Vatican Museum Tickets: how to buy, prices and discounts

If you visit Rome you can not miss one of its jewels: I tell you everything you need to know to get tickets to the Vatican Museums, where you can see the incredible Sistine Chapel.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

15 min read

Vatican Museum Tickets: how to buy, prices and discounts

Colonnade of St. Peter's Square | ©Mathew Schwartz

The Vatican City, accessible on foot from the center of Rome, is the residence of the pontiffs and the center of Catholic power in the world. Its main attractions are St. Peter's Basilica with its Dome, St. Peter's Square and the Vatican Museums with the Sistine Chapel.

If you want to avoid the queues, which are literally the longest queues in Rome, make sure you buy your ticket in advance. Here are the types of tickets available for advance purchase:

The most economical

Rome Vatican and Sistine Chapel Skip-the-Line Tickets

Your direct entrance to the Vatican with no waiting at the ticket office

See all that the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel have to offer at your own pace by purchasing these tickets in advance and skipping the long lines at the ticket offices.

Go directly to the impressive Vatican Museums, the Rooms of St. Raphael and the Sistine Chapel and spend as much time as you want to see the works of art in each of its rooms. Thanks to the skip-the-line tickets you will be able to enter the complex without having to go through the ticket office beforehand, and youwill be free to walk around at your own pace. In addition, you have the option to choose along with the ticket an audio guide that will tell you the details of the main paintings and sculptures that you will find along the way.

For only about 30 euros you will have access to one of the main tourist attractions of Rome and anticipating the reservation of your tickets will avoid headaches once you are there.


The best option

Guide tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica

Your ticket to the Vatican with a guided tour in a small group

Enjoy a more intimate experience visiting the Vatican with an expert guide in a small group.

Duration: 3 hours

With this option you will have access to the Vatican Museums, where you will be able to contemplate, among other works, the wonderful Sistine Chapel. The advantage? It includes a ticket that saves you endless queues and you will be accompanied by an expert guide who will help you contextualize everything you see.

Believe me: in a place with so many works, so much history and so much symbolism, you will appreciate having some information about the main galleries, the main artists and the essential works to avoid being overwhelmed by the large amount of stimuli, corridors and art that you will find inside. With this tour you will walk through the main rooms and galleries of the Museums, learning the most relevant details of the most significant works of the Vatican Museums.

If you are one of those who do not enjoy tours in large organized groups, consider this option because it will allow you to be closer to the guide's explanations, have a lighter pace during the visit and have more freedom to ask questions, ask for recommendations, connect better with the guide, etc.


The Premium option

Early Entry Vatican and Sistine Chapel Tour

Your ticket to visit the Vatican early in the morning to avoid crowds.

This is undoubtedly the most exclusive way to visit the Vatican Museums: you can enter the Sistine Chapel before it opens to the general public and enjoy the art without too many tourists around, with an expert guide in a small group.

Duration: 4 hours

Among all the Premium tickets you can find for the Vatican, if you have to seriously consider any of them it is this early entrance with preferential access to the Sistine Chapel. This option allows you to visit it with a smaller capacity (before it opens to the general public and other tours) and, undoubtedly, enjoy it much more.

This type of ticket guarantees to see the Vatican Museums in general and the Sistine Chapel in particular with a small group and an hour and a half before the crowds flood the corridors. If you have to treat yourself on your trip, I advise you to take this one very seriously.


In summary, we compare the four options:


Vatican ticket prices

St. Peter's Basilica of the Vatican| ©CALIN STAN
St. Peter's Basilica of the Vatican| ©CALIN STAN

I suggest two types of tickets with different prices:

  • The most recommended is to buy the ticket that includes a guided tour in Spanish in group and it will cost you about 43 euros. But depending on the type of ticket you want to buy, the price will be totally different.

The good thing is that there are options for all budgets. If you want to have more details about the ticket prices to access the Vatican you can check my article about it here: Vatican Tickets Price 2023.

  • A more premium option, with which you will avoid crowds, there is the possibility of entering the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums before they open to the general public. This has a slightly higher price, but if you want to squeeze the most out of the experience, you won't regret it. It costs around 60 Euros. At all times you will be accompanied by an expert guide and the silence that reigns in the galleries at that time of the morning is well worth the extra cost.

Book an early morning guided tour of the Vatican

Get discounts on your Vatican tickets

Bramante Staircase| ©Bibi Pace
Bramante Staircase| ©Bibi Pace

Finally, there are also packs that will allow you to save when visiting the Vatican and other attractions in the city. For example, in Hellotickets you can get the combined Colosseum + Vatican. In one day you visit both attractions with a specialized guide and the cost is about 90 Euros, which makes it a cheaper option than if you buy both visits separately.

Check out also the possibility to buy the Omnia Card and the Roma Pass, tourist cards of the city, which will allow you to access other museums and monuments in addition to the Vatican at a reduced price.

Book skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican

Where to buy skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican

St. Peter's Square seen from the dome of the basilica.| ©Alan Liu
St. Peter's Square seen from the dome of the basilica.| ©Alan Liu

The best option is to buy tickets in advance and online so you can be sure that the option you buy includes access to the Vatican without queues or waiting. All the options you find in Hellotickets include it and it will be your great advantage when you visit the Vatican.

The long queues that form at the Vatican gates go around the walls that flank the Museums and are literally the longest queues in Rome. Waiting several hours in the sun to access the Museums, Basilica and Sistine Chapel can become your worst nightmare if you get there without tickets and have to go through the ticket office.

Book skip the line tickets to the Vatican

How to get Vatican tickets with the Roma Pass and Omnia Card

Vatican Museums| ©Unsplash
Vatican Museums| ©Unsplash

Rome is such a touristic city with so many wonders to see, that a good option is to buy the tourist card of the city, which will help you to visit the Vatican Museums because the entrance tickets are included in the price.

Omnia Vatican and Roma Pass

Also known as Omnia card Roma, this card is usually combined with the Roma Pass and is the best option to visit the Vatican as it includes entrance to the museums and other attractions.

Rome City Pass

It is the VIP pass of Rome and with it you can enter for free to the Vatican Museums and other places like the Colosseum. You can hire the card for a period of 1 to 7 days and include for a supplement transportation or airport transfer.

Book your tourist pass Roma Pass and Omnia Card

Buy cheap tickets for the Vatican and the Colosseum combined

Details of one of the corridors of the Vatican Museums| ©Berto Macario
Details of one of the corridors of the Vatican Museums| ©Berto Macario

If you are thinking about visiting the Colosseum (actually it is a must visit), you should know that there is the possibility to buy a combined ticket for the Vatican and the Colosseum with which you will save time and money, so it is really convenient. The price is more affordable than if you buy both tickets separately and you will skip the queues at both attractions, which makes the visit much more enjoyable.

In addition, you will have the opportunity to visit the two monuments accompanied by an expert guide at all times who will make sure you do not miss anything of these two jewels in the Eternal City.

Book skip the line tickets to the Vatican

How to buy tickets to the Vatican at the ticket office

Entrance to the Vatican
Entrance to the Vatican

From experience, I can assure you that the nearly two hours of queuing outside (with long stretches in the sun) will take a lot of energy away from seeing the Vatican Museums. Keep in mind that, depending on what time you go, you may run the risk of being sold out, so I advise you to go first thing in the morning.

The first thing you need to know is that when we talk about general admission to the Vatican without queues, we are referring to the entrance to the Vatican Museums. Vatican City is free to enter (you don't need a ticket; it's like visiting another area of Rome) and access to St. Peter's Basilica is free.

But the Sistine Chapel and all the works and galleries of the Vatican Museums with some of the most famous works in the world are fee-paying and require entrance and, very importantly, sell out quickly as seating is limited and there are thousands of people who want to go every day.

Book your guided tour of the Vatican

Is the Sistine Chapel included in the Vatican tickets?

The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel

Yes, all tickets to the Vatican include a visit to the famous Sistine Chapel. In fact, despite the magnitude of the size of the Vatican Museums, you will immediately notice that the Sistine Chapel accumulates the largest number of visitors, since almost everyone stops in that room to contemplate it.

To enjoy it with more tranquility, you can always buy the entrance ticket with early morning access and avoid crowds.

Book skip-the-line tickets for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Is St. Peter's Basilica included in the Vatican tickets?

St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica

Not always, but entering St. Peter's Basilica is free so you won't have to pay if you don't want to. Of course, the lines are very long, so there is the option to pay to enter the Basilica (with or without a guided tour) and skip the lines. Once inside, you will marvel at its size and the quality of some of its works.

Book tickets to the Vatican without queues

Is the ascent to the Dome included in the Vatican tickets?

St. Peter's Dome
St. Peter's Dome

If you want to go up to St. Peter's Dome you will have to pay a separate ticket, but you can buy it right there without reservation and there are usually no long waits to access. If you hesitate between paying or not to climb the dome my advice is to take a breath and go up.

Halfway up you will probably regret it (the narrow spiral staircase is quite a challenge), but when you get to the top the views will be worth it and you can file the experience as one of the highlights of your trip.

Book skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican

Are the Necropolis and Catacombs included in the Vatican ticket?

Tomb of Pope Pius XI| ©Northfielder
Tomb of Pope Pius XI| ©Northfielder

No. The Vatican Necropolis, located in the basement of St. Peter's Basilica, requires a separate entrance. It is quite an interesting visit and will allow you to see the crypts and tombs of some historical Popes and St. Peter the Apostle. If you feel like organizing the visit, I recommend that you do it in advance, as the capacity is quite limited and the demand is very high.

Are there any discounts for Vatican tickets?

Aerial view of the Vatican Gardens
Aerial view of the Vatican Gardens

Admission to the Vatican is free or at a special rate for students under 25 and university students, members of religious schools or accredited pilgrims, the disabled, journalists and children under six years of age. Find out how to visit the Vatican at the best price or get discounts in this guide.

Vatican Hours

Michelangelo's Pieta| ©Sonse
Michelangelo's Pieta| ©Sonse

The opening hours of the Vatican Museums are, with few exceptions, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Please note that on Sundays the museum is closed all day for the Papal Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Square and on some holidays as well. The best time to visit is usually, as is common in all tourist attractions, early or late in the day. Just keep in mind that tours that include a visit to St. Peter's Basilica after 2:00 p.m. do not guarantee access to it.

I tell you all about it in this detailed guide with all the schedules of the Vatican (the Museums, the Basilica, the ascent to the Dome...etc).

Book your guided tour of the Vatican

Duration of the visit to the Vatican

Vatican Museums| ©iam_os
Vatican Museums| ©iam_os

Depending on what you want to visit in the Vatican, you will need at least three hours (two, if you are rushing, but it is not worth it). I personally prefer to dedicate three hours to a leisurely visit of the Museums in which I have a few things left to see from the collection rather than rushing through the entire museums in two hours to have the "check" of having "seen" everything.

If you also want to stop at St. Peter's Basilica, go up to the Dome or enjoy walking around St. Peter's Square with its colonnade, the visit is hopelessly lengthened and you could need up to a whole day. It is important to plan what you want to see in the Vatican so you can calculate how much time you need and enjoy your visit.

Book your guided tour of the Vatican

Is it worth buying tickets for the Vatican with guided tour?

Detail of the Sistine Chapel| ©Unsplash
Detail of the Sistine Chapel| ©Unsplash

Yes, a guided tour is 100% recommendable: a collection with so much symbolism and historical context is much more enjoyable with an expert who can tell you anecdotes about its creator, its style or the reason for its historical relevance. There are different options for guided tours of the Vatican, depending on the time and budget you have available.

For example, the most complete and best value for money tour costs 38 Euros and will allow you to see the best of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. If you want to avoid crowds, you can always choose the premium option to enter the Sistine Chapel first thing in the morning, before it opens to the general public, so you can enjoy the Sistine Chapel in peace and quiet in a very small privileged group.

Book your guided tour of the Vatican

How to get to the Vatican

Detail of the Sistine Chapel| ©Unsplash
Detail of the Sistine Chapel| ©Unsplash

The Vatican City is far from the center of Rome, but that does not mean it is difficult to reach. There are several ways to get there, choose the one that best suits your itinerary:

  • Walking: depending on where you are staying, you may well be able to get there on foot. If, for example, your accommodation is close to Piazza Navona and you feel like taking a walk you can cross the Tiber and in about half an hour you will reach St. Peter's Square; if you make a detour you can even pass by Castel Sant'Angelo first. No walk in Rome is a waste of time, but if you choose this option remember to leave early to get there at a good time.
  • By public transport: the fastest way to get to the Vatican by public transport is to take metro line A to Ottaviano S Pietro. If the subway is not convenient for you, there are also buses that go there and leave from Piazza dei Cinquecento or Termini station.

How to buy tickets on the Vatican Official Website

Colonnade of St. Peter's Square
Colonnade of St. Peter's Square

If you are going to buy tickets on the official Vatican website, please note that they are non-refundable and valid only for the day you choose. If you do not like to improvise during your trips, I recommend you to book this option of skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican at Hellotickets, as it allows free cancellation; this way you will not lose the money if any setback arises during your trip.

Ana's Traveller Tip

If you book your ticket in advance you will avoid queues of more than two hours.

Practical tips for visiting the Vatican

Inside St. Peter's
Inside St. Peter's

Visiting the Vatican is a must on your trip to Rome, but to get the most out of the day, it is advisable to plan your visit a little. I will tell you what you should take into account when visiting the Vatican:

Cover yourself when you go to visit the Vatican

You can learn from mistakes and surely you know someone who, after planning their visit, has had to leave without visiting the museums or the basilica. In these two places you must cover your legs and shoulders. No sleeveless, low-cut clothing, shorts, mini-skirts or hats are allowed.

Do you have to be covered up in the middle of summer? Let's see, common sense: carry a scarf or long foulard in your backpack that you can wear to enter these places and that you don't have to wear all day. I assure you that prevention is better than cure.

How to avoid the crowds when visiting the Vatican

To avoid queues, you already know that you have to buy the entrance to the Vatican Museums in advance, but the crowds will not be so easy to avoid them... The only way to reduce them is to choose the first or the last schedule and not to go before or after a holiday and, if you can, avoid the high season.

What to do with backpacks and luggage when visiting the Vatican

They are not allowed and queues can again form at the ticket offices. I recommend that you make your visit with the minimum necessary because after so many hours on your feet even the pack of tissues ends up weighing you down.

Is it worth paying for the audio guide for children?

If you visit the Vatican Museums with children, I recommend that you ask for the special audio guide for them (recommended for ages 6 to 12). This way the visit will be less tiring for them and they will enjoy the works of art more.

Where to eat near the Vatican

This area, being quite touristy, may not seem a priori the best part of Rome where to stop for lunch or dinner. But that does not mean that the Italian capital remains a gastronomic reference so even in the surroundings of the Vatican you will find delicious places to eat.

Prepare your palate and enjoy the best Roman dishes!

Ana's Traveller Tip

Carry a scarf in your backpack to cover your shoulders when entering the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica.