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The Vatican Museums can get extremely crowded, especially during high season in Rome.
Unlike other attractions in Rome, the Vatican does not impose a maximum number of visitors at any one time, so the many miles of museum corridors can become extremely packed – sometimes to a scary degree.
Not just that but the experience many have of the Sistine Chapel can be ruined by the swollen crowds of people shuffling along craning their necks up to the ceiling.
It is therefore a good idea to time your visit so you can avoid such concerns, and have as peaceful and undisturbed view of the museums as possible.
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)
What’s the best time of day to visit the Vatican?
The best time of day to visit the Vatican is as early as possible. See Vatican opening hours in “key info” on this page.
Visiting the Vatican early in the morning gives you the chance to view the marvels of ancient and Renaissance Rome – and the peerless Sistine – without being shoved and crowded.
If you want a regular Vatican ticket (also available with audio guide) then when you book your Vatican ticket you will be offered a choice of time slots. Choose the earliest one possible – 9am is the official opening time.
But better still, choose the 7.30 am VIP entrance ticket. This special ticket gives you access to the place before the crowds: you have the halls and rooms almost completely to yourself – including a once-in-a-lifetime chance to view Sistine Chapel with no crowds shoving you, or guards telling you to be quiet. Unmissable.
Whichever time you choose, allow around 3 hours minimum for your visit. There are cafes inside the museums for a drink and a sandwich if you get tired. Add another hour if you want to visit St Peter’s too.
Note that because it is a religious institution the Vatican is closed most Sundays, and on other holy days (full list in “Key info” on this page). It’s free on the last Sunday of the month – but we recommend avoiding it then as it becomes even more crowded.