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
- The spiral Staircase - The staircase is composed of two staircases which take the shape of a double helix – like DNA.
- Sistine Chapel
- The Map Gallery
Book your Vatican Museums tickets online - don’t spend a lot of time in the long lines at the ticket office. 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 sell out.
Best Time to Visit - The Vatican Museums together with the Colosseum are the most popular attraction in Rome. So, it’s no surprise that they are always very crowded. With thousands of visitors visiting the Vatican Museums daily, it is difficult, but not impossible, to visit with few crowds. Below are our tips:
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 already finished their visit. But don’t go too late, visitors on average, spend around 3 hours visiting the museums. So don’t go after 3 pm because 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.
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 most visitors attend the audience with the pope.
Visit during the offseason - from November to end of February excluding the two weeks of holidays for Christmas and New Years Eve. 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 7pm to 11pm).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, the 27th of September. These days are incredibly popular, attracting huge crowds. Be prepared to spend a lot of time waiting in line, lines on the free entry days are extremely long. As lines are so long, there is even the risk that you won’t be let in even though you spend hours in line. Last entry on the free Sunday 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 to 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.
What you should absolute see during your visit
Any item bigger than 40cm x 30cm x 15cm (including backpacks, umbrellas) must be checked before you enter the Museums, so try to pack light. But you can store them in the cloak rooms available in the Vatican Museums.
The Vatican is wheelchair accessible - “Vatican offers free entry to all disabled visitors with a certified invalidity of more than 74%.” “For visitors with mobility impairments, the Vatican Museums offer free wheelchair hire from the cloakroom”
Attend an Audience with the Pope - this is your chance of meeting the Pope. The Papal audience is held every Wednesday morning.
“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 but also inside the Vatican Museums.
You can take pictures without flash everywhere in the Vatican. But it’s forbidden to take photos and/or videos inside the Sistine Chapel. While selfie-sticks and tripods are not allowed into the Vatican Museums, you can store them in the free cloak rooms.
Eating and drinking inside is the Vatican Museums is not allowed.