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The 3 Major Basilicas

Places visited: 

  • St. Paul Outside the Walls
  • St. John Lateran
  • St. Mary Major

Duration: 4 hours 

Difficulty: 1/3

Add-ons: private, air conditioned chauffered van for the entire duration of the tour

Accessibility: All basilicas are wheelchair accessible. The use of a van is highly recommended to move in between the different places

Focus: Art, History, Religion 

Price: starting at € 360,00

According to a local saying, in Rome there are more than 360 churches, one for each day of the year. The three churches we are going to see on this tour are known as the papal basilicas, since they are part of the Vatican, even though they are located in different areas of the city, and they are the ones catholic pilgrims are expected to visit during the Holy Year celebrations. 

The most famous church in Rome is certainly St. Peter’s basilica in the Vatican; but few people know that St. Peter’s is neither the oldest nor the most important church in Rome. That would be St. John Lateran, the official seat of Rome’s bishop (that’s the Pope!) and as such the most important church in the city and in the world (“Mother and Head of all Churches”) – as well as the oldest official worshipping place of the Christian community in Rome. 

The light-filled interior was redesigned in the 1600’s, and is a mix of different styles: it’s hard to know where to look first, whether at the colorful mosaic floor, the carved ceiling, or the impressive statues of the Apostles flanking the nave.

Next to the basilica of St. John you find the so-called Holy Steps, the medieval staircase leading up to a little chapel known as the Sancta Sanctorum (the “holy of holies”). Pilgrims have been going up these steps on their knees for centuries, as some still do today.

Saint Mary Major, the largest Roman church dedicated to the Virgin, boasts one of the best preserved mosaic cycles of Early Christian times. The gilded ceiling and resplendent mosaics make you feel like you are looking at a treasure chest, while the side chapels could count as beautiful churches on their own right.

Saint Paul Outside the Walls is located on the outskirts of the city centre, beyond the ancient Roman city walls (hence the name!). It’s the second largest church in town after St. Peter’s, and a very important place of pilgrimage, having been built on the tomb of the Apostle Paul. Actually, the church was severely damaged by a fire in 1823, and what you see today is the result of a careful restoration. It’s every bit as impressive as St. Peter’s, and the big plus is that there are way less visitors here, so you can really enjoy the beauty of this serene, majestic building.

This tour can be done using public transport or taxis; however, the most comfortable option is to book a limo/van service for the entire duration of the tour. Your guide and your driver will pick you up at your accomodation, and moving in between places will be quick and easy. Just insert this option as an add-on in the booking form.

Please note that there are security checks to enter the Basilicas, and this may involve a certain amount of waiting in line that can’t be avoided. No pocket-knives, scissors, glass bottles, tripods, professional video equipment, large backpacks or trolleys allowed inside

Be aware of the modest dress code! For both men and women shoulders/midriffs and knees must be covered. If you want to be comfortable in the hot Italian summer, it’s a good idea to bring a shawl to wrap around you if you are wearing shorts and/or sleeveless.

It is important that you are aware that the Basilicas are still primarily a place of worship, not a museum; so it won’t be possible to visit a church if there’s any special lithurgy taking place (for example on religious festivities, or during funerals). The basilicas can close to visitors without notice. In this case, it’s not possible to ask for any kind of refund, since it is something beyond my company’s control. If a church happens to be closed for tours for whatever reason, we will adapt the itinerary accordingly and visit some other place of interest.

Duration of tour Up to 4 people
Up to 4 hours 360,00 EUR
+ each additional person over 18 years of age 50,00 EUR
  • For larger groups, I’ll be happy to send you a quote. 
  • The tour rate includes your private guided tour – price is total, not per person. 
  • Transportation, meals, snacks and gratuities not included in above rates. Headsets are not included (only needed with 6+ people).
  • Transportation to the starting point of the tour and in between the 3 basilicas is not included unless you book the additional van service. Limo service for the entire duration of the tour (up to 3 passengers + guide + driver) is 180,00 EUR; van (up to 6 passengers + guide + driver) is 240,00 EUR.
  • Please note that we reserve the right to vary the prices shown on this website at any time before you book (during Bank Holidays, National Holidays, Christmas Holidays, Easter Holidays, or last minute bookings). 

You will be advised of the current price at the time of booking. Once you have booked we will not increase your tour price other than for changes in VAT or any other Venues or Government imposed levy. 

Cancellation Policy & Refunds