How to Visit the Sistine Chapel

Visiting the Sistine Chapel during your trip to Rome is a must, but crowds and long queues for tickets can spoil the experience. Here's everything you need to know to get the most out of it.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

9 min read

How to Visit the Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel | Pierre Voisin

The Sistine Chapel attracts millions of visitors, pilgrims, tourists and art lovers every year. Without a doubt, the quality, perfection and difficulty in the elaboration of its spectacular frescoes make it a work of art worthy of admiration. If you are in Rome, prepare your visit to make the most of one of its major attractions. Take note!

The most economical option

Rome Vatican and Sistine Chapel Skip-the-Line Tickets

Explore the Vatican's artistic jewel and museums without queues

Book your tickets to see the best of Roman architecture and art. Save time and money and explore the wonders that Vatican City has to offer its visitors, such as the impressive Sistine Chapel, at your own pace with an audio guide.

If you are in Rome and have not yet visited the Vatican, or if you want to do it again but without having to deal with queues and waiting, this is the ideal option. This full ticket will give you access to the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums and the Rooms of St. Raphael. You will be able to take as much time as you want to visit each of these spaces and you will have an audio guide to learn in detail about their history.

Recommended if... you want to visit Rome's iconic attractions without worrying about long queues and waiting time due to crowds of visitors.

Get cheaper tickets and skip the line tickets.

Roman Colosseum| ©Ruben Ramirez
Roman Colosseum| ©Ruben Ramirez

Even if you like to improvise during your travels, I encourage you to plan your visit and book your tickets to the Sistine Chapel in advance: booking your tickets well in advance and online will allow you to skip the queues, which can be kilometres long.

Keep in mind that nowadays the capacity is quite restricted, the groups for guided tours are also smaller and finding tickets or guided tours for the day and time that best suits you will be much easier if you book in advance. You can also compare prices, schedules and fares online and even get free cancellation if you have any unforeseen circumstances during your trip.

Other options to save on your visit to the Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions in the city of Rome, but so is the Colosseum. And I don't think you'd want to leave the Eternal City without visiting either of these two key attractions, so there's an option for you to buy a combined ticket to the Colosseum and the Vatican and save time and money on both visits.

You'll be able to skip the queues at both monuments and you'll be accompanied by a guide at all times, who will explain the most important things you shouldn't miss at each site.

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Sistine Chapel ticket prices

Complying with security measures| ©Gabriella Clare Marino
Complying with security measures| ©Gabriella Clare Marino

Tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums can be purchased at the ticket office (which I do not recommend, as you may encounter endless queues) or online, in advance on websites such as Hellotickets, to secure your admission.

Estimated prices are:

  • Adults: 36€ (regular) and 45€ (with audioguide)
  • Children from 6 to 17 years old: 21€ (regular) and 31€ (with audioguide)
  • Students: €25 (regular) and €32 (with audioguide)
  • Children under 6: free
  • Disabled visitors (74%) + carer: free of charge

Join a guided tour to get a good understanding of all you see

Courtyard of the Vatican Museums| ©HarshLight
Courtyard of the Vatican Museums| ©HarshLight

Like any self-respecting work of art, the Sistine Chapel is best appreciated and enjoyed with an expert guide. In addition to accompanying you through the immense corridors and giving you a guided tour of the Vatican Museums, he or she will explain what you are going to see in the Sistine Chapel and why it has become one of the most valued works in the history of art in the world.

You will make much better use of your time and you will know where to look so as not to get lost among so many details. The difficulty of its production, the history behind its creation and the importance of the depth, the colours used and the perspective employed in the work are just some of the comments that will make you take away great memories of your visit to the Sistine Chapel.

You can also take the opportunity to ask the guide all the questions you have, curiosities you want to reveal and recommendations to continue enjoying your visit to the Vatican.

Book your tickets to the Sistine Chapel

How to avoid crowds during your visit

Sistine Chapel full of tourists| ©Nick Gray
Sistine Chapel full of tourists| ©Nick Gray

If there is one thing that can spoil your visit to the Sistine Chapel, it is the large number of visitors that can accumulate inside. Fortunately, access and capacity are now more limited, which will allow you to enjoy its beauty with greater peace of mind (and, of course, in total safety).

Even so, it is always best to avoid the middle of the day and try to get in early in the morning if you are an early riser or late in the afternoon, when many international tourists are already thinking about dinner. Keep in mind that weekends and public holidays tend to be more crowded, so if you're in Rome for several days, try to visit the Sistine Chapel during the week.

One of the best ways to get the most out of your visit to the Sistine Chapel is to join a premium guided tour that takes place early in the morning, before the Sistine Chapel opens its doors to the general public. You'll pay a little more than the regular guided tours, but the peace and quiet of strolling through the Vatican Museums at this time of day is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Book your tickets to the Sistine Chapel early in the morning

Sistine Chapel visiting hours

Detail of the side of the Sistine Chapel| ©Juan de Dios Santander Vela
Detail of the side of the Sistine Chapel| ©Juan de Dios Santander Vela
  • The Sistine Chapel is open every day at 8:30 am.
  • From Monday to Thursday it is open until 18:30 in the evening (although the last access is allowed only until 16:30).
  • On Fridays and Saturdays the opening hours are longer, as it is open until 22:30 (the last entrance of the day is at 20:30).

When does the Sistine Chapel close?

Although the Sistine Chapel is open every day of the week, bear in mind that there may be religious celebrations during the year that limit access to the Chapel during certain hours or on certain days. In addition, there are certain key dates in the calendar during which the Chapel remains closed. Please note:

  • Easter Day
  • St. Peter's Day (29 June)
  • Christmas Day (25 December)
  • 26 December**(St. Stephen's Day**)

Book your tickets to the Sistine Chapel

Be careful with your camera

The creation of man| ©pululante
The creation of man| ©pululante

Although you are allowed to take photos without flash in almost all the galleries of the Vatican Museums, photos in the Sistine Chapel are not allowed. Be aware that there are security personnel checking that visitors do not take photographs**(with or without flash**) because the main priority is to maintain the delicacy of Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.

Honestly, I don't recommend you to keep your eye on your camera or to run away from the guards' gaze in order to take pictures. The grandeur of the place deserves your full attention and you will find thousands of high quality photos on the internet that will allow you to have a souvenir of the Chapel or to see its details whenever you need to.

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What do I need to consider when visiting the Sistine Chapel?

Dress appropriately for visiting the places of worship.| ©Anna Church
Dress appropriately for visiting the places of worship.| ©Anna Church

The Sistine Chapel, as its name suggests, is a religious chapel and is therefore considered a place of worship. To access it you will have to comply with the appropriate dress code (shoulders, knees and necklines must always be covered during the visit).

If you are in Rome during the summer season and the heat prevents you from wearing long sleeves, I recommend that you bring a scarf, foulard or sweatshirt that allows you to cover your shoulders - keep in mind that inside the Vatican Museums it is not as hot as in the street, so don't worry about the high temperatures of the city.

In addition to proper attire, you'll also need to keep quiet during your time in the Chapel and, as mentioned above, photography is not allowed. In this guide full of tips for visiting the Vatican I give you some interesting recommendations.

What will I see in the Sistine Chapel?

Enjoy its beautiful decoration| ©Richard Mortel
Enjoy its beautiful decoration| ©Richard Mortel

The first thing that will catch your attention is that the Sistine Chapel is a large open-plan room, 40 metres long and 13 metres wide. Along its walls, but above all in its spectacular vault, you can contemplate more than 300 different figures represented in various frescoes that will leave you open-mouthed.

These frescoes represent different stories from the Old Testament, but without a doubt the image that catches all eyes is that of the Creation and the Last Judgement. The best way to appreciate all the details is to try to move around the room and contemplate the works from the different angles of the Chapel.

The colour, realism, proportion and perspective of the images, as well as the dynamism they convey, will captivate you from the very first moment. There are several benches around the Chapel, but their use is not permitted in order to avoid crowds. Take as much time as you can to appreciate this unique work of art.

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How much time do I need to see the Sistine Chapel?

Detail of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel| ©pululante
Detail of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel| ©pululante

If you visit with a group on a guided tour, you'll have about 15-30 minutes to wander around at your leisure, and that's enough time to absorb the highlights of the works. Still, you could spend hours in the Sistine Chapel, not because of its size - it's a relatively small room compared to other galleries within the Vatican Museums - but the level of detail in the frescoes is impressive.

If you have bought tickets to the Vatican Museums and are touring them on your own, you may be able to stop for a little longer, but be aware that seating inside the Chapel is limited so it is possible that after about 30 minutes (depending on the number of people inside) you may be asked to move on to the next rooms by security personnel.

You should know that even if you visit the Chapel with a guided tour, you will not be able to receive instructions from the guide during your visit, as it is mandatory to remain silent, so before entering you will be told which details are worth paying more attention to in order to get the most out of your visit.

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What can I see after visiting the Sistine Chapel?

Visit the dome of St. Peter's Basilica| ©Clay Banks
Visit the dome of St. Peter's Basilica| ©Clay Banks

You should definitely complete your visit to the Sistine Chapel by visiting the main galleries of the Vatican Museums. To get here you will have had to either buy a Vatican Museums ticket or join a guided tour. Make the most of the investment and soak up the art in the main rooms, such as the Raphael Rooms, the Gallery of Maps or the impressive Gallery of Statues and Hall of Busts.

In addition, there is also a Gregorian Egyptian and Etruscan Museum if you are interested in this period of Art History. On your way through the Museums, you will also be able to see the famous spiral staircase that welcomes you to the site, as well as a landscaped square where you will find a small kiosk with tables where you can have a drink in the open air and recharge your batteries before or after your visit.

While you're in Vatican City, you shouldn't miss St. Peter's Basilica and the spectacular climb up to St. Peter's Dome for the best views of Rome. If you're left wanting more, you can read my article on what to see and do in the Vatican to make sure you don't miss a corner of this special place in Rome.

Book your tickets to the Sistine Chapel

Frequently asked questions

  • What are the ticket prices for the Sistine Chapel?

    Tickets to the Sistine Chapel cost around 36€.

  • What are the opening hours of the Sistine Chapel?

    The Sistine Chapel is open from Monday to Thursday from 8.30am to 6.30pm and Friday and Saturday from 8.30am to 10.30pm.