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St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican was until recently the largest church ever built and it remains one of the holiest and most important sites in Christendom.
Saint Peter's Basilica is purportedly built over the tomb of Saint Peter, the Prince of the Apostles who was also the first ever Pope.
Contrary to what one might reasonably assume, St Peter's is not a cathedral - that honour in Rome goes to the Basilica of St John Lateran.
On this page you can buy fast track tickets, guided tours and combined tours, as well as find out all you need to know to visit St Peter's Basilica independently.
Days of operation: not Wednesdays or Sundays.
Tour: audio guides available in Italian - English - Spanish - Portuguese - French - German - Russian - Polish - Japanese - Chinese
Departure times: many departures throughout the day
Meet at the ORP office in St Peter's Square and then skip the line to St Peter's Basilica with an audio guided tour of St Peter's included.
• Audio guide in 6 languages download to your phone • Every day, from 9 am until 3 pm • Children under 6 free
Days of operation: not Wednesdays or Sundays.
Tour: in English with your own personal headphones.
Departure times: Morning and afternoon
See the best of St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on a comprehensive 75-minute walking tour. Numbers are limited to 20 people on this St Peter's Basilica tour, ensuring you'll enjoy a more personalised experience.
Your small-group tour starts in St Peter’s Square, where you’ll meet your professional guide. Skip the lines with exclusive access through the Vatican.
After an introduction in the square, begin your small-group walking tour through St Peter’s Basilica, where your guide will point out to you everything you wanted to know: Michelangelo’s Pietà, the 91 papal tombs, and the statue of St. Peter for a blessing, which you traditionally rub for a blessing. You will end your tour of the world’s largest church with a view of the Swiss Guards in St. Peter’s Square.
Your tour finishes in St Peter's Basilica, where you can stay if you want to spend more time exploring this sacred place independently.
• All entrance fees included • Official Vatican guide • Several departures per day • Headsets to hear guide • Children under 7 free
• All entrance fees included • Fully guided tour featuring the Papal Crypt • Climb the dome for an amazing view • Small group - no more than 15 • 2.5 hour tour
The famous dome of St Peter is a distinctive landmark to head for, wherever you are in the nearby vicinity.
The Vatican itself although a separate state to the City of Rome is located in the centre of the city of Rome and is easily reached by public transport including the Metro.
We have a dedicated page devoted to travelling to the Vatican and St Peter's Square which St Peter's Basilica dominates.
St Peter's Basilica is situted in Vatican City, which is to the west of the ancient centre of Rome, across the River Tiber. It's address is: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City. Click on the Vatican map to open in new window.
St Peter's Basilica is open daily, April-Sept 7am-7pm and Oct-March 7am-6pm. The Treasury, Cupola and Grottoes will close slightly earlier than full closing time.
As with most things, if you get up early you can beat the rush. If you arrive at St Peter's early in the morning, the queues if at all, will be small. As tours start to arrive so do the people, but a lot of tours will have the fast-track tickets, so will skip the queue. You too can consider a fast-track buy online if you do not want an early start. As the day progresses, the late afternon will see a slow reduction in visitors and usually the closer you get to closing time at 7pm in peak season or 6pm in winter, the smaller the queue is likely to be.
There are caveats to this, for instance on Wednesday's when the Pope holds Papal audiences, when you can expect the crowds to be much larger. These are usually held at 10 or 10.30am and last up to 1.5hrs. Additionally peak season and weekends will be busier generally. St Peter's Basilica is open on Sundays, whereas the Vatican Museums are not, except for the last Sunday of each month.
This huge square was designed by Bernini and is meant to funnel worshippers into the arms of the Basilica. Entrance to the square is free but unless you go early expect lines, lots of tourists and crowds. You will most likely only get a full sense of its scale from above.
The dress code is strictly enforced at St Peter's Basilica.
Men must wear long trousers (no shorts) and cover their shoulders, women must not have either bare shoulders or skirts shorter than knee length.
As with many sites in Rome there are few information signs to explain what you are seeing. If you want more out of your visit than the images caught on your camera or phone you need either a guided tour or an audio guide or good guide book to make sense of what you are seeing.
Through the door and immediately on your right is an information desk that rents audio guides and guided tours in a range of languages. These are only a few Euros and quite reliable.
If you have pre-booked a skip-the-line ticket you will be provided with an access code to enter into an app that you can download onto your mobile. Be aware though, this can take a long time to download depending on your provider and you may not even get access by the time you have walked round!
At the foot of the steps up to the basilica there is an entrance to a reception area that fulfils several options. There is a left luggage area (free) which includes an area to leave child buggies plus toilets and a gift shop plus rental of audio guides.
You will also find the ticket desk and entrance to access the dome (cupola).
There are many gift shops dotted around St Peter's. You can also visit the gift shop on the south side of the Charlemagne Wing without going through the security queue, there is also a book shop situated here, near to the exit of the Basilica.
Once inside St Peter's there is another gift shop near the Holy Door. This is where you buy your tickets for the cupola too. By far the largest gift shop is on the roof. There is also a snack bar here, but you can only gain access to the roof by paying for a cupola ticket. If you do not want to make the climb from the roof to the top you can still visit the roof, gift shop and restaurant and relax here, whilst anyone else in your party makes the final climb.
It is free to enter the main St. Peter's Basilica, though there are admission fees for a few parts, see below.
If you think the queues in front of you snaking into the Vatican Basilica are long, odds are the Vatican Museums are longer and slower moving.
So do read our Vatican logistics page and have an informed strategy in place for one of the main reasons you came all this way to Rome.
The queues you join in St Peter's Square are to pass through the airport style scanners and security.
Get to St Peter's early, the queues may look long but they do move forward.
However, unless your visit to Rome is in the winter months by 11am the queue is snaking all around St Peter's Square -if so budget on queuing for about 45 minutes.
And like many attractions where queuing is an issue, St Peter's Basilica fast track, skip the line tickets are available.
Walking inside St Peter's Basilica makes you appreciate why there are queues all day everyday to get inside. The church is filled with Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces including Bernini's Baldacchino and Michelangelo's Pieta.
You will have something to marvel at in every corner with many renowned Renaissance artists and architects being involved in its creation.
Once inside and having walked around the interior you can climb the cupola for an additional fee and visit the Vatican Grottoes, which is a vast underground crypt that houses the tombs of Popes and Kings and Queens.
The church and dome is not the work of one architect but rather the combined visions of various Renaissance artists and architects working at different times over many years, most famously Michelangelo taking the previous designs and unifying the vision.
St Peter's Basilica dome is the tallest dome in the world. It measures 136.57 metres tall.
You can climb the dome and experience the incredible views it offers across Rome. It costs €8 if you take the stairs and €10 if you use the lift. These stairs and lift go to the first level but there are only steps for the second stage, so you will have to walk for this part. If you have vertigo this climb may not be for you, but if not, it is well worth the effort. Seeing the dome from both inside the church with light flooding through it's windows and then seeing the rest of Rome from the dome itself, standing atop of one of the most important buildings in Christendom is quite an experience.
If you wish to climb the dome itself, this is a ticketed option.
Your options include taking the steps all the way (551 steps) or a lift part of the way foot (320 steps). The admission charge is of course a couple of Euros less than if you take the lift.
Access to the dome is from:
8am to 6pm April to September
8am to 4.45pm October to March.
Once at the top, you have 360 degree views of St Peter's Square and the city of Rome. Allow about an hour for the experience.
The entrance to the treasury is signed. The treasury contains church ornaments, statues, papal mitres and various objects, usually gifts of kings or princes and an impressive art collection.
No photos allowed. Admission charge.
The Vatican Grottoes is a vast underground graveyard or crypt and can be found just below the Renaissance basilica and above Constantine’s 4th century basilica. The narrow entrance stairway down from within the basilica is not the most obvious so if this is important to you ask for guidance at the information desk.
It houses the tombs of scores of popes as well as kings and queens from the 10th century. The monuments to Paul VI (1978) and Pope John Paul II (2005) are also in the grottoes.
The Vatican Grottoes are free to enter and are open every day from: 7am to 6pm April to September 7am to 5pm October to March.
No photography allowed. You have to be silent in the Grottoes.
Make this your last call after your tour of the basilica, because once you exit the Grottoes you will be outside of the Basilica.
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.
• Fast track entrance throughout the day • Fully narrated tour • Headsets • Free Wi-Fi at entrance • Add on your entrances
• No-wait access • Professional guide • All entrances included • Multiple departures available • Small group tour
• All entrances included • Professional guide • Small group - no more than 12 max • Likely to sell out • Entrances to Vatican & Sistine Chapel included
• 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
|Vatican Museums tours & fast track tickets|
|Vatican Museums fast track tickets||From €27|
|Vatican Museums fast track tickets + audio guide||From €39.90|
|Vatican Museums fast track tickets + early entrance||From €56|
|Vatican Museums fast track access with coach transfers||From €60|
|Vatican Museums private tours with fast track access||Prices vary on numbers|
|St Peter's Basilica tours & fast track tickets|
|St Peter's Basilica fastrack with audio guide||From €19.50|
|St Peter's Basilica guided tour||From €27|
|St Peter's Basilica guided tour with access to cupola (Dome)||From €49|
|St Peter's & Vatican Museums combined tours|
|Vatican Museums + St Peter's (With Fast Track Access) Tour 1||From €57|
|Vatican Museums + St Peter's (With Fast Track Access) Tour 2||From €61|
|Early Access Vatican Museums Small-Group Tour with St Peter’s||From €92.50|
|Vatican Museums, Vatican Gardens & St Peter’s guided tour with breakfast||From €139|
|Vatican gardens tours|
|Vatican gardens walking tour||From €38|
|Vatican Gardens bus tour||From €85|
|Audience with the Pope|
|Audience with the Pope||From €32|