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Vatican Museum – tickets, prices, discounts, guided tours, best time to visit


The Vatican Museum in Rome contains paintings, sculptures, and other artworks collected by the Popes throughout the centuries.

The Vatican Museum has 70,000 artifacts, of which 20,000 are displayed in 54 different galleries, with the Sistine Chapel being the last gallery.

That’s why to visit the Sistine Chapel; one needs to go through the Museums.

In this article, we share everything you must do before buying Vatican Museum tickets.

Vatican Museum queues explained

At the Vatican Museum entrance, you will spot three queues – the first for tourists without tickets, the second for those who booked online tickets and the third for visitors who have booked guided tours.

This section explains each of the three lines at the Museum entrance.

Line 1: For tourists with no tickets

Tourists who didn’t buy their Vatican Museum tickets much earlier stand in this line.

Depending on the season and time of the day, this line can even be 500 meters (0.3 Miles) long.

If you reach the Vatican Museum entrance without entry tickets in hand, you will join this line at the very end and end up waiting and wasting up to two hours.

Vatican last-minute tickets
Many visitors realize the importance of buying Vatican Museum tickets online after seeing the long lines at the counter. If you are one of them, you can still buy last minute same-day Vatican Museums tickets.

Line 2: For tourists with online tickets

If you have already bought your tickets online, you get a real quick entry because your queue starts from near the entry gate.

Look for a yellow signboard, as shown in the photo below.

Thus, you save up to two hours of waiting time in peak summer.

If you are traveling with kids and elders, it makes even more sense to buy Vatican Museum tickets online, much in advance.

Line 3: For tourists with guided tour tickets

This is the fastest-moving queue in the Vatican Museum.

When you book a guided tour of the Vatican, you must meet your guide and group at a specific meeting point near the entrance.

Vatican Museum entrance for guided tours
Visitors who booked guided tours much in advance, use this entrance to get in. Image: Clearedready.blogspot.com

Once all group members arrive, the guide gives you markers (similar colored pins, etc.) so that they can identify you.

The guide quickly briefs you and takes you inside the Vatican Museums through the third line – the fastest.

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Where to buy tickets

You can get your Vatican Museums entry tickets at the venue or buy them online, much in advance.

If you plan to get them at the attraction, depending on the time of the day (and month), you may have to wait in the ticket counter line for an hour or more.

When you book your tickets for Vatican Museums online, you get your preferred time slot.

How online tickets work

When you buy Vatican Museum entry tickets online, they get emailed to you immediately.

No need to take printout of your tickets.

On the day of your visit, you can show your e-ticket on your smartphone and enter.

Vatican Museum ticket prices

Vatican Museum’s Skip the Line ticket costs €30 for all adults 18 years and older.

Kids six to 17 years old pay a discounted price of €18 for admission, and students up to 25 years old (with a valid ID) pay €22 for entry.

These tickets are the cheapest and most popular way to enter the museum.

Kids below six years can walk in for free.

Note: While availing Vatican Museums ticket discounts, please keep a valid photo ID card ready. Without a valid ID, you will be asked to pay for a full-price ticket to enter, and you won’t get back the money for the discounted ticket.

Skip The Line Vatican Museum tickets

Besides access giving you complete to all the open rooms and galleries of the Vatican Museums, these tickets also get you entry to the Sistine Chapel.

That’s why they are also known as Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel tickets.

After seeing both the attractions, you can also explore St Peter’s Basilica.

Tourists can book these tickets with or without the official audio guide.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (18+ years): €30
Kids ticket (6 to 17 years): €18
Student ticket (up to 25 years, with valid ID): €22

Ticket Price with Audio Guide

Adult ticket (18+ years): €39
Kids ticket (6 to 17 years): €27
Student ticket (up to 25 years, with valid ID): €28

*Kids younger than six can walk in for free.

Last minute Vatican Museum tickets

Many visitors search for last-minute Vatican tickets because they forgot to book them well in advance.

Some tourists even search for online tickets at the eleventh hour after seeing the long lines at the Vatican Museum entrance.

Either way, you need not worry.

Popular travel websites buy Vatican Museum tickets in advance and sell them as last-minute tickets.

These same-day tickets cost €6 more than the regular tickets, but most visitors don’t care as long as they get to visit the Vatican Museum.

Tickets price

Adult ticket (18+ years): €36
Child ticket (6 to 17 years): €34

Official guided tour of Vatican Museum + Sistine Chapel

If you can afford it, we highly recommend a guided tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel.

This tour is operated by the Vatican.

The local expert guide takes you on a two-hours tour of all the galleries and rooms in the museum, and in the end, you visit the chapel.

This tour is available in English, Italian, French, and Spanish, and all guests get a headset to hear the guide.

Guided tour price

Adult ticket (19+ years): €44
Kids ticket (6 to 18 years):
Student ticket (up to 25 years, with valid ID):
Infant ticket (up to 5 years): Free entry

If you want an exclusive experience at the Vatican Museums, check out this premium guided tour, which costs a €60 per person.

Vatican Museum private tour

When you book a private tour of the Vatican, you can maximize your time with the guide and customize your itinerary to your interests.

Since these are special tickets, you also get access to areas that are normally closed to the public such as the Cabinet of the masks, etc.

The Official Vatican Rome guide will ensure you don’t miss the highlights of the museum.

These private tours are available only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Private tour price

Adult ticket (18+ years): €200
Kids ticket (6 to 17 years):
Infant ticket (up to 5 years): Free entry

Two combo tickets are popular among tourists holidaying in Rome – Colosseum and Vatican combo tour and the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain tour.

Visual Story: 14 must-know tips before visiting Vatican Museum

Frequently asked questions about tickets

Here are some questions tourists ask before purchasing their tickets for Vatican Museums in Rome.

Do the Museums offer free tickets?

All individuals get free entry on the last Sunday of every month. Entry is free for children aged up to seven years, directors of museum institutions, managing boards, and other bodies engaged in the protection of archaeological, historical, and artistic heritage, disabled visitors with certified disability of over 74% and their carers, holders of the valid cards issued by Icom (International Council of Museums) or Icomos (International Council on Monuments and Sites), and professors in the fields of Archaeology, Art History, Architecture and Ethnology, and from academies based in Rome.

Can I buy tickets at the venue?

Yes, tickets are available at the venue’s ticket office. However, due to the high demand of the world-famous attraction, there are long queues at the ticket counter. Additionally, popular timeslots may sell out quickly, so getting them online in advance is better.

Do we need to print online tickets?

Visitors can present their tickets on mobile devices, but printed tickets are also accepted at the attraction. You can show the tickets on your mobile to the security guards at the Vatican Museums’ entrance. Then, pass the security checks and scan your tickets at the entrance turnstiles.

What is the arrival time?

When you book the attraction’s tickets, you must select a preferred time of visit. Security clearance time can take time, depending on the day, type of ticket (whether regular ticket or skip-the-line ticket), and tourist season. Keeping this in mind, we recommend arriving 15 minutes before your visit time.

What is the Vatican Museums late arrival policy?

Latecomers are not allowed in the attraction, and no refund will be provided. Arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes before your scheduled visit time.

Do the Museums offer discounts for locals?

The attraction offers discounted admission to children aged between seven and 17 years and students up to 25 years old upon presentation of a valid student ID.

Do the Museums offer a student discount?

Yes, the attraction offers reduced ticket prices to students up to 25 years old upon presentation of a valid student ID.

Do the Vatican Museums offer a military discount?

The attraction does not offer a military discount on its admission tickets.

Does Rome City Pass include access to Vatican Museums?

Yes, the Rome City Pass is a cost-effective option to explore over 40 top Rome attractions, including the Sistine Chapel, and enjoy local tours, optional public transport, and a 48-hour hop-on hop-off Rome sightseeing bus tour. The card also allows you to explore the city at your own pace and customize your pass with 2- to 5-day options.

What is the Museums refund policy?

The renowned attraction of Rome has a strict non-refundable ticket policy.
This means that once you purchase tickets, you cannot receive a refund regardless of the reason for cancellation or no-show. This policy applies to all ticket types, including adult, child, and discounted tickets.

How to reschedule the Museums ticket?

The attraction does not allow you to change the date and time of your visit under any circumstances.

What is the Vatican Museums rain policy?

The attraction is an all-weather experience, so all tickets are final.

Are skip-the-line Museum tickets worth it?

When you buy Vatican Museum tickets in advance, they are called Skip the Line tickets because they help skip the long lines at the Museum entrance. These online tickets may be a few Euros costlier, but considering they help you save up to two hours of waiting in the sun, they are worth it.

Is St. Peter’s Basilica included in the Museums’ ticket?

St. Peter’s Basilica has no entry fee, and you can walk in for free. However, if you line up in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, you may waste a lot of time in the long lines. We recommend buying a Vatican Museums ticket, exploring them, and following the crowd as they move towards St Peter’s Basilica through an indoor route. St. Peter’s Basilica is closed on Wednesday mornings because the Pope meets the people.

Are Vatican Gardens included in Vatican Museum tickets?

No, access to the Vatican Gardens is not included in the Vatican Museum tickets. To visit the Gardens, you need to buy a Vatican Gardens ticket, which, besides the Gardens, also gives you access to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.

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Where is Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum is in Vatican City, just North of the city center of Rome.

The Vatican is the World’s smallest country, and the city of Rome surrounds it.

It is only 44 hectares (108 acres) and shares a 3.2 Km (2 Miles) border with Italy.

The Vatican has four of the major attractions of Rome –

1. Vatican Museums
2. Sistine Chapel
3. Saint Peter’s Square
4. Saint Peter’s Basilica

These four attractions are close to each other because of which tourists visit them all on the same day or explore them over two days.

Location of Vatican Museum in Vatican City

Vatican City Map
Besides Saint Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Square, this map also specifies the location of Vatican Museum within the Vatican City. Thomas Römer/OpenStreetMap

On the Vatican map above, a big, red ‘E’ marks the Museum’s entrance.

How to get to Vatican Museums

There is no barrier or check when you move between the Vatican and the city of Rome.

Roman public and private transport go in and out of the Vatican all day.

By Rome Metro

To reach the Vatican Museums by Rome Metro, you must board Line A.

There is a train every few minutes, so you won’t have to wait long.

It is also known as the ‘Red Line’ and has two stops equidistant from the entrance of Vatican Museums – Ottaviano and Cipro.

Most tourists get off at the Ottaviano metro stop because that’s the first to come while travelling from Rome.

As the day progresses, the lines at the entrance of the Vatican Museum stretch for up to 500 meters (0.3 Miles) in the direction of Ottaviano metro station.

We highly recommend you get down at Ottaviano to reach the Vatican Museums.

Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Square are a brisk seven-minutes walk from the Metro station.

If you can’t figure out where to go, follow the crowd or click here for directions to reach the Vatican Museum entrance.

Important: You can skip these long lines at the entrance, by purchasing Vatican Museum tickets online, much before your visit.

By Public Bus

Unlike the Termini station for Rome Metro, there is no Central bus stop that every bus route goes through.

However, Rome’s bus network is quite extensive, and there are many buses which pass or terminate near the Vatican.

The most commonly used bus routes to reach the Vatican are Bus No. 40 and 64.

They start right before the Termini Train station and end at the Vatican.

These buses are also popular with tourists visiting the Colosseum because they pass through Piazza Venezia.

You can also board buses No 61 and 81 to get to the Vatican.

Warning: Buses in Rome are notorious for their pickpockets. Keep your belongings safe.

By Walk

If you have time, and you are in Central Rome, we recommend walking it to the Vatican Museums.

Vatican Museum is 2.2 Km (1.4 Miles) from Piazza Navona, the center of Rome.

It is a pleasant walk over the River Tiber, and you can see Castel Sant Angelo outside.

By Car

If you wish to travel by car, turn on Google Maps and get started.

There are numerous parking garages around the Vatican Museums.

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Vatican Museum hours

From Monday to Saturday, the Vatican Museum opens at 9 am and closes at 6 pm.

The last entry is at 4 pm, and the Vatican Museum’s ticket counter also closes at the same time.

Note: Since you must go through the Vatican Museums to visit the Sistine Chapel, the Chapel’s hours are also the same.

When is the Vatican Museum closed

Vatican Museums remain closed on Sundays.

The Vatican Museums also remain closed on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (29 June), Christmas Day and The Feast of Saint Stephen (26 December) and Feast of St. Sylvester (31 December).

Last Sunday of the Month

On the last Sunday of every month, the Museums open for five hours.

On such Sundays, the Vatican Museum’s timings are from 9 am to 2 pm, and visitors can enter for free.

On these Sundays, the last entry is at 12.30 pm.

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Best time to visit Vatican Museums

The best time to visit the Vatican Museums is 9 am, from Tuesday to Friday. Since the attraction remains closed on Sundays, Saturdays and Mondays are crowded.

When you start early, you can explore the exhibits peacefully and also take better photographs without strangers in the frame.

Mondays can get really crowded at Vatican Museums since rest of the museums in Rome remain closed.

Late afternoon – 2.30 to 4 pm – is also a good time to visit the museums because the legendary queues will be gone by then.

Longest lines at the Vatican Museums

Ticketing counter queues at the Vatican are legendary, and every tourist has heard about them.

Almost every visitor assumes that reaching the Vatican Museums as soon as they open will help avoid the long lines, and as a result, everybody lands early.

Thus, the Vatican Museum queues are long and packed during the opening hours of the day.

If you have already bought your Vatican Museum tickets online, you need not be worried about these long lines. Buy tickets now!

Visiting the Sistine Chapel & Saint Peter’s Basilica

If you intend to visit Vatican Museums post lunch, be mindful of your pace because the Sistine Chapel closes at 5.30 pm.

If you plan to visit Saint Peter’s Basilica, you can take the secret passageway from the Sistine Chapel to avoid queues.

This passageway closes at 5 pm, which means that you will have till 4.45 pm to finish your tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

Best time of the year

The slowest months in the Vatican are the colder ones, excluding Christmas and New Year’s.

Therefore, late November to early December and mid-January to late February are ideal for a quiet and peaceful visit to the Museums.

From April to October, the Museums open on Friday nights from 7 pm to 11 pm.

We detail these night tours later in this article.

Best day of the week

Since the Vatican Museum is closed on Sundays, all weekend travelers visit on Saturday, resulting in the longest queues.

However, on the last Sunday of the month, the Museums are open.

Unless you are on a tight budget, the last Sunday of the month should be avoided because it is open to the public for free.

There might be more crowds on Mondays and Saturdays than on Tuesdays and Thursdays because they are closer to weekends.

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How long does the Vatican Museum take

Most tourists take three to four hours to explore the Vatican Museums. If you are in a hurry, you can walk through the highlights of the important rooms in around two hours.

If you only want to see the Sistine Chapel, you can walk directly from the Vatican Museum entrance to the Sistine Chapel door in half an hour.

Note: During peak season, there is a two-hour wait at the ticket counter queue. Buy your tickets in advance to avoid wasting your time. 

Break up of time taken

There are four main attractions in the Vatican – the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square – and to see them all you need at least four hours.

Some visitors explore the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel on the first day and St Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square on the second.

Most tourists try to visit all the four attractions on the same day.

Here is a slightly rough breakup of the time taken to explore –

Attraction Time it takes
Vatican Museums 2 hours
Sistine Chapel 30 minutes
St. Peter’s Square 30 minutes
St Peter’s Basilica 1 hour

If you plan to visit all four attractions in one day, you will need four to five hours.

Things to keep in mind

– To explore the Vatican Museums entirely, must to walk 7.5 Km (4.7 Miles). Wear comfortable walking shoes for a better experience.

– Since it is so massive, visitors are worried they may miss some masterpieces book a guided tour.

– The Sistine Chapel is at the end of the Vatican Museums, and you must enter the Museum to visit the Chapel.

– From the Sistine Chapel, a direct passage leads to St. Peter’s Basilica. As a result, you don’t have to stand in line again to get to the basilica.

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Vatican Museum dress code

The Vatican City is a major tourist attraction and a holy site for the Catholic religion.

As a result, the guards enforce strict dress codes at all attractions within the Vatican, including the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Gardens.

The Vatican has a list of items you must avoid during your visit:

– Sleeveless tops
– Lowcut tops exposing the midriff
– Miniskirts
– Shorts above the knee
– Hats

This Vatican dress code applies to both women and men, and the core objective is not to have your shoulders and knees exposed.

Vatican Dress Code
Tourists line up next to a board announcing the dress code to enter the Vatican attractions such as the Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. Image: Vmenkov @ Wikimedia

When your dress is NOT appropriate

If you reach the Vatican Museum in clothes that break the Vatican City’s dress code, don’t worry.

You can purchase plastic cloaks (poncho) which cover your shoulders and knees.

However, wearing such cloaks can be uncomfortable in hot weather.

If you refuse to comply with the Vatican dress code, you will be denied entry even if you already have Vatican Museum entry tickets.

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Vatican Museum entrance

The Vatican Museum’s entrance is on Viale Vaticano (Vaticano Avenue). Directions

It is on the Northern side of the Vatican.

The Museum’s entrance is an arched doorway with sculptured figures on top and MUSEI VATICANI written just below the sculptures.

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Vatican Museum map

Vatican Museums is made up of so many different Museums, galleries, and rooms that you need lots of energy and a good sense of direction to not get lost.

The easiest way is to get a guided tour of the Vatican Museums.

The cheaper option is to be aware of the must-see attractions of Vatican Museums and carry a map along.

A Vatican Museums’ map will save precious time and ensure you don’t miss the masterpieces.

*For a map of accessible areas of the Vatican Museums, click here

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Vatican Gardens

Gardens of Vatican City cover more than half of the Vatican State.

They are popular with tourists because besides being beautiful, they are exclusive too – only a limited number of Vatican Gardens tickets are sold daily.

Vatican Gardens hours

The Vatican Gardens open at 9 am and close at 6 pm from Monday to Saturday.

The Gardens remains closed on Sundays (and other Catholic holidays).

Vatican Gardens tour

All Vatican Garden tickets include access to the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.

The order of the tour is always – the Gardens, Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and finally St Peter’s Basilica.

There are two ways to go around the Vatican Gardens – by walk or by a tour bus.

Vatican Gardens by bus

This ticket gets you a 45-minute tour of the Vatican Gardens, aboard an eco-friendly open bus.

Tourists can sit back and admire the greenery of the private urban gardens and parks, covering more than half of Vatican country.

The bus tour starts at 9 am, 10 am, 1 pm and 2 pm.

An entrance ticket to the Vatican Museums is included.

Cost: €45 (19+ years) and €45 (6 to 18 years)

Vatican Gardens by walk

This ticket gets you a guided stroll in the Vatican Gardens.

After exploring the lush lawns, orchards, and botanical wonders, you get right to the front of the queue for the Vatican Museums entry.

The walking tour through the Gardens of the Vatican start at 9.30 am.

Cost: €50 (18+ years) and €39 (6 to 18 years & students with ID card)

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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.

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This article was researched & written by

Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

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