Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel
Enter the Vatican Museums before hours
As one of our bestselling Rome tours, this early access Vatican Museums tour skips the regular line and goes straight to Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Led by a professional English-speaking guide, see the best galleries and St. Peter's Basilica.
What you will see on this tour
- Sistine Chapel Visit
- The Creation of Adam
- Vatican Museums Tour
- The Raphael Rooms
- Borgia Apartments
- St. Peter's Basilica Tour
- La Pietà by Michelangelo
- Baldacchino by Bernini
- Want to climb St. Peter's Dome?
Enter A Full Hour Ahead of the General Public!
One of our top-selling Rome tours, skip the line and go straight to Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel with this guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. See the Vatican Museum’s best galleries and tour St. Peter's Basilica with a professional English-speaking guide. Our Privileged Entrance guided Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel tour starts at 7:30 a.m. and doors open shortly after 8 a.m. (a full hour before general admission opens). Witness the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel before the large crowds. Our professional English-speaking guide will then take you through a guided tour of the Vatican Museums before heading to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Short delays at the security check may occur during June and July, our busiest months. However, we have a team of experts at the Vatican every morning to best help our groups avoid delays. Your guide will meet the group at 7:30 a.m. to begin the early access Vatican Museum tour prior to doors opening for special groups at 8 a.m.
The Sistine Chapel
First stop is a visit to the Sistine Chapel before it opens to the general public. Upon entering, you’ll see why the Sistine Chapel is one of Michelangelo’s most prized masterpieces. The Sistine Chapel also serves as a gathering place for cardinals of the Catholic Church, where new popes are elected. As the Sistine Chapel is a place of worship, speaking inside is forbidden. Your guide will tell you about its history and provide you with a map for reference prior to entering.
Please note: The Sistine Chapel is a sacred place, so visitors are required to have their knees and shoulders covered when inside. Failure to do so will result in refused entry to a portion of the Vatican tour. During Rome’s hot summer months, consider bringing a shawl or sweater for covering yourself when necessary.
The Best Galleries at the Vatican
Visit the Vatican’s most celebrated galleries including the Borgia Apartments, Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of the Tapestries and the Gallery of the Maps. Predating a unified Italy by nearly 300 years, the Gallery of the Maps contains painted topographical maps of Italy. This is one of our favorite places in the Vatican.
The term Renaissance, meaning "rebirth," refers to the period of European history between the 14th and 17th centuries that produced a revival in art, literature and learning. The ideal Renaissance man, Raphael was one of Rome's most famous Renaissance artists who designed and painted multiple rooms connected to the Vatican Museums. Among the many Vatican Museum masterpieces, you’ll see one of Raphael’s most famous works, The School of Athens.
Skipping the Line at St Peter's Basilica
Except on Wednesdays
St. Peter's Basilica is the Vatican’s grand centerpiece. Upon entering, you’ll encounter the largest church you've ever seen, filled with artwork from all of Italy’s historically-renowned artists. Skip the lines waiting outside in St Peter's Square and access the basilica through a special side entrance available to our guides. Once inside, admire masterpieces such as Bernini’s Baldacchino, La Pieta and the statue of St. Peter. While it is free to enter, this guided tour will optimize your Vatican Museum experience while skipping the long lines outside.
Important: If you wish to further explore the museums toward the end of your guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, you must forgo the guided visit of St. Peter’s Basilica. If you choose to do this, you’ll lose the opportunity to skip the lines with your guide and use the special entrance from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica. If you decide to leave the tour early, please return your headset to the tour guide. You are welcome to remain in the basilica longer once the tour concludes, we ask that you do not proceed with your tour guide to take photos in the piazza. The regular security line is long and re-entry on your own is not recommended.
Pio-Clementino Museum and Nero's Bathtub
On Wednesdays Only
The itinerary for any guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel will change on Wednesdays due to the weekly Papal Audience. If you take the Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour on a Wednesday, the visit to St. Peter's Basilica is substituted with a visit to the Pio-Clementino Museum, home to three of the most iconic historical statues. Learn the oral history associated with the Apollo Belvedere, Laocoön and His Sons and the Belvedere Torso. You'll also visit one of the biggest and oldest bathtubs in existence, which to this day, is impossible to recreate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to meet?
Between Caffé Vaticano and Hotel Alimandi, at the top of the big staircase (Viale Vaticano, 100). A representative will be there holding a sign with our company name on it.
What to bring?
There's no need to dress like the people who live in Vatican City, but you are asked to avoid wearing short pants and dresses that expose your knees, and tank tops that expose your shoulders. You can always bring a shall or sweater to cover your shoulders inside during summer months. Comfortable shoes are recommended for walking tours. The Vatican forbids the use of tripods inside the Museums and the carrying of large backpack. We kindly ask you to leave these items at your accommodation.
Q: What time does the tour actually go inside and are there no lines at all?
A: As an accredited tour operator, we do not have to wait in the regular entrance line, but for security reasons, we still have to wait in a security line. For this reason, we leave the tour meeting point as prompt as possible and find our place in the security line reserved for tour operators. The doors open for us at 8:00 am, an hour before the general public. The time spent in the security line is when our guide explains the wonders you'll find inside the Sistine Chapel, using visual aids.
Q: Is a tour of St. Peter's Basilica alwasy included?
A: St. Peter's Basilica is closed on Wednesday mornings due to the Papal Audience. We often still run the tour on Wednesdays as it might be your only day in Rome! When St Peter's is closed, we visit some of the most iconic statues in the world and Emperor Nero's enormous marble bathtub instead. There's lots to see inside the museums!
Q: What are the chances my tour will be cancelled or the Vatican will close?
A: We run the tour rain or shine all year round. On some rare occassion, areas of the Vatican City can close for special religious events. If an area normally covered on a tour is closed, our guide will still provide an explanation from outside and will then show you an extra site or gallery to compensate.
Q: I have some doubts about my mobility. Would you recommend this tour for me?
A: If you have doubts about your mobility, we strongly suggest you take a private Vatinca tour instead. Our private tours are customizable to meet your needs.
See what people are saying
151 total reviewsLeave a review
The only way to go for seeing the Vatican
After a fabulous cycling trip in Umbria I had only two days in Rome. I started the first day on this tour. It is definitely the way to go for seeing the Vatican no matter how much time you have in this city. Our guide, Elizabetha, was knowledgeable and friendly. The earpiece system (which amplifies your guide's voice) is genius, and it was so great to beat the crowds. After our tour I climbed the stairs to the top of the basilica--which I also recommend. Going on this tour helped me beat that line, too. By the time I came down, it was so long I might not have done it.
Great chance to see history without the crowds.
This tour was perfect since we needed something early and shorter in order to be to the airport on time. It was well organized and our tour guide was great. She was sweet and informative. You could tell she took pride in the history she spoke of. Especially when describing how you find out if there is a new pope. I forgot her name but she was blond and told us she was expecting. Good luck with your future bundle of joy! It was not too crowded except when tour groups ran into each other. Overall though it was a great experience.
Our trip to the Vatican would not have been as awesome as it was without our guide Rita. We chose the 7:30am skip the line tour which gave a privileged entrance 1 hour early before the doors opened. She was very personable and man did she know what she was talking about. We felt that the beginning of the tour was part of the amazing race, but we totally understood why as soon as the 40,000 people came in! What a rat race! It really was unbearable with all the pushing and shoving and “me first”. She made each room come alive as if you were present when the art was being made. You can’t go wrong!!!