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: buy a combined skip-the-lines Vatican and audio-guide ticket for €34 per person here. This has many of the interpretive advantages of the guided option, but allows you to take your own time, skip parts, or linger over favourite pieces.
Method 2: book a group guided tour for €40 per person (private tours with pickup also available for cruise passengers). 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 basic entry tickets directly online from the Vatican ticket office. Despite the slightly bizarre web address, this is the official website for tickets. Basic entry tickets are €17 each (€8 concession) + €4 booking fee each, and are only valid for the date and time booked. Pro tip: if seeking a reduced entry ticket you MUST bring official ID for your children (or you) to prove age.
Method 4: buy a discount card such as the Roma Pass, Omnia Card, or the new, downloadable Rome Tourist Pass. All of these solutions allow you to walk past the lines and give you a heap of benefits such as free transport, etc.
For methods 1 and 3 you will be emailed a voucher, that you then need to convert into a ticket. If you don’t have a printer, Vatican staff will inspect the PDF from your cellphone at the door.
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) – 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 just after security (where there may be yet another – but relatively short – line).
Be warned though, at certain times of the year, e.g. around Easter, even the lines for people with tickets are long.
Vatican museums key info
Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 6 pm (last entrance at 4 pm) Sunday: closed (except the last Sunday of every month when the museums are free)
Museum closed on the following days In addition to most Sundays, 1 January, 11 February 19 March, 22 April, 1 May, 29 June, 14 and 15 August, 1 November, 25 and 26 December See the best time to visit the Vatican Museums >
Nearest metro: Ottaviano (Linea A)