It took me ten trips to Rome to finally visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum. I wasn’t really interested as my passion was with the churches of Rome. Even after that first visit, I didn’t feel the need to ever go back.
Then I brought my first group to Rome, so I hired a local guide. That really opened my eyes, and now Ancient Rome is one of my favorite places to visit.
While I think most people can skip a guided tour of the Vatican Museums, I think having a guide for the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill is very helpful. Appreciating beautiful art is a very personal experience. It’s hard to understand a bunch of old rocks without someone to help you.
For a private guided tour, I recommend Agnes at Understanding Rome. I’ve been using her for my groups for many years. She’s professional, fun, and engaging. You should let her know I sent you. She’s really popular, so book well in advance.
You can book a night visit of the Colosseum. I don’t know know anything about the quality of the guides, as they are assigned by the Colosseum office. If the guide isn’t good, turn down the headsets and enjoy being in the Colosseum at night!
Another option is the third ring and underground of the Colosseum. Also booked through the official Colosseum website. Again, these guides are assigned by the Colosseum office.
Go it alone
You can book your Colosseum tickets on their official website. Then pick up a guidebook and explore. Many find the inside of the Colosseum underwhelming, but you have to visit. What I enjoy the most is exploring Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Find a quiet place to sit and imagine what this place was like in ancient times.
What to avoid
There are a lot of people hanging out around the Colosseum offering “free” tours or to skip the line access. Plan ahead and avoid them.