Wanna hear something crazy? I have taken multiple Colosseum tours! I know, it’s a little strange to go on multiple tours of the Colosseum and Forum, but I’ve been to Rome several times with people who have never been before and they have wanted to take a tour of the Colosseum. Obviously they did trust my expertise to guide them through the Colosseum. Here are what I think are the very best Colosseum tours and yes, I have actually taken each of the tours that I mention!
I’ll compare these Colosseum tour guides and tell you the differences so that you can select the one that will work the best for you and your family.
The very first question you are going to want to answer if you are going on a visit to Rome:
Should you take a guided tour of the Colosseum and Forum or Not?
Just to be clear most of the best Colosseum tours actually combine the Colosseum AND the Forum. You will experience both during the same tour.
Since I’ve gone on guided tours of the Colosseum and Forum multiple times it is safe to assume that I have enjoyed having a tour guide. However, I do NOT think it is an absolute must. You can definitely do it yourself! You can just wander and soak in the wonder of it all. Or you can look for a good audio or written guide to follow.
I have a post here where I give you the pros and cons of whether or not you should take a tour of the Colosseum and Forum or go alone.
Hopefully it will help you to make this decision.
That said, if you DO decide to take a tour here are my thoughts about what I consider to be the best Colosseum tours. We honestly enjoyed all of these tours. All were excellent and all are highly recommended and highly rated, but there are some differences that you might want to know.
Comparison of the best Colosseum Tours
On our first trip to Rome my husband and I selected Context Travel for our tours of the Colosseum. They label themselves as private or small group tours for travelers who love to learn. We enjoyed this Colosseum and Forum tour tremendously, but it was definitely scholarly. The guides are all academics and/or specialists in their fields and they impart a LOT of knowledge. Let me tell you, these people know their stuff. These tours are deep.
Are they too deep? I’m not going to lie – there were moments on the ancient Roman Forum part of the tour when I was drifting – lost in all the Caesar’s. Focus is not my strong point!
Just know that if you take one of these Colosseum tours you are going to learn a lot! If you loved college you will love these tours.
Context travel is a more expensive than some of the others…all that knowledge doesn’t come cheap! The good news is that when they say small group they mean it. you can choose a private tour, but even their group tours have 6 people or less which is, in my opinion, the perfect size.
These tours tend to attract interesting and intellectual participants. We really enjoyed the people we were with on our tour of the Colosseum – even electing to continue to hang out afterward for lunch with our group and our guide.
Choose Context Travel if you are a scholarly person or if you have a strong interest in ancient Roman history.
I would definitely not take children on one of their regular tours. But they offer highly rated tours of the Colosseum about ancient Rome especially geared toward children! I hope to try one of these if I ever have the opportunity to take my grandchildren to Rome.
If you go with Context you will also be able to choose a tour that includes the arena floor of the Colosseum.
My husband is a history and architecture buff so Context Travels was the perfect choice for us for our first trip to Rome.
Walks of Italy
My daughters and I did our Colosseum tour with Walks of Italy.
The groups are bigger than Context Travel. There were between 10 and 15 participants on our tour, but there can even be more. You are given headsets to wear. We found that we didn’t really need them as our guide was great about speaking up and being heard, but if our group had been much larger they might have been necessary. I must confess that I hate wearing headsets so this was a drawback to me!
The guides was wonderful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I like the fact that they were animated and worked to keep you interested and gave just the right amount of information. I was impressed at how well they kept a larger group engaged and entertained. The guides with Walks of Italy seem to tell more stories and are a bit less professorial than the Context guides.
Walks of Italy offers tours of the Colosseum that include the top tier and the underground. We loved the underground tour of the Colosseum and I highly recommend it. You cannot go to the underground Colosseum on your own. You are required to be with a guide. They also have a night time tour of the Colosseum which I think would be very fun.
As with the Context tour you will need to be able to stand, walk and listen for long periods of time. This is an in-depth tour but not as studious as Context.
I would not take children on this tour particularly because it is a larger group and it would be hard for the guide to cater to them as well everyone else.
The Roman Guy:
On our third trip to Rome my husband and I were traveling with our good friends Derrick and Patsy. We choose a Colosseum tour with the Roman Guy also known as the Tour Guy.
Rafaela, a native of Rome, was our guide. She had visual aids to help us see what the forum would have looked like “back in the day.” She was willing to answer a myriad of questions and she hit many of the cultural notes as well as the historical. She was also good about giving us fun facts about what the movies get wrong.
The Roman Guy does a mix of mid-size tours as well as private tours. The size depends on the tour you select, but they seem to average between 13 to 15 people.
I think The Roman Guy tour guides are great at presenting studious material in a very interesting way. They touch on the less esoteric, more interesting to the general public topics. I would definitely recommend them for groups with a mixed interest in history and art, groups with shorter attention spans, and groups with mixed ages.
Their tours tended to be a tad shorter than the Walks of Italy and Context travel tours which isn’t always a bad thing as there is so much standing involved on these tours. The price is similar to Walks of Italy. If you are traveling with a group of several people you might find that it would be worthwhile to do one of their private tours so that you can have a more personalized experience.
They also offer the Colosseum underground tour. In addition they have a family friendly tours of the Colosseum which I think would be great to try if you are traveling with children. As a general rule, I would say that they are already more family friendly than the other two tour guides.
There ya go!
Those are my thoughts on the various tours that I have tried. Hope this helps you determine the best Colosseum tours for YOU!
I would suggest to always contact these groups directly and make sure that you are getting exactly what you want and that they understand your expectations. Some of these fill up quickly so book early. Another thing that I always do is verify the tour date and location before we leave and print out a map of the location. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your meeting place.
Most of all – ENJOY your trip to Rome. It is one of my favorite cities in the world and I hope you love it too!
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