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St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museum – visiting on the same day

St. Peter’s Basilica is the biggest church in the world, and the Vatican Museums are the second most visited art museum globally.

When tourists visit the Vatican City, they usually want to visit two iconic city attractions on the same day.

Many tourists find these attractions similar because of their centuries of history, art, and religious significance.

More than five million people visit the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica in a year.

Are the Vatican and St. Peter’s the same?

Tourists wonder if the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica are the same.

They are closely intertwined but are not the same. 

The Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are two different attractions, each with its own significance.

The Vatican Museums have many galleries and halls displaying huge collections of art from the Roman Catholic Church.

This includes the Sistine Chapel, which has Michelangelo’s famous painting called The Last Judgement on its roof.

On the other hand, the Basilica is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. 

It is popular for its intricate beauty and spiritual significance as the burial site of Saint Peter, one of Christ’s Apostles and the first Pope. 

While both are within Vatican City and share a spiritual and artistic heritage, they serve different purposes.

The Vatican Museums focus on art and history, whereas St. Peter’s Basilica is a center of Catholic worship and devotion. 

Together, they provide a complete experience of what the Vatican City offers. 

Is St. Peter’s Basilica included in Vatican Museum tickets? 

There are two ways to explore the Basilica: you can opt for free entry, but you may have to wait in long queues. 

You can also opt for a St Peter’s Basilica ticket and skip the long lines. 

If you decide to go for a ticketed entry, you have two options: buy a ticket that only guarantees an entry or opt for the one with a guided tour

So yes, the Vatican Museum tickets include entry to the St Peter’s Basilica. 

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Can you see both on the same day?

Yes, you can visit the Vatican Museums and Basilica in a single day, but you must plan your day well. 

First, you must select your ticket – a self-guided or a guided tour of the Basilica

And then you need to land up at the Vatican Museum as soon as they open at 9 am.

Since St. Peter’s Basilica opens at 7 am, some tourists prefer to visit it first and then move on to the Vatican Museums. 

However, we suggest you start with the Vatican Museums. 

After exploring the museums for up to three hours, you will reach the Sistine Chapel. 

After enjoying the chapel for about 15 minutes, you can enter the direct passage from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica. 

If this passage is closed, you may have to exit the museum and walk around the Vatican walls for 15-20 minutes to reach the Basilica.

Once inside, you will need at least an hour to go around the Basilica. 

That’s how you can visit both the Vatican attractions in a single day. 

Vatican Museum Entrrance
Image: Italy-museum.com

What’s the distance between St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museum?

The entrances of both Vatican museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are on the opposite side of the city.

This leads to the question of “What is the distance between them?” among the tourists.

Vatican Walls, the shortest way to enter St. Peter’s, is from the Vatican Museum.

The distance between both entrances is 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from each other.

Walking from one to the other usually takes 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the crowd. 

St. Peter’s Basilica to Vatican Museum

The Vatican City walls are the pathway to enter St. Peter’s Basilica from the Vatican Museums.

You will take approximately 20 minutes on the walk to reach. Get Directions

Here’s a simple guide to help you make the journey:

  1. From the main entrance or exit of the Vatican Museums, start your walk outside.
  2. Once outside, turn right and follow Viale Vaticano. This road runs along the outer walls of Vatican City.
  3. After a short walk, you will reach Via Tunisi. Take a left turn here. This street often hosts vendors and has a slight incline.
  4. Continue straight until you arrive at Piazza del Risorgimento. This square is a bit of a hub, and you’ll notice it opens up as you approach.
  5. After reaching Piazza del Risorgirmento, walk towards the Via di Porta Angelica street.
  6. At the end of the street, you will arrive at the Security checkpoints to enter St. Peter’s Square.
  7. Note that the security line for entering the Basilica can be long, so divide extra time.
  8. After clearing the security, you will be at St. Peter’s Square, which has a great view of the Basilica.

Vatican Museum to St. Peter’s Basilica

The direct routes to enter Vatican Museums from St. Peter’s are less because of the Vatican City walls.

People who enjoy walking will have a great time on this journey. Get Directions

While walking, you will get the best views of the Vatican City, as you will have a chance to see Castel Sant’Angelo.

Here’s a simple guide to help you out:

  1. Begin by exiting the basilica and entering St. Peter’s Square.
  2. Facing from the Basilica, take the right side from the Square. This will lead you to the Vatican Walls.
  3. You will be walking along the Via della Conciliazione towards Castel Sant’Angelo.
  4. Then, you will reach Piazza Pio XII. From there, walk straight towards Via di Porta Angelica.
  5. You will reach an Intersection with Via di Porta Cavalleggeri. Then turn left along the walls and walk until you reach Viale Vaticano.
  6. The entrance to the Vatican Museum is at Viale Vaticano.

Dress code for entering St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican

St. Peter’s and Vatican Museums are famous for their religious and Cultural Significance.

So, tourists visiting those venues must follow specific dress rules that are out of respect.

Worry not! We will let you know about those restrictions.

1. Men and women should cover their shoulders and knees. This means no sleeveless tops, tank tops, or short dresses and shorts.

Those wearing sleeveless tops should bring a scarf or shawl to drape over the shoulders.

2. Avoid revealing, inappropriate clothing that could restrict your entry.

3. Remove your hats before entering the spaces as a sign of respect.

4. Footwear should be respectful and practical for walking. Wearing flip-flops or casual shoes might not be well-received.

But the rules are not as strict for shoes as for clothing.

5. It is advised to dress more appropriately for those attending papal audiences or masses held by the Pope.

People usually wear more formal clothes to show the importance of the event.

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When are the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s open?

The Vatican Museums are typically open from 9 am to 6 pm, with the last entry at 4 pm.

Every last Sunday of the month, the Vatican Museums will be open from 9 am to 2 pm, with final entry at 12.30 pm.

St. Peter’s Basilica – Generally open from 7 am to 7 pm from April to September.

They have a little time change from October to March, i.e., 7 am to 6 pm.

The Dome at St. Peter’s is open from morning 8, with the last entry usually an hour before the basilica closing.

There can be minor changes in visiting hours during special celebrations and holidays.

Most of the time, the Pope’s schedule decides the changing visiting hours at the Basilica.

Early morning visits will be the best way to avoid long lines, as security checks can lead to wait times for entry.

Best time to visit the attractions

The best time to visit the St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museum is during the off-peak tourist seasons and at specific times of the day.

Try to arrive right at opening time – 9 am for the Vatican Museums and 7 am for St. Peter’s Basilica.

This allows you to explore more before the crowds peak, especially if you’re interested in seeing popular spots like the Sistine Chapel.

Visiting the Vatican Museums about 2-3 hours before closing can also be a good strategy.

Yet, keep in mind that you might have less time to explore.

Due to the Papal Audience, St. Peter’s Basilica might be more crowded or have limited access on Wednesday mornings.

But, this could be the right time to visit the Vatican Museums instead.

The Vatican Museums offer free entrance on the last Sunday of each month, leading to larger crowds.

While saving on entrance fees is a great opportunity, be ready for a much more crowded experience.

Regardless of when you visit, it is recommended that you book a self-guided or guided tour of the Basilica in advance to save waiting time.

Always check the Vatican’s official calendar before your visit for any special events or closures.

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This article was researched & written by

Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

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