Vatican City, officially titled Stato della Città del Vaticano, which is Italian for State of Vatican City, is the seat of Roman Catholicism. With an approximate area of 44 hectares and a meagre population of 1000 people, the Vatican is the smallest country in the world. But, boy, does this small country pack in some big wonders!
The Vatican is ruled by the Bishop of Rome - The Pope and since it’s the seat of Roman Catholicism, the city, its architecture, history, and rules are heavily influenced by Christianity. Some of the religious and cultural sites include the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican Museums. Understandably, the Vatican attracts massive crowds throughout the year with the annual count hitting almost 7 million people, with a daily average of 20,000 people! That’s a big number for a small country and unsurprisingly leads to lines that go on forever at each of the important tourist attractions.
If you would rather not wait in line for extended hours and go straight into the mecca of art and history that is the Vatican, we have an alternate. The Skip the Line Vatican tickets workout perfectly and allow you to enter attractions like Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums without waiting in line.
Vatican in a Nutshell
Located within the boundaries of Rome, Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and the seat of Roman Catholicism. The Vatican sits not just at the center of Roman Catholicism, but is also home to one of the most impressive collection of art in the world. The main attractions in Vatican City are St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
St. Peter's Basilica is the largest church in the world, and one of the four Major Basilicas of Rome. This Renaissance work of art is considered one of the holiest shrines in Catholicism. Underneath the Basilica lies the Scavi, or the Vatican Necropolis, rumoured to be St. Peter's final resting place. The Vatican Museums consist of 54 galleries, including the Sistine Chapel, and are considered to have one of the best art collections in the world. The Vatican Museums are the 4th most visited art museum in the world, with over 6 million visitors in 2016. When in Vatican City, these attractions just cannot be missed, as they bring art and history together.
Must-see at the Vatican Museums
- The Raphael Rooms
- Gallery of Maps
- Gallery of Statues and the Hall of Busts
- Sala Rotunda
- Sistine Chapel
Must-see at St. Peter's Basilica
- St. Peter’s Basilica Cupola
- St. Peter’s Treasury
- Vatican Grottoes
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
• From Monday to Saturday - 9 AM to 6 PM (final entry 4 PM)
• Every last Sunday of the month - 9 AM to 2 PM (final entry 12.30 PM)
St. Peter's Basilica
• April to September - 7 AM to 7 PM
• October to March - 7 AM to 6 PM
00165 Rome, Italy
Fast-track your entry with Skip the Line Vatican tickets
With over 5 million visitors every year, entrance lines to the Vatican Museums can take up to 2 hours to get past. Bypass the tedious queue with priority access tickets and make the most of your time exploring one of the world’s most important places.
Skip the Line Tickets to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel✪
Price - €26
St. Peter's Basilica Guided Tour ✪
Price - €27
Guided Tour of Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica
Price - €49
Quick Jumplinks to Navigate the Guide
- What makes the Vatican incredible
- What to expect at the Vatican
- How to skip the Vatican queue
- Vatican ticket options
- Vatican - All you need to know
- Insider Tips
- Read what others have to say about the Vatican
- Vatican Fast Facts
What’s so incredible about visiting the Vatican?
To non-Christians, the first introduction to the iconic and revered city of Vatican might have been Dan Brown's (fictional) bestseller, Angels and Demons. The novel takes place almost entirely in the Vatican and name calls all the city landmarks in typical Dan Brown fashion. Before it entered mainstream pop culture, though, the Vatican has long been acknowledged as a renowned work of Renaissance architecture. Within the Vatican City, there are two landmarks which are widely regarded as must-see - St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums.
St. Peter’s Basilica was designed by the likes of Bramante, Michelangelo, Giacomo della Porta, Maderno and Bernini, and is widely regarded as the greatest of all churches of Christendom. Likewise, the Vatican Museums' collection is considered to be of the highest historical, scientific and cultural importance. The greatest of all though are the frescoes which adorn the Sistine Chapel, a chapel in the Apostolic Palace and a part of the Vatican Museums.
Seeing that the Vatican is home to some of the most renowned art in the world, a visit there is all but guaranteed to fill you with wonder and reverence. Let’s look at exactly what the Vatican City has in store for you.
What to expect at the Vatican?
There are different tours (guided/non-guided) you can pick from. Most tours include a trip to St. Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums.
Here’s everything you need to know about your experience in these iconic places.
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest Catholic shines in the world, making it the most visited church in the world too. This beautiful landmark was the primary creation of Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini and rests atop the tomb of St. Peter.
Situated on Vatican Hill, St Peter’s Basilica dominates the skyline of Rome. It has a capacity of over 60,000 people, covers 22,300 square meters and is one of the world’s largest churches.
It will take you at least an hour to walk from one end to the other, and if you still have the energy, you can climb the 491 stairs to the top of Michelangelo's dome. There are two levels below St Peter’s Basilica; the first level is known as the Vatican Grottoes, and is a large underground graveyard where the tombs of 91 Popes are buried. The level below this is the Vatican Necropolis and houses St Peter’s Tomb. Michelangelo’s famous carving of the Pieta is housed in St Peter’s Basilica and is protected by bulletproof glass. It was carved from a single slab of marble and was the only work he ever signed.
Things to see at St. Peter’s Basilica
- St. Peter’s Square
- St. Peter’s Baldachin
- Bronze Statue of St. Peter
- View From Top of the Dome
The Sistine Chapel, while a part of the Vatican Museums, deserves a special mention just because of how spellbinding it is! Typically considered one of Michelangelo's finest work, the Sistine Chapel is a certified highlight of a trip to Vatican City.
The phrase, “Saving the best for the last” has never been more relevant than at the Vatican Museums. The Sistine Chapel, situated in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, is the last room you get to visit while on your Vatican Museums tour. And it’s worth the wait. Unlike most tourists places that are plagued with noisy chatter of tourists, the Sistine Chapel is so magnificent that a natural quiet falls upon the room, no matter how many people are in there. Michelangelo's frescoes on the ceiling and the altar are the most famous paintings in the Sistine Chapel.
The final piece in the Vatican puzzle is the glorious Vatican Museum. A collection of 54 galleries that hosts almost 20,000 pieces of art, the Vatican Museums are undeniably one of the most impressive displays of art in the world. When you visit the Vatican Museums, you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time visiting all the art galleries, especially since the total length of the Museums comes up to a massive 9 miles!
The museums have many classical sculptures, tapestries, and paintings by Renaissance greats such as Raphael, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Bernini and Leonardo da Vinci on display throughout the 54 galleries. The Vatican Museums also have a collection of Modern Religious Art with paintings and sculptures from artists like Carlo Carrà, Vincent van Gogh, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Gauguin, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso.
Things to see at Vatican Museums
- Spiral Staircase
- The Raphael Room
- Papal Throne
- Gallery of Maps
- Gregorian Egyptian Museum
- Gallery of the Statues
- Pinacoteca Vaticana
- Sistine Chapel
- Vatican Historical Museum
- Sala Rotonda
How to Skip the Infamous Queues
Excited by the description you just read? So were many, many other people! Adding to the waiting line is the fact that entry to St. Peter’s Basilica is free of cost for everyone. The lines at all of these attractions are no joke and you’ll need all the help you can get to make the most out of your experience.
Skip the line Vatican tickets offer a great way to visit all the attractions in Vatican City without wasting precious time waiting in lines. You can also pick from different guided tours for different attractions in the city. Let’s look at some of the most popular options:
1. Skip the Line Vatican Tickets to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums
Tourists are always on a clock, with a pile of things to do and attractions to visit. We get it. This is precisely why this Skip the Line ticket works like magic. It not only allows you get early access to the Vatican Museums (including Sistine Chapel) but also ends up saving you some precious time which can be spent doing better things than waiting in line.
2. Skip the Line By Booking A Guided Tour
One of the best ways to explore any place, specially a historical monument is to go with a trained guide. In this case, opting for this option not only opens up a mine of information, but also gives you priority access to the structure. Depending upon what you prefer, you can choose between three tour options: Self-guided tour, Tour with an audio-guide, or Tour with a trained official guide. Yet another option is getting a City Pass, which gets you free admission into these attractions, along with other benefits. You can also try a Hop On Hop Off tour, which makes your travel very convenient.
Skip the Line Vatican Ticket Options
Vatican - All You Need to Know
Getting to The Vatican
The Vatican is a small city and getting there is not too much of a challenge, especially since the Vatican Museum is just a 10 minute walk away from St Peter’s Basilica. Here are your options for getting to the Vatican.
The closest station to the Vatican is the Ottaviano-S. Pietro station. Line A of the Rome Metro stops at this station at regular intervals. Both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are are just 5 minutes away from this metro station.
The St Pietro train station is also an option for travelers. However, both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are a 10 minutes away from this train station. This train stop is perfect for those coming from Civitavecchia, the cruise port for Rome.
Bus numbers 40 and 64 frequently stop at the Vatican. Buses 62 and 81 also stop at the Vatican, although a little less frequently.
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
From Monday to Saturday - 9 AM to 6 PM (final entry 4 PM)
Every last Sunday of the month - 9 AM to 2 PM (final entry 12.30 PM)
St. Peter's Basilica
April to September - 7 AM to 7 PM
October to March - 7 AM to 6 PM
- Bags or luggage of any sorts measuring more than 40*35*15 centimetres is not allowed inside the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel. There are however cloak rooms that allow you to store your bags if you’re carrying any.
- Use of amplified microphones and laser pointers is not allowed.
- Dress appropriately before you enter the Vatican. Sleeveless blouses, miniskirts, shorts and hats are not permitted.
- Use of mobile phones inside the Sistine Chapel is prohibited. Elsewhere you can use your phone, but it is preferred that you refrain from doing so if possible.
- Absolutely refrain from touching any work of art. Alarm and surveillance systems are in place.
- You cannot enter the Museums or the Basilica with alcoholic drinks. Any food or drink may be left at the cloakrooms.
- The foundation of every successful trip is planning things in advance. That is super important when you're visiting a popular destination like the Vatican. Part of your planning should include booking tickets for the Vatican Museums and any other place you are planning on visiting in advance. Book your tickets online to get different options to pick from and deals that allow you to save some money.
- Guided or non-guided tour has been a question every tourist asks themselves at one point of time. The answer boils down to what type of experience you are looking to have. If visiting the Vatican is just another trip for you, go for a normal ticket. On the other hand, if you consider yourself an avid learner and someone who genuinely enjoys discovering fun insights about the place they are visiting, the guided tour will definitely make the experience special and memorable for you.
- If you are looking forward to visiting the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums, please note that the last room of the museum can only be accessed before 3 PM. Plan your day accordingly.
- Some vendors also offer small group tours for the Vatican Museums. If you are traveling in a group, make use of this convenient option and get a relatively private experience at the museums.
- As you would expect, all the places in Vatican City involve a fair amount of walking. Dress in comfortable clothing and carry plenty of water to ensure a pleasant time getting lost in the rich culture and history of the Vatican.
- In an effort to cover as many places as they possibly can in the short time they have, many tourists over stuff their schedule to the point that they are not able to fully immerse themselves in what they are actually seeing in the moment. Avoid this. All the attractions in the Vatican are special and deserve your time and attention. Plan your visit keeping this in mind.
- Unlike most of other attractions, the Vatican Museums are more crowded during the early hours of the day as opposed to late afternoon. We would recommend reaching the place anytime between 1:30 PM to 3 PM. Also, the Vatican is relatively less crowded during off season months from March to mid-November.
- On Wednesdays, except late July and August, the Pope holds an audience at St Peter’s Basilica. You can get tickets to see the Pope give a Papal Audience or Papal Mass for free. But if you just want to see the Basilica, skip Wednesdays, since you won’t be allowed in until the papal audience has finished.
The Vatican Museum is the main reason in my opinion to go to Rome, other than the "roman" things like colosseum etc. Inside the Museum you'll see treasures and art like no place else, all within the framework of a history we think we know but really don't. Words can't describe it - you've got to go. The Sistine chapel is part of the usual tours as well.
Every time we go to the Vatican Museums the crowds get worse and worse. This time we made a 9 a.m. reservation. They actually allowed people with reservations to enter before the stated official opening time of 9 a.m. Even at that hour, it was cheek to jowl with hoards of groups. It is simply overwhelming.
It is such a wonderful museum with so much to see but it is impossible to enjoy it with groups of 40 pushing and shoving their way along. One of the highlights is the Raphael rooms. There were so many groups stuffed in to those rooms when we were there giving their spiel in multiple languages that it was very disconcerting. Thankfully, guides are not permitted to give their talk in the Sistine Chapel but it gets very noisy with all the people.
I never noticed groups in the picture gallery before but this time they were there as well. As usual, the groups go from one "must see" to the next "must see" making it impossible for anyone who is not part of a group to catch a glimpse.
It is such an incredible museum but it is a most unpleasant experience.
Read what others have to say about the Vatican on TripAdvisor.
- The Vatican Museums are a series of 1400 rooms, chapels, and galleries. 1400! No wonder the museums stretch on for 9 miles. This one's for the people who love attention to detail. Michelangelo was a master of details. The tree from which Eve plucks the forbidden fruit in the Sistine Chapel is not an apple tree but a fig tree instead.
- Almost 90% of Vatican City’s revenue comes from the Museum admission fees, stamp and souvenir sales, and contributions. None of the paintings inside St. Peter’s Basilica are actually paintings. While they might appear that way to the discerning eye, the frescoes in the dome and the huge artwork in the walls are all actually mosaic!
- Despite popular belief, St. Peter’s Basilica is not an actual cathedral i.e. seat of the Pope. That honour goes to the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
- This might be hard to believe but St. Peter's Basilica was constructed over a span of 1300 years!
- Michelangelo not only contributed to making St. Peter's Basilica what it is today through his art. He has also designed the main dome of the basilica.
- St. Peter's Square is 1000 feet long and 750 feet wide. What this means is that the World Series could be played in St. Peter's Square and almost 2,50,000 could fit into it!
- As it turns out the current Basilica was built from April 18th 1506 and is the second Basilica. The first Basilica was built on orders of Constantine I in the year 324.
- The holy door in St Peter’s Basilica is only opened for Jubilee Years, which is once every 25 years. They are usually cemented shut to prevent them accidentally being opened.
- On the outside top colonnade of St. Peter's Basilica are over 140 statues of various saints.
- The Swiss Guard, the world’s smallest army, was formed in 1506 and still exists to protect the Pope, the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica.