The Roman Forum and the Colosseum: A Visitor’s Guide

You may have heard: Rome is filled with old things.

Pretty much every street has at least one old thing on it, and it can be hard to appreciate the old things after a while since they are everywhere! But Rome’s golden age really shines at the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. If you want to understand what Rome used to be like, those are the two places to go. And clearly I’m not the only one who thinks so. A ticket to one of these sights includes the other (12 Euro combined ticket as of November 2013). They are linked. But I’m here to tell you how to spend the least amount of money and time and get the most out of your experience. This is going to be a fun game of “learn from Molly and Dan’s mistakes!” in the order that they happened.

Things you should do:

Go to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (they are one big excavation site, usually just called the Roman Forum) first. Once you have your ticket you can use it later that day or even the next day for the Colosseum and skip the line there. The line to get into the Colosseum is always long, so that is a big win.

Also, take the metro line B to the Circo Massimo stop, not Colosseo, then walk up Via di San Gregorio (past the Circus Maximus, which will be on your left) and enter the Roman Forum at the entrance on your left which will likely have no line. Most people enter near the Colosseum, so going this way will save you valuable time.

Things you should NOT do:

Get the audio guide at the Roman Forum. I repeat: DO NOT get the audio guide at the Roman Forum. What a waste of 5.00 Euros that was. And I hate waste. It was so bad and made me so angry that I actually filed an official complaint (and asked for my money back, which they obviously do not do).

This dramatic picture captures our dramatic morning in the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

This dramatic picture captures our dramatic morning in the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

You are supposed to follow the little numbers they give you on the paper map to different locations, and then punch in the number into the audio guide which then tells you to look right and left, but gives you no frame of reference! I spent the entire time, when I should have been listening to what the audio was saying, trying to figure out if I was looking at the right ruined thing! What a waste. Dan and I returned it after struggling with it for almost 3 hours and then walked around and just read the posted signs and looked at our surroundings and we felt that we got a heck of a lot more out of that.

Molly with audio guide in the Roman Forum. Look how happy I am!

Molly with audio guide in the Roman Forum. Look how happy I am!

Things you should do:

Bring a set of headphones if you are there with someone. Though the audio guide royally stunk, we did manage to share (and thus only pay for) one. The audio guide has a headphone jack. Dan smartly brought his headphones. Now you don’t both have to huddle close to the audio guide and try to hear over that tour group walking by!

Read the posted signs at the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill! They are included in your ticket price and more informative than the audio guide (can you tell I didn’t like it??).

Sans-audio guide, in the Roman Forum overlooking the Colosseum.

Sans-audio guide, in the Roman Forum overlooking the Colosseum.

After you are done with the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (or the next day), head over to the Colosseum. Now I’m going to really shock you. Go get an audio guide! The audio guide at the Colosseum is 5.50 Euros, but this time it doesn’t suck! They have posted audio guide numbers within the Colosseum and a clear route for you to take. The guide is informative without being excessive. You can feel like you got everything out of the Colosseum and audio guide and be in and out of there in an hour or so. (An hour and a half if you are there with someone like Dan, who takes a million pictures!)

Much happier Molly with the Colosseum audio guide. Learn from our mistakes!

Much happier Molly with the Colosseum audio guide. Learn from our mistakes!

So there you have it. My insider’s guide to the Roman Forum and Colosseum! Here is the abridged version: Enter at the southern-most entrance to the Palatine Hill, near the Circo Massimo metro stop. DO NOT get the audio guide at the Roman Forum, but DO get it at the Colosseum. Wander the Roman Forum first, so you can use your ticket to skip the line at the Colosseum later or the next day. Have fun!

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2 Responses to The Roman Forum and the Colosseum: A Visitor’s Guide

  1. Steve says:

    You’ve saved the world from wasting time, money, and going through the annoying feelings we all want to avoid. Huzzah!

    • MollyG says:

      We are desperately trying to! No one should have to experience that horrible Roman Forum audio guide. I wonder if they will respond to my official complaint…

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