Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel

Enjoy early access to see the Raphael Rooms, Creation of Man, St. Peter's Basilica, and more

Travel Flexibly 4.9 / 5 See All 361 Reviews · 3.50h 14 max · Vatican, Italy

Want to explore the best of the Vatican before the big crowds arrive? Thanks to our close relationship with the Holy See, this early-access tour gives you a more peaceful Vatican experience. With a small group and an expert local guide, you’ll skip the long admission line and enter the Vatican Museums before the general public. With fewer crowds, you'll enjoy a closer view of the incredible artwork and architecture you’ll find in the Vatican Galleries, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Tour Details
  • Explore before the crowds
  • Views of St. Peter's Basilica
  • Pinecone Courtyard
  • Gallery of Candelabra
  • Gallery of Maps
  • Gallery of Tapestries
  • Raphael Rooms
  • Sistine Chapel
  • Creation of Man
  • Last Judgement
  • St Peter’s Basilica
  • La Pietá
  • Bernini's Baldacchino

You'll meet your local guide at the top of the stairs near Caffé Vaticano, just across from the Vatican Museums entrance. With your small group of 14 or fewer, you'll enter the Vatican earlier than the general public, so you can enjoy seeing the amazing collection of art without feeling overcrowded. Your super-knowledgeable Vatican guide will show you the best of the galleries and notable areas, including the Raphael Rooms and Borgia Apartments, and tell fascinating stories of Vatican history. Finally, you'll explore the Vatican's two most iconic attractions—St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

Vatican Early Access Tour Description

Your 3.5-hour Vatican tour includes:

  • Skip-the-line early entry to the Vatican

  • Pio-Clementino Museum and Gallery of Masks

  • Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of the Tapestries, and the Gallery of the Maps

  • Raphael Rooms and School of Athens

  • Early entry to the Sistine Chapel

  • Explore St. Peter's Basilica

  • A professional, English-speaking guide

  • Maximum group size of 14

Pio-Clementino Museum and Nero’s Bathtub

Your guide will take you to the Pio-Clementino Museum where you'll see three of the most iconic statues in the world. Learn about the myths and legends associated with the Apollo Belvedere, Laocoön and His Sons, and the Belvedere Torso. You'll also visit one of the biggest and oldest bathtubs you'll ever see, made from rare red marble for Emperor Nero to relax in.

Gallery of Masks

On this tour, you'll have a chance to see an incredible gallery that's only open to authorized guides and groups. Here you'll see an amazing collection of female Greek statues, tiled mosaics (some from Hadrian's villa), and beautiful paintings. And you'll see the reason for the name "Gallery of Masks," though there is much more to see here than just masks.

The Best Galleries at the Vatican

Your guide will lead you on through the Vatican Museums, visiting the Candelabra Gallery, Gallery of the Tapestries, and Gallery of Maps. Admire the ancient Roman and Greek statues, the Flemish tapestries created by Raphael's students, and the gorgeous topographical depictions of Italy.

At the height of the Roman Empire, pontiffs rarely left Rome. In order to understand the Italian peninsula without endangering his life, Pope Gregory XIII commissioned 40 giant meticulous maps to be created for his use. Most of these maps measure more than 15 by 16 feet, and the end result is nothing short of spectacular.

You'll hear the stories behind these treasures from your expert guide as the Vatican secrets are slowly unveiled to you.

Raphael Rooms and The School of Athens

Raphael is the epitome of a Renaissance artist. In the period of European civilization immediately following the Middle Ages, a great period of revival in art, literature, and thought occurred. Raphael encompassed the ideals of a Renaissance man and frescoed multiple rooms inside of the Vatican Museums. Among other masterpieces, see one of Raphael’s most famous works of art, The School of Athens.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel

One of the top things to do in Vatican City is visit the Sistine Chapel. Since you're coming early in the morning, it will be less crowded in this beautiful chapel than in the afternoon. Speaking is not allowed in the chapel since it's a sacred space, so your guide will explain what you'll see before entering and give you a handy guide for reference.

Only when you are inside is it clear why the Sistine Chapel is one of the most celebrated works of art in Western civilization. Michelangelo painted more than 600 figures in all, and the sheer magnitude of his endeavor is mind-blowing.. As one of Michelangelo’s most prized masterpieces, the Sistine Chapel also serves as a gathering place for cardinals of the Catholic Church.

Please note that 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, so a great alternative is to bring a shawl/sweater to wrap around you when necessary.

St. Peter's Basilica

Your final stop on this tour is St. Peter's Basilica, so follow your guide through the special corridor reserved for groups to access the basilica quickly. Here you'll get to see the Vatican's prized church where the remains of St. Peter himself are presumed to be buried. Your guide will introduce you to the cathedral before you enter to explore on your own, and you can stay for as long as you like. Admire Michelangelo's La Pietà and Bernini’s Baldacchino as you gaze at the amazing architecture and art in the basilica.

Please note that St. Peter's Basilica is closed on Wednesdays for the Papal Audience and can occasionally experience other unexpected closures. If this happens, your guide will make up the time at other areas within the Vatican.

What you get with this tour
Skip-the-line early access to the Vatican
Pio-Clementino Museum and Gallery of Masks
Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of the Tapestries, and the Gallery of the Maps
Raphael Rooms and School of Athens
Early entry to the Sistine Chapel
Explore St. Peter's Basilica
A professional, English-speaking guide
Maximum group size of 14
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361 total reviews

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4.9/5 (based on 361 reviews)
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Vatican Museum Tour
25 September 2022
M
Reviewed by
Mary Sanborn

This tour was fabulous and so was the tour guide. She was very knowledgeable with all the art and its history. I would recommend this tour for sure. Excellent!

Fantastic tour
25 September 2022
L
Reviewed by
Linda Capetillo-Cunliffe

Our guide Laura, an art historian, was very knowledgeable about the art w viewed. Additionally, she shared fascinating anecdotes about the artists that really made the tour so interesting. I highly recommend her!

25 September 2022
B
Reviewed by
Brady Allmon

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where to meet?

Meet your guide between Hotel Alimandi and Caffé Vaticano at the top of the big staircase (Viale Vaticano, 100). You'll find our friendly welcome staff there holding The Tour Guy signs.

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.

Is there a way to see the Vatican without a guided tour?

Yes, it's possible, though you may find the experience lacking with a guide to explain the stories behind the things you'll see. But you can click here for skip the line Vatican tickets.

What if I have concerns about my mobility on this tour?

If you have any doubts about your mobility, we suggest taking a private Vatican tour so your needs can be better accommodated.

Does the Vatican ever experience sudden 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 the usual location.

Does this tour really skip the line?

Yes! Your guide will escort you past the long general admission line to the shorter line for groups. Then you'll enter the Vatican before the general public.

Does this tour always include St. Peter's Basilica entry?

St. Peter's Basilica is always closed on Wednesday mornings for the weekly papal audience. If you book a tour on Wednesday, your guide will make up the time in other fascinating areas of the Vatican.

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.

Where to meet?

Meet your guide between Hotel Alimandi and Caffé Vaticano at the top of the big staircase (Viale Vaticano, 100). You'll find our friendly welcome staff there holding The Tour Guy signs.

Is photography allowed in the Sistine Chapel?

No, the Vatican requests that no photos or videos be taken inside the Sistine Chapel.

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 the Vatican might refuse entry to religious sites and you’ll 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.

Total: as low as $75.70

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$89.06 as low as $75.70
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