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

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Edited by: Rekha Rajan
Fact checked by: Jamshed V Rajan


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

It is almost always seen with Vatican Museums and Sistine chapel because they are all next to each other.

Together, they get more than 5 million tourists every year.

In this article, we explain everything you must know before buying Peter’s Basilica tickets.

St Peter’s Basilica

What to expect at St Peter’s Basilica

You don’t need to buy any tickets to explore the St Peter’s Basilica – admission is free for visitors.

However, if you want to see and experience the better parts of the Basilica, you need to buy the appropriate ticket.

It is also better to opt for a guided tour, so that a local expert can take you around the massive building.

Type of ticketsCost
Guided Tour of Peter’s Basilica€27
Guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, Dome Climb & Papal Crypts€49
Peter’s Basilica: Dome Climb with Guide€39
Papal Audience and St. Peter’s Basilica Guided Tour€28
Guided tour of Basilica, St. Peter’s Square & Papal Grottoes€25
Vatican Gardens & Museums + St. Peter’s Basilica€73
Colosseum Priority Entrance + St. Peter’s Basilica€48

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Best time to visit St Peter’s Basilica

The best time to visit St Peter’s Basilica as soon as they open at 7 am. 

Till about 9 am, the notoriously long lines of the Basilica are yet to form, and you get to explore in peace.

If you can’t make it in the morning, the next best time to visit this Vatican attraction is 4 pm. 

By this time, large group tours have either left or planning to get back to Rome.

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How to avoid crowd at St Peter’s Basilica

Besides timing your visit, here are two other tips to help you avoid the crowd and long lines at St Peter’s.

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 Mass.

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

Similarly, it would help if you also avoided holy days such as Easter and Christmas, which see many crowds.

Book a guided tour ticket

St Peters Basilica waiting line

The best way to avoid the St Peter’s Basilica queue is by booking a guided tour.

These guided tours allow you to skip the long lines and enter the Basilica through a dedicated entrance for the ticket holders.

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

Guided ToursCost
Guided Tour of Peter’s Basilica€27
Guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, Dome Climb & Papal Crypts€49
Peter’s Basilica: Dome Climb with Guide€39
Guided tour of Basilica, St. Peter’s Square & Papal Grottoes€25

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Guided tours of St Peter’s Basilica

Guided tour at St Peter's Basilica
Image: Clay Banks

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 a waiting time of approximately one hour and more.

We present three of our favorite St Peter’s guided tours.

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.

During this tour, the guide takes around 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): 39 Euros
Child ticket (2 to 14 years): 36 Euros
Infant ticket (upto 1 year): Free entry

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.

You can opt for either the 10.30 am or the 1.30 pm slot on the ticket booking page.

Ticket Price

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

Audience with Pope Francis

This tour is a fantastic opportunity to pray alongside Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square.

Everything is 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.

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 (upto 3 years): Free entry

The Rome Tourist Pass is a super saver. For just €82 per person, the pass includes entry tickets to Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and Pantheon and a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. You also get a 10% discount code, which you can use (five times!) to get discounts on future purchases.

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St Peter’s Basilica combo tours

Combo tours are pretty popular in Rome for two reasons –

  1. There is so much to see in both the Vatican and the 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.

Vatican Museum + Sistine Chapel + Saint Peters

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): 50 Euros
Child ticket (6 to 17 years): 38 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 5 years): 5 Euros

Vatican sites + Colosseum

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.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (8+ years): 101 Euros
Child ticket (3 to 7 years): 83 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 2 years): Free entry

Vatican Museums + Papal audience

Papal audience at St Peter's Basilica
Image: Ashwin Vaswani

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

You start this four-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 8 am, you start your guided tour of the St. Peter’s Basilica and soon enough also meet the Pope.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (18+ years): 28 Euros
Child ticket (6 to 17 years): 20 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 5 years): Free entry

St. Peter’s Basilica + Necropolis

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.

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 (18 to 64 years): 25 Euros
Child ticket (6 to 17 years): 18 Euros
Seniors ticket (65+ years): 25 Euros

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What to see in St Peter’s Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica is one of the four significant Basilicas in the world.

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

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

In 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, brought to Rome in 37 B.C.

Egyptian obelisk at St Peters Basilica
The Egyptian obelisk at St Peter’s Basilica. Image: Vatican.com

It would be best if you also spent time admiring St. Peter’s Baldachin, a 29-meter high bronze canopy located right under the Basilica dome.

St. Peter’s Baldachin at St Peter's Basilica
St. Peter’s Baldachin at St Peter’s Basilica. Image: Pixabay

Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini 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, placed in the Basilica in 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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St Peter’s Basilica hours

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

From October to February, the Basilica 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 the winter months, it may even begin 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

Hours for Mass

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

However, you must understand 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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How to reach 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.

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

By Metro

Ottaviano–San Pietro–Musei Vaticani 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 the Metro Station, a brisk ten minutes walk can get you to St Peter’s Basilica, located at the end of St Peter’s Square.

Ottaviano Metro Station to-St Peters Basilica

By Train

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

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

A quick 12-minute walk from the train station can get you to St Peter’s Square.

St Pietro Station to St Peters Basilica

By Bus

If buses are your preferred mode of transport, look out for 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 Vatican City.

Roma Termini bus station is right in front of the Termini Train station.

Safety Tip: Beware of pickpockets when you get into buses in Rome.

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About St Peter’s Basilica

Most tourists visiting the Basilica have these questions –

  1. 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 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.

  2. What is St Peter’s Basilica's 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.

  3. 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 buried.

  4. Who designed and built St Peter’s Basilica’s Dome?

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

    However, after Michelangelo died in 1564, his pupil, Giacomo Della Porta, took over the construction of the Basilica's dome. By then, the structure 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.

  5. 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.

    It is a shrine built by the Vatican to memorialize the site of St. Peter's burial.

  6. Is Peter’s Basilica the 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 constructing the Basilica of Our Lady Peace, it became the second-largest church in the World.

  7. 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 here.

    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 influential personalities.

Recommended Reading: St Peter’s Basilica facts

# Wikipedia.org
# Britannica.com
# St-peters-basilica-tickets.com
# Rome.net

The travel specialists at TheBetterVacation.com use only high-quality sources while researching & writing their articles. We make every attempt to keep our content current, reliable and trustworthy.

Tourist attractions in Rome

PompeiiColosseumVatican Museums
Sistine ChapelSt Peters BasilicaRoman Forum
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Catacombs of RomePantheon RomeMamertine Prison
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Catacombs of San SebastianoCatacombs of PriscillaCallixtus Catacombs
Museum of IllusionsPalace of Castel GandolfoZoomarine Rome
Trevi FountainCapuchin CryptVilla d’Este in Tivoli
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Villa AdrianaBioparco di RomaDoria Pamphilj Gallery
Basilica of San GiovanniNational Etruscan MuseumStadium of Domitian
Da Vinci ExhibitionLa Traviata OperaPalazzo Cipolla

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