Vatican tickets: your guide on what to visit in the Vatican City Museums
The Vatican Museums are a vast network stuffed with exhibits, displays and art. There are so many interesting nooks and crannies to explore here, and access to the majority of museums is included as standard in most Vatican City tickets. Check out our guide on what to visit in the Vatican City museums to make sure you don’t miss out on the best attractions!
About the Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are renowned the world over for their elaborate displays of art, sculptures, tapestries, ancient artefacts and beautiful architecture. Essentially a huge collection of art that has been amassed by different popes throughout the centuries, the Vatican Museums are famous across the globe and a must-see for any visitor to Rome. As a result, Vatican City tickets are in high demand throughout the year. Aside from the exhibits on display, some of the Vatican Museum’s architecture is just as spectacular, including features such as the famous Sistine Chapel and the Spiral Staircase. Visitors have been coming to the Vatican Museums since they were opened to the public in the 16th Century, and we can guarantee you will be in awe from start to finish during your visit.
Best time to Visit
Due to their popularity, it is good practice to plan your trip to the Vatican Museums in detail in order to avoid the longest of the queues. As a general rule we would recommend buying your Vatican City Tickets in the low season – around November and early December. Not only are the crowds less dense, but the heat of the hot Rome summer sun is also gone, making for a much more pleasant experience. Check out our detailed guide on the Best Time to Visit the Vatican for the full lowdown on when you should book your Vatican tickets.
Guide on what to visit in the Vatican City Museums
Here is our list of the best 8 things to do in and around the Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums themselves can easily take up your whole trip to the Vatican! With displays of art such as Raphael’s Transfiguration, statues such as Laocoön and Apollo Belvedere and the spectacular Hall of Maps, the Vatican Museums are one of the top things to see for those who have bought Vatican tickets.
The Sistine Chapel
Every guide on what to visit in the Vatican City Museums will feature the stunning Sistine Chapel. Even those who know very little about the Vatican will have some knowledge of this spectacular display of frescoes. The chapel, built in the 15th Century, is famous the world over for the beautiful frescos. Michelangelo originally did not want to take on the mammoth task of painting the ceiling, but we sure are glad he did! The majority of Vatican tickets will include access to the Sistine Chapel, so there is no excuse not to visit!
St Peter’s Basilica
Another favourite on many a tourists’ list of Vatican City attractions is the splendid St Peter’s Basilica. With free entry via St Peter’s Square, this attraction draws in tons of tourists, and is definitely worth a look even if you don’t have Vatican City Tickets. Built over time by many great artists, this church is said to be the resting place of St Peter, one of the founding fathers of the Catholic Church. Take your time looking at the gorgeous frescoes and if you have time uncover the Vatican Grottoes – the resting place of popes from years gone by. And although it is free to enter, you could book a skip the line ticket which would take you from the Sistine Chapel to the Basilica, bypassing the queue.
The Vatican Gardens
Another must-see Vatican attraction are the delightful Vatican Gardens – they take up more than half of the land on which the Vatican sits, and is a really peaceful place to explore. Entry is by special ticket only, but is worth it as you can see some excellent views of the Basilica from here that are missed by those not purchasing a ticket. If you can stretch to it, get yourself a special entry pass to the Vatican Gardens!
Pontifical Residence & Castel Gondolfo
We’ve kept this lesser known attraction to the end, as it is technically not in the Vatican City, but is a great bolt-on tour if you have the time. The Pontifical Residence in the quaint town of Castel Gondolfo gives an insight into how the Pope spends his leisure time, and the villa as well as the charming Baberini Gardens are a lovely place to explore. Standard Vatican City ticket will not get you access to the residence, but you can buy a tour that goes from the Vatican to Castel Gondolfo by train.
Best place to eat at the Vatican City
There are some places to eat within the walls of the Vatican City, and the Vatican Museums are home to a cafe and a self-serve restaurant. There are also several cafes and at the Vatican, as well as a pleasant bistro with an outdoor seating area at which you can take in the views. The food is OK, but if you are looking after a less touristy fayre you will need to head out of the Vatican and its immediate vicinity. For the best areas to eat around the Vatican, check out our top tips on where to eat here.
Vatican Tickets and tips
The attractions of the Vatican are known the world over, and we really recommend sitting down and planning your visit before you get here.
This will save you not only time, but also money, as you are less likely to panic buy tickets or fall for the promises of “skip the queue” ticket sellers by the Vatican gates.
Here’s some quick tips to help you navigate the lines:
– Book in advance – you won’t need to queue at the Vatican to get your ticket and can head straight on through to the Vatican Museums.
– Get there early – or late. You either need to be at the Vatican before it opens, or in the late afternoon. In the morning, dozens of tour buses spill hundreds of tourists into the Vatican every fifteen minutes, so you’ll need to be quick if you want to avoid the masses. In the afternoon however, the majority of these tour groups are leaving, so if you only want to spend a few hours in the Vatican Museums then this is a good time to head to the Vatican.
– If you can, book a private guided tour for behind the scenes access and special skip the line privileges. For more information on the guides tours and special tickets, check out our Vatican Tours guide.
The museums are closed every Sunday, apart from the last Sunday in the month when they are open free to the public between the hours of 9am and 2pm
Open Monday until Saturday 9am-6pm
Located within the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel maintains the same opening hours as the museum exhibitions. Sundays closed, with free access on the last Sunday of the month
Saint Peter’s Basilica
Open daily, even during Sunday Museum closures
April to September open 7am to 7pm
October to March open 7am to 6pm
Special multi destination sightseeing cards
Before we leave you to think about your trip to the Vatican, be sure to also consider one of the Rome City passes, which offer some great benefits for those visiting the Vatican. The Omnia Card is a perfect example of a sightseeing pass – offering massive savings on the pay at the gate prices at many of Rome’s biggest attractions. This pass also offers access to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel as well as travel on Rome’s transport network. There is also the Roma Pass which offers less than the Omnia Card, but is a budget friendly option for those wanting to get around Rome and to the Vatican.
We hope the above hints and tips are enough to start you off on your journey to the Vatican! Make sure you plan well in advance and get your tickets early in order to make the best of your experience.