Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Reservation Tips For Rick Steves Tour Members
Buying Direct: To bypass long ticket lines at the Vatican Museums, make reservations before your tour begins. You can purchase a ticket, which includes both the Museums and the Sistine Chapel, up to 60 days in advance. Book your reservation through the Official Vatican Museums Ticket Office.
When to Visit: If your Rick Steves tour begins or ends in Rome, the best time to visit the Vatican is right before or after your tour. If you would like to visit the Vatican during your tour’s free time, here are the best windows to do so:
- Best of South Italy in 13 Days: Day 2 after 2:00 p.m.
- Family Europe: Amsterdam to Rome in 14 Days: Day 13 between 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
- My Way Europe in 14 Days: Any time you like, but note that on Friday evenings the museums tend to be much less crowded .
Note: Tour itinerary specifics are always subject to change, and in rare cases there may be a group activity planned during these times.
Helpful Resources: If you have a mobile device, be sure to download Rick’s self-guided tours of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel using the free Rick Steves Audio Europe App.
Buying Vatican Museums Tickets Online Reservation Fee
Is the only way to avoid this online reservation fee by purchasing the tickets at site?
Yes. It is worth the 4E to avoid the line.
is the official site, if you book elsewhere you’ll pay more. The line can be horrendous, depending on what time of the year and what time of the day you go.
Edited: 8 years ago
For me the 4 euros is worth avoiding a line that is usually 2 hours long and can be up to 4 hours long depending on the day and time of year.
Thanks! I wanted to confirm if it was worth the extra euros! Another question, is the line to get into the Vatican City different from getting into the museums?
Not exactly sure what you mean. There is a different security line to get into St Peter’s, which starts in the colonnade. I don’t think you can actually go into “Vatican City“, only the church and the museums. Correct me if I’m wrong, experts!
There is no line to get into Vatican City. You probably won’t even realize you’ve crossed the border. If you go online and look for “maps of Vatican city” you’ll find some really good ones. The one I like is by Mapquest. It shows the colonnade and the entrance to the museums.
thanks for the info. It’s my first time in Rome, and so a bit on the ignorant side.
When reserving for the tickets in the Vatican website, will the afternoon have less of a bid crowd? I’m seeing so many reviews how crowded the area is.
Free Entry Vatican Museums
- Last Sunday of the month .
- Children below the age of 6.
- Directors of museum institutions, managing boards and other bodies engaged in the protection of archaeological, historic and artistic heritage.
- All disabled visitors with certified invalidity of more than 74%.In the case of visitors who are not self-sufficient, free entry is extended also to a companion.Free tickets for disabled visitors and their companions cannot be booked online but are instead issued, upon presentation of certification of invalidity, directly at the Special Permits and/or Reception desks situated in the entrance hall of the Vatican Museums.The disabled visitor and an eventual companion are guaranteed priority Skip the line entry . See Services for visitors with disabilities.
- Holders of the valid cards issued by the following institutions: Icom Icomos .
- University teachers in the fields of Archaeology, Art History, Architecture and Ethnology, as well as those from academies based in Rome, for holding occasional specialist lessons in the museum sectors related to their areas of teaching, upon written request to the Directorate of the Museums and Cultural Heritage. Should permission be granted, this does not authorise access to all the remaining display areas, which may be visited only upon purchase of a regular entry ticket for the Museums.
N.B.: If you wish to combine the free entrance to the Museums with the purchase of a guided tour or a restaurant service , please write in advance to .
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Q How Far In Advance Should I Book My Tour
As the size of the group tours is limited to make for more personal tours, it is a good idea to book as soon as you know you are coming to the Vatican. Since the Vatican is a place that attracts a large influx of visitors, most of our tours get booked months in advance. However, if you want to book a last-minute tour, please first try to book online, otherwise, you can email us to arrange a private tour.
Q What Are The Opening Hours At St Peters Basilica
A. Opening hours at St. Peters Basilica hours vary depending on the season: From 1 April to 30 September, it is open between 07:00 AM to 07:00 PM.From 1 October to 31 March, it is open between 07:00 AM to 06:00 PM.
Please note that St Peters Basilica is an active church, which implies that access can be restricted due to liturgical ceremonies. If your tour takes place on a Wednesday, please bear in mind that the church will not be open until 1 PM due to the weekly Papal audience. Rest assured that should that be the case, your guide will show you more of the Renaissance treasures of the Vatican Museums and will give you an introduction, should you visit the Basilica later in the day.
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What Is Included With The Vatican Tickets
Your standard tickets will include entry to the main Vatican Museums, including entry to the Sistine Chapel. Note, entry to the Saint Peters Basilica is free of charge, but it might be worth booking a special Vatican Museums tour to avail of the short cut between the Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica.
This is definitely worth it, as the Sistine Chapel and Basilica are often very crowded during Vatican Museum opening hours.
If you have booked tickets on a special Vatican Museums tour then be careful about the St Peters element of the tour once you have passed through to the Basilica you are unable to re-enter the museums to explore some additional attractions at your leisure.
Some attractions are not included in standard Vatican Museum tickets, including access to the Vatican Gardens, the Vatican Grottoes and the Dome in St Peters Basilica these all incur an additional fee, and in the case of the Vatican Gardens can only be accessed by special tour .
The Grottoes too are a limited footfall attraction only several hundred are allowed to enter daily, so you must book your 13 tickets long in advance to guarantee a place.
What Is Included In The Vatican Museum Ticket What Will You See
Your Vatican Museum ticket allows a single entry for the appropriate day. Once you leave, you may not return but once in you can stay as long as you want.
The Vatican Museums is one of the largest art collections in the world: to see everything, you will walk around 7.5 km!
Several famous masterpieces are on view and you should look out for those as you walk around. They include:
- Michelangelos The Last Judgement depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the Saints is in the Sistine Chapel.
- Raphaels School of Athens shows scholars discussing topics of the day, philosophy and science and is found in the Raphaels Rooms.
- Caravaggios The Entombment of Christ in the Pinacoteca Vaticana
- Leonardo da Vincis St. Jerome in the Wilderness is located in the Pinacoteca Vaticana and it is unfinished. It was identified as a Da Vincis work only in the early 19th century.
These four artworks are just a fraction of the collections. The Vatican Museum is in fact made up of a number of museums . All of these museums are accessible with your ticket:
- Sistine Chapel
- Room of the Aldobrandini Wedding
- Chapel of St. Peter Martyr
- Collection of Contemporary Art
- Room of the Immaculate Conception
- Room of the Chiaroscuri
There are also some special sections that are opened only for group tours, such as:
- The Villa Barberini and its garden
- The Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo
- The Hidden Pontifical Villas
- The Necropolis of the Via Triumphalis
- The Carriage Pavilion
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Visit The Vatican Museums First Thing On A Wednesday
Wednesdays are busy at the Vatican as the faithful and curious tourists alike swarm the area to attend an audience with the Pope.
But if you are not that bothered about seeing the pontiff, Wednesday mornings are a great time to head to the Museums, as you will be able to whizz right through to the Sistine People just before the crowds disperse from mass.
Vatican Museum Tickets Costs
If you were to just walk up to the ticket counter at the Vatican Museums, you would pay:
17 per adult over 18
This is the flat cost without any pre-sales or tour fee added on.
However, right now you have to book your Vatican Museums tickets ahead of time, so you need to do it online where additional fees may apply, depending on the ticket type you purchase.
To visit the Vatican Museums on Friday or Saturday night , you should book in advance. The cost is the same as for a daytime visit.
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Vatican Hours Of Operation
The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are open from Monday to Saturday, as well as the last Sunday of every month. Theyre generally open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Final entry is always two hours before closing time.
The museums are closed on the following days: January 1, January 6, February 11, March 19, April 5, May 1, June 29, July 25, August 16, August 29, November 1, November 28, December 8, and December 2526.
For summer 2021, there will be special operating hours following the Vaticans reopening on May 3: Monday to Thursday: 8:30 a.m. 6:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 8:30 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
Buy Vatican Ticket At The Door
You can also buy your Vatican tickets at the entrance, but youll have to wait in line to do so. The lines to purchase Vatican tickets are incredibly long, and youll spend a lot of time just waiting to buy a ticket. Although the tickets can turn out to be a bit cheaper when you buy them in person at the entrance, there is a possibility that youll not be able to gain access to the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, or other attractions.
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Vatican Museums And Sistine Chapel Guided Tour
The Vatican Museums is the third most visited museum in the world and the second most visited in Europe after the Louvre. In addition, with an exhibition space of 43,000 square metres, these museums are the fifth largest museum in the world and the third largest museum in Europe.
The Sistine Chapel is the Popes official home. It was previously known as the Cappella Magna. In 1477, Pope Sixtus IV ordered the chapel to be reconstructed, and it was afterwards named after him. Famous painters like as Botticelli and Rosselli were commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV to decorate the chapel. The frescoes of the Sistine Chapel are regarded as one of the most important works of art in the world. They underwent one of the most significant conservation restorations of the twentieth century, if not all time, between 1980 and 1994.
- Free WiFi at meeting point
Drawing In The Vatican Museums
Special authorisation from the Directorate of the Museums and Cultural Heritage is required for the reproduction or drawing of the works on display .By virtue of a didactic agreement between the Vatican Museums and the Rome Academy of Fine Arts, students enrolled on the Artistic Anatomy courses are permitted to draw the works within the academic programme they are following.
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Ticket With A Papal Audience
Would you like to see the Pope? Theres a tour on Wednesdays that allows you to do just that
Youll get the chance to see the Pope and pray with him. Pope Francis and the Cardinals will pass through the crowd to reach the stage and then greet and bless people in different languages, with hymns and homilies.
The Audience may be celebrated in the majestic venue of St. Peters Square or in the dedicated Nervi Hall.
Click here to score a spot for the papal public tour.
Q Do I Need Tickets To Enter The Vatican Museums And St Peters Basilica
A. Entry to the Vatican Museums is accepted only with prior online booking. On the other hand, entry to St. Peters Basilica is free. However, if you wish to skip the long entry lines at St. Peters Basilica, it is advised that you purchase a skip the line ticket as the queue can easily be up to 60 minutes long. We provide both entry tickets, where you visit the monuments by yourself and guided tours where you will have an expert guide accompanying you.
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How Is The Booking Process What Happens After The Booking
The booking process can be slightly different depending on which website you are booking from.
The official website accepts Visa and Mastercard, while travel agencies accept a wider range of cards.
After the booking you will receive one email to confirm your email address and, after confirmation, you will receive a second email which includes the voucher. The voucher is what you will need to show at the entrance to skip the line and get it. You can print the voucher or show it on a smartphone or tablet. The bar code on the voucher must be readable.
On the day of the visit, go directly to the main entrance fila prenotati and present your voucher to the security personnel. After the security control, which is mandatory, go straight to the counter Cassa Online e Gruppi where you will show your voucher, get your paper ticket and enter. You are in.
If the Vatican Museums are not enough for you, read our complete list of the 76 best things to do in Rome! Youll find a lot of hidden gems!
Can The Tickets Be Canceled / Modified
The tickets booked through the official website cannot be refunded for any reason. Instead, the date and time can be modified depending on the availability.
The tickets booked through the online travel agencies have different cancellation policies: some of them offer 100% refund if canceled up to 24 hours before the visit while others do not allow cancellations. Check in detail the conditions written in the description of the product before booking.
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How Many People Live In The Vatican
As of 2019, the Vatican has a population of 825 people. This includes 453 residents and 372 Vatican citizens, some who live within the city and others who live abroad as diplomats. Not all of the citizens are religious members of the church, as the families of diplomats as well as members of the famous Swiss Guard also live there.
Priority Access To The Vatican Museums And Sistine Chapel
The first stop on the tour is the Vatican Museums, at the entrance of which you must provide your priority access ticket.
The Vatican Museums houses an extraordinary collection of works of art collected by popes since Pope Julius II, in 1506, decided to expose to the public the Laocoonte, the extraordinary marble group found near the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
Over the centuries this museum center has been enriched with priceless sculptures from the ancient world, from Renaissance and Baroque paintings, to modern and contemporary works by artists such as Matisse and Dalì. In reality it is a museum complex, which includes 12 museums, from the Vatican Pinacoteca, where it is possible to admire works by Giotto , Leonardo , Raphael and Caravaggio, to the Pio-Clementino museum, where you can admire Greek and Roman sculptures, up to the Gregorian Egyptian museum, which includes artifacts and mummies from ancient Egypt.
You also have access to the Sistine Chapel , the spearhead of the exhibition itinerary of the Vatican Museums. You can admire the splendid frescoes by Perugino, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, but above all the extraordinary ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, frescoed by Michelangelo Buonarroti.
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What Can You See Inside Of The Vatican Museums
Vatican Museums were founded in the 16th century by Pope Julius II. Pope Julius II also contributed to artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo, and Bramante with his wealth and visionary ideas. Museums are rich in art, culture, and history. They are a group of museums located inside of the Vatican, and the Pope appoints museum directors. A visit to the Vatican Museums allows you to explore more than twenty centuries of art and history. The art gallery , The Raphael Rooms, and The Sistine Chapel are only a tiny part of much more extensive and priceless collections. In total, there are 54 galleries inside of the Vatican Museums. Including the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museums have one of the most impressive and sizable collections in the world belonging to the Catholic Church.
How To Get To The Vatican Museums
Rome has an expansive and easy to use Rome public transport system, and day passes will allow you to use the metro, buses and tram lines on one ticket.
The bus network has several stops on lines 40, 62, 64 and 81, whilst tram line 19 passes directly by the Vatican .
If you like using the metro then it is also easy to get to the Vatican Museums by using line A and getting off at Ottaviano-S. Pietro station.
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