One of Europe’s most iconic landmarks, the Colosseum in Rome is visited by over 7 million people every year. Despite being around two thousand years old and partly destroyed, the Rome Colosseum is still an incredibly important and popular piece of history - and no trip to Italy is complete without catching a glimpse of it.
Colosseum opening hours
The Colosseum is open to visitors year-round. It generally opens before 9am and closes an hour before sunset - meaning that opening times vary throughout the year. The Colosseum hours are generally as follows:
Last Sunday in October until February 15: 08.30 - 16.30
February 16 until March 15: 08.30 - 17.00
March 16 until the last Saturday in March: 08.30 - 17.30
Last Sunday in March until August 31: 08.30 - 19.15
September 1 until September 30: 08.30 - 19.00
October 1 until the last Saturday in October: 08.30 - 18.30
There are a couple of days throughout the year when the Colosseum is shut. These are January 1 and December 25, for the festive holidays taking place. The Colosseum is, contrary to popular belief, open on May 1. This is the European ‘May Day’, celebrated as a public holiday.
Getting to the Colosseum
The Colosseum is located at Piazza del Colosseo in central Rome. It is accessible via public transport - the subway station Colosseo in approximately 700 feet away from the Colosseum itself. From Termini, the most central subway station in Rome, it only takes around 3 minutes to get to Colosseo. Take the MEB in the direction of Laurentina. You can also walk from central Rome in around 20 minutes or take the 75-bus line.
If you are visiting the Colosseum from the area of Trastevere, a popular location for tourists, students and young people, take the 75-bus line. The journey time is around fifteen minutes, and you want to catch the bus heading in the direction of Indipendenza. You can also take the tram, line 3 in the direction of Valle Giulia, to visit the Colosseum.
Another major attraction in Rome is the Vatican City - the heart of the Catholic Church, and an entire city within a city. If you want to visit the Colosseum on the same day as the Vatican, jump on the bus. You’ll need line 87 towards L. Go Colli Albani, which you can catch from Cicerone/Cavour - it takes around 22 minutes to get to Piazza del Colosseo. Line 81 towards Malatesta takes longer (39 minutes), but you can catch this from much closer to the Vatican entrances which means less walking.
There are also a variety of taxi services in Rome that will take you to the Colosseum from wherever you are. This is especially helpful if you plan to see the Colosseum at night!
Top sights at the Colosseum
There is so much to see at the Colosseum. From the huge outer wall, damaged by earthquakes over the years, to the interior and the underground, everything is awe-inspiring and incredibly grand. The outer wall is perfect for getting a brilliant shot, especially if you plan to see the Colosseum at night and arrive around sunset: it’s a photographer’s dream at this time! The interior is fascinating, allowing you to imagine the scene of many gladiator contests, mock sea battles and executions - as well as the seats where Roman citizens would have sprawled in the sunshine, cheering and gambling their way into the evening.
Underneath is the Hypogeum: two stories of complicated passageways and underground tunnels. The labyrinth was used for training, for the creation and storage of scenery, and to hold onto the animals used in Colosseum battles. The gladiators would also move unseen throughout these tunnels in the run-up to a contest, keen to make a dramatic entrance.
Practical tips for visiting the Colosseum
Unlike the holy sites you might visit in Rome, there is no set dress code for visiting the Colosseum. Wear comfortable clothes - no heels or stiff shirts - as you will be doing a lot of walking around on your visit. Sneakers or walking boots are ideal, or a sturdy pair of sandals that don’t hurt your feet.
Shorts and a t-shirt, a loose dress or playsuit, or a pair of khakis paired with a linen shirt are all great outfit choices for a comfortable day of sightseeing at the Colosseum in the summer. However, if you are planning to visit Rome during the winter months then be warned the temperature will drop! In December and January, it’ll be around 50-55°F. While this isn’t too cold for some, it isn’t quite warm enough for your summer vacation clothes. Consider jeans, a sweater and maybe even a coat.
A lot of the open parts of the Colosseum are exposed to the elements, so it may be worth packing a thin waterproof jacket in case it rains. In Rome, it rains around 83 days per year - and there’s nothing more miserable than spending your day soaked through after the fun of exploring a historical landmark! You can’t bring an umbrella into the Colosseum, but a fold-up waterproof jacket can be small enough to fit in your pocket.
As the Colosseum is such a popular site - and rightly so - it can get incredibly busy. On the first Sunday of the month it is free to visit, making these the busiest days of the year. General Colosseum tickets cannot be reserved on these free entry days, but you can still book a guided tour if you want to make the most of your visit.
There is airport-style security at the Colosseum, so be aware of this when planning the timing of your visit. Queues are always common, but our tours include skip-the-line entry meaning you don’t have to waste any time hanging around outside - this is especially handy when you have kids with you, or if you are visiting during a popular vacation time.
There is so much to appreciate when visiting the Colosseum, and it’s no wonder that this is such a bucket list destination for so many people!