During a recent trip to Rome, one of my favorite things aside from the Colosseum was taking a guided tour of the Vatican Museum. And believe me, once you have witnessed the lengthy lines to gain access to the museum you’ll be thankful you signed up for a guided tour. Discover why you should purchase your Vatican Museum Tickets in advance and avoid waiting hours in long lines.
The Vatican Museums are where you will find one of the world’s most famous artworks – Michelangelo’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel. And it’s not just Michelangelo whose impressive works hang in the corridors and rooms of the Vatican Museum – you’ll also find works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael (insert Ninja Turtle joke here), Bernini & Caravaggio.
The Vatican Church commissioned many of the artworks found on the walls throughout the museum and collected various pieces produced during the Renaissance period (& beyond). The collection of artwork that the Vatican Church has in the Vatican Museums is a mind-boggling 70,000 pieces of art, of which only 20,000 are on display at any one time.
When deciding to purchase your Vatican Museum tickets, make sure to think about getting a guided tour, or even an audio guide as it is really enormous and overwhelming.
Where To Purchase Your Vatican Museum Tickets
I purchased my skip-the-line Vatican Museum Tickets on Get Your Guide and after seeing the longest line I’ve ever seen, I was delighted to have purchased the tickets in advance. We visited the Vatican City in February when I thought it might be a little bit quieter, but I believe it’s busy all year round.
My top advice for visiting the Vatican Museums and purchasing tickets is to book your tickets in advance. You can also purchase tickets that combine the Vatican Museum with additional Rome tourist attractions. Or include access to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Purchase your Vatican Museum tickets via Get Your Guide or check the availability widget below.
Should I purchase a Guided Tour of the Vatican Museum?
Unless you are an art historian or major, I would highly recommend taking a guided tour of the Vatican Museum. Our guide was absolutely fantastic and spent the first 20 minutes of the tour explaining what we would see in the Sistine Chapel at the very end of our tour and what to look out for.
The tour was 3 hours long and whilst that may seem daunting to some people, the time absolutely flew by. The Vatican Museums are incredibly large and your guide will stop at the artworks of interest and explain the background of the pieces.
The final stop of the tour is the Sistine Chapel where you can experience the magic of Michaelangelo’s incredible fresco ‘The Last Judgment. The Sistine Chapel is a sacred space and there is an expected level of silence that needs to be respected when visiting this incredibly important artwork.
There are options to join smaller group tours of the Vatican Museums, and you can arrange a private tour to visit the museums before they open to the general public. If large crowds make you anxious, or you want to experience the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms without hoards of crowds, an early access semi-private tour of the Vatican Museum is an absolute must.
What to see in the Vatican Museums
The Sistine Chapel – The majority of visitors who come to the Vatican Museums have one goal in mind when visiting the Sistine Chapel, they wish to lay eyes on the Last Judgment by Michaelangelo. It’s astonishing to see it in person and one of those bucket-list items that whether you are religious or not is mesmerizing to see in person.
The Raphael Rooms – Four rooms with frescos painted by Raphael, it’s astonishing just how close you can get to this artwork and the details in which you can see up close and personal. These rooms are small and do get a bit congested in the tour.
Gallery of Geographic Maps – This was the absolute highlight of my guided tour of the Vatican Museum for me. The artwork covers 120 meters and outlines the country of Italy in incredible detail. Everywhere your eyes trail, there is something astonishing to look at. I easily could have spent the entire afternoon in this one corridor.
Vatican Gardens – The beautiful and manicured Vatican gardens are worth visiting as they are included in your entry ticket to the Vatican Museums. After your visit to the Sistine Chapel (usually the last location on your tour), you can visit the Vatican Gardens on your own or as part of your tour.
What to Expect in the Vatican Museums
Much like the Louvre in Paris, you could spend days exploring the Vatican Museums and especially the Sistine Chapel. Wear your comfiest pair of shoes as there is a lot of walking involved when exploring the Vatican Museums.
You are allowed to photograph and video throughout the museum – except for the Sistine Chapel. There are strictly no photographs allowed there.
It’s important that you are dressed appropriately when visiting the Vatican Museums. Women need to cover their shoulders and you’ll need to wear something that covers your knees too. This of course can be tricky when visiting in the summer months and the weather is sweltering outside.
What (not) to wear in the Vatican Museums:
- No offensive graphic t-shirts.
- No hats are allowed to be worn inside the Vatican Museums.
- Women must cover their shoulders and knees.
- Men must wear long shorts (past the knees) or trousers.
There is a coatroom where you can leave backpacks and jackets, and I would advise bringing a change of clothes (skirt/trousers/cardigan) so you can gain access to the museum. The same requirements are expected in St Peter’s Basilica.
How do I get to the Vatican Museums?
The Vatican Museums are easily accessible by public transportation. The closest Metro stop is Ottaviano-San Pietro (Line A), from there you can walk 5 minutes to the entrance of the Museums. Alternatively, you can take bus numbers 32, 81, or 982 to the Museums. Additionally, there is limited parking available for those traveling by car.