Rome

St Peter’s Basilica – tickets, prices, guided tours, Papal audience

St Peter’s Basilica is built on top of St Peter’s grave, the first Pope of Christianity.

This Vatican attraction gets more than 5 Million tourists every year.

In this article, we explain everything you must know before your visit to St Peter’s Basilica.

1. How to reach?
2. Opening hours
3. Free Entry
4. Best time to visit
5. Special entrance
6. Guided tours
7. Combo tours
8. What to see?
9. FAQs

Where is St Peter’s Basilica?

St Peter’s Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage site located on Vatican Hill in Vatican City.

Vatican city is so small (1/6th of a square mile, or 0.44 of a square Km), that even though it is a separate state, it comfortably rests right in the middle of the city of Rome.

How to reach St Peter’s Basilica?

Rome’s public transport moves in and out of the Vatican City, and there are no barriers or checks.

By Metro

Ottaviano-S. Pietro is the nearest Metro station to the Vatican City.

Line A Metro trains, which are available every few minutes, can take you to this station.

Once you get down at Ottaviano-S. Pietro, a brisk 5 minutes walk can get you to St Peter’s Square, at the end of which St Peter’s Basilica is located.

By Train

St Pietro is the nearest train station to St Peter’s Square.

If you are travelling from Civitavecchia, the cruise port for Rome, this is your best option to reach the Basilica.

A quick 10 minute walk from the train station can get you to St Peter’s Square.

By Bus

If buses are your preferred mode of transport, look out for any of these buses – No. 64, No. 62, No. 40, or No. 81.

Bus No 64 is one of the most used lines because it connects Termini station with the Vatican City.

Beware of pickpockets when you get onto buses in Rome.


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St Peter’s Basilica hours

St Peter’s Basilica is open every day of the year, and the timings change once a year to cater to the peak season.

From April to September, St. Peter’s Basilica opens at 7 am and closes at 7 pm.

During the other half of the year, i.e. from October to February, it continues to open at 7 am but closes an hour early – at 6 pm.

Papal audience timings

Every Wednesday, the Pope meets people, which includes both believers and tourists.

This Papal audience at St Peter’s Basilica usually starts at 10 am. In winter months, it may even start at 10.30 am.

The security check begins from 8 am to 8.30 am and people arrive early to get good seats. The good spots get taken by 9 am.

The Papal audience is almost 2 hours long.

Important: Since Papal audience is only available on Wednesdays, it is in high demand. Book your 2 hours with the Pope, now!

Hours for Mass

A lot of tourists are keen to know English Mass timings at St Peter’s Basilica.

However, you must know that there are no scheduled English Masses at this Basilica.

If you are ok with Mass in Italian or Latin, check the schedule here.


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Is St Peter’s Basilica free?

Visitors can enter St Peter’s Basilica for free.

Yes, thats right. You don’t need to buy any tickets to explore the Basilica.

However, an admission fee is charged if you want to see specific parts of St Peter’s Basilica.

For instance, if you wish to climb the Basilica’s dome, you must buy a ticket.

Or if you want a guide to take you through this Vatican attraction, you must book a guided tour.

Or if you want to skip the long lines and enter the Basilica through a special entry, you must buy the dedicated entrance ticket.


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Best time to visit St Peter’s Basilica

There are two reasons why St Peter’s Basilica is always crowded –

  1. It is one of the oldest pilgrimage sites
  2. Both tourists and believers can enter for free

However, the notorious long lines start forming only from 8.30 am.

Hence, the best time to visit St Peter’s Basilica is as soon as it opens at 7 am.

From 7 am to around 8.30 am, you can explore the Basilica in peace.

If you are visiting during the off-season, 4 pm ends up being the second best time to visit.


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How to avoid crowd at St Peter’s Basilica

Besides timing your visit, here are two other tips which can help you avoid the crowd and long lines at St Peters.

Avoid Papal appearances

If you are visiting St Peter’s Basilica as a pure tourist (and not as a believer), chances are you aren’t interested in Papal appearances and/or Mass.

If you don’t wish to see the Pope, avoid visiting the St. Peter’s Basilica on Sundays and Wednesdays when it gets really crowded.

Similarly, you must also avoid holy days such as Easter and Christmas which sees a lot of crowd.

Buy a dedicated entrance ticket

The queues at St Peter’s Basilica can get very long. Image: GetYourGuide.com

The best way to avoid the queue at St Peter’s Basilica is to buy a dedicated entrance ticket.

This ticket allows you to skip the long lines and enter the Basilica through a dedicated entrance for the ticket holders.

If you are travelling with kids and seniors, we highly recommend this ticket because it can help you save an hour and more of waiting in the sun.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (18+ years): 19.50 Euros
Child ticket (7 to 17 years): 14.50 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 6 years): Free entry

Buy This Ticket


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Guided tours of St Peter’s Basilica

If budget is not an issue, you must opt for a guided tour of St Peter’s Basilica.

Here are the two reasons why a guided tour makes so much sense –

  1. Besides being a religious site, St. Peter’s Basilica is also a heritage site containing some of the World’s most famous artwork. A local expert guide can explain the importance of everything, making your visit more worthwhile.
  2. These guided tour tickets also help you skip the line, thus saving you waiting time of approximately one hour and more.

Here are three of our favourite St Peter’s guided tours –

1. St. Peter’s Basilica with Dome climb and Crypt

This guided tour starts at 8.15 am and the first item on the agenda is to explore the Basilica.

Then, you take an elevator to the first terrace of the dome to experience the mosaics in the morning light.

Next, you see the work of the artists – Bernini’s Baldachin, Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’ etc.

When you visit the Papal crypt, you get insights into the history of St Peter’s Basilica.

This is a small group tour of around 15 tourists.

The local guide will be with you for two and a half hours, after which you are free to roam around by yourself.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (15+ years): 49 Euros
Child ticket (2 to 14 years): 45 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 1 years): Free entry

Book This Tour

2. St. Peter’s Basilica guided tour

This guided tour of St Peter’s Basilica is just like the previous tour.

Except for two differences –

  1. It doesn’t include a trip up the Basilica’s dome
  2. The duration of this tour is one hour

Once the one hour guided tour is over, you are free to hang around inside the Basilica and explore on your own.

On the ticket booking page you can opt for either the 10.30 am or the 1.30 pm slot.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (18+ years): 27 Euros
Child ticket (7 to 17 years): 22 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 6 years): Free entry

Book This Tour

3. Audience with Pope Francis at St Peter’s Square

This tour is an amazing opportunity to pray alongside Pope Francis at the St. Peter’s Square.

All the details will be taken care of by your tour guide, including a good spot in front of the Pope.

You also receive a set of headsets so that you can hear everything clearly.

This 4-hour long tour is possible only on Wednesdays.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (15+ years): 39 Euros
Child ticket (4 to 14 years): 34 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): Free entry

Book This Tour


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St Peter’s Basilica combo tours

Combo tours are quite popular in Rome for two reasons –

  1. There is so much to see in both the Vatican and city of Rome
  2. Combo tour packages help save around 15 to 20% on ticket costs

Presenting four combo tours quite popular among tourists visiting St Peter’s Basilica.

1. Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel & Saint Peter’s guided tour

Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica have long lines at the entrance.

This one guided combo tour can help you skip the lines and enter all three of these attractions without having to wait.

The duration of this guided tour is 3 hours.

After the guide leaves you, you are free to explore more for as long as you wish.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (18+ years): 60 Euros
Child ticket (6 to 17 years): 50 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 5 years): Free entry

Book This Tour

2. Skip-the-Line Vatican sites and Colosseum tour

If you are in Rome for a day or two, this is the perfect guided tour for you.

In six and a half hours you can cover all of the following –

– St. Peter’s Basilica
– Vatican Museums
– Sistine Chapel
– Colosseum
– Roman Forum
– Palatine Hill

At all these attractions you will skip the lines, thus wasting no time.

You will also get a headset so that you can hear the guide clearly.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (8+ years): 86 Euros
Child ticket (3 to 7 years): 69 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 2 years): Free entry

Book This Tour

3. Tour of Vatican Museums and Papal audience at St Peter’s

This tour is possible only on Wednesdays because that’s when the Pope gives an audience at St Peter’s Basilica.

You start this six-hour guided tour with an audience of Pope Francis I.

You can decide to pray with him, or enjoy the surroundings as the sermon goes on.

The Papal audience goes on for two hours.

At 11.30 you start your guided tour of Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica – skipping the lines at every tourist attraction.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (18+ years): 69 Euros
Child ticket (6 to 17 years): 59 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 5 years): Free entry

Book This Tour

4. Necropolis and St. Peter’s Basilica guided tour

This tour starts at 11.30 am and your first stop is the Vatican Necropolis, located beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Grottoes.

This is where you make the pilgrimage of all pilgrimages to the tomb of the apostle Peter, the first Pope of Christianity.

The next stop in this two and half hour combo tour is St Peter’s Basilica.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (15+ years): 59 Euros
Child ticket (0 to 14 years): Free entry

Book This Tour


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What to see in St Peter’s Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica in one of the 4 major Basilicas in the world.

With a capacity of over 60,000 people, and spread over 22,300 square meters, it is one of the world’s largest religious building.

Do check out St Peter’s Square, also known as the Piazza San Pietro, which is in front of the Basilica. It has two fountains on each side.

In the front of St Peter’s Square you will find two statues – St. Peter and St. Paul.

There is also a 40-meter high Egyptian obelisk, which was brought to Rome in 37 B.C.

You must also spend time at St. Peter’s Baldachin, a 29-meter high bronze canopy which is located right under the dome of the Basilica.

Baldachin worked on it from 1623 to 1634 – a total of 11 years.

The Baldachin stands over the papal altar which is directly above St Peter’s tomb.

Another attraction at St Peter’s Basilica is St Peter’s statue, which was placed in the Basilica in the year 1605.

The statue, which features St Peter seated on a throne, was created by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1300.

Pilgrims touch or kiss the statue’s feet, which has led to wearing out of the right foot.

Interested in free entry to the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, St Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel? Buy the Omnia Card


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About St Peter’s Basilica

Most tourists visiting the Basilica have these questions –

When was St Peter’s Basilica built?


St Peter’s Basilica has a history dating back to 2000 years ago.

Work on it was begun by Pope Julius II in 1506 and completed in 1615 under Paul V.

However, this is not the original church of St Peter. What we see today is the second.

The original church was built in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine, on the spot where St. Peter was thought to be buried.

By the early Renaissance, though, the ancient church was in serious disrepair.

Later, Pope Julius II went head to head with Michelangelo to build the St Peter’s Basilica by tearing down the old structure and make a new one.

What is St Peter’s Basilica height?


The world’s largest Basilica is a whopping 186 meters tall (218 if we consider the porch), with a height of 46 meters in the central aisle.

The main dome of the Roman Basilica is 136 meters high and 42 meters large in diameter.

Who built St Peter’s Basilica?


Construction on the current St. Peter’s Basilica was started by Pope Julius II in 1506 and completed in 1615 by Paul V.

The original church was built in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine, on the spot where St. Peter was thought to be buried.

St Peter’s Basilica’s Dome


The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica was designed by Michelangelo, who took on the construction of the dome in 1547.

However, after Michelangelo’s death in 1564, his pupil, Giacomo Della Porta took over the construction of the Basilica’s dome. By then, the construction had reached the drum of the dome.

Giacomo Della Porta raised the vault of the dome about 7 meters and completed the construction in 1590.

The dome has a double calotte, with an inner diameter of 42.56 meters and it measures 136.57 meters from the base to the top of the cross.

The lantern is 17 meters high.

Who is buried under St Peter’s Basilica?


St Peter is supposed to have been buried under St. Peter’s Basilica. However, the Basilica is known to have many more graves.

Having said that, it is a shrine built by the Vatican to memorialise the site of St. Peter’s burial.

Is Peter’s Basilica largest church in the World?


No, St Peter’s Basilica is not the largest church in the world.

Basilica of Our Lady Peace, in Ivory Coast, is the largest church in the world as per the Guinness Book of World Records.

St. Peter’s Basilica was once the largest church but in 1990 after the construction of Basilica of Our Lady Peace, it became the second largest church in the World.

Why is St Peter’s Basilica famous?


St. Peter’s Basilica is famous for many reasons. Since St. Peter’s Basilica is in the Vatican City, the Pope often says mass at here.

The St. Peter’s is one of the largest churches in the World with a capacity of 60,000 people.

Its architecture goes back to 1506.

St. Peter’s Basilica also houses work by famous artists like Michelangelo and Bernini.

St. Peter’s Basilica has many treasures. These include Christian relics, the tombs of Popes and many other important personalities.

Recommended Reading: St Peter’s Basilica facts

Popular attractions in Rome
# Colosseum
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# Borghese Gallery
# Sistine Chapel
# Roman Forum
# Castel Sant’Angelo
# Pompeii
# Capitoline Museum

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