We walked to the Colosseum from our hotel, about a 15 minute walk and as you round the corner and it comes into view, you are absolutely blown away by it's presence. It's enormous, and just feels undeniably grand.
We walked around the outside, just taking it all before walking to the entrance. Tour guides and men dressed as gladiators (very cheesy unless you're a little kid, then it would probably be cool) approach you trying to get you to take a photo or join tour groups but, a polite "no grazie" and they left you alone.
We had pre-purchased our tickets online before arriving in Rome and we got to skip the line and they just scan your ticket (printed out on our home computer) and you walked right in. They give you a map and a little brochure, audio guides are available for rent or you can join a group at an extra cost. We had done a lot of prior research and had notes with us so we chose to just tour on our own.
As you step into the arena area your breath is taken away. It looks large from the outside but standing in it you really get a sense of it's presence. It's an unbelievable piece of history. You can walk all around the lower and upper levels and the view from the upper level are quite amazing. You also get great views of Constantine's Arch and Palantine Hill. (Also well worth the visit, included with our ticket price-lots of walking but also a must see)
We took probably an hour or so at the Colosseum and then walked over to the Arch and then Palantine Hill. It was likely a total of 3+ hours for all of it, including some rest time for a drink etc...
Wear good walking shoes, bring a camera and just enjoy standing in such a unique and special place. Well worth every minute we spent there.
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