Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens & Pope's Summer Home Day Trip
Vatican to Castel Candolfo for scenic views
Don't worry about planning a trip to the pope's summer residence on your own. On this tour, enjoy roundtrip transportation to Castel Gandolfo and visit the Vatican's scenic gardens.
- Vatican Museums Tour
- Sistine Chapel
- Vatican Gardens
- A Relaxing Train Ride
- Castel Gandolfo Gardens
- A Miniature Colosseum
- A Secret Tunnel for the Pope
- Lunch! eat like the Pope
- The First Post Office in the World
- The Pope's Summer Residence
- The Pope's Costumes
- Papal Pinacoteca
- Palace Audience Rooms
- Pope's Personal Office
- The Pope's Bedroom
- Return Home on the Train
Place yourself in the Pope’s shoes and envision life as pontiff of the Catholic Church. Go beyond the Vatican Museums and see the Pope’s summer residence on this day trip from Rome. Explore the gorgeous hilltop town of Castel Gandolfo, overlooking Lake Albano. This exclusive day trip begins at the Vatican Museums, continuing through the Vatican Gardens before proceeding by train to Castel Gandolfo. This full-day Vatican experience includes:
- - An early access, skip the line Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel tour
- - Delicious local lunch
- - Round trip train tickets to Castel Gandolfo
- - An English-speaking guide with expertise in art history
- - Tickets to the Pope’s summer residence
Skip the Line Vatican Tour
You’ll start your day bright and early as you meet your tour guide at the Vatican Museums to skip the line and enter forty-five minutes before the general public. After going through a brief security check, you’ll proceed right inside to begin your tour.
The Vatican Museum's Best Galleries
As you proceed to the Sistine Chapel, you’ll explore the Vatican Museums’ most beautiful galleries: the Gallery of the Tapestries, the Gallery of the Candelabra and the Gallery of the Maps. You’ll see frescoes depicting the geography of the Italian peninsula that predate a unified Italy by almost three centuries.
Visit the Incredible Sistine Chapel
As part of the Vatican Tour, you’ll experience Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Stand in awe at the iconic meticulous frescoes that adorn the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. You’ll be amazed at how Michelangelo spent four years painting The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgement while lying on his back. Our knowledgeable guides will tell you fascinating stories about the history of each painting.
The Sistine Chapel is a place of worship, therefore, speaking inside is not allowed. Since our guide cannot explain the frescoes while you are inside, we explain the Chapel in advance and provide you with a map/handout for reference before you enter. Men and women must cover their knees and shoulders before entering. We understand the summers in Rome get hot, a good alternative is to bring a scarf or shawl to cover up with before you enter.
An Exclusive Stroll in the Vatican Gardens
Your tour will continue to the Vatican Gardens, where only special tour groups are allowed to visit. With your highly-demanded Vatican Gardens tickets, you’ll breathe in the tranquil air of this mini paradise. Stroll through the Vatican Gardens’ grottoes, landscaping and over 100 fountains. You’ll see jaw-dropping views of St. Peter’s Basilica away from the crowds – very few visitors are permitted inside the Vatican Gardens. Once your Vatican Gardens tour is finished, you’ll enter Vatican City’s only train station to board the train to Castel Gandolfo.
Vatican City to Castel Gandolfo Train
You’ll board the train departing from Stazione di Città del Vaticano as a special guest of the Vatican, the only people allowed to board. Enjoy the scenic ride through the Castelli Romani Hills to Castel Gandolfo. This is the perfect opportunity for you to rest and relax before the second half of this day trip. Your train will arrive at the Castel Gandolfo Train Station, where you will board a bus to the Barberini Gardens and the Apostolic Palace (the Pope’s summer residence).
Barberini Gardens at Castel Gandolfo
After a bus ride up the hill, you’ll visit the marvelous Barberini Gardens. Once the site of Emperor Domitian’s Villa, the Barberini Gardens boast beautifully-designed hedges situated amidst flowers, fountains and Ancient Roman ruins. Your guide will tell you stories about the history of the gardens and the many points of interest located within. Experience firsthand the mastery of landscape design that the Barberini Gardens boast.
A Feast Fit for the Pope Himself
Once you’ve explored the lush scenery of the Barberini Gardens, the tour will break for lunch (included with the tour). You’ll sit down to a sumptuous spread of locally-sourced, organic Italian meats, cheeses, olive oil, tomatoes and pasta. Many of the ingredients from the tour’s lunch are available for purchase to enjoy later.
Explore the Pope's Summer Residence
After lunch, you are free to explore the scenic town of Castel Gandolfo. Overlooking the immaculate Lake Albano, Castel Gandolfo boasts an array of shops, restaurants, art galleries and cafes. The opportunity to take a self-guided tour of the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence, is also available. Now a museum open to the public, visitors will enjoy exploring the Palace’s many rooms, art galleries, and collection of cars driven by former popes. Once you’ve finished basking in Castel Gandolfo’s unspoiled splendor, a bus will take you back down the hill to the train station. Unwind after your long day and enjoy the scenery on the train ride to Rome’s San Pietro Train Station.
See what people are saying
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Average customer rating
4.94 / 5 based on 18 total reviews
Great day, wish we could have seen St. Peter's
This was an awesome unique experience and I'm very happy we took this tour. It though did not include St. Peter's Basilica. I understand how it was not possible and the guide explained how we could go later during the trip. This worked out as we got to see the Pope speak on Sunday morning but it could be an issue if it's your only day to go to the Vatican.
Delicious lunch at a beautiful site
The best day of our vacation. We felt like VIPs with the lunch buffet they gave us at the mansion. The Vatican tour was also great as we got into the Sistine Chapel before all the big crowds.
So cool! We felt like VIPs
We really wanted to see the Vatican Gardens and the rep at The Roman Guy recommended this tour. It was really cool to go to the Pope's lake house (Francis does not live there though). They gave us an awesome buffet too for lunch. Loved it
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to meet?
Near the Vatican Museums Entrance - on the opposite side of the main street.
What to bring?
The Vatican dress code dictates you cover your knees and shoulders. If you do not meet the dress code, you may be denied entry! No need to dress like the people living there, covering your knees and shoulders is sufficient. Wear comfortable shoes.
Q: Does this tour include St. Peter's Basilica?
A: This tour will not include a visit to St. Peter's Basilica. If you want a guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica, we offer several other Vatican tours that include a visit to the church.
Q: Does this tour include the Sistine Chapel?
A: Yes! The Sistine Chapel is attached to the Vatican Museums. Your tickets include a visit to Michelangelo's masterpiece. You will have about twenty minutes to enjoy Michelangelo's incredible frescoes.
Q: What is a Vatican skip the line tour?
A: As an accredited Vatican tour operator, we get to go directly inside the Vatican Museums without waiting in any long ticket lines, only security.
Q: Does the Vatican close for special religious events?
A: During State visits or special religious events, parts of the Vatican may close unexpectedly. If an area normally covered on a tour is closed, our guide still provides explanations of the closed areas from outside and they will show you an extra area inside the Vatican Museums.
Q: Is there a dress code to enter the religious sites on this tour?
A: We ask both men and women to cover knees and shoulders, otherwise you may be refused entry to religious sites and miss out on a portion of your tour. We understand the summers in Rome can be hot, so a great alternative is to bring a shawl/scarf/sweater with you. That way, you can cover your knees and shoulders when necessary.
Q: Does this tour always visit every artwork listed?
Often artwork undergoes restorations or is loaned to another museum as an exhibit. Our itinerary will include the stop if it is open to be seen. If not, we will add a substitute.