Opening hours St. Peter’s basilica, dome and grottoes, an overview.
Entrance Vatican · Opening hours St. Peter’s square
St. Peter’s Square is generally open and accessible day and night. Depending on the event, however, there are reserved areas that are closed off. The admission to St. Peter’s Square is always free of cost.
Bernini designed the colonnades around St. Peter’s Square in such a way that pilgrims can find shelter in it. Pope Francis has also set up washrooms on the right side of the colonnades.
St. Peter’s Basilica is always open every day and admission is free. All visitors must wear suitable clothing to cover the shoulders and knees. The opening hours are:
April – September 7 am – 7 pm
October – March 7 am – 6:30 pm
St. Peter’s Basilica is closed to the public on the days of the general audience until about 1 pm and during Holy masses and the Angelus prayer of the Pope. All dates can be found in my
To avoid the long queues at the security checkpoints, you can book the preferred entrance to the St. Peter’s Basilica with audio guide.
Concerning the opening hours of St. Peter’s Dome and Grottoes, in the case of the closing of St. Peter’s Basilica, the dome and the grottos are also closed. This applies in particular to the Wednesday audiences, the Pope’s Mass and the Angelus prayer on Sunday.
Entrance Vatican · Best time to visit St. Peter’s Basilica
In principle, it is the quietest in the morning in St. Peter’s Basilica. You do not have to expect queues at the security checkpoints until about 8:30.
As a rule, St. Peter’s Basilica is not accessible on Wednesday morning, when the Papal Audience takes place in St. Peter’s Square, and on Sunday at Pope’s Masses.
However, there are a few reasons why you might not want to visit St. Peter’s in the early morning:
Grottoes: Even if the grottoes are officially open from 7 o’clock, they are usually only accessible later, because liturgical celebrations are held.
Dome: If you want to photograph from the dome, you have to know that the city of Rome is against the light in the morning. On the other hand, one naturally prefers to climb the dome in the morning because it is cooler then.
Entrance Vatican · Opening hours St. Peter’s dome
For access to the dome of St. Peter’s the following opening hours apply:
April – September 8 am – 6 pm
October – March 8 am – 5 pm
Entrance fee is payable for access to the dome, 8 euros for ascent on foot or 10 euros for the lift ride up to the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica.
On the occasion of the celebrations of the Holy Father, the same closures such as for St. Peter’s during the Pope’s Masses, the General Audiences and the Angelus Prayer (see above) apply to the dome.
Access to the dome of St. Peter is located right by the St. Peter’s Basilica above the visitor centre.
Entrance Vatican · Opening hours of the grottoes
The grottoes open at 7, but are accessible only for liturgical celebrations. In general it can be said that the grottoes are never accessible to visitors before 9, often even later. The grottoes can be found closed at any time for liturgical celebrations.
With a little luck, you can hope to find the grottoes open at the following times:
April – September 9-18
October – March 9-17
The grottoes are usually accessible from the transept of St. Peter’s Basilica. Admission is free. Sometimes, the grottoes are accessible from the outside, on the left from the entrance to the dome.
Entrance Vatican · Opening hours of the Treasury
April – September 9 am – 6:15 pm
October – March 9 am – 5:15 pm
The Treasury is located in the Basilica on the left side.
Entrance Vatican · Opening hours of the necropolis
The necropolis of the 1st century is located below the grottoes and can be visited only with advance reservation and with guide. The minimum age of visitors is 15 years. To visit the necropolis online booking is available.
Entrance Vatican · Opening hours of the mosaic Studios
The mosaic studio is part of the factory of St. Peter’s and can only be visited by appointment. This exclusive tour can be ordered online here.
Entrance Vatican · Opening hours of the Vatican gardens
Vatican Gardens are both in the Vatican and in the summer residence of the Popes Castel Gandolfo. Tickets for the Vatican Gardens in Rome are available in combination with the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.