Tips for visiting the Vatican and the Colosseum on the same day: solutions for all budgets and practical tips
Sometimes you just do not have enough time to devote one day to each attraction and you may find yourself in need to see the Vatican and the Colosseum on the same day.
While seeing the two biggest Rome attractions in a day is tiring and hardly ideal, if time is an issue you will be happy to hear that it is possible to visit the Vatican and the Colosseum on the same day and even easy!
In this article, I will look at the several ways you can visit these two attractions in day, some tips for a pleasant day and a few things to keep into account, so you know what to expect.
These are my tops for visiting the Colosseum and the Vatican in a day.
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What you need to know before planning a day at the Colosseum and the Vatican
I am not going to discuss whether you should or should not visit these two attractions on the same day. I assume that you have done your research and know that this is the best option for you.
Essential things to know when planning your day:
It is going to be a long day. A visit to the Vatican Museums takes a few hours (most organized tours last 3 hours) and the shortest visit to the Colosseum is 1,5 hours.
You need to prioritize what to see. A visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel plus St Peter’s Basilica and square is possible within this timeframe.
If you want to also climb the dome, see the necropolis, meet the Pope or see the Vatican Gardens, time will be against you: make a list of what is most important to you and work off that.
I recommend you familiarise with our guide about what to visit in Vatican City to make your decision.
You will need transport between one attraction and the other: this can be metro, bus or taxi (see below)
You will need to abide by a dress code: the Vatican enforces a strict dress code.
I highly recommend leaving your hotel dressed for the Vatican so you don’t have to waste time getting back. What you wear at the Vatican Museums is suitable for the Colosseum too. Find here >>> our guide to what to wear at the Vatican.
You need to buy tickets in advance: the Colosseum and the Vatican operate a time ticket entry system to avoid lines and crowding.
They must be booked in advance: booking usually open a few weeks before the day of your visit – act fast they get snatched up quickly! All info on how to get tickets are below.
Should you see the Vatican or the Colosseum first?
You can visit the Vatican and the Colosseum in any order however, I recommend starting from the Vatican.
The Vatican opens earlier than the Colosseum allowing you to spread more hours between the two.
Vatican Museums opening hours:
Monday to Thursday: 08.30 a.m. – 06.30 p.m. (final entry 04.30 p.m.)
Friday and Saturday: 08.30 a.m. – 08.00 p.m. (final entry 06.00 p.m.)
Good to know! On specific occasions, the Vatican Museums have special evening visiting hours. In this case, it can be pleasant to start from the Colosseum and the Forum, visit Vatican City and Basilica in the afternoon and head to the museums later. Please note that this option is not currently available for the year 2021. When available, you can book the evening visit on the official Vatican Museum website.
Colosseum opening hours:
Summer opening hours – 7day a week: from 10.30 am to 7.15 pm (last access at 6.15 pm)
The Colosseum ticket includes entry to the Roman Forum. The Forum is beside the Colosseum and you can visit it on the same day or the day after at no extra charge.
In winter, the opening hours tend to change – this has not been confirmed for 2021 but, usually, in winter both Colosseum and Forum close as early as 4pm.
How to visit the Vatican and the Colosseum on the same day
There are a few ways to visit the Vatican and the Colosseum in one day.
Take a combined guided tour
The easiest wy to visit Vatican and Colosseum in one day is by joining a combined tour.
Joining a tour, you don’t have to coordinate the time of two different bookings and, if transfer is provided, you do not have to worry about making your way from one to the other in Rome traffic.
The other advantage of the combined tour is that your guide will show you the highlights of the Vatican Museums, which are big and can be overwhelming if visited independently.
Combined guided tours to consider are (check individual description, the name of the tour company is provided so you can contact them for questions):
Book two separate tours
If you want more flexibility in terms of time, you can also book the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum tickets independently.
Both operate timed entrance: make sure you leave yourself enough time between the two. I would calculate a minimum of 3 hours in the Vatican and about 1h for transport (it takes about 25 mins by metro but I would leave a much longer buffer)
The cheapest tickets for the Vatican Museums are from the official Vatican Museum website (no tour)
The cheapest tickets for a guided tour of the Colosseum are from the official Colosseum website.
Should you not find options at the above addresses, there are several other ticket providers with tours such as the following:
Sample schedule for visiting the Vatican and the Colosseum in one day
Preorganized tours have detailed scheduled (click on each above to see them).
If you plan your day on your own, a sample schedule for your day would look like this (short day):
- 8.30 am Morning Visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel (the chapel is the last stop before the exit)
- 11.00 am Visit to St Peter’s Basilica
- 12.10 pm Walk around St Pete’s Square then catch the metro / bus to the Colosseum
- 1.00 pm Lunch near the Colosseum
- anytime after 2.00 pm: Colosseum Visit
- 1.5 hours after the Colosseum: Visit to the Forum*
*Check carefully the opening hours of the Forum in winter as usually the last admission is before 4pm, making the experience very rushed. In spring and summer, longer opening hours of the Colosseum and Forum Park make this type of day a more pleasant options.
How to get from the Vatican to the Colosseum or vice versa
You can get from the Vatican to the Colosseum or vice versa by metro, bus taxi.
The metro brings you from Station Colosseo to Ottaviano station and requires 1 change at Termini. The journey takes about 25 mins.
The bus n87 takes you to Piazza Cavour close to the Vatican and then you need to walk or catch buses 40, 46, 62, or 64 from Via del Plebiscito (Piazza Venezia). Traffic makes journey times unreliable – I would schedule one hour from one attraction to the other not to be in a rush and give you time to find your guide etc.
If in a rush, a taxi is also good option from Piazza Venezia.
You can also walk between the two attractions but it is rather long and tiring considering how much you will walk in the Vatican. I do not recommend this unless you are very sure of your energy levels.
Can I see the Colosseum and Vatican in one day with kids in tow?
I bring my kids everywhere and I believe you can see Vatican and Colosseum in a day as a family however, I recommend you don’t.
Both visits are long and tiring and especially young children are pretty much guaranteed to get over tired before the end of even just one of them. If you must, I highly recommend you invest in a private family tour with transport.
I hope these tips for visiting the Vatican and the Colosseum in one day are useful. Safe travel planning!