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

Image: DanFLCreativo

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

The Vatican Museum has 70,000 artifacts, out of which 20,000 are on display in 54 different galleries, with 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 before buying Vatican Museum tickets.

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 on all sides.

It is only 44 hectares (108 acres) and shares a 3.2 Kms (2 Mile) 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

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 through the day.

By Rome Metro

To reach the Vatican Museums by Rome Metro, you need to 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 down at Ottaviano metro stop because thats the first to come, while travelling from Rome.

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

That’s why we highly recommend you get down at Ottaviano to reach the Vatican Museums.

Both 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 from right in front of the Termini Train station and end at the Vatican.

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

You can also board bus 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 on your hands, and you are in Central Rome, we recommend walking it to the Vatican Museums.

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

It is a pleasant walk, over the River Tiber and you also get to see Castel Sant Angelo from outside.


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Vatican Museum entrance

The Vatican Museums entrance is on Viale Vaticano (that’s 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 queues explained

“In which Vatican Museum queue should I stand?” is a question most visitors have.

At the place for Vatican Museum entry, you will spot three lines, and it is very reasonable to get confused.

In this section, we explain 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 in advance (yes, you can buy them online!) stand in this line.

In the Vatican city map above, you will see a black, dotted line starting from the Museum entrance – that’s how far this queue of tourists without tickets stretches.

Waiting in these long queues at the Vatican Museums ticket counter can get really tiring. Besides, you also waste a lot of your time. Image: Paul & Carolyn’s

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, at the last minute – once they see the long lines at the ticket counter.

Vatican does offer same day tickets. To buy, click here

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.

This is the Vatican Museum entrance for visitors who have already booked their tickets online. Image: Italy-museum.com

Thus you end up saving 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 are required to meet your guide and group at a specific meeting point near the entrance.

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

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

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

The Rome Tourist Pass is a super saver. For just €74 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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Vatican Museum hours

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 need to go through the Vatican Museums to visit 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 (29th June), the Christmas Day and The Feast of Saint Stephen (26th 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 Vatican Museums is as soon as they open at 9 am.

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

If you plan to buy your tickets at the venue, late afternoon (1.30 to 3.30 pm) is a much better time to visit the Museums because by then the legendary queues are gone.

Longest lines at the Vatican Museums

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

And 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 up 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 Sistine Chapel & Saint Peter’s Basilica

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

If you are planning 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 Years.

Therefore late November to early December and mid-January to late February is 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 end up visiting on a 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 last Sunday of the month should be avoided because that’s when it is open to the public for free.

There might be more crowd on Mondays and Saturdays than Tuesdays and Thursdays because of them being closer to weekends.


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How long does the Vatican Museum take

The time taken to visit the Vatican depends on two factors:

1. Where you buy your Vatican Museum tickets
2. What do you want to see

Let’s help you understand this better –

Where you buy the tickets

When you buy your Vatican Museum tickets in advance, you don’t wait in long lines at the ticket counter.

And since you don’t waste up to two hours waiting in ticketing lines, the duration of your trip to the Vatican gets cut short by two hours.

What you plan to see

There are four main attractions in the Vatican – the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square.

Some visitors explore 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 and visit all the four attractions on the same day.

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

AttractionTime it takes
Vatican Museums2 hours
Sistine Chapel30 minutes
St. Peter’s Square30 minutes
St Peter’s Basilica1 hour

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

Things to keep in mind

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

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

– 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 the lines again, to get to the Basilica.


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Vatican Museums tickets

Your experience at Vatican Museums depends on the type of ticket you buy and when you buy.

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.

The second and better option is to book tickets to Vatican Museums online.

When you buy Vatican Museums tickets in advance, you save yourself a lot of waiting time by skipping the ticket counter queue. 

How online tickets work

When you buy Vatican Museums entry tickets online, they get emailed to you within minutes of the purchase.

On the day of your visit, you can show your ticket on your smartphone and walk in — no need to take printouts.

Vatican Museum discounts

Vatican Museum’s Skip the Line ticket, the cheapest and most popular way to enter the museum, costs 22 Euros for all adults 18 years and older.

Kids six to 18 years and students up to 25 years old (with a valid student ID) must pay a discounted price of 14 Euros for their admission.

While availing of these 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.

Kids below six years can walk in for free.

Cheapest Vatican Museum tickets

These are also known as Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel tickets because they get you access to both the attractions.

After you have seen both, you can also go and explore St Peter’s Basilica.

You can book these tickets with or without the audio guide.

Ticket Price

Adult ticket (18+ years): €22
Kids ticket (6 to 17 years): €14
Student ticket (18 to 25 years, with valid ID): €14

*For €5.40 per person you can book an audio guide in advance
*Kids younger than six can walk in for free.

Vatican Museum guided tour

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

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

This guided tour is available in both English and Italian.

Guided tour price

Adult ticket (19+ years): €36
Kids ticket (6 to 18 years):
€25
Student ticket (18 to 25 years, with valid ID):
€25
Infant ticket (up to 5 years): Free entry

For the ultimate Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel VIP experience, check out this guided tour with a dedicated entrance.

Vatican Museum private tour

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

Since these private tours are booked in advance, you get to avoid the notoriously long lines at the ticket counter.

This private tour of the Vatican is the most popular amongst visitors.

If you want something cheaper, you can check out this semi-private tour of the Vatican.

If you are a group of friends or a large family, this ultimate VIP Private tour will work out best.

Vatican Museum night tour

From April to October, every Friday the Vatican Museums are open from 7 pm to 11 pm.

During this guided 3-hour night tour, you also get to explore Sistine Chapel.

The last entry for the night tour is at 9.30 pm.

This exclusive tour is limited to 18 people per group.

Because of the pandemic, the night tours are now paused.

Last minute Vatican Museum tickets

Many visitors end up searching 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 4 Euros more than the regular tickets, but most visitors don’t care as long as they get to visit the Vatican Museum.

Because of the pandemic, the night tours are now paused.

Tickets price

Adult ticket (18+ years): 33 Euros
Child ticket (6 to 17 years): 23 Euros


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Vatican tickets FAQs

Here are a few questions on Vatican Museum tickets, which almost every visitor asks.

  1. When is entry to the Vatican Museum free?


    On the last on the Sunday of every month, the Vatican Museums are open and free for everyone.

    On such free entry days, the Vatican Museums open at 9 am and close at 2 pm. The last entry is at 12:30 pm.

    On free entry Sundays you can’t pre-book Vatican tour tickets and lines can be very long.

    Vatican Museum is free to enter on World Tourism Day as well, which falls on 27 September every year.

    Some of the exceptions include Easter Sunday, as well as June 29, December 25, or December 26 if they fall on a Sunday. 

  2. Are Skip the Line Vatican 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 2 hours of waiting in the sun they are worth it.

  3. Where to buy Vatican museum tickets?


    You can buy Vatican Museum tickets from the official ticket counter just outside the museum or purchase them online. 

    If you decide to buy at the official ticket counter, you will have to stand in lines as long as 500 meters (0.3 Miles), and the waiting time can go up to 2 hours.

    That’s why we recommend you buy Vatican Museum tickets online.

  4. Are Vatican Museum tickets timed?


    While booking a Vatican Museum ticket, you must opt for a time slot.

    On the day of your visit, you get 30 minutes grace time on either side of the time mentioned on your ticket.

    For instance, if the time on your ticket is 2 pm, you can visit the Vatican Museum anytime between 1.30 pm and 2.30 pm.

  5. Where can one get Vatican Museum ticket discounts?


    The biggest discounts are available at the Vatican Museum’s ticketing office.

    But by buying the tickets online, you save yourself up to two hours of waiting in the sun.

    You can buy your Vatican ticket at a discounted rate if you qualify any of the following conditions:

    – Kids between the ages of 6 and 18 years
    – Priests and Seminarians
    – Holy See or Vatican State employees

    Disabled visitors with certified invalidity of more than 74% qualify for 100% discount and enter the Vatican Museums for free.

    Their companion can also accompany them inside for free.

  6. Does Vatican Museum offer ticket discount for seniors?


    Unfortunately, the Vatican doesn’t offer any discounts for senior citizens.

  7. What does the Vatican Museum ticket include?


    A regular Vatican Museum ticket gets you access to all the exhibits in the Museum, the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Square and St Peter’s Basilica.

    Once you enter the Museum, you can stay inside for as long as you want.

  8. Is St. Peter’s Basilica included in the Vatican 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 end up wasting a lot of time in the long lines.

    We recommend that you buy a Vatican Museums ticket, explore them, and then follow the crowd as they move towards the St Peter’s Basilica through an indoor route.

    St. Peter’s Basilica is closed on Wednesday mornings because the Pope meets the people.

  9. Are Vatican Gardens included in Vatican Museum tickets?


    No, access to the Vatican Gardens is not part of the Vatican Museum tickets.

    To visit the Gardens, you need to buy the Vatican Gardens ticket, which besides the Gardens also gets you access to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.

  10. Do I need to take a printout of Vatican Museum tickets?


    No, you don’t have to. At the Vatican Museum entrance, you can show the voucher in the email and go through the security check.

    Once you pass security, at a desk you need to show your voucher again and get a physical ticket.

    For this, you must wait in a small line of people like you who had pre-purchased their tickets.


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Vatican Museum dress code

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

As a result, the guards enforce strict dress code 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.

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 knee.

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

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


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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 be aware of the must-see attractions of Vatican Museums and carry a map along.

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

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


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Vatican Gardens

If you are in Rome, you must visit the Vatican Gardens. 

They are also known as Gardens of Vatican City and cover more than half of the Vatican State.

It is popular with tourists because besides being beautiful they are exclusive too – only a limited number of Vatican Gardens tickets are sold every day.

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 also 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.

Walking tour of the Vatican Gardens

Vatican Gardens walking tours happen in the forenoon so that you can follow them up with your visit to the other Vatican attractions.

On Wednesdays, you can’t book a walking tour of the Gardens because the Pope meets the people in Saint Peter’s Square.

There are two kinds of walking tours you can choose from:

DurationStarting timeDays
5 hours8.30 amMon, Fri & SatBook Now
3 hours10.30 amMon, Tue, Fri & SatBook Now

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

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Pooja Das: She has a passion for both traveling and photography, which help her document her memories forever. She loves to explore city streets taking in the people, the colors, and the culture surrounding her. Occasionally she loves to step away from the hustle-bustle of urban lifestyle, and chill-out either alone or with friends. Favorite Cities: Istanbul, London, Marrakech, Venice

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