Our tours in Vatican
Our tours in Vatican
What to know about Vatican from our local guides
The Vatican Museums house 70,000 of the world’s greatest artistic treasures, of which 20,000 are on display. From ancient Roman sculptures to Renaissance paintings, it would take days to discover it all, which is why we highly recommend booking a Vatican tour to help you make the most of your time at the museums.
A few of the collection’s undisputed highlights are:
- The Sistine Chapel, adorned with Michelangelo’s legendary frescoes
- The Raphael Rooms, which include the famous School of Athens
- The Gallery of the Maps, perhaps the most famous of the Museums’ galleries adorned with 40 maps depicting the different regions of Italy
- Laocoön and His Sons, an enigmatic masterpiece of ancient sculpture
- The Belvedere Torso, which is said to have influenced the work of Michelangelo himself
The Sistine Chapel is perhaps the most famous individual room in the entire world. This is in no small part due to the significant artistic masterpieces adorning its interior, with Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment” and ceiling frescoes being the highlights.
Pope Sixtus IV, the chapel’s namesake, commissioned its construction in the late 15th century. Today, its best-known use is for the papal conclaves, the process through which a new pope is elected by the College of Cardinals. It also serves as the Pope’s own private chapel when he is at the Vatican.
Want to have the Sistine Chapel all to yourself, just like the Pope? Avoid the crowds on a VIP tour outside opening hours. For a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can even accompany the Vatican Key Master himself as he opens the silent halls and galleries in the Vatican Museums early in the morning—including the Sistine Chapel.
As the largest church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica is itself a masterpiece of art and architecture. It houses some of the most significant religious art in the world, including Michelangelo’s moving Pietà sculpture and the Baldachin, Bernini’s massive bronze altar canopy.
Michelangelo was also the mastermind behind the famous dome crowning the basilica. Climbing the dome is a fantastic way to see not just the incredible mosaics lining the interior up close, but also to feast your eyes on spectacular views over Rome from the very top. Keep in mind that there are over 500 steps to get to the top of the dome from ground level, though an elevator is available to bypass approximately the first half. Underneath the Basilica, the Papal Crypts mark the final resting place of some of the most important Popes in Catholic history.
A guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica will give you an up-close look at all of these treasures and more. Led by an expert art historian guide, you’ll see a side of the world’s most iconic church that few others get to experience.
The best and easiest way to ensure you skip the line at the Vatican is to book a guided tour. With no-wait access to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, you’ll save precious hours of time that would have been spent in line. Plus, you'll be in the company of an insightful guide who can provide context on the innumerable masterpieces that can be hard to make sense of on your own.
The Vatican Museums are open Monday to Saturday from 9 am–6 pm. They tend to get more crowded the later in the day you go, so consider booking an early morning Vatican tour to get ahead of the crowds and ensure a more relaxed visit.
For an especially exclusive experience, consider joining the Vatican Key Master himself as he unlocks the silent halls, galleries, and even the Sistine Chapel first thing in the morning before the Museums open to the public. Accompanied by a small group of just 20 other people, the Key Master’s Tour is the most special way to experience the Vatican in total peace and quiet.
Don’t want to get up early? Another excellent option is to take a special access tour after closing time to wander the halls of the Vatican in peace—and have the Sistine Chapel all to yourself.
From May through October, the Vatican Museums offer extended opening hours until 10:30 pm on Fridays and 8 pm on Saturdays. Taking a night tour of the Vatican is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t soon forget!
The Museums are closed most Sundays (except for the last Sunday of every month) and on certain public holidays.
The Vatican is a religious site, and official rules mandate that visitors dress appropriately or risk being turned away. All guests regardless of gender are required to keep their shoulders and knees covered. In warmer months, it’s useful to have a shawl, scarf, or light jacket handy to pull on when entering the Vatican if your outfit doesn’t meet the dress code standards. Additionally, hats are not allowed.
While the Vatican dress code doesn’t have any hard-and-fast rules regarding footwear, keep in mind that you’ll be doing a lot of walking on your Vatican tour—particularly if you plan on climbing St. Peter’s Dome or venturing further afield to the Vatican Gardens and Apostolic Palace. As long as you have comfortable shoes that are good for walking, you’re all set.
While there aren’t any restaurants within Vatican City itself, the surrounding Prati and Trionfale neighborhoods offer plenty of excellent options—particularly if you don’t mind walking a few blocks away (or further) from the Vatican walls. For a quick, on-the-go option, Anthony Bourdain-approved Bonci Pizzarium serves up some of the best pizza by the slice in Rome. In the mood for a sit-down meal after spending hours on your feet at the Vatican? Velavevodetto ai Quiriti—the Prati outpost of Testaccio icon Flavio al Velavevodetto—is perfect for home-cooked Roman classics.