Vatican City, officially titled Stato della Città del Vaticano, which is Italian for State of Vatican City, is the seat of Roman Catholicism. With an approximate area of 44 hectares and a meagre population of 1000 people, the Vatican is the smallest country in the world. But, boy, does this small country pack in some big wonders! Some of the religious and cultural sites include the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican Museums. Understandably, the Vatican attracts massive crowds throughout the year with the annual count hitting almost 7 million people, with a daily average of 20,000 people! That’s a big number for a small country and unsurprisingly leads to lines that go on forever at each of the important tourist attractions.
If you would rather not wait in line for extended hours and go straight into the mecca of art and history that is the Vatican, we have a few handy hacks. Here's everything you need to know about skipping the infamous Vatican Museum lines.
Wait Times - What to Expect at Vatican?
We're not exaggerating when we say that Vatican Museum queues can go over 2 hours long during summers. They are painfully long and often serpentine around the buildings of the Vatican Museums. By the time you finally enter the museum, you're exhausted and barely have any energy to explore this colossal museum.
The good part is that there are three distinct lines at the Vatican Museums: one for those purchasing tickets on site, another for those who already have normal online tickets and a third for those who have skip-the-line priority access which takes them directly to the security check. Trust us, you want to be a part of the priority access crew and here's how you can be!
6 Tried & Tested Ways to Skip the Infamous Vatican Museum Lines
1. Grab Skip the Line Vatican Museum Tickets
Tourists are always on a clock, with a pile of things to do and attractions to visit. We get it. This is precisely why this Skip the Line ticket works like magic. It not only allows you get early access to the Vatican Museums (including Sistine Chapel) but also ends up saving you some precious time which can be spent doing better things than waiting in line.
2. Sign Up for a Guided Tour
One of the best ways to explore any place, specially a historical monument is to go with a trained guide. In this case, opting for this option not only opens up a mine of information, but also gives you priority access to the structure. Depending upon what you prefer, you can choose between three tour options: Self-guided tour, Tour with an audio-guide, or Tour with a trained official guide.
3. Grab Combo Deals
Why visit just Vatican City? How about a nifty guided tour that allows you to explore the best of Rome with a sweet bundle deal? Combo guided tours which typically take you around Colosseum, Borghese Gallery or the Pontificial Villas along with Vatican City are a great buy.
4. Buy Vatican tickets from the official website
The cheapest way to skip the line is to buy your Vatican tickets online from the official website. These skip the line tickets cost €17, plus a €4 online reservation fee, coming upto a total of €21. While it is the cheapest, the Vatican website is completely outdated and painstakingly slow. Your payment options are also limited, so chances are your card won't be accepted.
5. Time your visit wisely
The best time to visit the Vatican is either early morning when the gates open or late afternoon. From around 10 AM to 3 PM, Vatican is thronged by tourists and is the busiest time to visit the Vatican. If you're not buying your Vatican tickets online in advance, avoid visiting the Vatican from mid-morning to early-afternoon as the ticket queues are the longest around this time. If you have purchased your Skip the Line Vatican tickets online in advance, the timing shouldn't matter. Just walk in at the time mentioned on your tickets and you can walk in hassle-free.
6. Stand in the right queue
There are 3 queues to enter the Vatican Museums. The first queue is for those looking to purchase tickets on the spot. For obvious reasons, this one's the longest, extending over 2 hours during peak season. The second queue is for those who have purchased normal admission tickets online. These tickets are cheaper than Skip The Line tickets and hence a lot more people purchase this. This leads to a considerable queue and wait times can go upto 45 minutes on a normal day. The third and fastest queue is for those who have purchased skip the line tickets online. If you’re looking to save time, you can purchase these Skip the Line tickets and gain priority entry through the fast track line. Also, as silly as it may sound, make sure you stand in the right queue so that you don’t waste time waiting in the wrong line. Learn all about Vatican entrances and the different queues.
Hot Tip: When you're standing in queues outside the Vatican, you might see people walking around trying to get you to join a tour to skip the line. These tours are often sub-par and we wouldn't suggest you spend your precious euros on it. Instead, grab last minute online Vatican tours on the Headout App if you're desperate to get out of the queue!
What to expect at the Vatican?
While Vatican City is the smallest city in the world, there's plenty to do here.
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest Catholic shines in the world, making it the most visited church in the world too. This beautiful landmark was the primary creation of Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini and rests atop the tomb of St. Peter.
Situated on Vatican Hill, St Peter’s Basilica dominates the skyline of Rome. It has a capacity of over 60,000 people, covers 22,300 square meters and is one of the world’s largest churches.
Fancy yourself a convenient guided tour of this revered attraction? Check out our guide to choosing the right St. Peter's Basilica guided tour right away!
Things to see at St. Peter’s Basilica
- St. Peter’s Square
- St. Peter’s Baldachin
- Bronze Statue of St. Peter
- View From Top of the Dome
The Sistine Chapel, while a part of the Vatican Museums, deserves a special mention just because of how spellbinding it is! Typically considered one of Michelangelo's finest work, the Sistine Chapel is a certified highlight of a trip to Vatican City.
The phrase, “Saving the best for the last” has never been more relevant than at the Vatican Museums. The Sistine Chapel, situated in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, is the last room you get to visit while on your Vatican Museums tour. And it’s worth the wait. Unlike most tourists places that are plagued with noisy chatter of tourists, the Sistine Chapel is so magnificent that a natural quiet falls upon the room, no matter how many people are in there. Michelangelo's frescoes on the ceiling and the altar are the most famous paintings in the Sistine Chapel.
The final piece in the Vatican puzzle is the glorious Vatican Museum. A collection of 54 galleries that hosts almost 20,000 pieces of art, the Vatican Museums are undeniably one of the most impressive displays of art in the world. When you visit the Vatican Museums, you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time visiting all the art galleries, especially since the total length of the Museums comes up to a massive 9 miles!
The museums have many classical sculptures, tapestries, and paintings by Renaissance greats such as Raphael, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Bernini and Leonardo da Vinci on display throughout the 54 galleries. The Vatican Museums also have a collection of Modern Religious Art with paintings and sculptures from artists like Carlo Carrà, Vincent van Gogh, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Gauguin, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso.
Things to see at Vatican Museums
- Spiral Staircase
- The Raphael Room
- Papal Throne
- Gallery of Maps
- Gregorian Egyptian Museum
- Gallery of the Statues
- Pinacoteca Vaticana
- Sistine Chapel
- Vatican Historical Museum
- Sala Rotonda
Popular Vatican Skip The Line Ticket options listed
Vatican Skip The Line Tickets vs Guided Tours - What to choose?
If you're on a budget trip to Rome, a guided tour of the Vatican can work out to be a little expensive. In that case, a Skip The Line ticket should do the job. It helps you save time and energy while ensuring a hassle-free entry into the Vatican Museums. You can grab an audio tour for a minimal charge and explore the museums at your sedate pace.
That said, for the real Vatican experience, a guided tour is the best way to go. While skipping the ticket lines is a given with all guided tours, exploring the many galleries with a historian guide is a truly remarkable experience. These licensed tour guides know the ins and outs of the museum and they'll help you make the most of your time at the Vatican. For a first timer, the whole experience can be otherwise daunting.
Our verdict: Opt for a Skip the Line Guided Tour of the Vatican museum. Simple!
Getting to The Vatican
The Vatican is a small city and getting there is not too much of a challenge, especially since the Vatican Museum is just a 10 minute walk away from St Peter’s Basilica. Here are your options for getting to the Vatican.
The closest station to the Vatican is the Ottaviano-S. Pietro station. Line A of the Rome Metro stops at this station at regular intervals. Both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are are just 5 minutes away from this metro station.
The St Pietro train station is also an option for travelers. However, both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are a 10 minutes away from this train station. This train stop is perfect for those coming from Civitavecchia, the cruise port for Rome.
Bus numbers 40 and 64 frequently stop at the Vatican. Buses 62 and 81 also stop at the Vatican, although a little less frequently.
Starting Feb 1, 2020, the Vatican Museums' hours have been revised as follows:
- Monday to Saturday - 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM
- Final entry is at 4:30 PM
- Guests are expected to exit the exhibition rooms by 6 PM
Rules & Regulations
- It is mandatory to book your tickets online; they will not be available for purchase at the venue.
- Bags or luggage of any sorts measuring more than 40*35*15 centimetres is not allowed inside the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel. There are however cloak rooms that allow you to store your bags if you’re carrying any.
- Use of amplified microphones and laser pointers is not allowed.
- Dress appropriately before you enter the Vatican. Sleeveless blouses, miniskirts, shorts and hats are not permitted.
- Use of mobile phones inside the Sistine Chapel is prohibited. Elsewhere you can use your phone, but it is preferred that you refrain from doing so if possible.
- Absolutely refrain from touching any work of art. Alarm and surveillance systems are in place.
- You cannot enter the Museums or the Basilica with alcoholic drinks. Any food or drink may be left at the cloakrooms.
- The foundation of every successful trip is planning things in advance. That is super important when you're visiting a popular destination like the Vatican. Part of your planning should include booking tickets for the Vatican Museums and any other place you are planning on visiting in advance. Book your tickets online to get different options to pick from and deals that allow you to save some money.
- Guided or non-guided tour has been a question every tourist asks themselves at one point of time. The answer boils down to what type of experience you are looking to have. If visiting the Vatican is just another trip for you, go for a normal ticket. On the other hand, if you consider yourself an avid learner and someone who genuinely enjoys discovering fun insights about the place they are visiting, the guided tour will definitely make the experience special and memorable for you.
- If you are looking forward to visiting the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums, please note that the last room of the museum can only be accessed before 3 PM. Plan your day accordingly.
- Some vendors also offer small group tours for the Vatican Museums. If you are traveling in a group, make use of this convenient option and get a relatively private experience at the museums.
- As you would expect, all the places in Vatican City involve a fair amount of walking. Dress in comfortable clothing and carry plenty of water to ensure a pleasant time getting lost in the rich culture and history of the Vatican.
- In an effort to cover as many places as they possibly can in the short time they have, many tourists over stuff their schedule to the point that they are not able to fully immerse themselves in what they are actually seeing in the moment. Avoid this. All the attractions in the Vatican are special and deserve your time and attention. Plan your visit keeping this in mind.
- Unlike most of other attractions, the Vatican Museums are more crowded during the early hours of the day as opposed to late afternoon. We would recommend reaching the place anytime between 1:30 PM to 3 PM. Also, the Vatican is relatively less crowded during off season months from March to mid-November.
- On Wednesdays, except late July and August, the Pope holds an audience at St Peter’s Basilica. You can get tickets to see the Pope give a Papal Audience or Papal Mass for free. But if you just want to see the Basilica, skip Wednesdays, since you won’t be allowed in until the papal audience has finished.
- Don't leave the premises without visiting the Vatican Gardens. The gardens spread over 57 acres and from classic Belvedere Courtyard to the funky Berlin Wall, there's plenty to see here.
Skip The Line Ticket Vatican Reviews
The Vatican Museum is the main reason in my opinion to go to Rome, other than the "roman" things like colosseum etc. Inside the Museum you'll see treasures and art like no place else, all within the framework of a history we think we know but really don't. Words can't describe it - you've got to go. The Sistine chapel is part of the usual tours as well.
Every time we go to the Vatican Museums the crowds get worse and worse. This time we made a 9 a.m. reservation. They actually allowed people with reservations to enter before the stated official opening time of 9 a.m. Even at that hour, it was cheek to jowl with hoards of groups. It is simply overwhelming.
It is such a wonderful museum with so much to see but it is impossible to enjoy it with groups of 40 pushing and shoving their way along. One of the highlights is the Raphael rooms. There were so many groups stuffed in to those rooms when we were there giving their spiel in multiple languages that it was very disconcerting. Thankfully, guides are not permitted to give their talk in the Sistine Chapel but it gets very noisy with all the people.
I never noticed groups in the picture gallery before but this time they were there as well. As usual, the groups go from one "must see" to the next "must see" making it impossible for anyone who is not part of a group to catch a glimpse.
It is such an incredible museum but it is a most unpleasant experience.
Vatican Skip The Line tickets cost only €27
One of the easiest ways to avoid lines at Vatican is to buy skip-the-line tickets in advance online.
Yes! Entry to the Vatican City is completely free.