I’m usually one of those people who like to avoid the touristy attractions when travelling, but every now and again there are some it would be a crime not to visit at least once – the Colosseum definitely falls into that category. However there are good and not so good approaches to visiting these major attractions, as we learnt the hard way… To avoid the tourist traps, let me share my first hand experience.
The Colloseum & Roman Forum
On the first Sunday of each month, the Colosseum and Roman Forum are free to enter for the public.
If you would like to do a Group or Audio tour, the official Colosseum Guides seemed to provide a comprehensive experience. Group tours and audio guides were available once past the ticket gates, inside the Colosseum. I usually prefer audio tours as you can progress at your own speed and don’t have to wait around for that person who asks a million questions…
Most of all, no matter how tempting it sounds to “skip the line”, please DO NOT be tempted to join one of the “English Speaking Tours” outside the front entrance. I’m usually not one to fall into this trap, but when we first arrived at the Colloseum the individual entrance line looked quite long and there were people yelling out that the line for individual entrance was three hours long… of course it wasn’t and they were the people who took our money. The individual entrance turned out actually to be moving quite quickly. So we paid 20 Euros per person for our tour, ended up waiting for some time at the group entrance gate anyway, and the guide provided no more explanation than our pocket size lonely planet.
Security at the Colosseum is similar to the airport, for obvious reasons, so there are no liquids allowed inside. Do take an empty water bottle with you though, as there are drinking water taps available inside the Colosseum to re-hydrate.
Once we put that abysmal tour behind us, we were so fortunate with this magic 34 degree day…
See our experience “Visiting the Colosseum” on my YouTube channel now.
When you are ready to move from the Colloseum on to the Roman Forum, just make sure to get your ticket from the booth at the bottom of the hill. These are free on first Sunday’s, but you are still required to have the ticket to enter.
At this point, I also recommend to grab some lunch and take a break. We didn’t find any cafes or food outlets inside either attraction and if doing both in the same day, let’s be real, people gonna get hangry…
On your second day get ready to be wowed by the extravagance and artistic excellence of the Vatican. No room is too big, no ceiling too high, to be lavished in masterpieces. Not to miss is Michelangelo’s famous painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
St. Peters Basilica
In case you weren’t impressed yet, your afternoon can be spent basking in the grandeur of St. Peters Basilica and the square outside. Only a short walk from the Vatican Museum, but again, grab some lunch on your way. We stopped at a really reasonable and delicious pizzeria/cafeteria called “Ris-toro”.
The Trevi Fountain
Throwback to the Lizzie McGuire movie? No, just me…
Either way, the fountain is enjoyed by all and can be visited day or night. I think the blanket of darkness adds something a little special to your experience though. Plus, then you can enjoy a delicious Tiramisu or Chocolate Torte for dessert from the nearby News Cafe.
All eateries mentioned above and more feature in my vlog below – check it out and subscribe for more!
From Ciampino Airport (CIA):
If you’re flying into Ciampino Airport and need transport to the centre of Rome, make sure to find the ticket office for buses to the main Roma Termini Stazione as soon as you get through immigration. This is especially important for late night flights as the buses were stopping service near midnight when we visited. We had read advice online to catch a taxi from the airport, but this proved to be nearly impossible. It appeared due to the price cap the city places on taxis to and from the airport, taxis weren’t interested in stopping… nevertheless the line of people willing to try was very impressive.