The one piece of advice almost every traveler headed to Rome gets from those who have already been, is “don’t miss out on the Vatican!”. And yes, it is truly a place like no other.
It’s the smallest independent country in the world, it’s the only monarchy ruled by a religious leader, and it is home to the most amazing art collection in the world.
With about 3.5 miles of galleries and 1100 rooms, the Vatican Museums would take days to go through, and this might be a bit of a challenge when visiting on your own. No worries! In this tour, I’ve chosen some of the most outstanding masterpieces and some hidden gems, alongside with the “must-sees”, to give you an overview of this extraordinary museum.
We’ll see the collection of antiquities, as well as the Gallery of the Tapestries and the dazzling Gallery of the Maps; and then, we’ll marvel at Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, the private chapel of the Pope, where the Conclave (the papal election) is held.
Being led by a licensed Vatican guide, you’ll have the added advantage of using the reserved access from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s church, avoiding the grueling lines for regular visitors.
St. Peter’s basilica will really take your breath away: it is not only the largest church on earth, but also one of the most impressive and ornate buildings you’ll see in your life. After admiring the gigantic St. Peter’s square, we’ll enter the church to see Michelangelo’s Pietà, the beautiful statue of Mary and Jesus the great artist made when he was just 23 years old; we’ll see the famous Baldacchino by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the bronze canopy above the high altar, as tall as a 5 storeyed building; and we’ll look up in wonder at the highest dome in town, shining with mosaics, and planned by Michelangelo towards the end of his life, when he was over 80 years old.
For a more in-depth experience, I suggest spending a bit more time exploring the Vatican Museums: if your focus is on Renaissance art, I would suggest visiting the Raphael’s Room, the former private apartment of the pope, painted by Raphael, Michelangelo’s greatest rival, at the same time as the Sistine Chapel was being frescoed. Every inch of the four rooms is completely covered in stunning frescoes. From here, we’ll proceed to the Borgia Apartment, where the infamous Pope Alexander VI lived in the late 1400’s. It’s beautifully decorated with Renaissance frescoes, and it now houses the Museum for Modern Religious Art.
The itinerary through the Museums can be tailored to fit your needs and interests: we might visit the spectacular Picture Gallery, housing paintings by Giotto, Raphael, Caravaggio and Titian; or focus on ancient civilizations seeing the Egyptian and Etruscan sections, or even get up close and personal with the Pope in the Carriage Pavilion, where we can see the grand carriages and the funny oldmobiles used by the Popes in the past.
Another great option is to visit the Vatican Gardens first, on a 1 hour panoramic drive by open minibus, with pre-recorded multilingual commentary; after that, I’ll pick you up and we’ll do the tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s basilica.
At the very end of the tour, I strongly advise to climb the dome of St. Peter’s basilica on your own! I’ll be happy to show you the entrance. It is a separate ticket, and it may involve a rather long waiting time, but it’s totally worth it. There is an elevator half-way up (and there you’ll find restrooms and a small café); to get all the way to the top from there, you have to climb about 350 steps. The steps are quite comfortable, only a section is a bit narrow and with tilted walls, but overall it is doable if you have a reasonable level of fitness.
If you are interested in booking this tour, please get in touch so we can talk over the details!
Then I’ll send you a detailed recap of the itinerary choosen, the cost of the tour and of the entrance tickets, as well as all the relevant info about our meeting point.
Meeting point is in front of the Museums main gate, on Viale Vaticano 100. If you are getting there by taxi, please ask the driver to take you to the Vatican Museums – if you just mention the Vatican, he might drop you off at St. Peter’s square, and that’s a different location.
This tour involves some walking without the opportunity to sit down and rest, as well as some stairs to climb. The Sistine Chapel is located at the far end of the Palace, so even if we choose the shortest route available, it will still be quite a walk to get there. Comfy shoes and a water bottle are essential. There are a couple of cafeterias inside the Museums, close to the entrance and just next to the Sistine Chapel. There are vending machines to get drinks in the entrance hall.
Please note that there are security checks to enter the Vatican Museums. Our skip-the-line tickets give us priority, but there might still be 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. There’s a checkroom to leave any unauthorized items, but since at the end of the tour we won’t be coming back to the starting point, if you leave anything at the checkroom, at the end you will have to walk back on your own from St. Peter’s square to get it, and that might be rather unconvienient (it’s about 15 minutes walking).
For all Vatican tours, 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 Basilica of St. Peter’s is still primarely a place of worship, not a museum; so it won’t be possible to visit the church if there’s any special lithurgy taking place (for example on religious festivities). Both St. Peter’s basilica and the Sistine Chapel can close without notice if the Pope is receiving guests and decides to access these venues. In this case, it’s not possible to ask for any kind of refund both of the tour or the entrance tickets, since it is something beyond my company’s control.
The Pope’s Audience
Except in the winter months, on Wednesday mornings the Pope holds the Audience on St. Peter’s square – this means that on Wednesday the church is closed in the morning up to about 1 pm; so if we visit the Museums early, the Basilica won’t be part of the tour. If that is the case, from the Sistine Chapel instead of accessing St. Peter’s, we’ll follow a different route through the Museums and end up at the starting point at the Museums’ entrance.
Kids and Families
Traveling with kids? Check out our Family Adventure at the Vatican!
The crowds and the amount of walking required on this tour can be challenging for children. For a kids-friendly tour, consider visiting less crowded venues like the Capitoline Museums or the Baths of Caracalla.
We love to engage kids in games and activities during tours, but due to the logistics of the place, this is a very limited option at the Vatican. That’s why if you wish to take your kids to see the Vatican, we suggest to focus just on a few items in the Museums, and to combine the tour with a hands-on activity: have fun with your kids at our fresco-painting workshop!
Can’t wait to get there? Why not book one of my live virtual tours, The Sistine Chapel Unveiled or Raphael’s Rooms in the Vatican? This way you’ll be able to experience the art work literally “zooming in”, discovering details impossible to see when you are standing in front of it, enjoying it while you make yourself comfortable. It is also a wonderful opportunity to have a family get-together even if you are spread in a dozen cities: just grab a drink or a coffee and meet on Zoom with your guide and your dear ones, to explore one of the must-sees every traveler has on his bucket list.
Mappa Google con itinerario e luoghi visitati, foto del meeting point
Cost guideline – What’s included
|Duration of tour||1-2 people||3-4 people||5-6 people||7-8 people|
|Up to 3 hours||180,00 EUR||195,00 EUR||210,00 EUR||240,00 EUR|
|+ each additional hour||60,00 EUR||65,00 EUR||70,00 EUR||80,00 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.
- Entrance tickets, transportation, meals, snacks and gratuities not included in above rates.
- Tickets for the Vatican Museums are not included and have to be purchased in advance (subject to availability). Once you book the tour, I can either send you the link to book the tickets on your own, or I can take care of it (handling fees apply).
- Entry fees for the Vatican Museums are between 21-35 EUR per person depending on the kind of ticket purchased (regular, VIP access etc.). Children under 18 and students get a reduced ticket. Updated entry fees will be listed in the detailed trip summary you’ll get upon sending a request/booking.
- There’s a small fee to access St. Peter’s from the Sistine Chapel, which is not included in the tour rate but will be listed in the cost rundown you’ll get prior to confirming the tour.
- Headsets are not included in the tour rate, but if necessary (from 5 persons up) will be listed in the detailed trip summary you’ll get prior to confirming the tour.
- 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). From April 1st to October 30th, last minute bookings (less than 3 days prior to the tour) are subject to a 15% surcharge.
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