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The Colosseum at Night: Ancient Rome without the Crowds
I've always enjoyed the Colosseum in Rome... from a distance.
The crowds, chaos, tour buses and the “Roman Gladiators” clamoring to take a photo with everyone makes me want to run the other way.
Over the years, I've been fortunate to have taken several amazing daytime Colosseum tours, but even with a great tour guide- you cannot avoid the crowds that come with such an iconic historical site.
Night time tours of the Colosseum have not always been possible. But in 2017 that changed- and cue the trumpets- our favorite tour company The Roman Guy offers a VIP Colosseum at night tour you have to check out. When I was in Rome last fall I jumped on the chance to go with them and see what it was like.
Today I'll be sharing a peek into the VIP Nighttime Colosseum tour offered by The Roman Guy, as well as my thoughts, experience and details on how you can book this (or any of the other TRG tours) for yourself.
The night of our scheduled tour we grabbed our umbrellas as we headed out- "just to be safe", hearing that it might be rainy that night. Little did we know that the umbrellas and our raincoats would be no match for the crazy storm that began as soon as we left to meet our tour.
With lightning flashing, rain and hail pouring down and flooding onto the sidewalks, we weren't sure if our tour would be able to happen. While we waited for the storm to slow down, we found cover under a building awning, construction scaffolding and finally ended up in a bank lobby with 12 other people. Ahh, the adventure!
Soon the rain eased up and we walked to our meeting point in front of the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, where our Roman Guy guides were waiting.
While everyone gathered, put away our umbrellas, and attempted to get photos of the lightning above the Vittorio Emanuele monument, The Roman Guy guides were in communication with the staff at the Colosseum to find out if we could still come.
Sadly the underground area was flooded because of the intense storm, but we were still able to go on the rest of the tour. Hurrah!
(side note, I was so impressed with how TRG handled the storm and the people on the tour- our safety was their highest priority and they were very kind and professional despite the storm disrupting our plans initially.)
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Once we got the ok from the Colosseum, our guide Eleonora started the tour by taking us to Piazza del Campidoglio which sits at the top of Capitoline Hill. I had been there during the day years ago when it was packed full of people and was rushing through it on my way to somewhere else.
Seeing it at night was a completely different experience. The combination of no crowds, (it was literally just our group there) and seeing the square lit up at night with the reflections of the buildings from the rain made it very special. Quiet, magical, and dare I say romantic?
Next we wandered to an overlook of the Roman Forum, also which is also lit up at night and incredible no matter what time of day you are there. I love imagining what the forum must have been like when it was the political & business center of the city.
As we walked from the Roman forum down to the Colosseum, Eleonora shared historical nuggets & stories about the things we were passing.
Gian Carlo, our Colosseum guide- met us at the gate and ushered us inside. He was a wealth of knowledge and knows the Colosseum inside out. He shared the history of the Colosseum, interesting facts about the culture of the time, as well as architectural details most people miss when they visit during the day.
The time inside the Colosseum was calm and not rushed. Everyone had time to ask questions, see what he was explaining and take all the photos they wanted.
We only saw one other small group while we were there so it really was like having the Colosseum all to ourselves! I'm pretty sure that is unheard of during a daytime tour!
As you can see, the Colosseum at night is blissfully empty and quiet. I really enjoyed seeing details and architecture I had not noticed on previous visits.
We were bummed to not be able to go down into the Hypogeum, but that was out of the guide's control due to the flooding and the storm.
There were 10 of us in this tour which was a really nice size to be able to see, hear and understand everything that was happening.
Both of our guides- Eleonora from TRG, and Gian Carlo from the Colosseum were very friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about sharing Rome with us.
I loved seeing the Colosseum by moonlight-
Tips for taking this tour:
- Take an umbrella/raincoat- the entire tour is outside.
- Wear comfy shoes. You will be mostly on flat surfaces but inside the Colosseum there are stairs to climb and uneven ancient stones that can be slippery.
- Take a bottle of water and an extra camera battery. You won't be stopping for refreshments on this tour, but you will be taking a ton of photos- so an extra battery will come in handy.
- Use the bathroom before you get to the meeting point. There are bathrooms inside the Colosseum, but not before then and that is the last stop on the tour.
- Stay with your group! The inside of the Colosseum at night can only be seen with a tour guide, so don't stray off on your own.
Tips for taking any tour of the Colosseum:
Make sure to book a tour that includes the Hypogeum (the underground) which is really very fascinating to see & learn about.
Pick an excellent reputable tour guide, like The Roman Guy. You get what you pay for (in my opinion) with tours, and it will show in the quality of the tour, the knowledge of the guide, the size of the group and more.
The Colosseum is truly spectacular any time of day.
If you’ve never been there, you might enjoy a day time tour for your first visit. (The key to a good experience is planning ahead and picking a great tour guide)
But if you are excited at the thought of no crowds, and being part of a small population that has been able to enjoy feeling the history of the Colosseum come alive under the moonlight- this tour is a great fit for you!
Go for the magic of seeing the inside of the Colosseum at night, but you’ll enjoy much more on this evening walking tour.
How to Book with The Roman Guy:
VIP Colosseum at night tour (with underground & arena floor)
All of their Colosseum Tours (see which one is best for you)
Use the code SMITTENITALY to get a 5% discount on any of The Roman Guy small group tours (excluding the Colosseum at Night and Colosseum Underground) or any The Tour Guy tour across Europe.
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Disclosure: I was invited by the Roman Guy to experience this tour. However, all views & opinions are my own. I love sharing experiences that I know & trust and only share things that will help you have an amazing trip!