Free entry at St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is a working church – the largest in the world – and is therefore free to enter. It’s inside the borders of the Vatican City (what’s the difference between St Peter’s and the Vatican?) but the public are allowed just walk into it from Rome’s streets.
The lines for St Peter’s can look intimidating, but they move very fast. They are not to buy tickets since the basilica is free to enter: they are just for an airport-style security check. Even if the line is about mile long snaking across St Peter’s Square, you will likely not be in it for more than 45 minutes.
This is also where you may get turned away if you are dressed inappropriately!
How to skip the line at St. Peter’s Basilica
There is only ONE way to skip the lines at St Peter’s: that is to take a guided tour of the Vatican Museums. There is a corridor, formerly for the exclusive use of the Popes, that goes from the Sistine Chapel directly into St Peter’s Basilica. You are only allowed to go down this corridor if you are accompanied by a tour guide.
Other ways to visit St Peter’s Basilica
There are 5 other ways to enhance your visit to St Peters. However, all will require some kind of security check:
Key data on St Peter’s Basilica
Apr-Sep: 7am – 7pm
Oct-Mar: 7am – 6pm
Nearest Metro: Ottaviano
Dress code: knees and shoulders must be covered
1) Rent an audio guide
You still have to line up for security but you have an audio guide to interpret the hundreds of incredible artifacts in the church. Rent an audio guide for €5 per person here >
2) Take a guided group tour of St Peter’s Basilica and dome
A professional guide to St. Peter’s Basilica will meet you outside and bring you to a special, much shorter line that will whisk you past the hordes and straight in. Help this site by booking a guided tour of St Peter’s Basilica including dome climb. Such tours last for around 90 minutes and really bring the artworks and vast architecture to life.
3) Buy a ticket to climb up into the dome of St Peter’s
To get into St Peter’s cupola you will need to pass security but then proceed to a different exit with you a ticket (€19.50). Note there’s a lot of stairs to get up into the dome! There’s an elevator but it only goes halfway up. Alternatively take a guided tour of St Peter’s that also includes the dome. You will still have to pass the security check.
4) Book a guided tour of St Peter’s Basilica with Necropolis visit
Whether you’re interested in the chapels, the cupola, the mosaics, or the mummified popes, this tour of St Peter’s allows you to skip the line and descend beneath the church to visit the subterranean parts that few get to see – including the resting place of St Peter himself. Guided tour of St Peter’s, cupola climb, and Papal crypts from €49 >