Basilicas of Rome Private Driving Tour

Uncover relics of Catholic history and three of Rome’s major churches with an expert local guide

Travel Flexibly 5 / 5 See All 14 Reviews · 3.00h · Rome, Italy

Looking to take a deeper dive into Rome’s Christian heritage? Beyond the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, this is a city at the heart of the Catholic world, and with a professional driver and passionate local guide you’ll see the remaining three major Roman basilicas and so much more! Admire the grandeur and history of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Arch-Basilica of St. John, and Santa Maria Maggiore, see the sacred Holy Stairs, and learn the stories behind these iconic landmarks of the faith.

  • Door-to-door service
  • Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura
  • Altar Mosaic
  • Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano
  • Baldacchino
  • La Scala Sancta
  • Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
  • Reliquiary of the Holy Crib
  • Oldest image of Virgin Mary
  • Basilica San Pietro in Vincoli
  • The Chains of Peter
  • Michelangelo's Moses

With Rome hotel pick-up included, your journey through the major basilicas of Rome begins in VIP style. You'll be welcomed by your knowledgeable private tour guide and friendly local driver, who'll weave through the Roman traffic to your first stop: the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (San Paolo Fuori le Mura).

Next, you'll head to the official seat of the Pope at St. John Lateran (Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano), where you'll also see the iconic nearby Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta). Continue to the historic basilica of Saint Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore) and St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) on a half-day full of incredible Christian relics and history!

This tour visits three out of the four major basilicas of Rome. The fourth major basilica is St. Peter’s Basilica, which we visit on numerous private and small group Vatican tours.

Basilicas of Rome Private Driving Tour Description

Your 3-hour private guided tour includes:

  • Rome hotel pick-up and drop-off

  • Comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle and professional local driver

  • Your own personal English-speaking expert guide

  • St. Paul Outside the Walls, Arch-Basilica of St. John in Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, and St. Peter in Chains

  • Christian relics and art including Holy Stairs, Michelangelo’s Moses, and much more!

Important! Since the basilicas on this tour are sacred places, both men and women must cover their knees and shoulders. Otherwise, you may be refused entry. We understand that summers in Rome are 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.

Door-to-Door Service

To make this private Rome tour even smoother, we include hotel pick-up in central Rome and you'll be dropped off back at your accommodation (or elsewhere in central Rome, if you prefer) after the tour ends. Using a luxury climate-controlled vehicle, your friendly local driver will collect you at your preferred time and whisk you through the city in style, along with your own personal tour guide who has a deep knowledge of Catholic history and the sites your visit today.

Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura

The first stop on this private driving tour is the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (San Paolo Fuori le Mura), where the remains of the Apostle St. Paul are buried. Built during the fourth century A.D., the basilica is the second largest in Rome after St. Peter's Basilica. The church features incredible marble columns and houses stunning mosaics from the thirteenth century, as well as important Catholic relics including the San Paolo Holy Door and Baths of Caracella.

Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano

Founded during the fourth century in honor of St. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, St. John Lateran (Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano) is also known as the Cathedral of Rome. This church is very important as it holds the official seat of the Pope. Named an Arch-basilica, this is the highest ranked Major Basilica out of the four in Rome.

Located opposite of the Arch-Basilica of St. John in Lateran are the Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta). They are believed to be the very stairs that Christ climbed on the day of his crucifixion. In 1589 they were transferred by Pope Sixtus the V from the Palace of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem to their current location. At the top of the staircase is the Sancta Sanctorum, a chapel originally dedicated to St. Lawrence. This special chapel was the first of its kind, providing a private place of worship for the papacy.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Built in the fourth century, legend has it that the Virgin Mary herself influenced where the church was built. In a dream that came to both Pope Liberius and the Patrician John, she requested that a church be built in a spot that she would reveal.

Back then, a blanket of snow covered the Esquiline Hill on August 5th as an indication that this was the spot. For this reason, the church is sometimes nicknamed ‘Our Lady of the Snows’. The basilica still retains the bell tower (the highest in Rome) as well as some impressive fifth-century mosaics and marble columns from the medieval era. You'll also see the tomb of famous sculpture Bernini here.

Just outside, in Piazza di San Giovanni, your guide will also show you the remarkable 300-ton Lateran Obelisk—the largest standing ancient Egyptian obelisk in the world.

Basilica San Pietro in Vincoli

The last stop on this tour is the church of St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli), which houses the relic of Saint Peter’s chains from the time he was imprisoned in Jerusalem. With its simple decoration, the Basilica San Pietro in Vincoli stands apart from other churches built during the same time period.

The church is also home to Michelangelo’s wonderful Statue of Moses which was intended as a funeral monument for warrior pope, Pope Julius II.

After a few hours exploring incredibly Catholic heritage, your driver will be waiting to take you back to your hotel. If you'd rather stay out and explore the city and find a place to eat, just ask your private guide for recommendations.

 

What you get with this tour
Includes a Private English-Speaking Guide
Visit sites off the beaten track
Visit Churches and other Christian Points of Interest
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14 total reviews

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5.0/5 (based on 14 reviews)
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Basilicas of Rome Private Driving Tour
01 June 2024
J
Reviewed by
Joseph Tynes

We had an excellent experience. Our guide was knowledgeable, professional and enthusiastic. She added the proper context to the beautiful basilicas. Well done! 5/5.

Wonderful Tour
13 July 2023
Z
Reviewed by
Zachary Worley

An excellent introduction to the major basilicas of Rome. Our guide, Pia, was superb and her knowledge base is impressive. I wish I were younger and could take one of her classes! Would definitely recommend this tour, and Pia, to others.

Fantastic Tour!!
20 May 2023
C
Reviewed by
Charles Hirschy

Our tour of the major basilica’s was nothing short of spectacular. Our wonderful guide explained so much about papal history and details within each one, and how they differ based on when they were first constructed. Our driver was superb and got right next to the entrance of each place.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What to bring?

Because the sites on this small group tour are religious, you must cover your knees and shoulders. This dress code is strictly enforced. We know that Rome is hot in summer - a great alternative is to bring a shawl/scarf/sweater with you. That way, you can cover your knees and shoulders when necessary.

Is there a dress code to enter the religious sites on this tour?

We ask both men and women to cover knees and shoulders, otherwise you may be refused entry to the religious sites on this private tour. We understand the summers in Rome can be hot - a great alternative is to bring a shawl/scarf/sweater with you. That way, you can cover your knees and shoulders when necessary.

I have some doubts about my mobility. Is this tour right for me?

If you have any doubts about your mobility, this is a good tour for you. Our private tours offer more flexibility in terms of pace and special accommodations.

What are the chances my one of the stops on the itinerary will change?

We will enter some of the basilicas during mass, which means certain parts might be closed off to us. We will do out best to show you as much as possible inside the churches.

Does this tour include St. Peter's Basilica?

No, if you want a guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica, we offer several Vatican tours, both private and small group, that include the church. We suggest combining this private Basilicas of Rome driving tour with the private Pre-Opening Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica tour.

What to bring?

Because the sites on this small group tour are religious, you must cover your knees and shoulders. This dress code is strictly enforced. We know that Rome is hot in summer - a great alternative is to bring a shawl/scarf/sweater with you. That way, you can cover your knees and shoulders when necessary.

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