A crisp evening breeze, the glow of moonlight, and an almost eerie quiet that allows you to hear your footsteps echoing as you explore 2,000 years’ worth of history: welcome to a Colosseum night tour.
As one of the most famous and most visited monuments in the world, it’s no secret that exploring the Colosseum (technically named the Flavian Amphitheatre) is one of the absolute best things to do in Rome.
For an extra-special experience that goes well beyond the typical tour, though… consider visiting the Colosseum at night.
We have spent months exploring Rome in-depth, including touring the Colosseum 3 separate times, and absolutely adored our time spent exploring the Colosseum by night.
If you’re considering doing the same, here’s everything you need to know before you go!
Table of Contents
What’s it like to visit the Colosseum at night?
When stepping into the Colosseum at night, the most immediately apparent sensation is (near) silence.
Only a handful of tour groups are allowed in the Colosseum at any one time after hours, and the result is an experience that feels remarkably like having the entire monument to yourself.
Breezing past security–perhaps with a bit of a grin at all of the empty security checks where less lucky visitors waited in long lines earlier in the day–and descending directly into the Colosseum is absolutely sublime.
We’ve been lucky enough to tour the Colosseum in just about every possible way–independently, with a tour guide during the day, and now with a tour guide at night–and firmly consider our after-hours Colosseum visit to be our favorite of them all.
Meandering through the Underground, hearing the (often very sad) history of the structure, and staring out over the arena with nothing but moonlight above is an unforgettable experience.
The only way to visit the Colosseum in the evening is via a guided tour, so you will have a group and a guide with you during your experience.
That being said, there are simply so few people around compared to during the day that you can’t help but revel in the lack of crowds.
Pros and Cons of Taking a Colosseum Night Tour
As much as we loved visiting the Colosseum after it closed for the day, there’s no doubt that there are some very specific trade-offs that come with visiting the Colosseum at night vs during the day.
This is especially true if it’s your first trip to Rome and you haven’t visited the Colosseum before!
Here are the essential pros and cons to consider when deciding if a Colosseum night tour is right for you.
The Pros of Visiting the Colosseum By Night
The atmosphere is incredible.
This truly cannot be overstated: the atmosphere of the Colosseum at night is fantastic, and the #1 reason to book a night tour.
The quiet, the space, the way it’s much easier to imagine the past with the help of the surrounding darkness–there’s truly nothing like the atmosphere inside the Colosseum after hours.
You’ll share the experience with very few people.
Having toured the Colosseum twice during the day, I can’t possibly overstate how much the lack of crowds changes the experience.
This ties in to the atmosphere, too–you’ll have enough space to hear yourself think–and makes a night tour of the Colosseum an unforgettable experience.
It’s not hot (very important in the summer).
Rome gets very hot during the summer, which also happens to be one of the most popular times to visit!
Escaping the heat is an enormous motivating factor for enjoying an evening in the Colosseum during the summer months.
We took our Colosseum night tour in June and loved getting to enjoy the monument without the uncomfortable heat of earlier in the day.
The Cons of Visiting the Colosseum By Night
You can’t visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
While the Colosseum is open for tours in the evenings, the nearby Roman Forum and Palatine Hill typically are not.
Since all of these sites are usually included in the same ticket (or the same tour, depending on how you book), not getting to visit these sites is a definite downside of visiting the Colosseum after hours.
If you book an evening tour and still want to tour the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill on the same trip, you’ll need to book a separate ticket and come back the next day (or whenever it fits into your Rome itinerary).
It’s a bit harder to take the typical photos.
For obvious reasons, snapping your own photos inside the Colosseum is a bit more difficult if you’re visiting at night, especially if you want to be in them!
It is doable, though.
Most of the photos in this blog post were shot on our camera, but this one was taken on my iPhone 13 Pro:
It’s the pricier option.
If you’re visiting Rome on a budget, this is a clear downside to spending an evening in the Colosseum: it is without a doubt more expensive than visiting during the day!
This is especially true if, given the option, you would explore independently rather than with a tour, as you must book a tour to visit the Colosseum at night.
However, a tour does greatly enhance your experience and understanding of the monument, and we prefer visiting with one.
Our Colosseum Night Tour (+ How to Book)
We had an absolute blast on this well-reviewed Colosseum night tour!
Our evening started by meeting our guide near one of the best Colosseum viewpoints.
From there, we took a short walking tour around the outside of the Colosseum and Forums, enjoying stories about Ancient Rome, the construction of the Colosseum, and more.
Our guide was very witty and did an excellent job bringing the Colosseum to life for our group as night started to fall around us.
Shortly after sunset, we entered the Colosseum.
Rome strictly manages its Colosseum tours, and as a result, virtually all tours will include separate guides for inside and outside the monument (this was also our experience when we took a daytime tour of the Colosseum).
Our second guide–who was also incredibly knowledgeable in the history of the building and Ancient Rome in general–led us directly past the (now empty) security lines and into the depths of the Underground.
Not all Colosseum tours–night or day versions–include a visit to the Underground and the Arena Floor, but we absolutely recommend it.
This is where the sets, animals, and gladiators prepared for the “shows” above, and visiting adds valuable context to the building.
The Underground has also recently been expanded, and as of 2022, you can tour the entire floor, not just a small piece as in the past–and it adds so much to the experience!
Our tour ended with the classic view of the Colosseum, with the moonlight high above us and the breeze refreshing.
We had a fantastic time and heartily recommend taking an after-hours tour of the Colosseum.
Other Ways to Visit the Colosseum in Rome
Don’t think that visiting the Colosseum by night is the right fit for you this trip?
That’s alright–there are several other ways to visit!
We took this popular guided tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill a few years ago, and can highly recommend it.
The Colosseum is absolutely brought to life with a tour guide–and that effect is even more dramatic with the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, which both require quite a bit of historical context to fully appreciate.
Not into guided tours?
A timed entry, skip-the-line ticket for the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill is an excellent way to visit.
This was how we visited the Colosseum for the very first time, and we were blown away by the experience.
That being said–after visiting Rome’s iconic Colosseum 3 separate times, there’s no doubt that our Colosseum night tour was the most memorable experience of them all.