All you need to know about visiting the Vatican Museums
Are you travelling to Rome soon and want to visit the Vatican Museums? Home to several centuries of art and history, they house some of the leading collections in Europe. However, there are several things to bear in mind before going to the Vatican Museums or Saint Peter’s Basilica. All too many tourists turn up only to find the museums are closed, they can't buy a ticket because the museums are about to close or the queues appear to go on forever. So, here’s the lowdown!
What can you see in the Vatican Museums?
The Vatican Museums are an extensive complex of rooms and galleries housing numerous art collections. Various gardens and buildings are given over to different museums, including the Vatican Library, one of the best in the world.
If you visit the Vatican Museums, you can see works from the Renaissance and classical Greece and Rome, Etruscan sculptures and paintings, Egyptian mommies and sarcophagi, objects from ancient Mesopotamia, medieval and modern paintings, a gallery of tapestries, collections of carriages… The list is endless.
In addition to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, some of the other masterpieces at the Vatican Museums include the Raphael Rooms, the sculpture of Laocoön and His Sons, Bramante’s Pinecone Courtyard, the Augustus of Prima Porta, the Apollo Belvedere and Caravaggio’s The Entombment of Christ.
A tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel should take about three hours, depending on how much of an art lover you are and how long you linger over each piece.
Vatican Museums opening hours
Why is it so important to know the opening hours of the Vatican Museums? To make sure you don’t get left out in the cold! Usual opening hours are Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 6 pm, but last entry is at 4 pm. If you turn up after 4 pm, you won't get in. Visitors have to clear the galleries 30 minutes before closing time. Opening hours vary in summer, when the Vatican Museums arrange guided tours until 11 pm on some Fridays.
You also need to bear in mind that the Vatican Museums close on all religious holidays in the Catholic calendar and almost every Sunday. You’re best avoiding them the day after a religious holiday, as that’s when they are at their busiest. This is certainly true at Christmas and Easter.
How to visit the Vatican Museums without queueing?
General admission to the Vatican Museums costs €16. Concessions are available at €8 and children under 6 go free. But how can you buy tickets for the Vatican Museums without queueing?
Visitors can often wait for over two hours in queues that run hundreds of metres around the Vatican. Queues are shortest first thing in the morning, midday and late afternoon.
The key to beatingthe queues is to buy tickets online in advance. You can buy special tickets with the option of “skipping the queue”. They cost an extra €4, but are well worth it. Simply print out your ticket and go straight to the advance tickets office to collect your admission ticket.
You can also take tours with a specialist guide, both on the Vatican Museums website and run by Rome tour companies. You’ll see several of these tour guides around the Vatican offering their services. Tickets for guided tours of the Vatican cost around €30. They’re a good option if you don’t mind paying more to get an in-depth insight into the history of the museum and its works of art, as well as beating the queues! Make sure you take a good look at their services when choosing a company.
Other important points
Here are some final hints for visiting the Vatican:
You should dress appropriately for a religious space. You may not enter the Vatican Museums or Saint Peter’s Basilica in low-cut T-shirts, shorts or a mini-skirt. You should cover your shoulders and legs to avoid any risk of not being let in.
You shouldn’t turn up with lots of bags or backpacks. You may be asked to leave large backpacks in one of the lockers.
In general, you can take as many photographs as you like, provided you don’t use the flash. The only exception is the Sistine Chapel, where all photography is strictly forbidden.
All that remains is for you to buy your tickets and enjoy your visit!
Laura - Marketing Team