Ancient Rome Walking Tours – 4 Top Tours + 10 Facts About Augustus

Think of these Rome walking tours as Ancient Rome 101. Fun and interactive ways to discover the highlights from the city's glorious past — the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, Capitoline Hill, and centro storico (the city centre).

Simply wandering around on your own, Ancient Rome can seem daunting. The line-ups can be long and, once you get inside, you can feel a bit overwhelmed. This won't come as a surprise, but the Colosseum is huge. And all those ruins around the city! What we like about these tours is that they add context, you learn more, see more, and have more fun!

1. Half-Day Walking Tour of Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome Half-Day Walking Tour

We like this tour because it shows you a whole lot of Ancient Rome in an easy half-day walk. How's this for a line-up: the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Capitoline Hill, Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon?

It kicks off the Colosseum. As you explore the second and third tiers, hear tales of gladiator combat, the stadium's main attraction. See first-hand how seating at the Colosseum was based on social status — the Emperors and senators got the best seats on the lower levels, with women and slaves sent to the top.

Then set off to the Roman Forum, the financial, commercial, and political centre of the ancient city. Hear tales about the power and treachery of the Emperors and see key monuments — the Temple of Caesar, the white marble Arch of Septimius Severus, and colonnaded Regia — once the home of the even more ancient kings of Rome.

As you leave the Roman Forum you walk to the top of Capitoline Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome and the citadel of the earliest Romans. (Much like the acropolis of ancient Greece.) There, witness the graceful Piazza del Campidoglio, the square designed in the 16th century by Michelangelo.

Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain, and then see the Pantheon — the best-preserved Roman monument in the world. The tour ends at Piazza Navona, a lively central square, built on the site of the 1st-century Stadium of Domitian.

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Our tour guide Ciara was very knowledgeable and made the walking tour engaging and informative. There was never a dull moment during the tour and Ciara answered all our queries and exceeded our expectations. Ciara brought pictures and books with her to aid the audience in understanding the before and after' appearance of each site. It will be a long walk but you will be learning and appreciating a lot of sites and historical information along the way. Worth every penny! Ciara was the best guide we've had in Italy."
– 5-Star Review

2. Ancient Rome + Modern Rome Walking Tour

Colosseum + Ancient Rome + Best of Rome Walking Tour

The name says it all, and it's why we like this tour — it's a combination of two guided tours at a special price and it includes skip-the-line features.

Part I — The Colosseum.

Once again the day begins at the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.. Set off up the Oppian Hill for stunning views of the mammoth Colosseum. See it from above, then go down and explore its interior. The long line of tourists will be green with envy as you skip the long entrance line and zip through the priority access.

As you walk around the first floors, hear stories about the amphitheater's brutal past filled with battles. Learn surprising facts about the gladiatorssome were convicted criminals, some were women, and some were volunteers. Did you know that the gladiator games carried on for 1,000 years?

The morning also includes the Arch of Constantine, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Part one ends at Via Sacra, the sacred road that links the Colosseum to Capitoline Hill. Explore the ruins or have a leisurely lunch at a nearby restaurant before your afternoon tour.

Part II — The Best of Rome Walking Tour.

Meet at Piazza di Spagna, and wend your way the beautiful Santa Maria del Popolo Church. Continue to the Spanish Steps and the church of Trinita dei Monti. Take a break by the breathtaking and recently renovated Trevi Fountain.

Stroll through Piazza Colonna, a square considered by the ancient Romans as the center of the city. Then it's on to the Pantheon — the historic temple with its sleek marble columns shipped from Egypt. Last stops include Piazza Navona, with its ornate fountains, Baroque architecture and Campo de Fiori, a jewel of Rome famous for its market. The small group tour is limited to 25 people.

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Our tour guide was truly awesome! Without her knowledge and this amazing book she had showing us what these sites looked like in ancient Rome, we wouldn't have gotten nearly as much out of the experience. My favourite moment of our trip was walking the Forum, and I don't think the experience would have been as special if not for our guide."
– 5-Star Review

3. VIP Colosseum Underground + Ancient Rome

VIP Colosseum Underground + Ancient Rome

This is a seriously small tour, limited to six people, which in our books is a good thing. The other thing that makes this tour unique is it takes you places normally off limits to the public. You start with a priority entrance ticket in hand, letting you skip the long line and head directly inside the Colosseum.

Follow your guide to the belly of the Colosseum, the underground level. Only a limited number of people are allowed to this special area daily, and you're one of them! You will marvel at the network of subterranean passages and chambers, and see the actual place where gladiators prepared for battle.

Then head up a level to the arena. Instead of walking around the edge as most tourists do, you have access to the actual area where the battles were fought. Go from the ground floor up to the Colosseum's top tier for a bird's-eye view and a stroll walk around the elliptical amphitheater.

It's then a gentle walk up Palatine Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome. Surrounded by stately pine trees, see where wealthy Romans once lived. Then, descend into the valley where you weave through cluster of ruins towards the Roman Forum.

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This was the highlight of our trip to Rome. Well worth the money. Our tour guide was excellent — very informative and answered all our questions. We got to skip the long queues and experience parts of the Colosseum that the general public do not get to see. EXCELLENT tour"
– 5-Star Review

4. VIP Tour of the Colosseum & the House of Augustus

Colosseum & The Palace of Augustus

On this combo tour you get a firm foundation in the Roman Empire and the intrigue surrounding Augustus Caesar (63 BCE to 14 CE), Rome's greatest emperor. Sure, you see the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, where wealthy Ancient Romans built their mansions. But you also see the most important casas of them all, the house of Emperor Augustus, Caesar's Palace, if you will.

At the Colosseum, you hurry past the long line directly into the massive structure. See where the gladiator battles took place. Tour the first and second tiers and imagine the Roman crowds roaring as gladiators battled for their lives.

From the Colosseum, climb Palatine Hill to a special entrance reserved for VIPs. Guess what? You're one of them. For many years the palace of Augustus was closed to the public. But, now you leave the plebeians behind and go directly into Casa di Augusto, the private living space of Rome's first emperor. Admire the frescoes and architecture, learn scintillating details about Mark Anthony, Cleopatra, and Livia, Augustus' power-hungry wife.

Continue to the nearby Roman Forum, the heart of civic life. See the best ruins — the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, the Arch of Constantine, and learn about the mythic founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. This VIP small-group tour is limited to 15 people.

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We loved this amazing tour and our tour guide. It was amazing to see the homes of Livia and Augustus and to walk in the same footsteps that they once did. The forum and colosseum were also a treat for those who are into history. We highly recommend this tour."
– 5-Star Review

10 Fascinating Facts about Augustus Caesar

1. His Name Wasn't Augustus… at First

Augustus

He was born Gaius Octavius Thurinus.

He was later adopted by his great-uncle Julius Caesar and took his name, calling himself Gaius Octavius Thurinus. We know him as Emperor Augustus.

  1. After Julius Caesar's assassination (et tu Brute, and all that), Augustus (after a few battles) was named commander-in-chief, Imperium Maius (supreme power), and declared Pater Patriae, the father of his country.
  2. Under his reign Rome had a golden age. Peace was restored, arts and agriculture flourished, and an ambitious building program was started. Augustus is believed to have restored or built more than 80 temples in just one year.
  3. He made sweeping reforms and enacted laws to maintain stability in family life. Augustus gave tax incentives for families with three or more children and imposed penalties for childless marriages.
  4. With these new incentives and laws, the marriage rate and birth rate rose in Rome.
  5. He outlawed adultery. He took it so seriously that he banished his own daughter, Julia, for committing adultery.
  6. There are two versions of his last words. One is, "I found a city of clay and left it a city of marble". Which is true, he did that. The second version is, "Have I played the part well? Then applaud as I exit." Which is poetry.
  7. After his death he was proclaimed a god. He was succeeded by his adopted step son, Tiberius, whose mother was Livia, and Augustus was her second husband!
  8. The month of August is derived from his name, Augustus.
  9. Augustus Caesar was the first & the greatest emperor of Rome