Let me tell you, I have heard some horror stories from parents about how miserable their time at the Roman Colosseum was. I have visited the Colosseum several times with my children and have picked up a few tips for making it fun and easy.
Here is my list of MUST HAVE tips you need before you go to make your time there amazing!
How to buy tickets
There is always a huge line of people waiting to get into the Colosseum. Buy your tickets online and print them at home to avoid the line. You can buy online directly from the Colosseum, and you actually get the cheapest price which is 14€ per person.
With this purchase you get a skip the line pass! YEAH! Don't spend crazy money buying passes to skip the line when you can buy direct and save your money for gelato!
Buy tickets from the official site at www.coopculture.it/en/colosseo-e-shop.cfm.
To Guide or not to Guide
There are two types of tours at the Colosseum – the main Colosseum, and the below ground tunnels tour. My suggestion is NOT to join a guided group for the main Colosseum. The Roman Colosseum is really crowded, and groups are often 40 people. Inside it can get very loud; you can often not even hear the guide. We paid the money years ago and left the group after the first 15 minutes. It was no fault of the guide – it was just a difficult situation with kids.
I made my own scavenger hunt for my children to use at the Roman Colosseum. My kids had a great time looking and learning as we toured the Colosseum on our own. You can find the scavenger hunt on my blog HERE.
If you and your kids want to see the Gladiator tunnels and the underground of the Colosseum your only option is to purchase a guided walk. This is a fun tour, and not so crowded. You'll see the underground of the Roman Colosseum where the gladiators got dressed, the trap doors, and where they kept the animals. If you're going to spend the money on a guided tour, spend it on this one. The cost is 9€ per person and the tours run in English 8 times per day. You can also reserve this online.
Audio guides are always fun option, and I would recommend the audio guide at the Colosseum. There are two types one is audio only and the other is audio and video. My recommendation is the Audio Video for 6€. They are iPods that tell many facts, history and full of clips and videos for the kids. I usually get one and let my kids take turns holding it and pointing out cool facts around the Colosseum. It gets them involved; they actually learn something. and I never hear are we done YET!
How to get there
Walking is the best option. Your hotel will have a free map of the city for you so you can find your way around. Always be careful of your surroundings, but the city is very safe and brimming with people.
Taxis are everywhere. Just remember to only use official taxis that have the lighted TAXI sign on the roof. They all have meters and no funny business with the price. If you need a taxi you can call 060609 on your local phone.
Public Transport – There are buses, trams and subways all over Rome. They are very easy to use and cost very little. The bus/tram runs normally 1.50€ per person to your location.
Hop on hop of bus tours – I think they rock. You get transportation for up to 48 hours, and drop off pints at all the major sights. You can buy them online, or at the hop on hop off stops directly.
Once you are there
Find the line for pre-paid tickets. There are two lines – a really LONG one and the line for prepaid, pre-printed tickets. Find that line and marvel at the wonder of skipping the line!
No large bags or packs are allowed, you will have to check them at the entrance. It is better to travel light and take only essentials. You can take in small bags, backpacks and purses.
Strollers in my opinion are impossible, there are too many steep stairs. Be prepared to carry the little ones up and down the stairs. My suggestion is a soft baby carrier, which you can strap to your chest or back.
What to take
Pack water, an umbrella for sun, and snacks for the little ones. It is very hot inside in the summer, and there is nothing sold inside the Colosseum. There are vendors outside the entrance. My suggestion is to buy frozen bottles of water, and take them in with you. The cold water is not only for drinking, but for a nice ice pack on the back of your neck.
Good to Know
Where: The Colosseum is exactly in the center of Rome, on Via Sacra, which is the main street of Ancient Rome. It runs from Capitoline Hill to the Colosseum. The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Arch of Constantine are walking distance from the Colosseum.
When: The Colosseum is open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 or 7:00 PM, depending on the season. Everyone wants to see the Colosseum at 8:30 AM on their first day in Rome. I recommend visiting in the afternoon when most people have gone. And there is nothing prettier than the Colosseum at sunset!
How Much: 14€ per person when you buy online. Free and reduced tickets are available for some dates and groups. Tickets are good for one entrance into the Colosseum and for entrance to the Roman Forum. Check current prices and purchase tickets at www.coopculture.it/en/colosseo-e-shop.cfm.
How Long: About 2 hours
Amenities: Nothing is sold inside the Colosseum, but vendors sell snacks, drinks, souvenirs and other tourist supplies outside. There are bathrooms in the Colosseum, just inside the entrance, on the left hand side. However, there are no other amenities inside the Colosseum itself.