Things to do in Rome

How To Skip The Lines at the Sistine Chapel

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The Sistine Chapel is one of the Vatican’s most visited attractions and is famous for housing frescoes by the famous sculptor Michaelangelo. Present inside the Vatican museums, it is one of the last and the most beautiful structures you will be witnessing during your tour at the museum.

As you take a walk through the corridors of the Sistine Chapel, feel enveloped by biblical stories and the overwhelming power of art. This must-visit attraction in Rome has only one major flaw: it is crazy crowded. So how does one, then, explore the Chapel if they’re in a time crunch? Here we have some sure-fire ways to skip the lines at the Sistine Chapel!

Sistine Chapel: Avoiding Long Queues

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Thinking about visiting this cherished Vatican landmark? Check out your ticket options below:

Wait Time At The Sistine Chapel

With close to 5 million visitors annually, the Vatican City is always crowded. The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are constantly being visited by tourists and locals alike, so you can expect never-ending lines in front of the attraction.

If you are buying tickets at the attraction, you can expect an average wait time of an hour (during peak season). Booking your tickets in advance online can cut down the wait time by 30-40 minutes. You can enter the Sistine Chapel within half an hour if you have already booked a ticket online.

6 Tried & Tested Ways To Skip The Lines at the Sistine Chapel

1. Pre-book your tickets

Unlike many other attractions in Rome, the Vatican can have extremely packed museums during the peak season. The experience at the Sistine Chapel can be ruined due to the swollen crowds of people craning their necks up to the ceiling. You don’t want to spend your vacation in a line-up, do you?

The lines can reach close to a kilometer during the peak season and could take more than two hours just to enter. It is therefore the best option to plan your visit beforehand. With a ticket booked online, you can join the queue meant for online ticket purchases, so you won't have as much wait time as those purchasing tickets on-site.

2. Book Skip The Line Tickets for the Vatican Museums

We know that a long wait can kill one’s mood and ruin the excitement for what’s ahead. Tour through the Vatican Museum and see the beautiful frescoes by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel without much chaos. During the peak season, the rush can be endless and you may have to wait in line for long hours till you get through the Museum and the Chapel.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: It's important to keep in mind that the Sistine Chapel is inside the Vatican Museums, meaning Sistine Chapel does not have separate skip-the-line tickets. The best thing to do is to purchase Skip-the-Line tickets for Vatican Museums, which allows you a relatively faster entry to the museum itself and buy yourself some time in the Sistine Chapel.

3. Book an Early Morning Tour

If you are an early bird, go for a morning tour and experience solitude and peace at the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel before the crowds start trickling in. Book yourself the early-morning tours that grant you skip-the-line access, letting you enter before the general public at 8 AM. This way, you get to access an hour before the usual opening time and enjoy an impressive English-speaking guided tour of these iconic structures.

4. Book an After-Hours Tour

Now, if you can’t spring yourself up that bed before 8 AM, you can opt for an after-hours guided tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. Just like the early morning tours, you will be able to enjoy the space with a limited set of people at a time and enjoy a private tour of the Sistine Chapel at night.

Once the early wave of visitors lessens, the queues tend to shorten a little. If you already have a ticket purchased online, you can enter the place comfortably. You can admire the galleries of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and get an insight into the history of these iconic structures with the help of an English-speaking tour guide.

Note: Based on the ticket option opted, you can feast on an American-style breakfast at the Pinecone Courtyard, prior to your tour.

5. Avoid Peak Season

Thousands of tourists keep flocking around these attractions every day from across the globe and is easily one of the crowded places in Rome to visit. Peak seasons are possibly the worst time to visit the Sistine Chapel. So, ensure that you schedule your trip during the off-peak season so that there will be only a handful of people visiting the site. Also, make sure you avoid visiting the attraction on Wednesdays or weekends because it can be a lot busier on those days.

Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is always crowded, so try these ways to skip the lines!

6. Skip Raphael's Frescoes

Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums falls after the Gallery of Maps, just before Raphael's Frescoes. If you have already visited the frescoes on a prior visit, or you're just eager to see the Sistine Chapel, you can skip viewing Raphael's Frescoes altogether. You can save at least thirty minutes if you do this - take the staircase that'll appear on your right after the Gallery of Maps and head straight to the Sistine Chapel.

Best Time To Visit Sistine Chapel

If you plan on paying a random visit to the Sistine Chapel without prior planning, it is safe to expect long wait lines at the venue. A lot of people visit the famous attractions of Rome all year round. Although, Tuesday, Thursdays, and Friday nights are usually the days when the crowd is lesser in most of the attractions in the Vatican in comparison to the rest of the week.

A lot of people show up in the mornings as soon as the Museum opens, but are not in luck because they are unable to beat the crowd. To avoid the rush and fully explore all the artwork, plan your visit to the chapel during the afternoon hours on a weekday as it is less packed. Also, if you are planning your trip sometime between April to October, it is the most ideal time of the year to visit the attraction.

Tips To Skip The Lines At Sistine Chapel

  1. You can purchase your tickets online in advance that will help bypass the long lines and head straight to the security.
  2. We recommend you to visit the attraction during early hours or opt for the after-hours tour as it is comparatively less chaotic.
  3. You can opt for a guided tour and enter the Chapel at 8 am an hour prior to the normal opening time.
  4. The guided tour will allow you to get VIP access to the Chapel and a guaranteed memorable experience with a group of just 20-25 people in the room.
  5. You can peacefully explore the place on Tuesdays or Thursdays with relatively fewer people around.

FAQ: Skip The Lines at the Sistine Chapel

Is it really possible to skip the lines at the Sistine Chapel?

Yes, you can skip the line at the Vatican by opting for skip-the-line tickets, doing an advanced online booking, going for a guided tour, or visiting during the early hours of the day. 

What time of day is most appropriate to visit the Sistine Chapel?

You should visit the venue either early mornings before the opening hours by opting for a VIP Pass or going late in the afternoon once the crowd subsides. 

What is the average waiting time at the Sistine Chapel if I buy tickets at the site?

If you are ready to invest most of your trip just waiting in a line, we would recommend you to go ahead with this option. It takes at least two hours or even longer during peak time to enter the Sistine Chapel. 

Is there a dress code to wear to the Sistine Chapel?

Skip wearing shorts, skirts, or sleeveless tops as men and women are not permitted to show their shoulders and knees in the Vatican City. So, kindly dress appropriately. We also recommend you to wear comfortable shoes on your visit. 

Are guided tours to the Sistine Chapel worth it?

Absolutely! If you want to envelop the history of popular structures in the Vatican, then a guided tour will provide you with just that. Visiting this place is a once-in-a-lifetime affair, so make sure you do it the right way with an unforgettable guided experience exploring the depths of the Sistine Chapel, the museum, and more.  

Ready to Explore Rome?

Check out the top things to do in Rome & our exclusive Rome Travel Guide to make the most of your vacation in the Eternal City! Further, check out our Vatican City Guide for further tips on your trip to the Vatican City!

Sistine Chapel STL Guide