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The Vatican Museum - a practical guide

Tickets, tours, opening hours and queues - Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Vatican Museums tourists inside
Inside the Vatican Museums

Visiting the Vatican Museums is a memorable, must see sightseeing experience for visitors to Rome, culminating with the Sistine Chapel – a show stopper to end any visit to the Vatican Museums. In the digital age, there really is no comparison to experiencing the wealth of treasures on show in person at the Vatican Museums.

Queues and waiting times to access the Vatican Museums are legendary and the Vatican Museums are not open every day.  Most first time visitors will combine a visit to the Vatican Museums and St Peter's Basilica in one day.

Here we will inform you of your options to minimise Vatican Museum waiting and queues, how fast-track tickets work, the Vatican tours available and advice on the less busy times and days for visiting, which can all enhance your Vatican Museums visit.

To minimise stress and to maximise your enjoyment, being informed about your options and what to expect are a huge advantage.

Vatican Museum ticket details, location and how long you will need

Vatican with St Peter's behind
See the Vatican and St Peter's in one day
The Sistine Chapel ceiling
No photography is allowed in the Sistine Chapel
St Peter's Basilica map
Map of Vatican City, click to open in new window.

Vatican Museums tickets and free tickets

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

The cheapest ticket is the standard walk-up ticket for which you risk a very long wait, fast track tickets are very popular as a result. Look at the ticket options now.

On the last Sunday of each month the Museums can be visited free of admission charge from 9am to 2pm (Final entry at 12.30pm).

Note: these days are very popular and can get very crowded. If you wish to avoid these crowds avoid these days and holiday days.

Vatican Museum ticket price

There are various ticket types available for the Vatican Museums. Walk up tickets, although on most days they should be called queue up tickets are €17pp with a reduction to €8 for children aged 6-17. Fast-track tickets, so you avoid the queues start from €20.50pp and include entrance to the Sistine Chapel.

Location of Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are next to St Peter’s Square and Basilica and most visitors will want to combine both in one memorable day of sightseeing.

For the independently minded visitor to Rome, transport to the Vatican is straight forward, you can arrive by Rome public bus, metro, even by tram and of course Rome’s hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses stop here too.

So, where is Vatican Museum? We like to use the road opposite the museum entrance as the address, as that is easy to find on any map or app. Viale Vaticano 100.

The Vatican Museum is vast, the Sistine Chapel location and entrance is on the right of the museum as you look towards St Peter's Basilica from St Peter's Square. Once inside the museum, the walk to the Sistine Chapel alone can take up to 30 minutes.

How to get to Vatican City - Rome is a beautiful city to walk through, especially the ancient centre but depending on your starting point you may find the Vatican Museums to be outside a comfortable walk and you'll be doing a lot of walking once inside. Rome Metro has a station just outside the Vatican walls at Ottaviano-S Pietro. This is on Line A and is around a 5-min walk to the Vatican Museums. Cipro (formerly Cipro-Musei Vaticani) is also on Line A and equally close to the entrance.

Vatican Museums hours

The Vatican Museum is open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 6pm (final entry at 4pm). The museum is closed on Sundays except for the last Sunday of each month, (providing this does not coincide with Easter Sunday, 29 June or 25 & 26 December) when it opens from 9am until 2pm (final entry at 12.30pm).

Vatican Museums Closures 2020

Sunday (except last Sunday of the month). 1 & 6 January, 11 February, 19 March, 13 April, 1 May, 29 June, 15 August, 8, 25 & 26 December.

What is the best time to visit the Vatican Museum?

It is worth knowing that Mondays can be generally busier after the Museum closure on Sunday. Saturday's will be busier and on Wednesday's when the Pope holds Papal audiences, you can expect the crowds to be much larger. These are usually held at 10 or 10.30am. The Sunday free days at the end of the month are understandly busy too. Off-peak season, early morning and late afternoons during the week are likely the quietest times to visit the Vatican Museums but quietest is relative here.

Vatican Museums - how long do I need?

For art lovers don’t even think about coming out in less than 4-5 hours.

If you are a time poor tourist, and your main highlight is the Sistine Chapel then about two hours might be appropriate.

The official website for the Vatican Museums is linked below.

Vatican Museums official website

Vatican Museum tours

Tours are an excellent way not only to learn about everything inside the Vatican Museums but also as a way to skip the queues and find tickets should normal fast-track Vatican Museum tickets be sold out.

There are a host of tours available. You will get the benefit of an experienced guide leading you round what is a collection of monumental proportions. With a guided tour you can be sure you don't miss out on any showcase attractions and also discover all the hidden gems too.

Tours often run outside normal opening times, such as early morning tours, evening tours and combined tours. Discover the available tours at the Vatican Museums.

Avoiding Vatican Museum queues

Queue for Vatican Museums
Go early or late to reduce the queue

The queues for entrance to the Vatican Museums are legendary.

Around 9am, 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.

Particularly during the spring and summer months, at this time it is not unusual for waiting times of at least two hours.

At these times 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.

After midday queues are a lot shorter but they can still be very long during peak season.

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

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.

What you need to know when visiting the Vatican Museums

It is forbidden to touch works of art.

Clothing, what to wear

No sleeveless clothing, shorts, skirts not covering the knee, or hats. Even if you get through security, you will be turned away by the attendants at the door.

Pushchairs

Permitted in the Museums.

Food and Drink

It is forbidden to consume food and drink (including alcohol) inside the exhibition halls.

Photography

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

Mobile phones

Not permitted to be used inside the exhibition spaces and the Sistine Chapel.

Vatican Museums audio guides, cloakroom & food and drink

Security inside the Vatican Museums
Security inside the Vatican Museums

Audio guides at the Vatican Museums

You can get the traditional audio guides for a fee on entering the Vatican Museums 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' website.

Vatican Museums cloakroom

Visitors are required to leave larger items such as suitcases, or rucksacks, with dimensions larger than cm 40 x 35 x 15 or any articles that 'stick out'. Also any item that could conceivably be used to damage works of art like scissors, pointed umbrellas etc.

Items need to be collected the same day and not left if for example you are to visit St. Peter’s Basilica afterwards.

Food and drink at the Vatican Museums

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

Visitors can store any type of food and/or drink in the cloakroom free of charge.

Vatican Museum tickets - fast-track, guided tour and VIP access tickets

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 Museums calendar.

vatican museums

VATICAN MUSEUMS & SISTINE CHAPEL FAST TRACK ADMISSION

Vatican Museums fast track
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel skip the line tickets

• Fast track entrance throughout the day • Open every day except Sundays and bank holidays • Optional download audio guide to your phone

vatican museums

VATICAN MUSEUMS & SISTINE CHAPEL WITH AUDIO FAST TRACK ADMISSION

Vatican Museums fast track
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel with audio skip the line tickets

• Fast track entrance throughout the day • Ticket & audio guide • Open every day except Sundays and bank holidays • Collect audio guide at museums

vatican museums

EXCLUSIVE ENTRANCE VATICAN MUSEUMS & SISTINE CHAPEL BEFORE OPENING HOURS

Vatican Museums early morning fast track
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel early morning entrance tickets

• Likely to sell out • Enter 30-mins before opening • Enjoy the Sistine in the quiet • 2.5 hour tour • All entrances covered

vatican museums

FRIDAY NIGHT VATICAN MUSEUMS & SISTINE CHAPEL TOUR

Vatican Museums night tour fast track
April to October Friday night opening Vatican Museums

• Beat the crowds • Expert tour guide • 3-hr tour • Likely to sell out • Instant confirmation • Add on your own entrance ticket

vatican museums

SKIP THE LINE VATICAN MUSEUMS & SISTINE CHAPEL WITH OPTIONAL LUNCH UPGRADE

Vatican Museums tour fast track
Hotel pick up - Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel fast track

• Hotel pick-up • Local guide • All entrances included • Several departures per day • Am/pm or full-day tour


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 st peter's

VATICAN MUSEUMS, SISTINE CHAPEL & ST PETER'S HALF DAY WALKING TOUR

Vatican Museums and St Peter's fast track
Vatican Museums & St Peter's half-day walking tour

• Fast track entrance throughout the day • Fully narrated tour • Headsets • Free Wi-Fi at entrance • Add on your entrances

vatican st peter's

FASTER THAN SKIP-THE-LINE VATICAN MUSEUMS, SISTINE CHAPEL & ST PETER'S TOUR

Vatican Museums and St Peter's fast track
Vatican & St Peter's tour with official Vatican partner entrance

• No-wait access • Professional guide • All entrances included • Multiple departures available • Small group tour

vatican st peter's

EARLY ACCESS VATICAN MUSEUMS, SISTINE CHAPEL & ST PETER'S TOUR

Vatican Museums and St Peter's fast track
Small group Vatican Museums & St Peter's tour

• All entrances included • Professional guide • Small group - no more than 12 max • Likely to sell out • Entrances to Vatican & Sistine Chapel included

vatican early morning tour

VATICAN GARDENS HALF-DAY TOUR WITH BREAKFAST

Vatican Gardens tour
Exclusive half-day guided tour with breakfast and gardens

• Avoid the crowds • Admission to the Vatican Museums & St Peter's • American buffet breakfast to start your day • 3-hr guided tour • Walking tour of the Vatican Gardens

Which museums are there in the interior of Vatican

Vatican Museum Sphere within Sphere
Vatican Museum, Sphere Within Sphere

Gregorian Egyptian Museum

Nine rooms rich in treasures from Roman Eygpt and Egyptian-influenced Rome.

Pio Clementino Museum

Several large exhibition halls predominantly focussed on classical scuplture.

Lapidary Gallery

Long corridor, home to the richest collection of lapidary in the Vatican.

Gregoriano Profano Museum

Movements and themes in classical art from Ancient Greece to late Imperial Rome.

Pius-Christian Museum

Houses evidence of early Christian communities of the first centuries and beyond.

Jewish Lapidarium

One of the most important collections of ancient inscriptions in the Vatican.

Ethnological Museum Anima Mundi

Objects and works of art from all over the world.

Christian Museum

Explores faith and culture of Christians from the first centuries onwards.

Room of the Aldobrandini Wedding

Displays the Roman fresco of the same name along with other Roman age paintings.

Collection of Contemporary Art

Large collection covering end of 19th century up to early 20th century.

Raphael's Rooms

Four rooms known as the Stanze of Raphael part of Julius II della Rovere apartment.

Niccoline Chapel

Beautiful frescoes cover the interior by Beato Angelico.

Room of the Immaculate Conception

Large room with frescoes celebrating the dogma of the Immaculate conception.

Gregorian Etruscan Museum

Dedicated to Etruscan antiques dating back to the Iron Age.

Chiaramonti Museum

Sculpture, architecture and painting with over 1000 items of sculpture on display.

New Wing

As confiscated works were returned a new wing was built to house classical sculpture.

Lapidario Profano ex Lateranense

Inscriptions divided into two main groups based on origin. Extra-urban or municipal.

Christian Lapidarium

Collection of over 2000 Christian inscriptions, mainly funerary on marble.

Pinacoteca

Art gallery with over 460 paintings including masterpieces from the greatest artists in the history of Italian painting.

Carriage Pavillion

Historical evidence of the papal mobility, horse carriages and more modern vehicles.

Profane Museum

Profane antiquities of the Vatican (cameos, ivories, rock crystals & small bronzes).

Chapel of St.Peter Martyr

Beautiful chapel containing the precious relics of the Sancta Santorium.

Sistine Chapel

Breathtaking and awe inspiring. A place designed to emphasise sacredness and render the truths expressed in the Holy Scriptures more understandable.

Borgia Apartment

Six huge spaces which now house part of the Collection of Contemporary Art.

Chapel of Urban VIII

Private chapel in the south-west corner of the Borgia Tower.

Room of the Chiaroscuri

Previously housed those that looked after the pontiff, also known as the Parrot room.

The above list is a long way short of the detail one could go into on the treasures you are likely to see at the Vatican Museums, but it gives you an overview. If you would like to learn more about each of the museums within the Vatican then detailed information can be found on the Vatican Museums official website.

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