The monumentality of St. Peter's Basilica attracts millions of visitors who pass through Rome every year. In addition to its majestic structure and its spectacular Dome, its basement holds some rooms worth visiting: the tombs and sarcophagi of the main Popes of the Catholic Church.
The most complete option to discover St. Peter's Basilica and papal tombs
With an expert guide you will visit the imposing St. Peter's Basilica and the Crypts of the Popes underground. The Necropolis is not included in this tour.
Visiting the papal tombs located in St. Peter's Basilica is possible thanks to this guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica and the crypts, with which you will visit a large part of the church and its catacombs. An expert guide will tell you the historical and artistic details of this monumental basilica and the first level of the underground where the remains of some kings and popes since the tenth century are kept.
In addition, with this complete tour you will have *included the guided visit also to the Vatican Museums skipping the queues at the entrance. What more can you ask for?
On the other hand, the Necropolis, on the 2nd level of the Vatican Grottoes and the place where St. Peter the Apostle is buried, requires a different type of ticket that you must request separately due to the limited capacity.
Recommended if... On your tour of St. Peter's Basilica you do not want to miss the caves and archaeological remains that were excavated and are preserved under the floor of the Catholic temple. Please note that to go down another level and visit the Necropolis you will need to purchase an additional ticket.
How to buy tickets to the Crypts of the Popes in the Vatican
The crypts and catacombs of the Vatican, with the tombs of the Popes, are in the basement of St. Peter's Basilica, specifically in a first subway level. Although the entrance to this first level is free, with this guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica you are assured access to this area with the explanations of a guide who completes the tour throughout the temple, which will give you a global vision of the Holy See.
However, the entrance to the Necropolis, where the tomb of St. Peter is located, is not included in this tour. The access to go down to the next level of the subsoil is very limited and only a small number of visitors can go down per day. I explain more in the next point.
How to get tickets to the Vatican Necropolis
Seating for the Necropolis is so limited that you have to make a request in advance to access them on a guided tour. Here are the details:
- Contact by email the Vatican department in charge of managing them ([email protected]) or show up at the Excavations Office at the south entrance (left side), outside the colonnade in St. Peter's Square. If you do it by email, enter the details of how many people you want to take the guided tour, the language and on what dates and they will reply with the price and directions for the tour.
- The guided tour lasts aboutan hour and a half. Children under 15 years of age are not allowed and the tour is not recommended for people with claustrophobia.
- The price of this tour is about 13 euros.
- On the day of the visit, you must be at the Excavations Office 10 minutes before the agreed time.
Prices for visits to the Grottoes of the Popes
It is important not to confuse the Grottoes of the Popes (a small subway gallery) with the Necropolis where St. Peter is buried, two floors below the Basilica, which requires a reservation in advance to visit. This visit costs about 13 euros.
Visiting the tombs of the Popes, on the other hand, is free and can be accessed from a small door inside the Basilica itself. For a complete experience and to understand the value of the archaeological remains there, I recommend booking a guided tour of the Vatican and the Basilica that includes access to these tombs with an expert guide.
The official guide will explain how the burials were carried out, the symbolism of these crypts and how they are preserved today. You will not be able to walk through the crypts on your own, you will be accompanied by the guide at all times.
Please note that you will not be able to take pictures
The use of a camera is not allowed during the visit to the Necropolis, even without flash. Keep in mind that this is a very special place whose conservation is paramount, so you will have to put your camera and cell phone away on this occasion. However, don't worry because the lighting in the crypts won't allow you to take very good pictures either.
You will have the opportunity to immortalize your trip to Rome in many corners of the city and even in other parts of the Vatican, such as the Museums, the Basilica or St. Peter's Square.
Respect the dress code of St. Peter's Basilica
Remember that both St. Peter's Basilica and its Necropolis are a place of worship and therefore, you must follow the dress code for access to its interior. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees, so avoid short pants or skirts and tank tops.
Women should also cover their cleavage, so the most practical way to visit the Vatican (especially if you are traveling in summer) is to wear a foulard or scarf over your shoulders. These rules also apply to the visit of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
Leave backpacks and bulky objects at the hotel
The space in the crypts is quite limited and very delicate, so for their perfect preservation, you will not be able to access the underground with large backpacks or bulky luggage. Therefore, it is recommended that you leave at the hotel the bags or backpacks that you will not need during the day so that they are not a nuisance.
If you still have to carry a bag or backpack that you think may create a problem when accessing the Necropolis, there are lockers or deposits for a fee where you can leave your belongings under surveillance. This service is located before accessing the temple, in the facade of the Basilica on the right side. However, be aware that there may be long lines, so be sure to calculate the time needed to avoid being late for your guided tour.
This visit is not allowed for children under 15 years old
If you are traveling to Rome as a family, you will not be able to take this tour with the youngest members of the family. Not only is it not recommended, but children under 15 years of age are not allowed to enter. Keep this in mind when organizing your visit to the Crypts.
However, if you are traveling with children, don't worry because the rest of the Basilica, the grandeur of St. Peter's Square and even the visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel will leave them open-mouthed.
Complete your visit to the crypts and the Necropolis of St. Peter with a visit to the Vatican
Skip the line to St. Peter's Basilica
As mentioned above, access to St. Peter's Basilica is free, but if I can give you a recommendation, it is that you get a guided tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica that allows you to skip the (very long) queues at the entrance of the temple.
If you are thinking of visiting it quietly inside and complete the visit with the ascent to the Dome or the guided tour of the Necropolis, after the long queues at the entrance you will be very tired and this will detract from the charm of your visit. I tell you here everything you need to know to access St. Peter's Basilica.
Climb the Dome for the best views of the city
It's true that it's not for the faint of heart, but the climb up to St. Peter's Dome guarantees you the best views of Rome, as well as a unique perspective of St. Peter's Square and the rooftops of Rome. During the climb (which you can do partly by elevator but you can't avoid the narrow flight of stairs) you can also appreciate the details of Bernini's majestic dome.
Tickets to climb the Dome of St. Peter were not available online until recently, but now you have different guided tours that include them. You can also buy them once you enter the Basilica itself. They cost about 8 euros if you decide to go all the way up on foot and a little more if you prefer to use the elevator. Either way, it's worth it!
Don't miss a visit to the Sistine Chapel
Visiting the Sistine Chapel will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your trip. Its artistic perfection attracts millions of visitors every year who stop to contemplate Michelangelo's frescoes with their mouths open. You can't leave Rome without visiting it, so in this article I tell you how to get tickets for the Sistine Chapel.