Visiting the Vatican Museums – All You Need to Know for a Perfect Tour

Visiting the Vatican Museums, one of the largest museums in Rome and also one of the most famous museums in Italy, requires some good planning. Being so popular, you will likely find a long line at the entrance. Being so old, you will definitely be overwhelmed about what to visit in the short time you can afford inside.

Being one of the main landmarks of Vatican City, this wonderful museum is pretty much always included in the private Vatican tours as well as the more generic tours of Rome.

I wrote this guide to visit the Vatican Museums to avoid as many surprises as possible and ensure a smooth tour. Here you will find important information regularly updated about visiting hours and closing times, ticket prices, and how to skip the line when visiting the Vatican Museums in Rome.

Image: Michelangelo fresco in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums.

Our tips and guide to visiting the Vatican Museums

Is it worth visiting the Vatican Museums?

The Vatican Museums enshrine five centuries of history and artwork donated to the popes by the world’s leaders, kings, and queens, as well as the pieces purchased and commissioned by the popes themselves throughout history.

Historical pieces like clothes and carriages and historical areas like the different popes’ apartments sit side by side with immortal artwork such as Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel and the frescoes of Raphael’s Rooms.

Plan ahead

First and foremost, you need to accept the idea that you can’t just show up at the entrance of the Vatican Museums and get in straight away. There will be a long queue or it might even be closed, so if you haven’t done a minimum of planning, you might end up wasting time and missing one of the best places to visit in Rome.

Image: Ceiling to see when visiting the Vatican Museums.

Tickets for the Vatican Museums

From January 1st, 2024, the tickets for the Vatican Museums will be more expensive, priced at 20€ instead of the current 17€.

To fight the phenomenon of unauthorized ticket resales, the Vatican Museums will introduce nominative tickets and will start checking IDs at the entrance.

Skip the line

Nobody likes standing in line for hours on end, especially when there is an easy way to avoid this. While you can just turn up and buy your ticket, this is no guarantee that you will do it as easily as you think.

In Rome’s most famous landmarks, it’s of paramount importance to arrive with your ticket already purchased. There are many websites where you can buy your ticket to the Vatican Museums online, one of the most popular is Get Your Guide.

Image: Tour of the Vatican Museums.

Join a tour

Alternatively, instead of just booking your entrance, you can join a private tour of the Vatican Museums. Along with the admission, a private tour includes a guide who will take you directly to the most famous spots you would probably miss if you were on your own or that you would have to look for.

A guided tour is more expensive than a single admission ticket but has the perks of saving you time and making your visit more complete with historical facts and anecdotes. We recently took a very exclusive private tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel and loved it.

Check closing time…

Even though an art gallery, the Vatican Museums are closed on Sunday, except if it’s the last Sunday of the month when there is free entrance. The Vatican Museums also close on the main religious holidays when other museums are actually open, such as Easter Sunday and Monday, November 1st (All Saints’ Day), December 8th (Immaculate Conception), Christmas and Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve, December 31st.

… and the new opening hours

Starting January 1st, 2024, the Vatican Museums announced that they are going to extend their visiting time by two hours, one extra in the morning and one extra in the evening. So instead of opening at 9 am, it will open at 8 am, and instead of closing at 6 pm, the Vatican Museums will close at 7 pm. This applies to every day from Monday to Saturday.

From the beginning of March 2024 when the high season starts, the Vatican Museums will extend an extra hour on Friday and Saturday, closing at 8 pm only on these two days.

Image: Carvings of the Vatican Museums.

Follow the dress code

Again, even though visiting the Vatican Museums might just seem like entering an art exhibition, you need to keep in mind that they are located inside Vatican City. This means that you are expected to follow the Vatican dress code you would follow when visiting the Basilica of Saint Peter and its underground Roman necropolis.

What is not allowed in the Vatican Museums?

Large bags, backpacks, and suitcases are not allowed in the Vatican Museums and you will need to leave them in the cloakroom. Apart from these types of bags, among the obvious objects that are not allowed in the Vatican Museums are firearms, knives, scissors, and any sharp and dangerous object.

Image: Paintings of the Vatican Museums in Rome.

Are photos allowed in the Vatican Museums?

You can snap your pictures without using the flash everywhere in the Vatican Museums except for the Sistine Chapel and the frescoes of Michelangelo. It’s also not allowed to take videos, use selfie sticks, or use professional photo and video gear, including a tripod. Anyone visiting the Vatican Museums should be aware of these rules as there are staff and guards everywhere who will ask you to delete your photos.

Be mindful of the noise

This doesn’t apply to all the areas when visiting the Vatican Museums but only when you are inside the Sistine Chapel. Here, in fact, you will be asked to be silent or to speak by whispering so that the experience of your fellow visitors won’t be ruined when admiring Michelangelo’s masterpieces.

Check out our guide to eating near the Vatican!


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About The Author: Angela Corrias

Hi, my name is Angela Corrias! I am an Italian journalist, photographer, and blogger living in Rome. After over ten years of living abroad, I finally came to the conclusion that in order to better organize my future adventures, I needed a base. Since I know and love Rome so much, I moved back to the Eternal City. This is how Rome Actually was born. Here, I cover everything about Rome, from the local food to the culture to Roman history.

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