however, surprisingly, toilets inside the Colosseum, and places to sit in the Roman Forum. If you are planning on entering early and staying for long, bring some small snacks with you and take your rubbish with you.



Don’t stray too far while waiting for your entry time to the Colosseum

If you buy your ticket on the day at the site, and your entry time isn’t until some time later, don’t go to far away, or if you do, return a bit earlier than you think you might need. There is always a chance, however remote, that your return to the site could be delayed (eg traffic, transport delays, caught up in a shop etc) and it could mean you will not be allowed to enter if you miss your entry time. It would be terrible if you missed your entry time and it was the only time you had on the trip to enter the Colosseum. If you are coming straight to the Colosseum, aim to arrive at the Colosseo metro stop about 25-30 minutes beforehand to allow time to get out of the station and to the queue where you may have to wait up to 20 minutes. I visited in August and waited about 10-15 minutes, they do a good job ushering people in, and there separate queues for group tour groups and individuals. NOTE! For the avoidance of all doubt, I am referring to the time in the queue to enter the Colosseum, not to buy tickets at the ticket office, which may be very long!



Consider that there may be long queues to the ticket office

Especially in peak seasons, there may be long queues, around or more than 3 hours. If you want to avoid this, you should buy your tickets online.


When booking tickets, use the name on your ID/Bring your ID on the day

Some tickets, like the full experience one and group tours, are non-transferable to avoid ticket scalping. You may be be asked to show your ID to make sure it is the same as the one on the ticket.


Bring a water bottle

Particularly in the summer, the weather can get very hot. Like many places in Italy, there are free drinking water fountains, (“Fontana”, or “Nasoni” lit. “big noses” in Italian) nearby on site where you can get cool, refreshing water for free. There is a set of water fountains near the Colosseum near the grass hill and stairs.

Something to consider when planning your itinerary

For the Colosseum:

This is my personal suggestion:


When booking tickets online, on a full availability day, tickets to the Colosseum are sold in 10 minute intervals ie, 9am, 9:10, 9:20 all the way to 3:30pm with the amount of tickets for that time slot left. If tickets are sold out at certain times, then only available tickets will show in the online booking site eg maybe 1 ticket at 9am, 3 at 2:10pm. If all times are available, try and get a time that is earlier rather than later especially in winter when there are less day light hours, and ideally earlier in the day so that you can spend as much time in the Colosseum as you want without rushing. Different people would want to spend different amounts of time there. To give you an idea, there are interesting exhibits and things to read, the temporary ones are free, and there is also a gift shop, which I skipped. By visiting the Colosseum first, which has a set entry time, you can then go elsewhere and arrange other activities around it. If you visit another attraction before the Colosseum, there is a chance that you may be delayed because either you want to stay there longer or there are transport delays on the way and miss your entry time. Also, if you enter the Colosseum as early in the day as possible, you can then go to the Roman Forum right afterwards and still have plenty of daylight left. Then, if you really must, you can come back 24 hours later for entry to the next venue. 

Tips for tourists:

Peddlers near the Colosseum and Roman Forum try to sell over priced bottled water in the summer. To make it more enticing, the bottles are frozen so the water stays cool for as long as possible even if it melts throughout the day. There is no need to buy their water because there are free drinking water fountains right in the Colosseum Square (Piazza Colosseo), it is a vertical wall with dispensers dispensing cold, drinkable water, you’ll see people lining up for it, it’s about 100 metres to the right and behind you, when facing the Colosseum’s main entrance.

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