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Vatican Museum Tickets: how to buy, prices and discounts

If you visit Rome you can't miss one of its jewels: I tell you everything you need to know to get tickets to the Vatican Museums, where you can see the incredible Sistine Chapel.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

15 min read

Vatican Museum Tickets: how to buy, prices and discounts

Colonnade in St Peter's Square | ©Mathew Schwartz

Vatican City, accessible on foot from the centre of Rome, is the residence of the popes and the centre of Catholic power in the world. Its main attractions are St. Peter's Basilica with its Dome, St. Peter's Square and the Vatican Museums with the Sistine Chapel.

If you want to avoid the queues, which are literally the longest queues in Rome, make sure you buy your ticket in advance. Here are the types of tickets available to buy in advance:

The most economical

Rome Vatican and Sistine Chapel Skip-the-Line Tickets

Your direct entrance to the Vatican without waiting at the ticket office.

See all that the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel have to offer at your own pace by purchasing these tickets in advance and skipping the long lines at the ticket offices.

Gain direct access to the impressive Vatican Museums, the Rooms of St. Raphael and the Sistine Chapel and spend as much time as you want in each of the rooms. Thanks to the skip-the-line tickets, you can enter the complex without having to go through the ticket office beforehand andtake the tour at your own pace. You also have the option of choosing an audio guide with your ticket, which will tell you the details of the main paintings and sculptures you will find along the way.

For just 30 euros you will have access to one of Rome's main tourist attractions, and booking your tickets in advance will save you headaches once you are there.


The best option

Guide tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica

Your ticket to the Vatican with a guided tour in small groups

Enjoy a more intimate experience visiting the Vatican with an expert guide in a small group.

With this option you'll have access to the Vatican Museums, where you'll be able to see, among other works, the marvellous Sistine Chapel. The advantage? It includes a ticket that saves you endless queues and you'll be accompanied by an expert guide who will help you contextualise everything you see.

Believe me: in a place with so many works, so much history and so much symbolism, you'll appreciate having some information about the main galleries, the main artists and the essential works so as not to be overwhelmed by the great amount of stimuli, corridors and art you'll find inside. With this tour you will walk through the main rooms and galleries of the Museums, learning the most relevant details of the most significant works of the Vatican Museums.

If you are one of those who do not enjoy tours in large organised groups, consider this option because it will allow you to be closer to the guide's explanations, to have a lighter pace during the visit and to have more freedom to ask questions, ask for recommendations, connect better with the guide, etc.


The Premium Option

Early Entry Vatican and Sistine Chapel Tour

Your ticket to visit the Vatican early in the morning to avoid crowds.

This is undoubtedly the most exclusive way to visit the Vatican Museums: you can enter the Sistine Chapel before it opens to the general public and enjoy the art without too many tourists around, with an expert guide in a small group.

Among all the Premium tickets you can find for the Vatican, if you have to seriously consider one of them, it is this early entrance with preferential access to the Sistine Chapel. This option allows you to visit it with a smaller capacity (before it opens to the general public and other tours) and, undoubtedly, enjoy it much more.

This type of ticket guarantees that you can see the Vatican Museums in general and the Sistine Chapel in particular with a small group and an hour and a half before the crowds flood the corridors. If you have to treat yourself on your trip, I advise you to take this one very seriously.


The Savings Pack

Offer: guided tour to Coliseum and Roman Forum + Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Tickets to the best of Rome, in one day and at the best price

You can't leave Rome without visiting the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums. With this option you can take a guided tour of both at the best price.

Another highly recommended option is to combine a visit to the Vatican Museums in the morning with a visit to the Colosseum in the afternoon. As you may already know, a visit to the Colosseum is a must on your trip to Rome (no matter how many times you have seen its façade, you can't imagine everything inside until you visit it).

If you are planning your trip to Rome and you want to save time and money, I suggest you buy tickets to the two most emblematic places in Rome, with this combined ticket to visit the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum with a professional guide.


In summary, we compare the four options:


Vatican ticket prices

St. Peter's Basilica of the Vatican| ©CALIN STAN
St. Peter's Basilica of the Vatican| ©CALIN STAN

I suggest two types of tickets with different prices:

  • The most recommended is to buy the ticket that includes a guided tour in Spanish in group and it will cost you about 43 euros. But depending on the type of ticket you want to buy, the price will be totally different.

The good thing is that there are options for all budgets. If you want more details about ticket prices to access the Vatican, you can check my article about it here: Vatican Tickets Price 2023.

  • A more premium option, which avoids the crowds, is the possibility to enter the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums before they open to the general public. This comes at a slightly higher price, but if you want to get the most out of the experience, you won't regret it. It costs around 60 Euros. You will be accompanied at all times by an expert guide and the silence that reigns in the galleries at that time of day is well worth the extra cost.

Book an early morning guided tour to the Vatican

Get discounts on your Vatican tickets

Bramante Staircase| ©Bibi Pace
Bramante Staircase| ©Bibi Pace

Finally, there are also packs that will allow you to save when visiting the Vatican and other attractions in the city. For example, in Hellotickets you can get the combined Colosseum + Vatican. In one day you visit both attractions with a specialised guide and the cost is about 90 Euros, which makes it a cheaper option than if you buy both visits separately.

Also check out the possibility of buying the Omnia Card and the Roma Pass, the city's tourist cards, which will give you access to other museums and monuments in addition to the Vatican at a reduced price.

Book a visit to the Vatican with entrance to the Colosseum

Where to buy tickets for the Vatican without queues

St. Peter's Square as seen from the dome of the basilica.| ©Alan Liu
St. Peter's Square as seen from the dome of the basilica.| ©Alan Liu

The best option is to buy tickets in advance and online to make sure that the option you buy includes access to the Vatican without queues or waiting. All the options you find in Hellotickets include it and it will be your great advantage when you visit the Vatican.

The long queues that form at the Vatican gates go around the walls that flank the Museums and are literally the longest queues in Rome. Waiting for hours in the sun to get into the Museums, Basilica and Sistine Chapel can become your worst nightmare if you get there without tickets and have to go through the ticket office.

Book skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican

How to get tickets for the Vatican with the Roma Pass and Omnia Card

Vatican Museums| ©Unsplash
Vatican Museums| ©Unsplash

Rome is such a touristy city with so many wonders to see, that a good option is to buy the city's tourist card, which will help you to visit the Vatican Museums because the entrance tickets are included in the price.

Omnia Vatican and Roma Pass

Also known as the Omnia card Roma, this card is often combined with the Roma Pass and is the best option for visiting the Vatican as it includes entry to the museums and other attractions.

Rome City Pass

This is Rome's VIP pass and gives you free entry to the Vatican Museums and other attractions such as the Colosseum. You can book the pass for 1 to 7 days and include transport or airport transfer for a supplement.

Book your Roma Pass and Omnia Card

Buy cheap tickets for the Vatican and Colosseum in combination

Details of one of the corridors of the Vatican Museums| ©Berto Macario
Details of one of the corridors of the Vatican Museums| ©Berto Macario

If you're thinking about visiting the Colosseum (it's actually a must-see), you should know that there is the possibility to buy a combined ticket for the Vatican and the Colosseum which will save you time and money, so it's really convenient. The price is cheaper than if you buy both tickets separately and you will skip the queues at both attractions, which makes the visit much more enjoyable.

Besides, you will have the opportunity to visit both monuments accompanied by an expert guide at all times who will make sure you don't miss anything of these two jewels in the Eternal City.

Book a visit to the Vatican with entrance to the Colosseum

How to buy tickets for the Vatican at the ticket office

Vatican entrance
Vatican entrance

From experience, I can assure you that the two-hour queues outside (with long stretches in the sun) will take a lot of energy away from seeing the Vatican Museums. Bear in mind that, depending on what time you go, you may run the risk of being sold out, so I advise you to go first thing in the morning.

The first thing you need to know is that when we talk about general admission to the Vatican without queues, we are referring to the entrance to the Vatican Museums. Vatican City is free to enter (you don't need a ticket; it's like visiting another part of Rome) and access to St. Peter's Basilica is free.

But the Sistine Chapel and all the works and galleries of the Vatican Museums with some of the most famous works in the world are fee-paying and require an entrance ticket and, very importantly, sell out quickly as seating is limited and there are thousands of people wanting to go every day.

Book your guided tour of the Vatican

Is the Sistine Chapel included in the Vatican tickets?

The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel

Yes, all tickets to the Vatican include a visit to the famous Sistine Chapel. In fact, despite the sheer size of the Vatican Museums, you will immediately notice that the Sistine Chapel attracts the largest number of visitors, as almost everyone stops in this room to see it.

To enjoy the Sistine Chapel at your leisure, you can always buy an early morning ticket to avoid the crowds.

Book skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Is St. Peter's Basilica included in the Vatican tickets?

St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica

Not always, but entry to St. Peter's Basilica is free so you won't have to pay if you don't want to. However, the queues are very long, so there is the option of paying to enter (with or without a guided tour) and skip the queues. Once inside, you'll marvel at its size and the quality of some of its works.

Book skip the line tickets to the Vatican

Is the ascent to the Dome included in the Vatican tickets?

St. Peter's Dome
St. Peter's Dome

If you want to go up to the Dome of St. Peter 's you will have to pay a separate ticket, but you can buy it on the spot without booking and there are usually no long queues to get in. If you're in any doubt about whether or not to pay to go up to the dome, my advice is to take a breath and go up.

Halfway up you'll probably regret it (the narrow spiral staircase is quite a challenge), but when you get to the top the views will be worth it and you'll be able to file the experience as one of the highlights of your trip.

Book skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican

Are the Necropolis and Catacombs included in the Vatican ticket?

Tomb of Pope Pius XI| ©Northfielder
Tomb of Pope Pius XI| ©Northfielder

No. The Vatican Necropolis, located in the basement of St. Peter's Basilica, requires a separate entrance ticket. It is quite an interesting visit and will allow you to see the crypts and tombs of some historical Popes and St. Peter the Apostle. If you want to organise your visit, I recommend you do it in advance, as the capacity is quite limited and the demand is very high.

Are there any discounts on Vatican tickets?

Aerial view of the Vatican Gardens
Aerial view of the Vatican Gardens

Admission to the Vatican is free or at a special rate for students under 25 and university students, members of religious schools or accredited pilgrims, the disabled, journalists and children under six years of age. Find out how to visit the Vatican at the best price or get discounts in this guide.

Vatican opening hours

Michelangelo's Pieta| ©Sonse
Michelangelo's Pieta| ©Sonse

The opening hours of the Vatican Museums are, with few exceptions, from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm. Please note that on Sundays the museum is closed all day for the Papal Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Square and on some holidays as well. The best time to visit is usually, as is common for all tourist attractions, early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Just keep in mind that tours that include a visit to St. Peter's Basilica after 14:00 hours do not guarantee access to the Basilica.

I tell you all about it in this detailed guide with all the schedules of the Vatican (the Museums, the Basilica, the ascent to the Dome...etc).

Book your guided tour of the Vatican

Duration of the visit to the Vatican

Vatican Museums| ©iam_os
Vatican Museums| ©iam_os

Depending on what you want to see in the Vatican, you will need at least three hours (two if you are rushing, but it is not worth it). I personally prefer to spend three hours on a leisurely tour of the Museums with a few things left to see from the collection rather than rushing through the entire museums in two hours to get the "check" that I have "seen" everything.

If you also want to stop at St. Peter's Basilica, go up to the Dome or enjoy walking around St. Peter's Square with its colonnade, the visit is inevitably longer and could take up to a whole day. It is important to plan what you want to see in the Vatican so that you can calculate how much time you need and enjoy your visit.

Book your guided tour of the Vatican

Is it worth buying tickets for the Vatican with a guided tour?

Detail of the Sistine Chapel| ©Unsplash
Detail of the Sistine Chapel| ©Unsplash

Yes, a guided tour is 100% recommendable: a collection with so much symbolism and historical context is much more enjoyable with an expert who can tell you anecdotes about its creator, its style or the reason for its historical relevance. There are different options for guided tours of the Vatican, depending on your time and budget.

For example, the most comprehensive and best value for money tour costs 38 Euros and will allow you to see the best of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. If you want to avoid the crowds, you can always choose the premium option to enter the Sistine Chapel first thing in the morning, before it opens to the general public, so you can enjoy the Sistine Chapel in peace and quiet in a very small, privileged group.

Book your guided tour of the Vatican

How to get to the Vatican

Detail of the Sistine Chapel| ©Unsplash
Detail of the Sistine Chapel| ©Unsplash

Vatican City is far from the centre of Rome, but that doesn't mean it's difficult to get to. There are several ways to get there, so choose the one that best suits your itinerary:

  • Walking: depending on where you are staying, you may well be able to get there on foot. If, for example, your accommodation is near Piazza Navona and you feel like taking a stroll, you can cross the Tiber and in half an hour you will reach St. Peter's Square; if you make a detour you can even pass Castel Sant'Angelo first. No walk in Rome is a waste of time, but if you choose this option, remember to leave early to get there at the right time.
  • By public transport: The quickest way to get to the Vatican by public transport is to take metro line A to Ottaviano S Pietro. If the metro is not convenient, there are also buses that run from Piazza dei Cinquecento or Termini Station.

How to buy tickets on the Vatican Official Website

Colonnade of St. Peter's Square
Colonnade of St. Peter's Square

If you are going to buy tickets on the official Vatican website, please note that they are non-refundable and valid only for the day you choose. If you don't like to improvise during your trips, I recommend you to book this option of skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican at Hellotickets, as it allows free cancellation; this way you won't lose your money if any setback arises during your trip.

Ana's Traveller Tip

If you book your ticket in advance you will avoid queues of more than two hours.

Practical tips for visiting the Vatican

Inside St. Peter's
Inside St. Peter's

Visiting the Vatican is an obligatory stop on your trip to Rome, but to get the most out of the day, it's a good idea to plan your visit a little. Here's what you should bear in mind when visiting the Vatican:

Cover up when you visit the Vatican

You can learn from your mistakes and I'm sure you know someone who, after planning their visit, has had to leave without visiting the museums or the basilica. In both of these places you must cover your legs and shoulders. No sleeveless, low-cut clothes, shorts, mini-skirts or hats are allowed.

Do you have to cover up in the middle of summer? Let's see, common sense: take a scarf or long foulard in your backpack that you can wear to enter these places and that you don't have to wear all day. I assure you that prevention is better than cure.

How to avoid the crowds when visiting the Vatican

To avoid queues, you already know that you have to buy your ticket to the Vatican Museums in advance, but crowds will not be so easy to avoid... The only way to reduce them is to choose the first or the last timetable and not to go before or after a public holiday and, if you can, avoid the high season.

What to do with backpacks and luggage when visiting the Vatican

They are not allowed and queues can again form at the ticket offices. I recommend that you visit with the bare minimum because after so many hours on your feet, even a packet of tissues can get heavy.

Is it worth paying for the audio guide for children?

If you are visiting the Vatican Museums with children, I recommend that you ask for an audio guide especially for them (recommended for ages 6 to 12). This way the visit will be less tiring for them and they will enjoy the works of art more.

Where to eat near the Vatican

This area, being quite touristy, may not seem at first sight to be the best part of Rome to stop for lunch or dinner. But that doesn't mean that the Italian capital is not still a gastronomic reference point, so even in the area around the Vatican you will find exquisite places to eat.

Prepare your palate and enjoy the best Roman dishes!

Ana's Traveller Tip

Carry a scarf in your backpack so you can cover your shoulders when you enter the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica.