The Colosseum underground is essentially a network of corridors and cells beneath the Colosseum floor, once used to hold animals and gladiators. When it came time to fight, they were hoisted onto the floor through a trap door. Today, access is limited to those who have pre-booked Colosseum underground tours. A guard unlocks the gates to 25 people at a time; which is part of what makes this visit so special. Visiting during summer in particular, the Colosseum can be extremely crowded but in the quiet of the underground, you’ll be as separate from the roaring crowds as the gladiators once were as they waited for battle.
Seeing the narrow corridors lets you step behind the scenes of history’s most brutal and thrilling blood sport - don’t be surprised if you leave with a new appreciation for Roman technology as well as sympathy for the gladiators and animals who fought and died here. For anyone with a keen interest in these legendary spectacles, the Colosseum Underground is unmissable.
It is a little-known fact that the word ‘palace’ originates from the Palatine Hill. This is where the city of Rome was founded and where its first rulers lived. Most significant of these palaces is the home of the Rome's first Emperor (and in the eyes of many, its best), the nephew of Julius Caesar, Emperor Caesar Augustus. The Casa di Augusto was where Augustus lived most of his adult life with his beloved wife, Livia, residing next door in her own house; the Casa di Livia. Both homes sit behind a locked gate on the Palatine Hill but have been recently opened to a limited number of visitors. The only way to visit them is on a pre-reserved tour.
Once inside you are instantly transported back in time for a uniquely intimate look at how this history-defining man lived. From the humble rooms with stone slabs for beds to the 2,000 year old frescoes still bursting with color, these living quarters are reminiscent of more famous ruins like those in Pompeii, but even more vibrant and better preserved in many cases. This incredible time capsule of Roman domestic life captures both the humility and unique vision of a man who ruled much of the known world.
The Casa di Augusto & Casa di Livia are only visitable on our VIP Caeasar's Palace Tour, which also includes a 1-hour, skip the line tour of the Colosseum plus the Roman Forum.
Today the Roman Forum is a scattered collection of ruins; 2,000 years ago it was the beating heart of one of history’s greatest empires. This dense cluster of temples, governmental buildings, markets, and courts was the center of public life in Rome. People came from every corner of the known world to do business in the Forum, and from this mingling of cultures, Roman Civilization blossomed. You can still gape at the hulking arches of Constantine and Septimus Severus, pay your respects at the Temple of Julius Caesar (where the dictator was cremated after his assassination), stop by the humble house of the Vestal Virgins who were entrusted with maintaining the city’s most sacred shrine, and peer into the cavernous interior of the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius. You’ll need a little imagination to see the Forum in all its past glory, but there is no comparison to the thrill that comes from exploring such historically hallowed ground.
With the exception of the Colosseum at Night Tour (it's closed at that hour), all of our Colosseum tours visit the Roman Forum.
The Colosseum arena floor is a recent addition to the Colosseum. Built only a few years ago, it’s a wooden reconstruction of what the floor once was. Access to the floor is limited to only pre-reserved tours, when a guard opens to the gate for a set number of people at a time.
In our opinion the Colosseum arena floor is completely under-rated, and possibly the best special access available. Walking through the archway and feeling the crunch of sand underfoot, emerging into the light to see the enormity of the Colosseum rising around you is an overwhelming and unforgettable experience.
Let’s see if you can avoid the temptation to mimic Russel Crowe in Gladiator, raising your arms to the gathered crowd and screaming ‘ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!’
The Colosseum arena floor is included in our VIP Colosseum Tour, the Colosseum at Night Tour and more recently, in our (very affordable) Gladiator’s Gate Tour.
The Palatine Hill is not only the legendary starting point of Rome, it was Antiquity’s most exclusive neighborhood. Home to emperors, consuls, and various other VIPs, it was filled with opulent palaces like the Domus Flavia and Dolmus Augustana, sporting grounds like the mysterious Stadium, and religious centers like the Temple of Cybele. Today these buildings have been excavated and preserved, with new excavations taking place every year. If you want to see how the upper crust lived in Ancient Rome and steep yourself in the lore surrounding the founding of the Eternal City, this is one of the most important and evocative sites to visit.
As with the Roman Forum, with the exception of the Colosseum at Night Tour, all of our Colosseum tours visit The Palatine Hill
Can I bring my bag inside the Colosseum?
Only small backpacks or handbags can be brought inside the Colosseum. As there is no bag storage at the Colosseum, guests who bring large bags on their tour may be unable to join their group. Due to increased security measures, all visitors are now also required to undertake a more thorough security check at the Colosseum, which can cause delays.
Is there much walking on your Colosseum tours?
YES! Any tour that covers the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill includes a lot of walking. Although a tiring, it shouldn’t present too much of a challenge to anyone with a normal fitness level in good health. If you want to visit the Colosseum but are concerned about the activity levels, consider our Colosseum by Night tour which covers only the Colosseum; or a private tour, in which your guide can set the pace to suit you.
Do you accept the RomaPass on this tour?
Unfortunately, while the RomaPass can include access to the Colosseum/Roman Forum/Palatine Hill, our groups use skip the line access and therefore require a separate ticket. For this reason we do not accept the RomaPass. If you have one, we suggest using it to visit other sites in Rome.
How far in advance should I book my tour?
That's hard to say and depends on the tour. The VIP Colosseum Underground Tour is our most in-demand tour and, with limited tickets available, it sells out extremely fast. If you want to take this tour, we recommend purchasing as soon as you confirm your travel dates. Other tours with limited tickets also often sell out a few weeks in advance - our VIP Caesar's Palace Tour and our Colosseum at Night Tour in particular. Wherever you require a very specific departure time and date however (if you have a short trip or a busy schedule with other bookings), we suggest booking at least a week or two in advance.
I (or someone in my group) use a wheelchair, can I take your Colosseum tours?
Unfortunately the route we use through the Colosseum includes a lot of staircases and is not accessible by wheelchair. There are lifts inside the Colosseum however, so if you do require one, contact our team to reserve a private tour instead. Then your guide can set a route that will be manageable for your group.
Can I bring a stroller on my Colosseum tour with me?
No. Unfortunately the Colosseum includes a lot of staircases with very tall steps, not very manageable with a stroller. If you are traveling with babies, we suggest a sling.
What days is the Colosseum open?
With the exception of national holidays and closures for work, the Colosseum is open every day.
What is the best time of day to visit the Colosseum?
In the summer time, when it gets really hot in Rome, we suggest visiting the Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill in the early morning or late evening (particularly if you are traveling with children), because there is very little shade.
What should I bring with me on my Colosseum tour?
Because you will be covering a lot of ground, and because a lot of it is uneven or dirt tracks, we suggest wearing comfortable, closed toe shoes. In summer we suggest wearing a hat since there is very little shade in the Colosseum, Forum and on the Palatine Hill, and we suggest that you wear sunscreen. We also suggest that you bring snacks and a bottle of water. At these sites and across Rome, you'll find public fountains with (delicious) cold drinking water, where you can refill your bottle for free.