Considered one of the most sacred locations in the world by Christians across the globe, Vatican City is home to many iconic landmarks that attract millions of tourists every year. Visiting the Vatican is an experience you will never forget and there are a plethora of Vatican ticket options to choose from. Despite being the smallest country in the world with an area of 44 hectares, it’s home to various religious and cultural sites and treasures immense priceless collections of artistic and historical masterpieces by world’s greatest artists across the famed Vatican museums.
This guide will highlight the exclusive features offered by all Vatican ticket options and how to get skip the line Vatican Museums tickets for a hassle-free experience.
Vatican Ticket Options - Skip The Line, St Peter’s Basilica & Vatican Museum Access
Due to its sheer vastness, exploring the Vatican and its grandiose can be quite a daunting task. However, there are quite a few different Vatican tickets to suit your every need. From Skip The Line tickets and St Peter’s Basilica Access to Beyond the Vatican combo packages and Vatican Guided Tours, you will surely find a carefully curated experience perfect for you.
There are 4 major types of Vatican Tickets - Skip The Line Tickets, Vatican St Peter’s Basilica Access Tickets, Vatican Guided Tours and Beyond the Vatican combos.
Vatican skip-the-line tickets will give you priority access by skipping long queues. Your ticket includes access to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
A standard Vatican ticket might not include access to St. Peter’s Basilica, which you will have to purchase tickets separately or by choosing a package that includes Basilica access. Depending on what you opt for, your ticket may also include a guided tour or a multilingual audioguide.
The best way to explore the rich heritage of Vatican is by opting for a Vatican guided tour. The standard Vatican ticket usually does not include a guided tour, however, you can opt for one that includes the services of a professional tour guide. The expert guide will navigate you through the priority entrance and guide you to the different landmarks in Vatican City.
As local experts, they will also educate you about the history of the Vatican and other interesting trivia and facts about the small nation.
Standard Vatican tickets do not include entry to St. Peter’s Basilica. You can opt for tickets that specifically provide access to this magnificent landmark. Your professional tour guide will accompany you while you explore the historic church. If you would like to avoid long lines outside St. Peter’s Basilica, opt for a guided tour of the Vatican.
This package allows you to use the entrance that goes directly from within the Sistine Chapel into the Basilica. You can only access this entrance along with a tour guide.
Skip the Line Tickets - Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Escorted Exclusive Skip The Line Tickets to Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica
Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo & Pontifical Villas Gardens
Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel
|Skip The Line Access||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Areas of Access||
|Entrances||Vatican Museum - Cassa Online E Gruppi||Vatican Museum - Priority Entrance||Vatican Museum - Priority Entrance||Castel Gandolfo||Vatican Museum - Priority Entrance|
|Cancellation||No||Yes - 72 hours in advance for full refund||No||No||No|
Vatican Guided Tours - Priority Access, Learn About Vatican’s Rich Heritage
Guided Vatican tours are the best way to experience the Vatican. Being the center of Roman Catholicism, each landmark in Vatican is steeped in history and heritage. For a complete Vatican experience, it is imperative that you do not miss the history and stories associated with its landmarks.
Not only are these tours rich with information that individual ticket experiences don't provide, but you’ll also get to enjoy priority access, audioguides in multiple languages, and even a breakfast within the Vatican walls (depending upon your package).
Exploring the Vast Vatican
Though Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, everything that is open to the public within the 44 hectares that it covers is a tourist’s delight. From the immortal collections of classical artworks and Renaissance masterpieces of the Vatican Museums to the biggest church in the world, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican is sprawling with memorabilia from different epochs of history. In the company of an expert Vatican guide, you will not only see and enjoy these ancient landmarks but also listen to amazing stories that make them the most popular attraction in Italy.
A daily average of 20,000 people visit the Vatican every day and hence it’s natural that the waiting times at Vatican landmarks are quite long. Standing in long waiting lines under the Mediterranean sun is not a pleasant experience. If you're on a guided tour, you will get to bypass this line and head straight to the entrance, without having to stand in the never-ending line to get a ticket.
Learn about Vatican’s History
Vatican guides throughout Rome are incredibly proud of their heritage and are passionate about taking you through their city. With such pride, you are guaranteed to have a good time in their company as they keep you entertained with stories from history and personal anecdotes. You might even get to hear insider stories about the rich history of these old landmarks.
Vatican Main Attractions - St Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums
Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St Peter's Basilica, the Italian Renaissance Church is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world. Besides its obvious historical and artistic significance, it has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom".
Built on the orders of Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, the basilica was completed around 349AD, the church was marked for renovation by Pope Nicholas V in the late fifteenth century. However, once he died, these restoration plans were halted. A century later, Pope Julius II began to build a completely new church and appointed architect Donato Bromante who introduced the structure with the high dome. The dome was further worked upon and changed by architects and designers like Michelangelo Buonarroti, Giacomo della Porta and Carlo Maderno.
Saint Peter's tomb is located under St. Peter's Basilica and includes several graves and a structure built to memorialize the location of Saint Peter's grave. Quite a few Popes have been interred at St. Peter's since the Early Christian period as it is the burial site of St Peter and is hence one of the four highest-ranking churches or ‘Major Basilicas’ in the world. It is the only one to be located in Vatican City and is directly under the jurisdiction of the Holy See.
Known as the Throne of St. Peter, this relic is a wooden throne that was supposedly used by the Apostle Saint Peter, the leader of the Early Christians in Rome and first Pope. The relic itself is described as an oaken chair damaged by cuts and worms, while the back and front are trimmed with carved ivory. The wooden throne was a gift from Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Bald to Pope John VIII in 875. The spiritual significance of the chair is a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his Successors to tend Christ’s flock, keeping it united in faith and in charity.
One of the most important landmarks of the Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel is a monument that everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime. Its walls and ceilings are covered by some of the most opulent frescoes ever produced. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, covering over 800 sq. m. is especially famous. Painted by Michelangelo over a span of 4 years, the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel are considered to be a cornerstone of High Renaissance art. Nestled in the holy Vatican City, it serves a distinct purpose - it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected.
The famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo among the other masters is something that has been captivating the visitors all along. Painting of twelve apostles in the pendentives and ornamental motifs, the central part of the ceiling showing nine stories of the Genesis, the base of the architectural structure with twelve Prophets and Sibyls seated on monumental thrones and many such amazing illustrations adorn the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The mighty composition is a fresco painted by Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo covering the whole altar wall of the Sistine Chapel. It illustrates Christ surrounded by prominent saints, captured at the moment preceding the verdict of the Last Judgement. It is a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment by God of all humanity. There are over 300 figures.
The north wall of the Sistine Chapel has frescoes depicting events from the life of Christ. They have been painted by famous Florentine Renaissance masters like Perugino, Pinturicchio, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Cosimo Rosselli. The south wall on the left of the altar in the Sistine Chapel contains scenes from the life of Moses. The Entrance wall has two episodes, The Resurrection of Jesus by Domenici Ghirlandaio and Luca Signorelli's fresco of the discussions on Moses’. These were replaced by works on the same subjects by Hendrick van den Broeck and Matteo da Lecce.
Visited by over 6 million people every year, the Vatican Museums consist of 54 galleries and have one of the largest collections of Renaissance and Medieval art in the world. The museums are home to a number of classical sculptures and paintings by the Renaissance greats such as Raphael, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, and Bernini. Artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso are also represented in the Modern Religious Art section.
This iconic staircase designed by Bramante and later in 1932, another one designed by architect Giuseppe Momo inspired by the original one is a mesmerizing piece of architectural marvel! Shaped like a double helix it is composed of two staircases designed in such a way that people while going up and down do not cross one another. This makes an excellent photo op! Marking the High Renaissance period in Rome, the four Raphael rooms are known as the Stanze of Raphael give you an experience of a lifetime.
Located on the west side of the Belvedere Courtyard, Gallery of Maps contains a series of painted topographical maps of Italy based on drawings by famous geographer Ignazio Danti. The 40 panels of the 120m long gallery, map the entire Italian peninsula in large-scale frescoes with almost 80% accuracy. This is one of 54 galleries in the Pio-Clementio Museum, filled with masterpieces of Greek and Roman sculptures.
The Gregorian Etruscan Museums is dedicated to Etruscan antiques and conserves the rare artifacts unearthed in the excavations carried out in the prominent cities of ancient Etruria as well as other works collected over centuries held in the Vatican. The Egyptian Museum brings to light the Egyptian-influenced Rome, history of pharaonic culture and splendid setting of Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli amongst others.
Vatican Entrances - St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
The Cupola or the Dome of the Basilica offers an unparalleled vista of the city and requires a little more
time during your visit. The entrance is located at the beginning above the visitor’s square at St.Peter’s
Square, so visiting it first is always the better option. Avoid carrying sharp items as the security is
Average Queue Time
One hour or more
Entrance Opening & Closing Time
The Dome of St. Basilica opens at 8:00 AM and closes at 5:00 PM every day.
The treasury is a paid visit and may need to purchase its tickets in advance to view it. Located on the left
side of the St. Peter's Basilica, it stands out with its stunning columns. On the left, you’ll find the
names of the Popes buried at St. Peter’s, along with a statue of St. Andrew’s.
Average Queue Time
Entrance Opening & Closing Time
Necropolis & Treasury opens at 8:00 AM and closes at 5:00 PM every day.
You can book yourself a special visit to the Grotto of St. Peter’s Tomb during your visit. The entrance is
located underground and requires you to be accompanied by a guide. The tour takes 1.5 hours and can be
booked via the Vatican Scavi office, or through a combo ticket available online.
Entrance Opening & Closing Time
April to September: 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
October to March: 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM
With online tickets, you can stand in the queue that starts near the yellow signboard, bypassing the never-ending ticket line. These lines are exclusive to online ticket-holders and are much shorter and move quickly. Skip the line Vatican tickets help you bypass the long ticket queues that wind down the walls. If you have opted for a guided tour, you will be required to meet your guide/group at a specific meeting point. From there, you will be ushered into the Vatican Museums via a third line that is almost always empty and efficient.
If you're coming by bus to the Vatican Museums, your best bet it Bus No. 49 Look out for Viale Vaticano stop and hop off. You'll see the Vatican Museum's Arch right in front of you. Alternatively, you could use Bus No. 492 or Bus No. 990 and hop off at the Via Leone IV stop. This one's a quick 5 minute walk from the Vatican Museum entrance. The closest Metro to the Vatican Museum entrance is Valle Aurelia. From here, the museum is a 5 min walk.
If you're coming via the tram, know that there's only one tram that stops at the Vatican City. Tram 19 stop at Piazza del Risorgimento and from here, you can take a quick 10 minute walk to the Vatican Museum entrance.
To visit the Sistine Chapel you first need to visit the Vatican Museums. The Sistine Chapel is inside the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. To get directly there, you need to go up the escalators once you have your tickets and walk through the Pine Cone courtyard. You need to then climb a flight of stairs and go through the octagonal courtyard to the Room of the Muses and pass through the Room of the Rotunda. From there, make your way through Constantine’s tomb, the Room of the Tapestries and the Gallery of Maps till you reach the Sistine Chapel.
What to see at the Vatican Museums
The Spiral Staircase
This iconic staircase designed by Bramante and later in 1932, another one designed by architect Giuseppe Momo inspired by the original one are a mesmerising piece of architectural marvel! Shaped like a double helix it is composed of two staircases designed in such a way that people while going up and down do not cross one another. This makes an excellent photo op.
The Raphael Rooms
Marking the High Renaissance period in Rome, the four Raphael rooms known as the Stanze of Raphael give you an experience of a lifetime. Famed for their stunning pictorial decoration frescoes, painted by Raphael and his school, these rooms situated on the second floor of the Pontifical Palace are a must see.
Gallery of Maps
Located on the west side of the Belvedere Courtyard, Gallery of Maps contains a series of painted topographical maps of Italy based on drawings by famous geographer Ignazio Danti. The 40 panels of the 120m long gallery, map the entire Italian peninsula in large-scale frescoes with almost 80% accuracy.
Gallery of the Statues & Hall of Busts
This is one of 54 galleries in the Pio-Clementio Museum, filled with masterpieces of Greek and Roman sculptures. The walls were once covered with frescoes showing landscapes and cities. Small cupids painted by Pinturicchio and his assistants still visible are worth a watch. The walls carry a series of niches displaying massive statues, interspersed with columns supporting outsize busts.
Gregorian Etruscan and Egyptian Museum
The Gregorian Etruscan Museums is dedicated to Etruscan antiques and conserves the rare artefacts unearthed in the excavations carried out in the prominent cities of ancient Etruria as well as other works collected over centuries held in the Vatican. The Egyptain Museum on the other hand brings to light the Egyptian-influenced Rome, history of pharaonic culture and splendid setting of Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli amongst others.
Things to do at the Vatican
Breakfast at the Vatican
The Vatican buffet breakfast is served in either the Restaurant Area or the Pinecone Courtyard of the Vatican Museums, depending on the season. It generally begins at 7:15 a.m and once you’ve eaten your hot breakfast with up to 30 other people, you can directly head to the Vatican Museums and towards the Sistine Chapel an hour before it’s open to the public.
The Restaurant area is equipped with two long tables and a side wall buffet. The buffet features bacon, sausages, fresh fruit, pancakes, toast, pastries, coffee, cappuccino, and tea.
Attending Mass at the Vatican
Papal Mass is are special masses presided by the Pope himself. Additional tickets are required to attend any Papal Audience or Papal Mass. However, there are other opportunities to see Pope Francis that do not require tickets, such as during the Angelus. Papal Mass and Papal AudienceTickets are pretty easy to get and the form can be obtained online.
Your request for Papal Audience tickets can be procured from the website of the Prefecture of the Papal Household. You will need to fax it in and wait to hear back via e-mail or the fax. You will get a mail only if you are granted tickets. Tickets to popular Papal Masses, such as during Christmas and Easter are much harder to get and you should request these well in advance.
Other Attractions around Vatican City
Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo
The Vatican has owned the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo, also known as the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, since 1596 after seizing it from the Savelli family over debts to the church. Until October 2016, it was the summer residence and vacation retreat of the Pope for centuries. Pope Francis opened the palace’s doors to the general public in Spring 2014 for garden visits and in October 2016 for the Apostolic Palace.
The masterfully manicured Papal Gardens or Barberini Gardens are the green heart of the Pontifical Villas and features quite a few blooming plants all year-round. With parterres and terraces, pine tree avenues and carefully sculpted fountains around every corner, this picture-perfect blend of natural beauty, landscape design and archaeological ruins are a sight behold.
The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the Pope and is also known as the Papal Palace, the Palace of the Vatican and the Vatican Palace. The building features the Papal Apartments, offices of the Catholic Church and the Holy See, the Vatican Library and private and public chapels, and Vatican Museums. Be aware that if you choose to visit the Apostolic Palace, you’ll not get to see the Sala Regia (Regal Room) and Cappella Paolina.
The Gardens of Vatican City, known as the Vatican Gardens, are a series of gardens and parks which cover nearly half of Vatican City. Covering over 23 hectares, the gardens feature medieval fortifications, monuments, and buildings from the 9th century to the present day. You will get to see opulent fountains, incredible winding paths, vibrant colored flowers, and magnificent oaks. You will also get to see amazing sculptures and artificial grottoes dedicated to Madonna.
Visiting Vatican Attractions - Timings, Getting There
St Peter’s Basilica
April-Sept 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Oct-March 7:00 AM -6:00 PM
Where in Rome?
Vatican City is to the north of the city centre of Rome and is easily reached independently by public transport plus and even by Rome hop-on hop-off tourist buses which have a stop here.
The Rome Metro has a station just outside the Vatican at Ottaviano-S. Pietro. Line A direction Battistini, Ottaviano or Cipro stations of the Metro has trains running every few minutes. It's a 5 minute walk from the Metro to both St Peter's Square and the Vatican Museums.
49, stop in the square in front of the Vatican Museums 32, 81, 982, stop at Piazza del Risorgimento 492, 990, stop in Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni
Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
9 AM to 6 PM (Ticket office closes at 4 PM), Monday to Saturday
Sunday: Closed except the last Sunday of each month: 9 AM to 2 PM. (Ticket office closes at 12:30 PM)
The Rome Metro has a station just outside the Vatican walls at Ottaviano-S. Pietro. Line A direction Battistini, Ottaviano or Cipro stations of the Metro has trains running every few minutes. It's a 5 minute walk from the Metro to both St Peter's Square and the Vatican Museums.
49, stop in the square in front of the Vatican Museums 32, 81, 982, stop at Piazza del Risorgimento 492, 990, stop in Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni
Vatican Rules and Regulations
- 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.
Tips for your Vatican Visit
- It is preferable to take a guided tour, knowing the sheer size of collections. It is quite a difficult task to go with self help guide books if you truly want to enjoy your experience.
- Buying skip the line tickets is a very good idea as the museums are known for notoriously long queues.
- Choose an appropriate time to visit when there are chances of lesser crowds like exclusive early morning guided tours with breakfast or entering in the afternoon when the crowds have already moved in.
- There are certain must see parts of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel which you may miss out. Make sure that you have listed out all these must see things at these places beforehand.
- Keep enough time for the Sistine Chapel but in a rush to reach there don't miss out some of the amazing remarkable rooms like Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms), which are just before the Sistine Chapel.
- A comfortable pair of shoes go a long way in enjoying walking through the huge galleries of the museums and the connecting areas.
- Avoid carrying a backpack as you will have to check it in upon entering the museum.
- You need to dress appropriately not showing too much bare skin or else you may be turned away.
- Ideally, do not plan to go on a free entry Sunday as it is inordinately crowded.
Do Vatican tickets include skip-the-line access?
Yes, Vatican tickets include skip-the-line-access and will give you fast-track access to Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel without having to wait in long lines.
Can I cancel my Vatican tickets if I have a change in plans?
Yes, most Vatican tickets can be canceled up to 48 hours before the date of the experience.
Do my Vatican tickets include access to St. Peter's Basilica?
Not all Vatican tickets include access to St. Peter's Basilica. You will have to purchase separate tickets to get access to the basilica.
Do Vatican Guided Tours include skip-the-line access?
Yes, guided Vatican tours do include skip-the-line access. Your professional tour guide will help you bypass the long ticket lines.
How long in advance can I purchase my Vatican tickets?
You can purchase Vatican tickets to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica up to 3 months in advance.
Is the Vatican wheelchair accessible?
Yes, the Vatican Museums are wheelchair accessible. Vatican offers free entry to all disabled visitors with a certified invalidity of more than 74%.