Vatican City is home to great artistic gems that are worth visiting. And yes, some are more expensive than others. If you want to visit the Sistine Chapel, you're inevitably going to have to pay to buy a ticket, but I'll tell you how you can lower the budget of your visit to the Vatican.
How to get the cheapest tickets to the Vatican
If you want to spend as little as possible on your visit to the Vatican, I recommend you to buy the single ticket (without audio guide or guided tour) on official websites like Hellotickets or at the Vatican Museums ticket office.
Keep in mind that these tickets, buying them online, give you access to the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and the Rooms of St. Raphael and all without having to wait in the long lines that form at the ticket offices.
From about 30 euros for general admission and 18 euros with discount (for children from 6 to 17 years or students up to 25 years), you can tour the infinite rooms of the monument and its entire collection of paintings and sculptures.
Also, if you prefer not to miss a single detail of the works of art that hides every corner of the Vatican, you can purchase an audio guide with your reservation.
Another way to save money: combined tickets
To save money on your trip to Rome there are other options that may also be of interest to you. If you plan to visit other essential monuments such as the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, in addition to the Vatican, there are savings packs with which you can buy combined tickets at a lower price. You can choose between these two options:
Tickets without guided tour
If you are one of those who prefer to spread over several days the visit to the main attractions of the city, I recommend you to get this offer of tickets to the Vatican and the Colosseum. I will tell you in detail:
- What it includes: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica (you will also have audio guide and explanatory video).
- How much time I have to use it: 3 days.
- Price: about 76 euros.
Combined guided tour
But there are travelers who want to go further and opt for the guided tour to have a more contextualized view and better understand its history. If this is your case, don't worry because there is also a way to save with this pack of guided tours to the Vatican and the Colosseum. Please note:
- What's included: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
- How long it lasts: Half day tour.
- Price: about 88 euros.
Who can enter the Vatican for free
The Vatican Museums, with the Sistine Chapel inside, are fee-paying and you will need to buy your Vatican ticket to visit them. There are always exceptions and it is true that some groups can visit the Museums for free.
Please note that even though access is free for these groups, they still need to buy their ticket for free and will have to queue at the ticket office. These are the groups that can enter the Vatican for free:
- Infants and children up to 5 years old
- Disabled persons with a recognized degree of disability over 74% (in this case, if they need to be accompanied, their companion can also enter free of charge).
- Pilgrims, priests or members of a religious congregation whose group has been officially accredited to enter the Vatican.
Are there any discounts to enter the Vatican?
No. You will not find coupons, vouchers or free tickets to the Vatican anywhere. That said, there are certain groups of people or collectives that are entitled to qualify for a reduced rate. These are:
- Children and young people between 6 and 18 years old.
- Students between 19-25 years of age who have official documentation from their university or school with which they can prove that they are still studying in the current year.
How it works
If when you book your ticket online you select the "reduced rate" option, you will need to bring to the door the documents that prove your right to access this rate (identity card for minors, official student card, etc).
If you have made your reservation with a travel agency, make sure they have the necessary documentation on your behalf to avoid surprises the day you enter the Museums.
If you have doubts or are not sure that the documentation you can provide will guarantee you access at the reduced rate, you can always queue directly at the ticket office and ask at the counter.
If you are traveling with a religious congregation that has been previously accredited, you may be entitled to a special guided tour or some advantageous conditions when purchasing tickets, but you will have to check with your travel organizer.
When is the Vatican free?
If you want to save as much as possible on your visit, there is the option of free access to the Vatican: the Vatican Museums are free on the last Sunday of every month, from first thing in the morning until 12:30. Honestly, it is a visit that I do not recommend you to make on a Sunday at all.
The crowds inside the Museums, the long lines to get in and the risk of not being able to get in despite having queued for miles can tarnish what is supposed to be one of the most interesting visits of your trip to Rome.
St. Peter's Basilica, free all year round
If you feel like stopping by the Vatican but don't want to invest money in it, you can always settle for a stroll through St. Peter's Square and visit St. Peter's Basilica, which I recommend 100%. Once inside you can enjoy, among other wonders, the spectacular statue of Michelangelo's Pieta, a true work of art, as well as the spectacular nave, the Baldachin and the Dome of Bernini. Not bad for free, right?
Of course, in return you will have to wait in a long queue (and go through a security check) but it is well worth it, I assure you.
The most complete option: a guided tour
An option that requires a slightly higher budget, but is the best value for money is to book a guided tour of the Vatican, which, in addition to allowing you queue-free access to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, includes the company of an official guide who will accompany you during the tour.
With a guided tour, in addition to better understand the works and the context of everything you are going to see, you ensure the visit to the key points of the Vatican. This option costs about 48 € at Hellotickets and is very convenient considering all that it includes. What you will appreciate the most is the fact that you can skip the queues.
In summary, what can I see for free at the Vatican?
Vatican City itself is free to enter. You can walk across St. Peter's Square, walk through the colonnade and even enter St. Peter's Basilica without having to pay for it or buy a ticket. To make it clearer, here is a summary of what you can see for free at the Vatican and what you can't see for free:
No entrance fee and free of charge:
- St. Peter's Square
- St. Peter's Basilica
- Access to St. Peter's Square during the Papal Audience and the Angelus on Wednesdays and Sundays.
- Going to Mass in St. Peter's Basilica
Requires paid admission:
- Vatican Museums
- Vatican Gardens
- Sistine Chapel
- Climbing St. Peter's Dome
- The Vatican Catacombs: the crypts and the Necropolis, in the basement of the Basilica with the tomb of St. Peter