In a hurry? Left it too late? Don’t panic:
Otherwise read on…
The lines for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are notorious, and standing for often way more than an hour in the blazing summer sun can be miserable. Thankfully these days avoiding really long lines is very simple:
In order to guarantee that you’ll be able to skip the lines at the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, you must buy a skip-the-line ticket or city pass online.
Choose your ticket or pass below, but first choose what time to visit the Vatican – we recommend as early as possible in the day.
The best ways to skip the lines at the Vatican
1. Buy a skip-the-lines ticket with audio guide
Buy a skip-the-lines Vatican ticket with optional audio guide for €26.40 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 favorite pieces.
2. Book a group guided tour
Book a group guided tour for €59 per adult. This tour is conducted by Rome Vacation Tips’ tour partner and we vouch for its incredible quality. Having low numbers allows you to chat with your guide, and the tour also grants you access to the ‘secret’ papal corridor from the Sistine Chapel directly into St Peter’s Basilica too, something only afforded to visitors with an official guide.
3. Use a Discount Card / Tourist Pass
The downloadable Rome Tourist Card not only includes the Colosseum, Forum, Palatine, an audio guide to the Pantheon, a guided tour of St. Peter’s, but also entry into the Vatican Museums and Sistine chapel.
Warning: some tourist cards such as the Roma Pass do not include entry to the Vatican because Vatican City is a separate country to Italy!
4. Get a VIP early entrance and breakfast ticket
With breakfast thrown in, this is without a doubt the most spectacular and pleasant way to visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
You get to see the Vatican almost empty, way before the hordes arrive, and are escorted to the stunning “Pinecone Courtyard” for a sumptuous buffet breakfast buffet before touring the museums at your leisure without major crowds – and will even have the Sistine Chapel almost to yourself. Without any doubt this is the best time to visit the Vatican.
5. Buy a basic ticket online ahead of time
Buy basic entry tickets directly online from the official Vatican ticket office. Basic entry tickets are €17 each (€8 concession) + €4 booking fee each, and are only valid for the date and time booked. The reason this is so far down our list is that we receive continual complaints that the site rejects non-Italian credit and debit cards.
Locals’ tip: if seeking a reduced entry ticket for children between 6 and 18 years of age, you MUST bring their official ID (i.e. passport) to prove their age. If you’re a student you must bring an internationally recognized student ID.5
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)
The museums are closed on the following days:
In addition to most Sundays, 1 January, 11 February 19 March, 22 April, 1 May, 29 June, 14 & 15 August, 1 November, 25 & 26 December. See the best time to visit the Vatican Museums >
Nearest metro: Ottaviano (Linea A)
How Vatican Tickets work
If you’ve booked a ticket rather than a guided tour, 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 skip 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 to the left 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.