How to “DO” the Coliseum and Ancient Rome

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No visit to Rome is complete without seeing “The Big Two”: The Vatican and the Colosseum. The architectural bastions of the two Empires and the leaders that have defined Rome, the Caput Mundi: The pagan Emperors and the Catholic Popes.

But be warned, given that Rome is always in the top five tourist destinations in the world, the lines to both can be excruciatingly long (up to five hours) not to mention very hot. Often visitors don’t know this, and hope to be able to just “pop in”. This is definitely feasible in November, and possibly January and February… but for all the other months in the year, it is highly advisable that you get organized and clued up before you get there.

Nothing beats seeing the Colosseum and the majestic ruins of antiquity; the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, home to the Emperors. However, entering these places can be a bit of scrum at the best of times – with intimidatingly long queues.


One ticket, three sites

Few visitors realize that there are actually several places you can purchase your ticket for the Colosseum. You don’t have to suffer in a long line, assailed by people trying to sell you trinkets and skip the line tours. Your ticket covers all three parts of “Ancient Rome”: The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. As well as the ticket booths at the Colosseum (which have ridiculous lines) you can find one at the entrance to the Palatine, half way along Via San Gregorio. There is always a much shorter queue here. There is also an entrance and ticket booth at the entrance to the Forum, half way down the Fori Imperiali next to the traffic lights. This is usually a much shorter line too. Armed with a ticket, you can casually saunter past the waiting tourists and head straight in, via security machines.

Top Tip: There are now two different Rome pass cards that you can purchase online and collect on your arrival in Rome. These passes allow you multiple skip the line access to various sites and museums in Rome and also act as a travel card, enabling you to travel by bus, tram and metro throughout your stay. These passes are available for 48 and 72 hours. (Pack lightly; the don’t like big rucksacks at the security gates. Carry water always.)

Roma Pass €28 or €38.50 (does not include Vatican)

Omnia Pass €113 adult or €80 child (includes Vatican and other sites)


Guided Tours and Private Access

It is always worth having a guide to explain the spellbinding stories of the ancient world, to bring the buildings back to life! There are a whole host of tours to take for Ancient Rome: it takes roughly 3 hours to cover all 3 sites.

There are also several VIP access tours to the Colosseum stage and underground areas, that operate after hours.

Walks of Italy provide fabulous special access to the Colosseum; tours that give you a flavour of the ancient world, before a private viewing inside the Colosseum’s arena and slave quarters. They have special after hours tours as well – fabulous for all ages, and truly exciting to enter when everyone else has left for the day.

Visit them for access to Rome’s new night time multi-media light and sound shows in the Forums…. Not to be missed! These shows illuminate this ancient citadel with dramatic narrative and music that takes you back to the days of the emperors, truly a journey of a life-time. Relive the moment Caesar was betrayed and assasinated, see the graffiti of school children that has survived two millennia… from the sublime to the ridiculous, wander through the ancient city as the light show reconstructs the great fire. Rome’s Coop Culture has done a fantastic job of really bringing the ancient Romans to life. They provide small group tours at good rates.

DISCOUNT: Quote GeorgiaD10 for a 10% discount on all their tours.

To find out more about what’s on in Rome in 2017 have a browse of the “Coop Culture” website. From multi-media light shows, to openings of newly restored palazzos, 2017 season looks set to be a really fascinating adventure back in time!