Vatican Highlights Tour with St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel

The Best Highlights of the Vatican

If you want to experience some of Rome’s best sites in a short amount of time, our Vatican Highlights Tour is the best Rome tour for you. Visit the best galleries, tour St. Peter's Basilica and see Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel in 2.5 hours.


This is a walking tour and involves going up and down stairs.

2.5 h
max 16
from 44 reviews
1 Skip the Line Vatican Tickets
2 Vatican Museums Tour
3 Gallery of Candelabra
4 Gallery of Tapestries
5 Gallery of Maps
6 Sistine Chapel Tour
7 Michelangelo's Masterpieces
8 St. Peter's Basilica
9 La Pietà by Michelangelo
10 Baldacchino by Bernini
11 Papal Tombs
12 Laocoön and His Sons
13 Nero's Bath
14 Continue Exploring the Vatican State


Pre-Opening Entrance
Sistine Chapel
St. Peter's Basilica
Primary Galleries
This Vatican highlights tour meets at 7:30 a.m. for access to the Vatican Museums at 8 a.m., when doors open for "privileged entrance" groups. The general public must wait until 9 a.m. to enter the Vatican Museums, making this an opportunity you don’t want to miss! You’ll skip the long general admission line and visit the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica in only 2.5 hours, leaving you plenty of time to explore the rest of Rome. If you're looking for a longer, more comprehensive Vatican tour, consider taking our Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel or our Detailed Itinerary Vatican in a Day Tour. This 2.5-hour tour includes:
  • - Skip the line Vatican tickets
  • - Meet at 7:30 am for entrance just after 8:00 am
  • - Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel
  • - English-speaking guide with expertise in art history
  • - A guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica (except on Wednesdays)

Short delays at the security check may occur during the busiest months, June and July. We have a team of experts at the Vatican every morning to help our groups avoid delays as much as possible. 

The Best Vatican Galleries

Explore one of our favorite collections, the Gallery of the Maps, as well as the Gallery of the Tapestries and Gallery of the Candelabra. Based on topographical maps of Italy painted by Dominican Italian friar Ignazio Danti, the Gallery of Maps is a beautiful and informative experience. Predating a unified Italy by about 300 years, the Gallery of Maps portrays the estimated length and breadth of the peninsula during the late 1500s. 

The Sistine Chapel’s Ceiling

The sheer scale of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel and awe-inspiring quality of the artistic work is a jaw-dropping combination. As you stand beneath the frescoes, it’s impossible not to appreciate how difficult it must have been for Michelangelo to spend years painting this masterpiece while standing upright on wooden scaffolds. As the chapel is inside of the Vatican Museums, entrance is included in your Vatican tour. Since the Sistine Chapel is a place of worship, visitors are not allowed to speak once inside. Our guide cannot explain the frescoes to the group once inside the Sistine Chapel. We will provide you with a map/handout for reference prior to entering. 
The Sistine Chapel is a sacred place, so both men and women must cover their knees and shoulders. Otherwise, you may be refused entry to a portion of your Vatican tour. We understand the summers in Rome are hot - a great alternative is to bring a shawl/scarf/sweater with you. That way, you can cover your knees and shoulders when necessary. 

St. Peter's Basilica and the Papal Tombs

Except on Wednesdays
Skip the long lines to enter the jaw-dropping St. Peter's Basilica directly through the Sistine Chapel. Once inside, you’ll admire masterpieces that include the Baldacchino, La Pieta, the statue of St. Peter and more. Your tour will also take you underneath the basilica to visit the burial place of many special popes, as well as Queen Christina, a Swedish Queen with a peculiar history.
Important: If you wish to stay in the Vatican Museums toward the end of your tour, you must forgo the guided visit of St. Peter’s Basilica. If you choose to do this, you’ll lose the chance to skip the line to St Peter’s with our guide, who takes you through a special door in the Sistine Chapel. If you decide to leave the tour early, remember to return your headset to the tour guide. Instead, if you follow our guide to St Peter’s and would like to stay in the basilica longer, or would like to climb St. Peter's Dome on your own, do not leave with your guide to take photos in the piazza once the tour is over. The regular security line is long and re-entry on your own is not recommended. 

Emperor Nero’s Bathtub

Wednesday's Only
As Papal Mass occurs on Wednesday mornings - St. Peter’s Basilica is closed until the afternoon. If your Vatican Express Tour occurs on a Wednesday, St. Peter’s Basilica is substituted for a visit to a collection of the most important Greco-Roman artwork, the Pio-Clementino Museum. Visit three of the world’s most iconic statues: the Belvedere Torso, the Apollo Belvedere and Laocoön and His Sons. Learn the stories behind the statues, before visiting Nero’s massive 25-ft red marble bathtub. This large tub is made from a precious red marble so rare that it cannot be replicated.