Should You Take a Guided Tour of the Colosseum and Forum? Pros and Cons.

One of the questions that people frequently ask before they visit Rome for the first time is whether they should take a guided tour of the Colosseum and Forum or visit them on their own.

One person will tell you that you MUST go with a guided tour and the next will tell you that you MUST go on your own.

Here’s the deal…advice from other travelers is always subjective.

You know yourself best and you know how you like to travel! Do you get bored easily when listening to someone else speak? Do you hate being with a group or on a schedule? Perhaps you don’t really care to know the details of all the Caesars.

Really it all depends on your interests, your budget, and what you want from your trip!

So, should YOU take a guided tour of the Colosseum and Forum?

I’ll be honest and say that I DO think most people ought to take a guided tour of the Colosseum and Forum but in case you aren’t sure here are some pros and cons to help you answer this burning question!

If you do decide to take a tour of the Colosseum and Forum here is a post with some of our favorite tours.


Cons of taking a guided tour of the Colosseum and Forum:

  • The biggest drawback to taking a guided tour is the cost. All tours are going to cost something and if you want a small group or private tour the price can really add up.
  • Being on someone else’s time schedule and moving at someone else’s pace.
  • Not knowing who your tour guide might be and if your personalities will mesh.
  • Walking from place to place in a large group and having to wear headphones in order to hear the guide. You can avoid this by using a small group tour but then the cost goes up.
  • Having amazing experiences and discovering amazing things with a bunch of strangers who may not have the same level of interest and awe and excitement in what you are seeing.
  • Dealing with other people in your group and their idiosyncrasies. I know they say that there are no dumb questions, but…you may start to believe that this old adage is not actually true. On the other end of the spectrum from the constant question asker is the know it all, the person who thinks that THEY should be the one leading the group. Honestly, you are very unlikely to encounter any problems. The groups I’ve been on have been perfectly lovely and we have always enjoyed our fellow tour-mates, but there is the slight chance that it could go poorly.
  • If you are an expert or extremely interested in the topic a tour might not be in-depth enough for you.

Pros of taking a guided tour of the Colosseum and Forum:

  • Not having to do a lot of research on your own before you go.
  • The Forum in particular is just…ruins. A good guide can bring those piles of rocks to life!
  • A guide can give you the cultural and human point of view. It is always fun when they tell you what the movies get wrong.
  • Ability to by-pass the lines as you go into the Colosseum. This is a HUGE plus particularly if you are in Rome during a busy time of year.
  • Ability to go into areas that can only be accessed by those with a licensed guide. Specifically the underground of the Colosseum and the third tier. If you are interested in seeing these areas you are required to have a guide. 
  • Having someone available to answer any questions that you might have.
  • Not only are the licensed guides extremely knowledgeable in their area of expertise, but it is an advantage to get the present day point of view of Rome to compare to ancient Rome from someone who lives in the city.
  • You won’t get lost or find yourself wondering if you are looking at the exact spot that your audioguide is talking about.
  • If you are traveling with a group of people (especially with children or a mixed generations group) a guided tour can be the perfect solution to help keep everyone together and interested and on the same page. Just be sure to tell your guide when you book that you will have various age groups with you!
  • If you are particularly interested in a topic a guide can help to give you all the information that you crave.

I hope this article helps you as you make a decision about whether to go with a guided tour or not!

If you decide to go on a tour I have written a post here about my favorite tours of the Colosseum and Forum.

If you decide to go it alone Rick Steve’s audio guides are great and they are free! You can download them before you leave.

I’ve also heard good things about these audio guides from detour Rome.

No matter what choice you make Rome is an amazing city and walking through the Forum on the same cobblestones that the ancient Romans walked is an unforgettable experience.

Have a wonderful time in Rome!

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