Things to do in Rome

Plan the perfect visit to St. Peter’s Basilica with this guide

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St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome, is an iconic landmark celebrated for its breathtaking architecture and religious significance. Planning a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica is crucial due to its immense popularity, long queues, and strict dress code. A well-prepared visit ensures a seamless experience, allowing you to admire its beauty, marvel at Michelangelo's Pieta, and enjoy panoramic views from the dome. Researching ticket options, dress guidelines, and operational timings ensures a memorable and hassle-free visit to this historic site.

This guide provides essential tips and insights for a smooth visit, allowing you to get into the secrets, history, and majesty of this timeless sanctuary.

St. Peter's Basilica

Before you visit St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica stands as a testament to human creativity and faith. Its massive scale and intricate design draw visitors from around the globe, making it a must-see destination for travelers of all ages and interests. Whether you're a history buff eager to explore centuries of religious and cultural heritage, an art enthusiast admiring masterpieces like Michelangelo's Pieta and Bernini's Baldachin, or simply someone who appreciates breathtaking architecture, St. Peter's Basilica has something to offer everyone. The sheer magnitude of the basilica's interior, with its towering columns, ornate ceilings, and dazzling artworks, leaves a lasting impression that transcends personal beliefs and backgrounds.

Best time to visit

To make the most of your visit to St. Peter's Basilica, consider these tips. The busiest time is from April to September, so aim for a visit between November and March for fewer crowds.

For a quieter experience, plan your visit early in the morning or late in the evening. These times usually have fewer people, allowing you to appreciate the beauty of the church without feeling crowded.

If you prefer warm weather, June and July are ideal, but if you want to avoid crowds, December and January are better choices. To minimize your waiting time, arrive within the first two hours of the basilica opening at 7am or after 4pm. Wednesdays remain shut to the general public due to the Papal Audience and later opens up at 12:30pm. If you do want to be a part of the Papal Audience, you’ll need to get separate tickets for it. Weekends are typically busier, so if you’d like a less crowded experience, you can avoid visiting then.

Keep in mind that the basilica may close unexpectedly if the Pope plans to use it, so it's wise to check beforehand. By following these tips, you can have a more enjoyable and hassle-free visit to St. Peter's Basilica.

To round it up, according to us, the best time to visit St. Peter’s Basilica would be between November and March, on a weekday at 7am or 4pm.
You can read more about the best time to visit Rome and plan your travel accordingly.

Palace of Versailles early morning

Tickets to St. Peter’s Basilica

When you visit St. Peter’s Basilica, you'll find different ticket options. Standard tickets cover entry to all main attractions in Vatican City. Specialized tickets offer extras like guided dome tours for a climb up high, or experiences like attending a Papal Audience with breakfast included. Choose the ticket that suits what you want to see and do during your visit.

Opening hours

  • Summer (1 April - 30 September): The basilica is open from 7am to 7pm, with the last admission at 7pm.
  • Winter (1 October - 31 March): Operating hours are from 7am to 6:30pm, and the last admission is at 6:30pm.
  • It's closed on Wednesdays mornings throughout the year for the Papal audience but reopens around 12:30pm.

Other attractions have their own schedules:

  • Vatican Grottoes: Open daily from 9am to 6pm, with the last entry at 6pm.
  • Tomb of Saint Peter: Accessible every day from 7am to 7:10pm, with the last entry at 6:10pm.
  • St. Peter's Basilica Dome (April to September): Open from 7:30am to 6pm, with the last entry at 5:30pm.
  • St. Peter's Basilica Dome (October to March): Operating hours are from 7:30am to 5pm, and the last entry is at 4:30pm.
  • Vatican Necropolis: Open daily from 8am to 6pm, with the last entry at 4:30pm.
  • St. Peter's Square: Accessible every day from 7am to 7:10pm.
Doge's Palace Guided Tours

Tips for visiting Versailles Palace

  • While entry to St. Peter’s Basilica is free, you'll need to pay for entry to the Vatican Museums. Both sites hold equal historical and cultural significance, so don't miss out on either.
  • Arrive early at the Vatican to beat the crowds and then take a short walk of about twenty minutes to reach the Basilica, which is closer to the city center, making your exit easier.
  • Consider investing in a guidebook to enhance your experience and get insights into the historical significance of these landmarks. It can also be helpful for navigating through the complex.
  • Visiting both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica may take around 6-7 hours, so plan your meal breaks accordingly to make the most of your time.
  • If you opt for the free entry queue at the Basilica, expect a wait of 45 minutes to an hour. To skip the lines, consider purchasing a guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica for fast-track access.
  • Remember to dress appropriately, covering your shoulders and knees throughout your visit. Avoid wearing shorts or clothing with bare shoulders to comply with the dress code of the Basilica.

St. Peter’s Basilica - Dress code

General Dress Code:

  • Men and women should cover their knees and shoulders as a sign of respect.
  • Sleeveless tops, low-cut shirts, shorts/skirts above the knee, and offensive tattoos should be avoided.

Dress Code for Mass:

  • Men: Trousers and shirts are suitable. Hats are not allowed.
  • Women: Long skirts/dresses covering the knees, and hats are permitted.

Dress Code for Men:

  • Avoid ripped jeans, baseball caps, or hats inside the Basilica.
  • During summer, knee-length shorts and linen trousers are acceptable.

Dress Code for Women:

  • Avoid sleeveless tops, crop tops, or tight clothing.
  • Cover your shoulders and knees; bring a shawl and leggings for colder months.

What to Wear to St. Peter’s Basilica:

  • Shoulder-covering shirts/blouses, knee-covering trousers/skirts, flat shoes, loose clothing, and weather-appropriate attire.

What Not to Wear to St. Peter’s Basilica:

  • Sleeveless tops, low-cut clothing, shorts/skirts above the knee, and hats (for men). Make sure you cover any offensive tattoos on your body.

Getting to St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica sits at St. Peter’s Square within Vatican City, alongside the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. The Vatican City is just a short distance from central Rome, accessible via various transportation methods. Learn about reaching the basilica from Rome and other key details to streamline your trip planning.

Amenities and accessibility

  • Wheelchair Accessibility: St. Peter’s Basilica is wheelchair accessible, and you can rent wheelchairs from places like St. Peter’s Basilica Wheelchair, M.i.a. Medical, and Vemrent in Rome.
  • Ramp Entrance & Restrooms: The ramp entrance is on the right side of the colonnades, with accessible restrooms nearby. There's a reserved entrance for people with disabilities on the right semicircle of Saint Peter’s Square, equipped with a ramp. For special requirements, email in advance.
  • Sign Language Tours: Sign language guided tours are available but require booking 48 hours in advance at
  • Elevators and Audio Guides: Elevators are available, and you can get audio guides at the entrance.
  • Cloakrooms: Items not allowed inside can be left in the cloakrooms.
  • Restrooms: There are three public restrooms at the Basilica.
  • Snack Bar and Gift Shops: Enjoy snacks at the snack bar on the roof and explore numerous gift shops throughout the Basilica.
  • Post Office: Send postcards or collect stamps from any of the three post offices at St. Peter’s Square.

What to see at St. Peter's Basilica

  • The Dome

  • Michelangelo's Pieta

  • The Papal Altar

  • Bernini's Baldacchino

  • St. Peter's Chair

  • The Tomb of St. Peter

The Dome

Designed by Michelangelo and completed in 1590, it's one of the world's largest domes and a stunning sight in the region. The interior, adorned by artists like Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Perugino, is a masterpiece.

Nearby attractions

St. Peter's Basilica - Plan Your Visit