Here are our tips on visiting the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum.
There are many, many, many blogs, articles, and travel guides that tell you how to plan a day to the Colosseum. They give helpful hints like "buy your ticket at Palatine Hill so you can skip the line at the Colosseum" or "bring a hat because there isn't much shade at the Roman Forum".
The second hint was helpful for us. The first hint probably is helpful most days, but not when it's the last day of Giro d'Italia.
Italy is one of the most traveled to countries in the world, and it’s no wonder with all the movies it shows up in! From A Good Woman (Amalfi Coast), Only You (Amalfi Coast), Under the Tuscan Sun (Positano and Tuscany), The Italian Job (Northwestern Italy), The Godfather (Northeast Sicily), The Talented Mr Ripley, A Room With A View, Tea With Mussolini, Much Ado About Nothing, the 1950’s hit Roman Holiday, Letters to Juliet, the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, and of course the first stop in Eat, Pray, Love.
You can even grab a travel guide for Italy, such as Fodor's The Amalfi Coast, Capri & Naples, Rick Steves Snapshot Naples & the Amalfi Coast: Including Pompeii, or Lonely Planet Naples, Pompeii & the Amalfi Coast (Travel Guide). Learning more about the culture of Italy using the Italy - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture book is also recommended!
However, here are our tips from visiting one of the most popular sites in Rome (if not THE most popular)– on a crazy busy day.
1. Be alert. It's always good to remember to watch your pockets and bags in large crowds where you're likely to be bumped and jostled.
2. Stay focused. Peddlers and unofficial tour guides abound near the station and entrances. You don't need to be rude, but you don't need to engage them either. Most will leave after you tell them "No, grazie" very firmly, but some will be persistent. You can say "No, grazie" again and then turn away.
3. Stay calm. The crowds and lines may look overwhelming, but they moved quickly even on the crazy day we visited. If you're really adverse to crowds, try going later in the day and splitting up your visit into two days. The afternoon crowds/lines were much more manageable.
4. Bring water (and a hat). The tips we read were correct. You'll be grateful for the shade a hat provides and you'll need the water to stay hydrated. There are also water fountains within the Colosseum and Palatine Hill/Roman Forum where you can refill your water bottle.
5. Know your floors. I overheard a lady ask a security guard how she could get to the second floor. He told her that she couldn't go to the second floor because it was only for tour groups. I was disappointed like the lady because I wanted to go to the second floor too. Well, I later found out that we were able to go up to the second floor... except in Italy, it's considered the first floor. The ground floor is floor 0 (zero). So the security guard was correct, the second floor (which I would usually consider the 3rd floor) was only for tour groups.
6. Be aware Palatine Hill/Roman Forum are the same area. The ticket for the Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Roman Forum is good for two days. BUT you can only enter each area once. The Colosseum is one area, Palatine Hill/Roman Forum is the other area. You can't enter Palatine Hill one day and then the Roman Forum the next day on the same ticket.
7. Bring a snack (or two!) or pack a lunch. There is a restaurant just outside of Colosseo station and a sandwich shop within the station. However, due to the Giro d'Italia they were both closed. There are some restaurants and shops on the back street behind the Colosseum but if you're trying to do both areas in one day, they are slightly out of the way. You can eat your snacks or packed lunch on benches in Palatine Hill next to the museum.
Enjoy your visit to the Colosseum and Palatine Hill/Roman Forum! Let us know how your visit goes and if you have any more tips to add!
Best Value Luxury Hotel, Experience & Location: Roma Luxus Hotel (price varies)
Best Value B&B & Location: Made in Rome B&B (as low as $87 USD per night)
Best Value Bed & Breakfast : Residenza il Magnifico (as low as $38 USD per night)
Cheapest Decent Hostel & Location: Backpackers Piramide - Hostel (as low as $19 USD per night)
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Jenny & Bradley of EatWanderExplore