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Vatican Museums

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The Vatican Museums are home to one of the world’s most impressive art collections, and tickets also give you access to the Sistine Chapel. Queues for entry can get long, so book skip-the-line tickets for the best experience.
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Tickets

Buy your tickets in advance to skip the line and save time at the Vatican Museums.
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Vatican: Museums & Sistine Chapel Entrance Ticket
4.5starstarstarstarstar half(133615)
 
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Small group skip the Line Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
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Rome: Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Skip-the-line Ticket
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Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Skip-the-Line Ticket
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Avoid the crowds

Tired of shuffling through the crowds? Choose a ticket that gives you access before or after the official opening hours.
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Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Basilica:Early Morning Guided Tour
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Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica Guided Tour
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Rome: Turn the Lights on at the Vatican Museums
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Private Early Morning Vatican Tour With Hotel Pick Up
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Guided Tours

Learn more about the priceless art inside the Vatican Museums with an expert guide.
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Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Skip-the-Ticket-Line Tour
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Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica Guided Tour
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Rome: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and Basilica Tour
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Rome: Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica Tour
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More Tickets & Tours

Find more tickets and tours featuring the Vatican Museums.
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Rome: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and Basilica Tour
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Rome: Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel Tour
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Rome: Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Skip-The-Line Tickets
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Rome: Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel Tickets & Tour
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5 tips for visiting the Vatican Museums

Standing in line | Flickr: Kars Alfrink CC BY 2.0
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The entrance to the Vatican Museums is quite a walk from St. Peter’s Square and line for St. Peter’s Basilica, and you’ll have to walk up a reasonably steep hill to get there. On very busy days, the line for tickets can reach all the way back to St. Peter’s Square so you should definitely book a ticket that includes skip the line entry.
Sistine Chapel | Flickr: Eric Terchila CC BY 2.0
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For early risers, an early morning tour of the Vatican Museums can be booked without or with an audio guide or guide.Enjoy early access to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel before the tourist crowds arrive and view Michelangelo's and Raphael's masterpieces in a quiet atmosphere with an expert guide. If you’re a night owl, then there are also tours available after the museums close for the day.
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Take some time after you enter the museums to orient yourself! The corridors are winding and the best path to see everything isn’t always obvious, so pick up a map and plan your route to avoid missing rooms and exhibits. The Sistine Chapel will be the last item on any route, so don’t follow the signs to it unless you’re sure you’ve seen everything else you’re interested in.
4
Entry to the Vatican Museums is free on the last Sunday of every month! However, that means that those dates are extremely crowded, with long lines to enter. If you have the budget for a ticket then you should probably plan your visit for another day.
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The museums receive roughly 28,000 visitors a day, but that figure varies wildly depending on the season. If you have the ability to choose, then visit between November and March (leaving out Christmas and Easter, when there’s also a spike). And if you have a choice of weekdays, then visit between Tuesday and Thursday to avoid the busiest days.

History of the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are not only home to extensive collections of art, archaeology and ethnology created by the popes over the centuries. Rather, one can also visit artistically significant sites of the Apostolic Palaces themselves. These are chambers that the popes used in the different periods as private living quarters or as places of retreat and prayer, such as the Nicoline Chapel and the Borgia Chambers.

Emergence of the palaces under influential popes

Nicholas V (1447-1455) and Alexander VI (1492-1503), were two popes who had a great influence on the creation of the Apostolic Palaces. The Nicoline Chapel, located in the heart of the Apostolic Palace, just a stone's throw from Raphael's Lodges and the rooms where Julius II's and Leo X's apartments would later be built, owes its name to Pope Nicholas V (Tommaso Parentucelli, 1447-1455), who had it built on what were once the last two floors of the tower erected to protect a pre-existing palace core under Innocent III (1198-1216). The magnificent decoration of the chapel is one of the major works of the Italian 15th century.

Pope Nicholas V, the great humanist among the popes, began construction of the current papal palace complex around 1450. When he died in 1455, only the Appartamento Borgia and the Stanzas had been completed.

Sixtus IV had the papal house chapel, the Sistine Chapel, built between 1471 and 1484. Under Innocent VIII, the Belvedere Garden House was built between 1484 and 1492. Alexander VI extended the complex with the so-called Borgia Tower, which served as a fortification.

The entire papal palace today comprises a complex of buildings with about 1,400 rooms and 180,446 ft (55.000 square meters) of floor space and has about twenty courtyards. Only a small part of this complex is reserved for the Pope and his court, the majority is open to visitors.

What’s inside the Vatican Museums?

The Popes and other members of the Catholic Church have been some of the most dedicated patrons of the arts, and the Vatican Museums are home to their extensive collection. The museums are made up of several smaller galleries and rooms, some of which house paintings and sculpture, and some of which are works of art in their own right. From ancient Roman sculptures and mosaics to modern art with religious themes, the Vatican Museums display about 20,000 diverse works. Famous names to watch out for include Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso.

Visitors should also take the time to visit the Raphael Rooms, which were commissioned as a suite of apartments for Pope Julius II and feature beautiful fresco scenes in a High Renaissance style. And, of course, you should make sure not to miss the Sistine Chapel, which includes the famous ceiling and The Last Judgement by Michelangelo, in addition to frescos by Botticelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio, and Rosselli.

Vatican Gardens

The Vatican Gardens - those close to the Vatican Museums - can only be visited with an authorized guide on certain dates. With limited numbers of tickets available, the tour can be difficult to book but is highly recommended as the gardens contain a stunning series of fountains, carefully maintained plantlife from around the world, and even a reconstruction of the grotto in Lourdes. You’ll also get great views of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

There are other papal gardens available to visit at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence. The Barberini Gardens there used to be reserved for the private use of the Pope, but Pope Francis opened them to the public in 2014.

Tickets are available for the gardens only or the gardens and the Apostolic Palace, and there’s even a VIP ticket that includes the Vatican Museums, Vatican Gardens, Barberini Gardens, and Castel Gandolfo.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a separate ticket to see the Sistine Chapel? Can I only visit the Sistine Chapel?

The Sistine Chapel can only be accessed via the Vatican Museums, so there is no ticket option that exclusively includes entry to the chapel. Access to the chapel is included in all tickets to the Vatican Museums, and the chapel is one of the last rooms you’ll visit if you follow the recommended itineraries offered by the museum. If you’ve booked a guided tour, your guide will give you all the information about the chapel before you enter, as it is considered a deeply sacred place and guests are asked to remain silent while inside. Read more.

Should I take a guided tour of the Vatican Museums?

The Vatican Museums are huge and maze-like, with many different galleries dedicated to different eras. If you’re interested in the highlights and getting more information about the most important pieces of art, then a guided tour is an excellent choice. Your guide will help you to navigate the hallways while keeping you informed about the most important pieces, guiding you safely to the Sistine Chapel at the end. Official guided tours take at least 2 hours, tours with private guides may take longer. If you’d rather wander by yourself, without the pressure of keeping up with a group, then an audio guide is probably a good idea. While there is some text available next to certain artworks, the audio guide can provide far more information about the pieces you’re seeing. Read more.

How long will it take to visit the Vatican Museums?

First of all, you’ll need to factor in whether or not you’ve booked your ticket in advance. If not, then you’ll need to arrive before the museum opens, as lines for tickets can be up to two hours long during the busiest times of the year. Once inside, you're free to explore all day if you'd like. Most people spend between two and three hours inside the museums, which is enough time to see the highlights, including the Sistine Chapel; that's also how long most guided tours take. However, if you’re an art-lover who wants to linger in all the galleries, you can easily make a day trip out of your visit. There are courtyards to rest in, plus a café, restaurant, and pizzeria where you can find lunch and snack options, so take as much time as you need! Read more.

Is a trip to the museum suitable for children?

The Vatican welcomes families with children, and staff members are on hand to assist with strollers when you’re traveling between floors of the museum. There are also baby changing facilities and a nursing room for those with very small children, and the restaurant and pizzeria provide high chairs. There is a child-friendly audio guide that follows a slightly shorter itinerary. While the museum has all of these facilities, parents should consider that the art is mostly serious and religious in nature and that the corridors and galleries can be extremely crowded with large groups. Older children and teenagers will probably enjoy the visit far more than younger children. Read more.

Can I take photographs in the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel?

Photography for personal use only is permitted throughout the museums, although visitors are asked not to take photographs using flash, tripods, selfie sticks, or any other kind of equipment. Photography or filming of any kind is forbidden inside the Sistine Chapel. Read more.

General information

opening hours

The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are open from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm. On Fridays from 5 May to 28 October the museum extends its opening hours until 10.30 pm(final entry 8.30 pm) and on Saturdays until 8.00 pm(final entry 6.00 pm). The museum and chapel are also open on the last Sunday of every month from 9 am to 2 pm(final entry 12.30 pm).

address

Viale Vaticano
00165 Rome

how to get there

The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel can be reached via metro line A or via tram 19 to the stop at Piazza del Risorgimento. They can also be reached by bus numbers 32, 49, 81, 492, 982, and 990.

tickets

The Vatican Museums offer various tickets: Standard entry at €17 without an online reservation or €22 including 'Skip the Line'. Reduced price tickets are available at €8 without reservation or €13 with 'Skip the Line'. School groups and Seminaries/Religious Colleges have reduced rates at €4 without reservation or €6 with 'Skip the Line'. Entry is complimentary on the last Sunday of the month, for children under 6, visitors with over 74% disability, and select other groups. Special family rates are available for the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo.

dresscode

The Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican Gardens require visitors to be modestly dressed. Low cut or sleeveless clothing, shorts, miniskirts and hats are not allowed.
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