Plan Your Visit


Timings

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

From Monday to Saturday - 9.00 AM to 6.00 PM (final entry 4.00 PM)
Every last Sunday of the month - 9.00 AM to 2.00 PM (final entry 12.30 PM)

St. Peter’s Basilica

April to September - 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
October to March - 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Getting There

Metro
The closest station to the Vatican is the Ottaviano-S. Pietro station. Line A of the Rome Metro stops at this station every few minutes. Both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are a 5-minute walk from this metro station.

Train
The Vatican also has a train station, St Pietro. Commuter style trains stop here as well. However, both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are a 10-minute walk from this train station. This train stop is perfect for those coming from Civitavecchia, the cruise port for Rome.

Bus
Buses 40 and 64 frequently stop at the Vatican. Buses 62 and 81 also stop at the Vatican, albeit a little less frequently.

How to Beat the Vatican Queue

The Vatican is a must-see for everyone visiting Rome and it’s popularity manifests itself in the form of the queues that line up outside the Vatican. Every day, thousands upon thousands people flock to the holy city to marvel at its architecture and massive collection of Renaissance artworks and paintings from other periods as well. The queue of people waiting to get inside the Vatican is known to stretch for hours on end. If you end up at the Vatican without your tickets, then be prepared to stand in the ticket line for up to 2 hours before you’re able to even purchase your tickets.

Let us take a look at how you can make the most of your time at the Vatican, spending it in the galleries rather than the queues.

Purchase Tickets Online

Not purchasing your tickets online in advance is a cardinal mistake. The massive queue of people lining up outside the Vatican Museums is for those who are yet to purchase their tickets. If you purchase your tickets online in advance, then you will be able to bypass the queue and head straight to the security. There may be a small line at the security but it moves fast and cannot be avoided. Purchasing tickets online will cut your waiting time from a few hours (ticket queue + security) to a few minutes (security).

Time Your Visit

The best time to visit the Vatican is either early morning when the gates open or late afternoon. Mid-morning to early afternoon is usually the busiest period as the Vatican is thronged by tourists. Waves of people get down off their tourist buses where the queue ends, adding to its length and waiting time. Once the early wave of tourists lessen, the queue shortens down, but is still pretty formidable. If you have purchased your tickets online, then this won’t affect you anyway and you should be able to enter the Vatican Museums comfortably.

Guided Tours

As mentioned before, guided tours are one of the best ways to discover the Vatican City and its monuments. Apart from providing you with abundant knowledge, these tours also give you priority access to the central attractions of the Vatican City - St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. If you go on a guided tour, you will not have to wait in the long entrance lines or queue up to buy a ticket. Your guide will lead you past these hurdles and allow you to enter the sites with ease. If you are looking to save time as well as getting an in-depth knowledge of the Vatican City, then you should definitely go for a guided tour.

Things To Keep In Mind Before You Go

  • Make your plans ahead in time. If you don’t and find yourself at the waiting lines of the Vatican, then you very well may end up queuing for 3-4 hours. Make your plans ahead and purchase your tickets online in advance. On the day of your visit, you will be able to bypass the long ticket line and head inside without having to wait.
  • Go for a guided tour of the Vatican. The Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica have a lot of history and art stored within their walls. On a guided tour, you will be able to to learn much more than you would if you went alone. A guided tour is definitely a fulfilling way of experiencing the Vatican.
  • Give it enough time. The Vatican may be the smallest country in the world but it holds some of the largest collections of historical, cultural and artistic exhibitions in the world. There is so much to see that a couple of hours may not be enough. During the course of the day, remember to fuel yourself as well as all that walking can be tiring.
  • Follow the rules. The Vatican is the holiest of all Christian sites in the world. Given its stature, there are rules that every visitor to the Vatican must follow. Many sections of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums are no-photography zones. Certain sections like the Vatican Grottoes require one to maintain silence in order to maintain the sanctity of the place. Do keep these in mind so that you don’t face any issues at the Vatican.
  • Follow the dress code. It is extremely important to be dressed appropriately before you enter the Vatican. Sleeveless blouses, miniskirts, shorts and hats are not permitted. Large bags or backpacks cannot be carried inside. There are however cloak rooms that allow you to store your bags if you’re carrying any.
  • To get a free visit, go on the last Sunday of the month when the Vatican Museum does not charge an entrance fee.