St Peter's Basilica, Rome - a practical guide

St Peter's Basilica opening hours, queuing, fast track entry and what to expect

St Peter's Basilica

Visiting independently: St Peter's Basilica


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St Peter's Basilica was until recently the largest church ever built and it remains one of the holiest sites in Christendom.

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.

Getting to St Peter's Basilica independently

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 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.

The logistics of visiting the Vatican independently.

St Peter's Basilica - opening hours and dress code

St Peter's Basilica is open daily, April-Sept 7am-7pm and Oct-March 7am-6pm.

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.

St Peter's Basilica - free entry but long queues.

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 St Peter's 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 come all this way to Rome.

Queues at The Vatican Museums

Queues: for security to go into St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica Interior

Audio guides: to rent at St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica Interior

St Peter's Baldachin: Chair of St Peter + St Peter's tomb

St Peter's Basilica Interior

Spectacular: St Peter's Basilica interior

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.

St Peter's Basilica - Ticketed areas and facilities

Audio guides at St Peter’s Basilica - charge

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 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!

Climbing St Peter’s cupola (dome) - charge

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 5pm 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.

St Peter's Treasury - charge

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.

Facilities : Toilets, left luggage

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).

Vatican Grottoes - free and easy to miss!

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.

St Peter's Basilica fast track entry with audio guide

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.

St Peter's Basilica Fast Track Entry With Audio  Tour

St Peter's Basilica guided tour with fast track entry

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.

St Peter's Basilica Fast Track Entry With  Guided  Tour

St Peter's Basilica fast track entry with access to cupola (dome) and basilica tour

St Peter's Basilica Fast Track Entry With Cupola  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 Walking Tour Pricing Information
Vatican Walking Tour Pricing Information
Vatican Walking Tour Pricing Information
Papal Audience at Vatican City Tickets
Vatican Fast Track Tickets & Tours

Vatican Museums Tours & Fast Track Tickets

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets   €27.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets + Audio Guide  €34.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum with Audio Guide

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets + Early Entrance    €52.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum before public opening

Vatican Museums Fast Track Access With Coach Transfers    €66.00

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    €19.50

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

St Peter's Basilica guided tour    €27.00

Small group tour maximum 20 people

St Peter's Basilica guided tour with access to cupola (Dome)    €49.00

includes lift access to the dome of St Peter's with far reaching views

St Peter's & Vatican Museums Combined Tours

Vatican Museums + St Peter's (With Fast Track Access) Tour 1    From €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 €58.50

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

Early Access Vatican Museums Small-Group Tour with St Peter’s    €96.50

Entry when doors open to Vatican Museums + St Peter's Basilicas

Vatican Museums, Vatican Gardens & St Peter’s guided tour with breakfast    €139

Complete tour of the Vatican with American breakfast in the Vatican Cafeteria

Vatican Gardens Tours

Vatican Gardens Walking Tour    €41.00

Includes admission to Vatican Museums

Vatican Gardens Bus Tour    €85.00

Includes admission to Vatican Museums

Audience with the Pope

Audience With The Pope    €27.00

Attending Wednesday audience with transfers

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