Special rules for visiting the Vatican during the coronavirus pandemic

Pandemic news:

With a few exceptions, Italy is open to travellers, despite the current surge. Travel is permitted freely. See how you can travel to Rome now >

Rome is currently in a “Yellow Zone”, which means all sites in Rome are open but tickets for museums and other sites MUST now be booked in advance > [Read more about Covid zones in Italy]

Masks must now be worn in all outdoor and indoor spaces throughout Italy. Entry to many places is dependent on having a ‘Super Green Pass‘, or equivalent vaccination certificate. Learn more about the Green Pass and how to get one >

Paradoxically, given the immense tragedy that has necessitated these new rules, there has never been a better time to visit the Vatican. You will have the place nearly to yourself: guided tours will be limited to ten, and visitor numbers will be strictly regulated by time slots. 

Here are the new rules for visiting the Vatican Museums during the Covid-19 pandemic:

You must buy an advance ticket to the Vatican Museums

The most important new rule is that you must book your ticket in advance. You may no longer line up to buy a ticket.

You must observe your entry time strictly due to social distancing

Secondly, you must arrive on time. If you miss the very short time-slot you have been allocated to start your visit, you will be denied entry. No ifs, no buts. You will not be admitted into the museums.

Vatican Museum opening hours have changed because of Covid

Vatican Museum opening hours are now:


8.30am – 6.30pm (last entry at 4.30pm, museum and exhibitions must be cleared by 7.30pm)


The museums are now closed every Sunday. This includes all free-entry days that formerly happened on the last Sunday of every month

You must observe strict health precautions while in the Vatican Museums

  • You must wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose during your visit. You may be expelled from the Museums if you break this rule, or even prosecuted. Remember, the Vatican is a different country from Italy and its own laws apply.
  • Your temperature will be taken with a digital thermometer at the door, and if it exceeds 37.5C (99.5F), you will be denied entry. 

Guided tours of the Vatican Museums will be smaller because of the pandemic

  • Guided tours are now limited to 10 people including guide, for social distancing reasons.
  • The Vatican’s own guided tours – which may be booked from the official website – are subject to the same rules.
  • These rules also include visits to the Vatican Gardens – but the good news is there is now a great socially-distanced open-topped bus tour of the gardens within the Vatican walls. 
  • The corridor from the Sistine Chapel to St Peter’s Basilica – which guided tours used to be able to enjoy – is closed until further notice.
These rules are derived from the official Vatican Museums website and were correct at the time of writing. They will be updated as new information is posted.

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Photo credit: AFP

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Because of Covid-19 precautions, you now have to
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