Check out this comprehensive guide to the best Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel tickets and tours that let you skip the line.
I mean, who wants to wait in line 2-3 hours to enter a museum while on holiday? I definitely don’t, and I bet you agree! Unfortunately, that turns out to be the reality for many tourists to Rome who don’t plan their visit to the Vatican Museums in advance, and end up waiting in line.
Trust me when I say I never saw queues as long as the ones at the Vatican Museums. I’m not joking when I say that you could very likely wait in line for multiple hours – I’ve seen the queue being as long as 1 km outside the entrance, I kid you not. And when you mix it with the summer heat of Rome if you’re visiting in high season, that definitely doesn’t sound appealing, does it? But you don’t have to to take the Sistine Chapel, located inside the Vatican Museums, out of your Rome itinerary.
Fortunately there’s a way to avoid the queues: plan in advance and book Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums skip the line tickets! But which one to choose? To help you plan your visit, I’ve put together this very comprehensive guide to the best tours and tickets to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums that let you skip the line. You’ll thank me later!
Table of Contents
Before Visiting the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel in Rome
Before visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, here it’s some practical information to help you plan your trip.
Hours of Operation
The Vatican Museums are open from Monday to Saturday, 9 AM to 6 PM (last entry at 4 PM). The museum is closed on Sunday except for the last Sunday of the month.
Please note: Hours are different at this time.
From Monday to Thursday from 10 AM to 8 PM (last entry at 6 PM). Fridays and Saturdays: from 10 AM to 10 PM (last entry at 8 PM). The openings of the last Sunday of the month are currently suspended.
How to Get to the Vatican Museums in Rome
Using the metro is the best option to get around Rome unless your destination is within walking distance.
➤ Take metro line A to the Ottaviano – S. Pietro station: The Vatican Museums are just a 5-minute walk from there. If you prefer to take the bus, buses 40 and 64 are very frequent and connect Rome city center with the Vatican as well.
Free Tickets to the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
If you’re visiting Rome on the last Sunday of the month, you can visit the Vatican Museums for free from 9 AM to 2 PM (and get free entry to the Sistine Chapel as well).
However, it doesn’t mean that if it’s free you should go for it. Yes, you’ll get to save some money, but expect very large crowds. Maybe you don’t mind, but if you do, keep reading…
Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Tickets: Skip the Line & Enjoy your Visit!
There are quite a few ways to visit the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums that allow you to skip the line. You can go on a self-guided tour by pre-booking skip-the-line tickets in advance, you can book a tour, or skip the crowds altogether by getting an early entry ticket or a night tour.
I personally use GetYourGuide whenever I want to book a tour anywhere in the world. This platform not only lists very high-quality tours and activities, but offers a 24-hour cancellation policy (you can cancel up to 24 hours before the tour). With the current situation this is more important than ever, and it allows you to plan your trip without worries. I trust this company, so you’ll find options from their platform on this post.
Let’s see them all!
Pre-Book your Vatican Skip the Line Tickets and Visit on Your Own
It is possible to buy Vatican Museum tickets directly at the ticket booth, but I don’t recommend it because of the hours-long queues.
PLEASE NOTE: Because of the current situation, all tickets to the Museums must be booked in advance.
Trust me, the couple extra dollars it costs to pre-book a skip-the-line ticket are absolutely worth it. You can buy your tickets on the official website, but I recommend buying your skip the queue Vatican tickets on Get Your Guide. This way you can cancel your visit up to 24 hours before the visit and get a full refund, no questions asked. I don’t know about you, but my plans keep changing! You’ll get to skip the line and save hours.
Book a Vatican Skip the Line Guided Tour
I’ll be honest, I get bored pretty quickly when visiting museums, and most of the times it’s because I don’t really understand what I’m looking at. So, when planning my trip to Rome I decided to book a guided tour and oh boy – I’m so glad I did!
I learnt so much from my guide, and visiting the collections with someone who told me the story behind the most important pieces made it very interesting, fascinating and so not boring. A guided tour to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums is really the way to go if you can!
These are the best fast track Sistine chapel tours.
The Skip-the-Ticket-Line Vatican Tour, Sistine, & St. Peter’s is the highest rated tour on Get Your Guide and is operated by the official Vatican partner tour operator, so it’s a real safe choice and arguably the best skip the line Vatican tour.
In this 3-hour tour you’ll get to enjoy faster than skip-the-line access through a private entrance, and your guide will show you the highlights of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel. You’ll finish with a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica, once again with a skip-the-line ticket.
➤ For the ultimate experience of the Vatican, this skip the line Vatican tour includes a guided tour of the Papal Tombs on top of the regular skip-the-line tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica.
➤ If you prefer a private tour, check out this Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel tour. It’s pricier, of course, but you’ll get skip-the-ticket-line access through a partner entrance and a dedicated guide for your group that’ll be able to answer as many questions as you’d like.
Book an Early Entry Ticket / Tour to the Sistine Chapel
When it comes to Vatican Museums early entry tickets, you’ll find quite a few options. Here below I selected the two tours that in two different ways offer the best value for money.
➤ The Early Access Admission Tickets are a great option for those who want to see the Sistine Chapel with no crowds. You’ll get to enter the Vatican Museums a full hour and 30 minutes before the general public. You’ll visit first the Sistine Chapel, and then you’ll have the whole day to explore the rest of the Vatican Museums at your own pace. Please note these are fast track Sistine Chapel tickets and not a guided tour – if you prefer to visit with a guide see the option below.
➤ This other option is a 3.5-hour, early entry guided tour. Have breakfast with the small group then skip the ticket lines and enter the Vatican Museums an hour before the general public arrives. Your guide will show you around the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Reserve a Night Tour of the Vatican Museums
If you want to visit the Vatican Museums without the crowds but you’re not a morning person (I’m with you!), there’s one more option: a night tour.
The Vatican Museums are open at night exceptionally on Fridays from mid-April to the end of October, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly if you’re interested in this option.
➤ The Vatican at Night Tour will allow you to visit the museums and the Sistine Chapel led by an expert guide in a small group (max 6 participants). And of course, it comes with skip-the-line admission!
➤ And if you’re looking for an even more special experience, what about starting your night visit of the Vatican Museums with a lovely Italian-style aperitif in the Pinecone courtyard? There are few more special settings for happy hour in the world!
Book a Combo Ticket to the Vatican Museums + Colosseum or Other Rome Attractions
If you have limited time in Rome ( 2 days or less), or you simply want to pack as many attractions as possible in one day, take a look at these combo tickets below. Not only they will save you a considerable amount of time as you’ll get to skip the line, but you’ll also save money. If you were to buy a separate tour for each attraction, you’d end up spending even double!
➤ The 2 in 1 Vatican & Colosseum Ticket includes a skip-the-line, guided tour of the Vatican City (including St. Peter’s Basilica), plus priority skip-the-ticket-line Colosseum + Roman Forum ticket. Please note that while you’ll visit the Museums with a guide, the visit to the Colosseum will be a self-guided tour.
➤ For those who are in a time crunch, the Rome in One Day Tour a great way to see all the highlights of Rome in just one day. This tour includes skip-the-line tickets at all the attractions, and a guided visit of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. This is very similar to a tour I personally went on (review here) and I loved it!
➤ If you’re Catholic or simply more interested in religious sites, check out also the Vatican & Pope’s Summer Residence Day Tour. In this tour you’ll get to visit the pope’s summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, the Papal Palace and the pope’s private gardens, before skipping the line and visiting the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s with a guide.
How to Save Money & Skip the Line with a Rome Pass
Spending 3 days in Rome or more? You might want to look into one of the Rome passes. These passes include access to a multitude of attractions and activities for a one-time fee, and if you plan your visit well and take advantage of the pass as much as you can, you can absolutely save hundreds of dollars. Plus, most of the passes already include skip-the line access to the main attractions!
➤ I’ve researched a few available options, and I believer the Vatican & Rome City Pass with Free Transportation offers the best value.
This pass not only includes fast track entrance to Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, but also free admission to 2 of the following attractions: Capitoline Museums, Castel Sant’Angelo, Colosseum, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum, plus price reductions to many other museums and attractions.
The main difference with other passes is that it comes with a free 3-day hop-on hop-off bus tour and an unlimited 72-hour travel card for public transportation (which is going to be a life saver!).
➤ If you’re only interested in visiting the main Rome attractions and you don’t need an unlimited transportation pass, check out also the Best of Rome All Access Pass.
This pass include fast track reserved entry to the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hills, plus reserved entry to St. Peter’s Basilica and official audioguide.
These passes in my opinion are great if you have limited time in the city and plan to make the most out of your visit. If you want to visit the city at a more leisurely pace, though, individual skip-the-line tickets to singular attractions might be a better option.
An Introduction to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
If you’re reading this post, chances are you already know a thing or two about the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, so I’ll just give you a little re-introduction to remind you why a visit to the Vatican should 100% be included in your Rome itinerary.
The Vatican Museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the early 1500’s, and considering that the later popes kept expanding the collection, it’s easy to understand why the Vatican Museums are one of the most important art collections in the world. You can visit the Vatican Museums in as little as a couple of hours, but you could also spend a full day (or more) here: the museum is made of over 7 km of statues, paintings and other art pieces – crazy, right?
Expect all kinds of art from very different times. Some of the highlights of the Vatican Museums are the Raphael Rooms, 4 rooms frescoed by Raphael, the Gallery of the Statues (beautiful statues in marble), and the 9 rooms of the Gregorian Egyptian Museum where you’ll find tons of Egyptian artifacts. Check out also the Spiral Staircase, one of the most photographed staircases in the whole world.
The Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo is part of the Vatican Museums, but it’s often refereed to as separately because it’s no ordinary art piece. The Sistine Chapel will most likely be the grand finale of your visit to the Vatican Museums before exiting the grounds.
Visiting the Vatican Museums with Children
Visiting the Vatican Museums & the Sistine Chapel with children can prove challenging, especially if you are traveling to Rome with young kids.
The huge lines, coupled with the summer heat if you are visiting in the high season, take a toll on adults as well, so the experience is less than enjoyable for children. Plus, the Vatican Museums are huge, and not very interactive at all, which means the visit can be quite boring for kids.
Trust me, growing up in Italy meant that as a child was dragged to tens of museums and castles and exhibitions, and it was so boring! But this doesn’t mean you should skip the museums, it just means you’ll have to plan your visit a little bit more!
First of all, you definitely want to make sure you book in advance your Vatican and Sistine Chapel tickets skip the line – double important when you are visiting with kids. And to make things more interesting and interactive, consider booking a tour specifically for children. I’ve found two really good ones.
➤ The Vatican & Sistine Chapel Skip the Line Tour for Kids is a private, skip-the-line tour for your family. Although pricier than a group tour, it allows kids and adults to explore the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica with interactive visual learning tools, pop-up books, iPad games, and trivia. Definitely not a boring tour!
➤ This other Sistine Chapel & Vatican Tour Skip the Line for Kids is a group tour (more affordable) for children and their families, but it looks equally fun! Throughout this tour, children will join in games and win prizes while visiting the Vatican’s collections.
Tips for Visiting the Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums
COVID-19 Safety Measures:
• It is mandatory to wear a mask covering mouth and nose throughout the whole visit.
• Your temperature will be taken at the entrance, and visitors with a body temperature over 37.5 Celsius degrees will be denied entry.
• It’s mandatory to keep a minimum of 1 meter of social distance at all times.
Skip the Line: Expect very long lines if you don’t buy a skip-the-line ticket prior to your visit (possibly hours long). I strongly suggest buying your tickets online to avoid wasting time. You can buy your skip the line Vatican tickets here.
Accessibility: Visitors with a certified invalidity over 74% can enter the museums for free (a companion as well if the visitor isn’t self sufficient). The museums are accessible to visitors on regular wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs and mobile scooters. However, in some areas electric wheelchairs aren’t allowed – traditional wheelchairs can be hired free of charge at the entrance hall.
Dress Code: Only appropriately dressed visitors will be allowed inside the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel… and it really would be a shame to travel all that way and not being let in cause you’re not wearing the right clothing! Remember that shirts, miniskirts, low cut or sleeveless clothing, and hats are not allowed.
Photography: You’are allowed to take pictures in the Vatican Museums without flash. However, it’s forbidden to take any photographs inside the Sistine Chapel. Tripods and selfie sticks are not allowed.
Best Time to Visit: During the week after lunch the museums seems a little less crowded, as many group tours have left.
Frequently Asked Questions
At the time of writing, regular tickets on the official site are 17 euro.
It is not mandatory to book your tickets for the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums in advance, but it’s highly recommended as the queues for the ticket office and the queues to enter the museums can be hours long.
Yes, you should, and make sure they are Vatican fast track tickets. You’ll avoid waiting in line for possibly hours!
Jeans are permitted – shirts, miniskirts, low cut or sleeveless clothing, and hats are not allowed.
Skip the line Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel tickets are highly recommended and in my opinion absolutely worth the few extra euros, especially if you are visiting during high season.
2 to 4 hours is the average visit to the Museums and St. Peter’s. I recommend setting aside a good half a day to visit the Vatican without rushing, and more if you’re not booking in advance your Vatican Museum tickets online.
After lunch during the week, the museums seem less crowded as many of the group tours visit in the morning.
Is this even a real question? The Sistine Chapel is absolutely worth a visit!
You can’t take pictures in the Sistine Chapel because the flashes from cameras can be harmful to the painting. The guards are very strict about everyone respecting this rule.
You won’t need your passport to visit the Vatican as there are no border controls between Italy and the Vatican.