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Tour Vatican City or Colosseum?

Hi, my husband and I are going to Rome in June for 2 days. We plan to see the major sights, and are looking into taking a group tour? We will probably take only one tour so I was wondering if it would be better to take a tour of Vatican City or the Colosseum/Forum, etc. Which is easier to do on your own and what time of day would you recommend for each? Do you have any recommended tour sites (other than those in Rick's book- I am checking those already)? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Posted by
206 posts

I might recommend a tour for both. The advantage of booking a tour at the Vatican Museum is skipping the line. If you book a tour through the museum itself, the cost is relatively low (about 25 euros/person) and you get a two hour guided tour with very little wait. Before or after you can tour St. Peter's on your own and spend as little or as much time as you want. We used Context tours for a colosseum/forum tour, and my entire family thought we got so much out of the tour rather then doing it on our own. We took a 4 hour tour. We were in Rome at the end of July and it was extremely hot. Out tour was 9-1, and by 1:00 the heat was almost too much to handle (and we live where it is hot in the summer!). So I would recommend the morning to try to minimize the heat (although of course your weather could be different).

Posted by
23 posts

Hi Kristy,

For the coloseum I would recommend just getting a Roma Pass as this helps you skip ahead of the long line at the colesseum. Next while checking in with your Roma Pass pass the extra euros for the audio tour. Totally worth it and this is all the guide that you need. The Roma pass also gets you into the forum too where you can explore and marvel at it and be sure to go up the hill for a fantastic view as well as visit the Capitole museum right at the top end of the steps of the forum.

As far as the vatican, you can fax the vatican directly for tour request stating who is in your party, the dates you will be in rome, and where you will be staying with the fax number for your hotel. They only honor faxes sent 1 month ahead or less and directly fax your tour times and instructions to your hotel. You then arrive 15 mins early and go right in ahead of the line after showing the guard your tour fax name & time.
Vatican fax # 011 39 06 69885100
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Posted by
23 posts

Other tips for Coloseum & Vatican city continued from my last post.

The line at St Peters in Vatican city looks intimidating but actually moves very quickly! Climb up the dome for an awesome view - this tour begins around the corner outside of the church. A really great place to view St Peters exterior is actually from Castel St. Angelo (Hadrian's Mausoleum: Castle St. Angelo) which is also a really neat place you should most definitely visit while in Rome - plus the Roma pass works here too and they have another great audio tour in English available too. I think I got some of my best city views of Rome from the lookout points at St. Angelo's and the tour there was fascinating. On a different note, if it rains run to the pantheon as it is thrilling to see it rain right thru the occulus plus the pantheon is so beautiful that it's worth visiting a couple of times while you are there!
have a great trip,

Posted by
103 posts

Do the Colosseum and Forum on your own. St. Peter's and the Vatican Museum can only be fully appreciated with an expert tour guide (plus you'll avoid the hours long lines waiting to get into the Vatican Museum. See my post "Reservations for Most Popular Sites in Italy" to see how my husband and I are planning our trip.

Posted by
363 posts

be sure to reserve ahead with a guide for the Vatican museum especially in the summer in order to avoid a long wait in line. whoever said the line moves quickly must have been there in low season.

Posted by
805 posts

A guide is absolutely necessary for the Vatican else you get overwhelmed. The Coliseum is easier to just see.

Posted by
1804 posts

I don't have Rick's Italy guide, so don't know if he mentions it, but my favorite Rome sight (and it's not a huge one with long tourist lines) is The Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini (27 Via Veneto - near Piazza Barberini).

The crypt there contains the bones of over 4,000 Cappuchin monks collected between the 1500s to 1800s that have been fashioned into these elaborate displays. So much better than the Paris Catacombs. You can see some photos and read about it on Wikipedia, or Google it.