Vatican Museums Visiting Tips

Vatican Museums Visiting Tips

Planning on visiting the Vatican? Here are a few tips on how to make the best out of your visit

Book your Vatican Museums tickets online - don’t spend lots of time in the long lines. Instead bypass the lines with your smartphone ticket and spend more time exploring the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Also book in advance, especially in high season, as tickets tend to sell out. Your online ticket guarantees you entry to an otherwise sold out attraction.

Best Time to Visit - The Vatican Museums together with the Colosseum are the most popular attraction in Rome and thus always extremely busy. With thousands of visitors visiting the Vatican Museums daily, it is difficult but not impossible to visit with few crowds. The least crowded times to visit the Vatican Museums are:

    Early in the morning or in the afternoon The Vatican Museums are always crowded. But you will find them less crowded just when they open or late in the afternoon, between 1:30 PM to 3 PM, when most visitors and tours have already finished their visit. But don’t go too late as the Sistine Chapel closes at 3 pm (to check) and you can’t visit the Vatican Museums without also visiting the Sistine Chapel. Usually visitors spend around 3 hours visiting the museums so don’t go after 3 pm at the Vatican closes at 6pm.

    Go before opening hours - For an vip experience opt for an exclusive early morning experience and get access into the Vatican Museums before it opens to the general public. Buy the “early access ticket”. With this ticket you can visit the Vatican Museums 90 mins before the museums open and 15 minutes because the first tours are allowed it. Visit the Sistine Chapel is almost complete solitude before any other will. It’s an incredible and unforgettable experience. You can choose between a ticket with audioguide or visiting with a tour.

    Go during the Week - If possible, don't go on a Saturday or a Monday. The best days to visit the Vatican Museums are Tuesday to Friday. Saturday and Mondays are usually the busiest days. Saturdays are especially crowded with weekend visitors. Monday is another very popular day as most other museums in Rome are closed. Wednesday morning is a great time during the week to visit as it’s when a lot of visitors attend the audience with the pope. (link to the audience with a pope)

    Visit during the offseason - from November to February excluding the two Christmas holiday weeks. This is the least crowded time to visit the Vatican Museums.

    Visit the Vatican at Night - during the summer months (from April to October) the Vatican Museums remain open on Friday night (from (7 PM to 11 Pm). Access at night is only granted to visitors who booked a night tour. There are not many night tours available and each tour is limited to a few participants making this the perfect opportunity to visit the Vatican Museums without a lot of people.

    Don’t go on the Free Days - unless you have a very tight budget avoid going on when the visit the free. The Vatican Museums can be visited for free on the last Sunday of the month and on the world tourism day. These days are incredibly popular attracting huge crowds. You will spend a lot of time in line, lines on the free Sunday are extremely long. As lines are so long there is even the risk that you wont be let in although you spend hours in line as the last entrance is at 12:30pm.

Visit with an expert Guide - take a tour

Plan your visit in advance - “The foundation of every successful trip is planning things in advance” the Vatican Museums are huge. It’s not possible to visit everything during one visit. So make sure you have a clear idea of your absolute must see during your visit to avoid disappointment. A good idea is also to download a map of the Vatican beforehand and organize your visit based on where all the sights you want to see are located

Dress appropriately and wear comfortable shoes - it is very important that you respect the dress code otherwise you won't be allowed in. You need top cover shoulders, neckline, midriffs and thighs. You are not allowed to wear miniskirts, shorts and tank tops. Women can bring a shawl to cover their shoulders. As you will be walking a lot during your visit wearing comfortable shoes is highly recommended.

All backpacks and umbrellas must be checked before you enter the Museums, as well, so try to pack light as you visit these sights.

Visit the Vatican Museums at Night - take a night tour after the Vatican Museums closed to ticket holders. Open in the summer every friday night. Limited to a few visitors as you can visit only with a tour guide. Good to know The Vatican is wheelchair accessible - “Vatican offers free entry to all disabled visitors with a certified invalidity of more than 74%.” A. Yes, the Vatican Museums are wheelchair accessible. In fact, the Vatican offers free entry to all disabled visitors with certified invalidity of more than 74%.

Meet the Pope - “See the Pope You’re unlikely to run into the pope on your visit to Vatican City. However, every Wednesday the pope holds a public audience on St. Peter’s Square in the summer and in the Audience Hall during winter. The audience starts at 10:30 AM, but most visitors arrive earlier to secure a good seat. Security opens between 8:00 AM and 8:30 AM.”

Be aware of pickpockets - be very careful with your personal belongings outside, especially standing in line, but also inside the Vatican Museums.

Rules & Regulations in the Vatican Museums

    “It takes at least 3 hours to see both the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel properly.” But you can store them in the cloak rooms available in the Vatican Museums.

  • ”For visitors with mobility impairments, the Vatican Museums offer free wheelchair hire from the cloakroom”
  • You are allowed to carry backpacks with you but no big bags and suitcases allowed in. Anything bigger than 40cm x 30cm x 15cm must be checked in. There are free cloak rooms where you can store your big items for free. However, if possible avoid bringing items to your visit which are not allowed in.
  • It’s forbidden to take photos and/or videos inside the Sistine Chapel
  • Eating and drinking inside is the Vatican Museums is not allowed