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The Roman Guy

Italy Travel Experts Tours and Vacations

aerial view of St. Peter's Square

The Best Vatican Tours To Take in 2024 and Why + Maps

Sean Finelli Last Updated: February 21, 2024

You already know that a trip to Rome is not complete without a visit to the famous country within the city: Vatican City. But there are so many different tour options, so how do you choose? It all depends on your travel interests and schedule. In this guide, you’ll discover our best Vatican tours and which one’s right for you.

Pro Tip: It’s easier to organize your trip when you have all your resources in one place. Create a browser folder and bookmark this post in your browser along with our article on the best Colosseum tours . We also have a dedicated guide to all things Vatican City where you’ll find everything you need.

All Vatican, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica Tours

All of our Vatican tours include skip-the-line tickets, local English-speaking guides, a tour of the Vatican Museums, and a visit to the Sistine Chapel. The right Vatican tour for you will depend on your interests, whether you want to see the Sistine Chapel without the crowds, and how much time you have to soak up all this beauty.

To help you find your perfect Vatican experience, here is a link bank of all our tours, followed by more in-depth descriptions and maps below.

Not ready to book a tour? Find out if a Vatican tour is worth it .

Express Vatican Tours (2 hours)

  • Vatican Night Tour with Sistine Chapel
  • Ultimate St. Peter’s Basilica Dome Climb

Classic Vatican Tours (2.5 – 3.5 hours)

  • Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel
  • Skip the Line Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica (start times throughout the day)
  • Exclusive After Hours Sistine Chapel Tour with Aperitivo

Full Experience Vatican Tours and Combos (4 or more hours)

  • St. Peter’s Dome Climb and Sistine Chapel Combo Tour
  • Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens & Castel Gandolfo Day Trip
  • Rome in a Day Tour Including Colosseum and Vatican Museums
  • Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Vatican Highlights Combo Tour

Vatican Tickets

Skip-the-line tickets for a self-guided Vatican visit:

  • Purchase skip-the-line Vatican tickets

The Best Vatican Tours to Take and Why

1. Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel

vatican tour pictures

Everyone knows the Vatican Museums are filled with crowds most of the day. That’s why this Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour is ideal if you want to avoid the crowds and heat. Why? It enters before the general public so you can enjoy a less-crowded time throughout your tour.

With fewer crowds and cooler temperatures inside the vast Vatican Museums, you can easily follow your guide through the Vatican’s galleries and museums. Explore the Pio-Clementino, the Gallery of Tapestries, and Raphael Rooms as your guide brings each location to life.

Of course, you’ll visit the Sistine Chapel where you’ll stand in awe under the centuries-old ceiling that has captivated travelers from around the world. Starting your day early in the Vatican is the best way to maximize your vacation.

2. Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Vatican Highlights Combo Tour

map of vatican museum tour

Want to see both the Vatican and the Colosseum? This combo tour gets you more bang for your buck by combining them! You’ll enjoy skip-the-line entry at both the Colosseum and the Vatican. First, dive into ancient Roman history at the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill where you’ll walk in the steps of Gladiators and Emperors.

After lunch, rejoin the tour at the Vatican to hear stories of papal intrigue and see some of the world’s most celebrated artworks by masters like Raphael and Michelangelo, and, of course, the Sistine Chapel.

Not ready to book a tour? Find out if Rome tours are worth it .

3. Private Skip the Line Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel

vatican tour pictures

If you don’t have time for an early morning tour or would prefer to visit in the afternoon, then our Private Skip the Line Vatican Tour is the one for you. With multiple start times throughout the day and skip-the-line tickets, you’ll find a time that’s just right for you and get straight to exploring.

4. Rome in a Day including Colosseum and Vatican Museums

vatican tour pictures

Our Rome in a Day Tour is one of our most popular tours to date. You start your day with a comprehensive tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica with an English-speaking guide. Then you head to the city for a walking tour of the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and Trevi Fountain. End your day tour of Rome with a full Colosseum tour that includes the Roman Forum.

This is a great way to get the main highlights of Rome before you head out to discover it even better on your own. We provide transportation from the Vatican to the center of Rome, but this tour spends a lot of time on your feet. You’ll be ready for a delicious dinner when you’re done exploring one of the best tours of the Vatican and Rome!

Not ready to book a tour? Check out our  best Rome tours to take and why .

5. Ultimate St. Peter’s Basilica Dome Climb

vatican tour pictures

Looking for the best views in Rome? We know where to go. Our Ultimate St. Peter’s Basilica Dome Climb  takes you to the top of the famous dome right as it opens and before there are any lines. Most of all, it’s before the heat of the day!

After you’ve climbed to the incredible lookout and soaked up those views, your guide will escort you into St. Peter’s Basilica for a guided tour that includes the Papal Crypts. For a quick tour of St. Peter’s and the dome, this is one of the best Vatican tours you can take.

Not ready to book a tour? Check out our  Vatican Guide for more info.

6. Exclusive After Hours Sistine Chapel with Aperitivo

map of vatican city

Looking for that truly exclusive opportunity to enjoy the Vatican and Sistine Chapel? This might just be what you need. With a late afternoon entry to the Vatican, you’ll be led with your small group through the highlights. Then you’ll step into the Sistine Chapel along with no more than 100 other people (usually at least 2,000 during the day)!

Your guide’s stories about this magnificent ceiling will come to life as you experience quiet time in the Sistine Chapel that few ever will. Afterwards, enjoy a drink on us during your aperitivo in the Pinecone Courtyard.

Not ready to book a tour? Find out how to visit the Sistine Chapel .

7. St. Peter’s Dome Climb and Sistine Chapel Combo Tour

map of vatican tour

Want to get more bang for your buck? Book our St. Peter’s Dome Climb and Sistine Chapel Combo Tour . No matter how many times you’ve been to Rome, this is a great way to start your trip.

Enjoy views from the most scenic viewpoint at St. Peter’s Basilica before the crowds and the heat. Then follow your guide to your skip-the-line entrance at the Vatican where you’ll see the top highlights before stepping into the Sistine Chapel.

8. Vatican Night Tour with Sistine Chapel

vatican tour pictures

On this guided Vatican visit, enter the Vatican Museums after hours and experience the museums with very few other people. You’ll feel like a VIP on this after-hours night tour of the Vatican. It’s the best way to really enjoy the quiet solitude in the 9 miles of museums here.

Not to mention, you’ll get to stand under the Sistine Chapel with just a handful of people around you. It’s almost as exclusive as you can get without booking a private tour. This Vatican Night Tour only runs on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer, making it a very exclusive experience.

9. Skip the Line Vatican Tickets

vatican tour pictures

Want to explore the Vatican Museums at your own pace but with the benefit of skip-the-line tickets? Then reserve your own tickets with our privileged access that lets you bypass the crowds.

You’ll meet our helpful attendant near the Vatican Museums entrance, where they’ll escort you past the general line and into the reserved group entry. There you’ll go through security and be free to explore the Vatican and Sistine Chapel as long as you like.

10. Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens & Castel Gandolfo Day Trip

vatican tour pictures

Are you visiting Rome on a Saturday during the spring or summer months? Why not make a whole day of it with our Vatican Museums, Gardens, and Castel Gandolfo Day Trip ?

With this experience, you will take a guided tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens, and a day trip by train to the Pope’s summer residence. A return train ticket and delicious lunch fit for a pope are included!

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July 5, 2019

We are currently looking at all the various tour possibilities. Do you have tours which cover one or more of the restricted hidden areas of the Vatican Museums; namely the Bramante Staircase, the Niccoline Chapel and the Cabinet of Masks? Thank You.

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What should I not miss in the Vatican Museums?

The Vatican Museums house 70,000 of the world’s greatest artistic treasures, of which 20,000 are on display. From ancient Roman sculptures to Renaissance paintings, it would take days to discover it all, which is why we highly recommend booking a Vatican tour to help you make the most of your time at the museums.

A few of the collection’s undisputed highlights are:

  • The Sistine Chapel, adorned with Michelangelo’s legendary frescoes
  • The Raphael Rooms, which include the famous School of Athens
  • The Gallery of the Maps, perhaps the most famous of the Museums’ galleries adorned with 40 maps depicting the different regions of Italy
  • Laocoön and His Sons, an enigmatic masterpiece of ancient sculpture
  • The Belvedere Torso, which is said to have influenced the work of Michelangelo himself

Why is the Sistine Chapel so famous?

The Sistine Chapel is perhaps the most famous individual room in the entire world. This is in no small part due to the significant artistic masterpieces adorning its interior, with Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment” and ceiling frescoes being the highlights.

Pope Sixtus IV, the chapel’s namesake, commissioned its construction in the late 15th century. Today, its best-known use is for the papal conclaves, the process through which a new pope is elected by the College of Cardinals. It also serves as the Pope’s own private chapel when he is at the Vatican.

Want to have the Sistine Chapel all to yourself, just like the Pope? Avoid the crowds on a VIP tour outside opening hours. For a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can even accompany the Vatican Key Master himself as he opens the silent halls and galleries in the Vatican Museums early in the morning—including the Sistine Chapel.

What can I see inside St. Peter’s Basilica?

As the largest church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica is itself a masterpiece of art and architecture. It houses some of the most significant religious art in the world, including Michelangelo’s moving Pietà sculpture and the Baldachin, Bernini’s massive bronze altar canopy.

Michelangelo was also the mastermind behind the famous dome crowning the basilica. Climbing the dome is a fantastic way to see not just the incredible mosaics lining the interior up close, but also to feast your eyes on spectacular views over Rome from the very top. Keep in mind that there are over 500 steps to get to the top of the dome from ground level, though an elevator is available to bypass approximately the first half. Underneath the Basilica, the Papal Crypts mark the final resting place of some of the most important Popes in Catholic history.

A guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica will give you an up-close look at all of these treasures and more. Led by an expert art historian guide, you’ll see a side of the world’s most iconic church that few others get to experience.

Is it possible to get skip the line tickets for the Vatican?

The best and easiest way to ensure you skip the line at the Vatican is to book a guided tour . With no-wait access to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, you’ll save precious hours of time that would have been spent in line. Plus, you'll be in the company of an insightful guide who can provide context on the innumerable masterpieces that can be hard to make sense of on your own.

What are the Vatican Museums’ opening hours?

The Vatican Museums are open Monday to Saturday from 9 am–6 pm. They tend to get more crowded the later in the day you go, so consider booking an early morning Vatican tour to get ahead of the crowds and ensure a more relaxed visit.

For an especially exclusive experience, consider joining the Vatican Key Master himself as he unlocks the silent halls, galleries, and even the Sistine Chapel first thing in the morning before the Museums open to the public. Accompanied by a small group of just 20 other people, the Key Master’s Tour is the most special way to experience the Vatican in total peace and quiet.

Don’t want to get up early? Another excellent option is to take a special access tour after closing time to wander the halls of the Vatican in peace—and have the Sistine Chapel all to yourself.

From May through October, the Vatican Museums offer extended opening hours until 10:30 pm on Fridays and 8 pm on Saturdays. Taking a night tour of the Vatican is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t soon forget!

The Museums are closed most Sundays (except for the last Sunday of every month) and on certain public holidays.

What is the Vatican dress code?

The Vatican is a religious site, and official rules mandate that visitors dress appropriately or risk being turned away. All guests regardless of gender are required to keep their shoulders and knees covered. In warmer months, it’s useful to have a shawl, scarf, or light jacket handy to pull on when entering the Vatican if your outfit doesn’t meet the dress code standards. Additionally, hats are not allowed.

While the Vatican dress code doesn’t have any hard-and-fast rules regarding footwear, keep in mind that you’ll be doing a lot of walking on your Vatican tour. As long as you have comfortable shoes that are good for walking, you’re all set.

What are the best restaurants near the Vatican?

While there aren’t any restaurants within Vatican City itself, the surrounding Prati and Trionfale neighborhoods offer plenty of excellent options—particularly if you don’t mind walking a few blocks away (or further) from the Vatican walls. For a quick, on-the-go option, Anthony Bourdain-approved Bonci Pizzarium serves up some of the best pizza by the slice in Rome. In the mood for a sit-down meal after spending hours on your feet at the Vatican? Velavevodetto ai Quiriti—the Prati outpost of Testaccio icon Flavio al Velavevodetto—is perfect for home-cooked Roman classics.

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