Walks of Italy

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Pristine Sistine™ Tour

Key Details

  • City: Vatican
  • Duration: 3 hrs 45 mins
  • Start Time: 7:30 AM

Tour Highlights

  • Stand on the altar of the Sistine Chapel and admire the little details of Michelangelo’s masterpiece – without being pushed or shoved! We enter the museums before the general public.

  • See the best of the Vatican City in under four hours. With a guided tour of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums (including the Raphael Rooms) and St. Peter’s Basilica, you’ll cover all the bases.

  • Engage with the art and architecture of the Vatican. Our guides are passionate art historians, while our groups never number more than 12, so you’ll get the most from your once-in-a-lifetime visit.

Enter the Vatican before the crowds Rush to the Sistine Chapel before the public Busy Vatican Museum corridors See the Sistine Chapel when it's almost empty Guide uses aids to explain Sistine frescoes The Sistine Chapel Roof Visit the Raphael Rooms The School of Athens by Raphael Raphael Rooms: Can you spot Raphael? Raphael Rooms: Do you see Rocky? This sculpture inspired Michelangelo The Belvedere Torso Ancient Greek sculptures, Vatican Museums Nero's bath (its literally priceless!) The Laocoon Group, Vatican Museums Apollo Belvedere, Vatican Museums The Gallery of the Maps, Vatican Museums St. Peter's Basilica, included on our Pristine Sistine Tour Inside St. Peter's Basilica Bernini's 'Baldachin' altar, St. Peter's Basilica Michelangelo's 'Pieta', St. Peter's Basilica The ceiling of St. Peter's Basilica Bernini's stained glass window, St. Peter's Basilica Rubbing St. Peter's foot for luck Pristine Sistine Chapel tour ends at St. Peter's Square



There are moments that stay with you forever. Visiting the Sistine Chapel and seeing the masterpieces of Michelangelo should be one of those. For too many visitors, this special experience is ruined by overcrowding, but what if there was a way to guarantee your perfect moment?

Our Pristine Sistine™ Chapel Tour enters the Vatican Museums one hour before they open to the general public. Over the last five years we've practiced this tour on over 50,000 guests, crafting the best possible experience of the Vatican Museums (even during the crowded summer months!) Along with your guide, you'll power through empty galleries to be the first inside the Sistine Chapel – so you can enjoy these masterpieces in peace – then embark on a full tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Our guides have been carefully chosen as the perfect travel companions, enriching your visit with witty anecdotes and entertaining details to bring world-famous works to life. Entering before the public you’ll have time to get up close to the art, admiring it from every angle, without having to use your elbows. But that’s only the start of our journey.


We say engage because that’s what you’ll do. Your guide will lead you on a carefully- crafted route through the best of the collection, teaching you not just about the art and history of the collection (which spans from Ancient Greece to a very modern “Squashed Tomato”) but the history of the Papal Palaces too and the many characters that have lived, worked, ruled and painted here.

Traveling in small groups of only 12 people or fewer (with personal headsets in case it’s a little loud) you’ll always be able to hear your guide and engage with their stories, asking all the questions you can think of. We won’t finish at the Vatican Museums though. Our next stop is the world’s largest ancient basilica.


As an official Vatican tour operator, we’ll go directly from the Vatican Museums to St. Peter’s Basilica, bypassing long general access lines and saving a 30-minute walk. Everything about this incredible building is awe-inspiring. From Bernini’s monumental carved Baldachin altarpiece to Michelangelo’s emotional ‘Pietà’ and the huge dome whose completion (literally) threatened to tear the basilica in half.

As you explore every nook and cranny of this huge building, you’ll get an insight into the heart of the Catholic Church and Renaissance Italy with our passionate guides at the helm. Our Pristine Sistine™ Chapel Tour guarantees that perfect Sistine moment – plus an engaging and entertaining three hours to follow.

You’ll probably only visit the Vatican City once. Make it perfect with our original, pristine tour.


Through the summer months we're offering two start times on this tour: 7.30AM or 8AM. The 7:30AM start time gets you inside just as the doors open at 8AM, while the 8AM tour aims to enter between 15 and 30 minutes later. We would always recommend starting earlier because there are fewer people inside the Museums and entry is a little faster, but if you value an extra 30 minutes in bed, the 8AM tour still enters the Museums before the general public. The 8AM start time is a little cheaper too, with a €2 discount per person.

Sites visited

  • Sistine Chapel (twice)
  • Raphael Rooms
  • Belvedere Courtyard with Apollo Belvedere & Laocoön & His Sons
  • Pinecone Courtyard
  • Gallery of the Candelabra
  • Gallery of the Maps
  • Gallery of the Tapestries
  • St. Peter’s Basilica
  • St. Peter’s Square


  • Skip the Line Access tickets to the Vatican Museums (with early entrance an hour before the general public!)
  • Skip the Line Access to St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Expert Walks of Italy tour guide
  • Small groups, never more than 12 people
  • Headsets


5-stars from over 2016 Customer Reviews

Maria was fantastic - very knowledgable and enthusiastic and fun. And the tour was great too - the only part I didn't like was the second pass through the Sistine Chapel which was way too crowded. If there's a way to avoid that I would recommend doing so.
Our guide was extremely knowledgable and easy to understand. The microphone system made it easy to hear all the information he wanted to share with us.

Important information

Before you travel, please read our important notes about possible disruptions & site entrance requirements

As with all museums, particular galleries of the Vatican museums can sometimes be closed without prior notice and pieces removed for restoration or loan. In the case of a gallery being closed, your guide will take you to another section of the museums instead.

Also, please remember that the Sistine Chapel is a holy place, and attire must be appropriate for the visit. Both men and women are asked to wear clothing that covers at least the shoulders and knees. Walks of Italy cannot be held responsible for denied entry due to improper dress. Please note that, since the chapel is at the end of the Vatican visit, it is sufficient to bring extra coverings with you and put them on before our entrance to the holy areas.

Note: We advise our clients that St.Peter's Basilica may be closed during special celebrations/festivities, including the Easter ceremonies. If this occurs during your visit, we will spend more time inside the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. Your guide will still give you an introduction to the church should you wish to visit this on your own at a later occasion. We are unable to provide refunds or discounts.

IMPORTANT: While the Vatican Museums are equipped with elevators for wheelchair access, they are not conveniently located on the group tour route and only give access to specific sections of the Museums. Please contact us at info@walksofitaly.com if you have walking disabilities or if you are in a wheelchair. We can then work out a suitable alternative.

Please ensure that all members of your party have a valid ID on them on the day of the visit. This is particularly important for guests who have qualified for a senior, student, or child reduction.

For details of what you may and may not bring inside the Vatican Museums (you may not, for example, carry backpacks), click here. Guests who do bring these items will be required to leave them in the Vatican cloakroom and will be responsible for collecting them at the end of the tour. Please note that it is a 15 to 20 minute walk from St. Peter’s Square back to the entrance of the Museums.

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Maria was fantastic - very knowledgable and enthusiastic and fun. And the tour was great too - the only part I didn't like was the second pass through the Sistine Chapel which was way too crowded. If there's a way to avoid that I would recommend doing so.
Our guide was extremely knowledgable and easy to understand. The microphone system made it easy to hear all the information he wanted to share with us.
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The tour was well-conducted by Luigi despite the crushing crowds. We did expect fewer people in the Sistine since we thought we would be "first-in" but there were many other "first-in" groups already ahead of us. That said, the crowd was almost impassable when we made the trip back through the chapel later in the tour so I guess the thinner crowd when we first got there "before the general public" was the best that we could hope to experience. Luigi was very good at pointing out the highlights which is all we could ever expect to experience in a 3 1/2 hour tour. One could obviously spend years trying to take in everything. All-in-all, we would definitely recommend the tour. It had been recommended to us by friends.
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We were lucky enough to have Cecilia as our Tour guide and she was wonderful. It was awesome to be in the Sistine Chapel early in the morning before the crowds of people arrived. There were about 50 people total when we had our chance to view the Chapel. What an amazing experience. This was a great tour!
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Uta was wonderful and knowledgeable, and guided as with perfect timing.
Excellent tour- highly recommend!
We enjoyed our tour very much. It was great getting into the Sistine Chapel before the real crowds came. Our guide was well informed and knew his subject.
We had been to the Vatican a few years ago and had a private tour at that time but the Walks tour was an extra special experience. Being able to look up at the Sistine ceiling with only about 100 people in the chapel was very impactful. Our tour guide was very knowledgable and informative. We booked a total of 4 Walks of Italy tours while in Italy, 3 in Rome. We would definitely use Walks of Italy in the future.
Was knowledgable, friendly, and helpful. We liked him. The only bit of feedback is that if he had told us in the modern art rooms that we were done and on our way out we would have stayed behind to take a better look. Overall, fine
This was an excellent tour. Our guide was outstanding and really made an effort to help us understand the art and history of the Vatican. The early morning viewing of the Sistine Chapel was awesome!
Dorian was exceptional...knowledgeable, funny, cheerful. She gave just the right amount of information. The tour was a highlight of my life.
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Very helpful and would definitely book with your company again
This was our first experience of your Walks and we were very satisfied. The guide was excellent, she was informative and interesting.
Luca was an excellent guide . As a non religious person ,I was interested in the art and the history of the Vatican . Luca was passionate about both of these things. He had a good sense of humour and was informative and entertaining .
Our guide was excellent. She did seem to poop out a bit by the time we got to St. Peter's but I am guessing that their were just too many people in the church to really give the same level of detail as the museum. Excellent job.
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Our guide Camila was outstanding. We participated on eight tours while in Italy and Camila was clearly one of the best. Very professional, knowledgeable and entertaining. The tour was wonderful and perfectly paced. We got to fully appreciate the beauty of the Sistine Chapel before the crowds. After having done the tour "before the crowds", I would not want to do it any other way.
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Our guide Camilla was excellent! She was extremely knowledgable and added all kinds of interesting anecdotes. Thoroughly enjoyed our experience! Would not hesitate to recommend your company.
Guide very knowledgeable and very adept at assessing crowds and avoiding them. I would definitely take another of his tours any day! He also assessed group needs very well
Sorry for the late reply, just getting caught up after our trip. This was one of only two guided tours for us in Rome - we could not be more satisfied. We usually self-guide, but felt the access and local knowledge would be worthwhile, and it definitely was. Doriana was probably the most knowledgeable guide we've ever experienced - now I wish we had had her along at the Forum. Overall it was a very positive experience.
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Incredible experience. We bought the tickets to avoid the lines, but the guide was so much more than we could have hoped for. She knew so much about the Vatican and was clearly passionate about her work
Very friendly and helpful guide. Clearly passionate about the places and events he was describing.
Our guide was fantastic! She was so informative, it was hard to take in all the information she had to offer. Professional and kind are a nice combination.
Guide was very interesting& knowledgable
Camilla was brilliant. So much knowledge. We had however expected it to be less busy and less rushed. From the queues outside to pushing thru crowds for 3 hours it was overwhelming.
Tour was great guide did a first class job
Julietta was a fantastic guide! She personally connected with each of her guests. She was also passionate about conveying the information which made the tour very special. Finally,, she addressed practical matters such as bathroom breaks. It was a perfectly wonderful experience!
Maurizio made the tour 300% better with his very good English, knowledge of the places visited, and his great sense of humor which made everyone in the group feel involved. I really liked the pre-guide book to the Sistine Chapel ceiling. While like many have seen the ceiling many times in books, films, and T.V., this little tutorial made it a more memorable event as I was aware of what I was seeing instead of staring randomly. The small group and early time in a hectic place also made it better. Would definitely recommend this tour to others.
Guide very good. (Alisha?) Would be better if you could go back through Vatican museum after tour
Mr T was very humorous and have kept us entertained thru out the whole tour.
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Thank you . Our your guide was very good.
We had Mr T. (Tongai) as our guide and he was the best.
Valentina was most kind and knowledge