The Vatican Museums - A Practical Guide

An Introduction For Those Planning On Visiting The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museum


Vatican Museums Official Web Site

The Vatican Museums are an enormous complex composed of more than two dozen distinct collections, any of which could be a self-sustaining gallery in themselves.

Planning is needed to get the most out of your time in the museums.

The Vatican Museums are of course where you will find the Sistine Chapel, one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. Additionally, the Vatican Museums house many priceless works of art including the “Raphael Rooms”, and many galleries of sculpture, tapestries and frescos.

For most first time visitors, the climax of the visit is of course the famous Sistine Chapel.

You will know immediately when you have reached the Sistine Chapel, because not only everyone is in the room standing with his eyes turned toward the ceiling, but there is an amazing hush that descends as you enter.

Although the walls of the Sistine Chapel are covered with paintings by a number of Renaissance masters, including Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, they become secondary in the company of Michelangelo's extraordinary fresco covering the great vaulted ceiling.

For a detailed run through of the galleries, link to the official Vatican Museum web site at the top of the page.

Vatican Museum Ticketing, Opening Hours & Time of Visit

The Vatican Museum opens Monday to Saturday. The Ticket Office is open from 9 am to 4 pm. The Museums open at 10 a.m. and close at 6 pm.

The admission ticket permits the tourist to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel and is valid for the day of issue.

Current admission prices can be viewed by clicking through to the official web site at the top of the page.

For art lovers: don’t even think to come out in less than 4-5 hours.

If you are a time poor tourist, whose only clear target is to see the Sistine Chapel then about 2 hours might be appropriate.

Start with the Cortile della Pigna (Pinecone Courtyard) and having the huge pinecone in front of you lead to your right for the Pio Clementino. Peak inside, walk a bit and step back to the Courtyard to take the Simonetti Staircase on your right.

Stop on top of the first flight to see some of the antiquities. Walk all the way down to the Sistine Chapel (Galleries of Candelabra, Tapestries & Maps).

At the end of the Gallery of the Maps go straight, take the modern staircase to the Sistine Chapel.

Vatican Museum Queues and Fast Track Tickets

The queues for entrance to the Vatican Museums are legendary. Around 9 a.m. wave after wave of coaches are depositing coach loads to the end of the queue and early, mid-morning is probably the worst time of day to start queuing for admission. At this time it is not unusual for waiting times of over an hour.

Queues at The Vatican Museums

The Infamous Queues at The Vatican Museums Around 9 a.m.

Mondays also gets more crowds after the museums are effectively closed the day before.

At this time there is a whole army of touts selling to the queue the attraction of a guided tour that will allow you to by-pass the queue ahead.

With a bit of planning ahead you too can avoid the queues by paying for a fast track ticket or booking a tour that includes fast track, skip the queue entry to the Vatican Museums, (see below for more details).

So do read our Vatican logistics page and have an informed strategy in place for your visit to the Vatican.

Audio Guides, Tours & Facilities

You can get the traditional audio guides for a fee on entering the Vatican Museum at the information desk. There are over 400 audio stops available throughout the Vatican Museums. The audio guides are available in 10 languages (Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Portuguese).

There are two hour English tours that you can book online at the Vatican Museums web site.

The Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museum

Reservations allow individual visitors to be part of a Vatican Group Tour conducted by an official Vatican Tour Guide. The tour takes the visitor through the most significant cultural and religious areas of the Vatican Museums.

Vatican Cloakroom

The cloakroom will accept from the visitors their bags and personal belongings, including food

It is obligatory to deposit in the cloakroom suitcases, backpacks and containers with dimensions larger than cm 40 x 35 x 15. or any articles that 'stick out'.

Food and Drink

A restaurant with a self-service, pizzeria and coffee bar is available.

Do's & Don'ts Visiting The Vatican Museum

No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts. This applies to both men and women. Even if you get through security, you will be turned away by the attendants at the door.

Pushchairs are permitted in the Museums.

It is forbidden to use flashlight photography inside the Museums and no photography at all in the Sistine Chapel.

It is forbidden to touch works of art.

Any item that could conceivably be used to damage works of art like scissors, pointed umbrellas etc must be deposited in the cloakroom. Alcohol must also be deposited in the cloakroom.

Vatican Museum Fast Track Tickets With Optional Tour or Early VIP Access

This facility provides fast track access through a reserved door into the Vatican Museums, allowing you to skip all the lines.

Meet your host in Vatican City or outside the museum entrance and head to a reserved entrance that guarantees you the fastest skip-the-line access to the Vatican Museums.

Available every day except Sundays and holidays listed on the Vatican Museum calendar.

Vatican Museum Fast Track Ticket Prices
Vatican Museum Fast Track Tickets With Audio Guide
Vatican Museum Fast Track Tickets With Early Access
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel Tour Pricing Information

Vatican Museums & St Peter’s Basilica Combined Tour With Fast Track Entry Tickets

Days Of Operation: Monday to Saturday

Your knowledgeable guide will escort you into the Vatican Museums to explore the world's most extensive collection of art.

Highlights of the museums are Michelangelo's famous Creation of Adam fresco in the Sistine Chapel and Raphael's Rooms.

After taking in the Vatican Museums, you will walk over to St Peter's Basilica for a fascinating finish to your group guided walking tour stopping to admire magnificent St Peter's Square.

Vatican Walking Tour Pricing Information
Vatican Walking Tour Pricing Information
Vatican Walking Tour Pricing Information
Vatican Fast Track Tickets & Tours

Vatican Museums Tours & Fast Track Tickets

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets    €30.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets + Audio Guide    €38.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum with Audio Guide

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets + Early Entrance    €49.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum before public opening

Vatican Museums Fast Track Access With Coach Transfers    €64.00

Tour in English plus hotel pickups

Vatican Museums Private Tours With Fast Track Access    Prices vary on numbers

Your own personal guide for your own grouo of 1 to 9 people

St Peter's Basilica Tours & Fast Track Tickets

St Peter's Basilica Fastrack with audio guide    €15.00

Fast track access to St Peter's together with audio guide in choice of languages

St Peter's Basilica & Cupola Fastrack plus guided tour    €46.00

Small group tour including visit to Cupola (Dome)

St Peter's & Vatican Museums Combined Tours

Vatican Museums + St Peter's (With Fast Track Access) Tour 1    From €38.00 (+€23.00 admissions)

Guided 3 hour walking tour with Fast Track Access + early/evening entrance options

Vatican Museums + St Peter's (With Fast Track Access) Tour 2    From €56.70

Guided 3 hour walking tour with Fast Track Access + early/evening entrance options

Early Access Vatican Museums Small-Group Tour with St Peter’s    €97.50

Visiting Vatican Museums, St Peter's Basilicas

Other Vatican Tours

Audience With The Pope    €26.00

Attending Wednesday audience with transfers

Vatican Gardens Tour    €41.00

Includes admission to Vatican Museums

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