3 Ways To Skip The Lines At The Ancient Roman Colosseum

The ancient Roman Colosseum is a must-see site when you're in Rome. But don't just show up as a tourist and stand in a long lineup, we want you to go as a VIP by joining a tour with an expert guide. A behind-the-scenes tour takes you to restricted areas that most visitors never see — including underground passageways, the arena and the upper tier.

The Colosseum is a prime example of advanced Roman engineering, completed when the Empire was at its peak, in 80 AD.

No matter how many pictures you've seen of the ancient Roman Colosseum, you will be dazzled when you see the 2000-year-old structure for the first time. The Romans were the first to master concrete, allowing them to build massive structures like this. When you first arrive, allow time to walk a complete circle around its massive perimeter, noting its four-story facade, seventy-six arches, and a plethora of Greek statues. No wonder the Colosseum is the most visited attraction in Italy!

VIP Colosseum Tour + Ancient Rome Tour

Ancient Rome + Colosseum Tour

Because we like feeling like insiders, our first recommendation is this tour, that takes you behind the scenes.

Join an expert guide, passionate about Roman history, who shows you areas normally off-limits to tourists — but not you!

You get to go deep and see the Colosseum's underground chambers, where wild animals waited to tangle with fearless gladiators. Even better, this small-group tour also visits the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, to see and learn even more about life in ancient Rome.

This tour is very, very popular, but numbers are limited, so be sure to book as early as possible.

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Where to start? Meeting point was easy to locate and the team there looked after us from the word go. Both guides were most knowledgable and gave the information in an interesting manor. The tour overran, but this did not deter our guide from making sure we got and saw everything we had paid for. If you are going to the Colosseum this is the ONLY way to see it all and the Forums afterwards. Great value for money."
– 5-Star Review

Skip the Line: Colosseum Tour + Roman Forum

Skip the Line: Ancient Rome + Colosseum Walking Tour

Say arrivederci to the crowds as you head directly inside the Colosseum.

This tour is on our fave list because it also lets you skip the lines and gives you the option to visit the restricted-access underground chambers. As such, it's a good alternative if the first tour (above) is sold out.

There's plenty of time to explore the historic structure and learn about the gladiators and all that before you walk over for an informative tour of the ancient Roman Forum.

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Absolutely the most awesome tour we have EVER done. Very organized, no lines!!!, and our guide in the colosseum was the greatest! Very knowledgable and passionate about the amazing history of the colosseum. We were able to check off a bucket list adventure — and it was better than we ever dreamed! Thanks for putting together such an incredible tour!"
– 5-Star Review

The Colosseum & Ancient Rome by Night

Colosseum & Ancient Rome Tour by Night

This activity is great because you follow your local guide after the crowds have left and the cool Roman breeze wafts through the Colosseum's walls.

On this tour you discover secrets about the Roman Forum's ruins and experience the Colosseum after dark.

You get to head below ground to the chambers and tunnels where gladiators and beasts waited before their battle. Few tourists experience this side of the Colosseum…at night!

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Thoroughly enjoyed our night ancient Rome and Colosseum tour. Great guide. We thought we had seen most of Rome, but our guide took us to a few places we hadn't seen and gave us lots of historical facts. The walk through the Colosseum at night, with no crowds, was fantastic. Whole different look at night. Would thoroughly recommend this tour."
– 5-Star Review

A Restoration Makes the Colosseum Shine

ancient Roman Colosseum

The ancient Roman Colosseum has seen it all — from earthquakes and floods to fires and lightning to years of vandalism.

After the fall of the Roman empire, the Colosseum fell into disrepair and the stones were looted for centuries. It wasn't until 1750 that a papal edict protected the structure.

That's a lot of wear on an old Roman. So, starting in 2013, scaffolds were erected to begin work on the extensive renovation.

Teams of archeologists, architects, engineers, restorers (and €25 million Euros) gathered to upgrade the structure. Centuries of soot and pollution were removed using a carefully controlled water spray, without the use of pressure or any solvents.

Most of the work was done by hand, each stone gently treated with biocide (an antibacterial) and nylon brushes. Cavities were filled and old cement from previous restorations was removed using delicate, precision micro-sandblasting. The result? There has never been a better time to visit the sparkling gem of Ancient Rome.

Gladiator Games – Man vs Wild Animal

Gladiator Games

In Roman times, wild animals were held in the subterranean area of the Colosseum, from where they were lifted up in elevators.

So, to the gladiators, the wild beasts would magically pop out, adding extra suspense and making the games as entertaining as possible (if "entertaining is the right word!).

The poor gladiators had no idea when or from where they would be attacked.

The estimated number of spectators the Colosseum could seat varies from 50,000 to 80,000 Romans. Whatever the crowd, they could enjoy a lively killing game of gladiator versus wild animals. The last combat took place in the year 380 when Emperor Theodosius accepted Christianity and promptly banned pagan holidays and bloody customs like the gladiator games.

Seventy-six public entrances made access to the arena swift and easy. Like an episode of the Flintstones, tickets were made from broken terracotta pieces. Roman senators and VIPS were given the best seats in the house, on the lower level, women and slaves were relegated to the nosebleed seats. Gladiators were not allowed to watch the games.

The Gladiator Diet

The Gladiator Diet

No, we're not referring to a trendy rival to the Paleo diet…

Contrary to what you'd expect, the gladiator diet wasn't high in protein. It was a high-carbohydrate diet with plenty of whole grains, honey and fruits.

The gladiator's goal was to pack on a layer of fat to protect their vital organs.

Advisory – Beware the Faux Gladiators!

Faux Gladiators

Just outside the entrance of the Colosseum, you're likely see a bevy of men sporting tacky gladiator costumes.

It's just another scam.

These gladiator wannabes spend most of their days slouching and smoking cigarettes, ready to prey on unsuspecting tourists. These Roman ne'er-do-wells throw down the cigarettes and offer to take have a picture taken with you. The cost is high and some demand payment to get your own camera back. Best tactic is to firmly say, sparisci, or buzz off.