Private Vatican, Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter's Dome Climb Complete Tour

Climb St. Peter's Dome then tour the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Travel Flexibly 5 / 5 See All 51 Reviews · 5.00h · Vatican, Italy

Looking for a Vatican tour that’s a cut above the rest? Then this extended private tour with a St. Peter’s Dome climb is the perfect choice! You’ll be envy of the long line of waiting tourists as you skip the line to scale the iconic basilica dome for an unbeatable view of Rome, before your expert private guide shows you the famous art and hidden gems of the Vatican. See the best of the Vatican Museums, admire the beauty of the Sistine Chapel, see the intricate Papal Crypts, and more!

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  • An in-depth private Vatican experience
  • Meet near St. Peter's Square for skip-the-line entry
  • Explore St. Peter's Basilica
  • Climb the Dome for incredible views
  • Michelangelo's La Pietá
  • Bernini's Baldacchino
  • Skip-the-line Vatican Museums tour
  • Galleries of the Maps, Tapestries, and Candelabras
  • Raphael Rooms
  • Sistine Chapel

You'll meet your expert Vatican guide near St. Peter's Square early in the morning. The lines to enter St. Peter's Basilica and climb its famous dome can be hours long in busy months, but this private guided tour lets you skip the line to be one of the first of the day to enjoy the Basilica and climb the dome! Afterwards, you'll skip the line again to take a detailed tour of the famous galleries of the Vatican Museums, before gazing in awe at the frescoes inside the Sistine Chapel.

There aren't many tours that give such an in-depth experience of the Vatican, and as a private tour, the pace and the things you'll see can be tailored just for you!

Private St. Peter's Dome and Vatican Tour Description

Your 5-hour Vatican tour includes:

  • Skip-the-line early entry to St. Peter's Basilica

  • Access to the elevator and stairs to the top of St. Peter's dome

  • Guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica and papal crypts

  • Skip-the-line entry to the Vatican Museums

  • Tailored guided tour of Vatican Museums

  • See inside Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel

  • An engaging English-speaking private guide

Climb St. Peter’s Dome

Get ready for the best view in all of Rome! Once inside St. Peter's Basilica, you'll follow your private guide up the elevator to lower level of the dome and skip past the first 231 steps. This first level is filled with incredibly elaborate mosaics that cover the inside of the dome, and you'll also get a chance to step outside onto the terrace and enjoy an iconic view of the Vatican City and St. Peter's Square.

From the upper terrace, you’ll have the option to climb even higher, with 320 ancient stone steps leading you to very top of the dome. The stairway gets narrow and a little claustrophobic in parts, but the reward at the top will make it all worthwhile! This is a truly epic view of the Vatican and the historic center of Rome, and it's our favorite way to introduce travelers to the Eternal City.

Guided Tour of St. Peter’s Basilica with Papal Crypts

You'll return to ground level for a private tour of the largest church in the world. Your expert guide will point out the most iconic artworks of the Basilica, including Michelangelo’s Pietà and Bernini’s Baldacchino. Among the most famous things you'll see in the Basilica are the spectacular throne and high altar of St. Peter—built directly above his final resting place.

From the top of St. Peter's Basilica, you'll descend to the bottom! Buried in beautiful caskets and effigies below the Basilica are the remains of many of the Catholic church's former popes. Your guide will tell you all about the men buried here and the part they played in Catholic history, and you'll be able to admire the intricate details of the tombs, many of which were designed by Michelangelo and Bernini.

There are times that the basilica closes the crypts to public access. If this happens, your guide will ensure you see other amazing places at the Basilica.

Vatican Museums Tour

After your St. Peter's experience, you'll skip the line and begin your in-depth exploration of the rest of the Vatican City. You'll follow your guide through the Candelabra Gallery, Gallery of the Tapestries, and Gallery of Maps, admiring the ancient Roman and Greek statues, the Flemish tapestries created by Raphael's students, and the gorgeous topographical depictions of Italy. You'll hear the stories behind these treasures from your expert guide as the Vatican secrets are slowly unveiled to you.

Want to see more of a particular artist's work or spend a little longer in a certain gallery? Just let your guide know! As a fully private tour, everything can be tailored to your wants and needs.

Pio-Clementino Museum

This museum houses some of the world's most famous statues, including Laocoön and His Sons and the Belvedere Torso. Your guide will tell you all about the history and legends surrounding the art, as well as Emperor Nero’s bathtub—an opulent 25-foot tub made of rare red marble. And you'll see the incredible sarcophagus of St. Helen, the mother of Constantine.

The Raphael Rooms

After the Middle Ages, Europe saw a new age of amazing art, literature, and thought. Raphael is one of the most famous Renaissance artists and some of his most well-known works of art reside in the Vatican Museums. Your guide will show you the rooms he frescoed and one of his most famous works of art, The School of Athens.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is the most famous chapel in the world, and it’s easy to understand why. Michelangelo’s collective masterpieces include over 600 figures, and words cannot do it justice. Take in the wonder of the chapel and examine the vivid depictions of biblical stories from Genesis to Revelations. You'll also see see the famous Creation of Man and the Last Judgement.

As the Sistine Chapel is a place of worship, speaking inside is forbidden. Your guide will give you an overview before entering, and we'll also provide you a map/handout to identify each fresco you look at.

As a deeply religious site, everyone who enters the Sistine Chapel must cover their knees and shoulders. Otherwise, you may be refused entry to this portion of your tour. A great option is to bring a shawl/scarf/sweater with you. That way, you can cover your knees and shoulders when necessary.

Want to See More?

After the Sistine Chapel, you'll have the option to re-enter St. Peter’s Basilica by following your guide through the passageway that leads back to the basilica, or stay in the Vatican Museums to continue exploring on your own.

What you get with this tour
Skip-the-line early entry to St. Peter's Basilica
Access to the elevator and stairs to the top of St. Peter's dome
Guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica and papal crypts
Skip-the-line entry to the Vatican Museums
Tailored guided tour of Vatican Museums
See inside Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel
An engaging English-speaking private guide
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51 total reviews

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5.0/5 (based on 51 reviews)
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Fantastic tour with Raffa
29 May 2024
D
Reviewed by
Dave Rich

Vatican is mindblowing to begin with, but our guide Raffa was so charming and knowledgable that the visit would have been missing much without the context and information she provided. Highest recommendation!

Fantastic and Informational
20 May 2024
K
Reviewed by
Ken Van Hercke

Kate was an awesome guide! She was very personable, energetic and knowledgeable about the Vatican. This was our first private tour and I would highly recommend private tours for all your future tours!

Fabulous tour of the Vatican
19 May 2024
A
Reviewed by
Andrea Brockmann

This tour exceeded our expectations! Our guide, Marina, was very knowledgeable and personable. We learned so much about the history of the Vatican, artwork - so many details! I would highly recommend this tour!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What to bring?

In addition to wearing or bringing clothing that covers your knees and shoulders, it's recommended to wear comfortable shoes. You're also welcome to bring a water bottle as it can get hot inside the Vatican during the summer months.

What to bring?

In addition to wearing or bringing clothing that covers your knees and shoulders, it's recommended to wear comfortable shoes. You're also welcome to bring a water bottle as it can get hot inside the Vatican during the summer months.

Will the Vatican Museums be crowded during this tour?

While we do our best to arrange the order of the tour to avoid the largest crowds, there is a chance the museums may be crowded while we are inside since the tour begins with the dome climb and visit to St. Peter's.

Does the Vatican ever experience unexpected closures?

During state visits or special religious events, parts of the Vatican may be closed unexpectedly and without much notice. If an area normally visited during a tour is suddenly closed, our guide will still provide explanations of the closed areas from outside. They will even show you another gallery to compensate for the lost time in a usual location.

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 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.

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

If you have any doubts about your mobility, a private tour like this is your best bet. Private Vatican tours are more easily customized to the needs of people with reduced mobility. To get to the top of dome you'll have navigate a narrow stairway, but you're welcome to stay on the first floor which has wonderful views and can be reached by elevator.

Is there an elevator I can take instead of climbing?

On this guided tour, everyone will enjoy the use of the elevator to skip the first 231 steps and emerge at the landing inside the dome. From there, you can either admire the view from the terrace or climb the remaining 320 steps on foot.

Why doesn't this tour operate on Wednesdays?

That's because St. Peter's Basilica will be closed for the Papal Audience.

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