The lines for the Vatican are notorious, and standing for often way more than an hour in the blazing summer sun can be miserable. Thankfully these days avoiding the really long lines is very simple.
Method 1: book a guided tour. This has the advantage at the Vatican of allowing you to skip the line into St Peter’s Basilica too. More about that here.
Method 3: buy tickets directly online. Despite the slightly bizarre web address, this is the official website for tickets: Vatican tickets (ticket only valid for date and time booked).
For methods 2 or 3 you will be emailed a voucher, that you then need to convert into a ticket. If you don’t have a printer, they can scan this direct from your cellphone.
Having this voucher will allow you to walk past the long, long line and enter via the right-hand side of the entrance (see map below) – where there may still be a line, but a much shorter one – after which you will need to verify your printout at the ticket booths (where there may be yet another – but relatively short – line).
Vatican museum entrance
Be warned though, at certain times of the year, e.g. around Easter, even the lines for people with tickets are long.