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Opening hours St. Peter’s Basilica, dome and grottoes

Opening hours St. Peter’s basilica, dome and grottoes, an overview.

Entrance Vatican · Opening hours St. Peter’s square

Opening hours St. Peter's Basilica, dome and grottoes
St. Peter’s square with seats cordoned-off, behind the queues before the security controls

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.

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.

Entrance Vatican · Opening hours St. Peter’s Basilica – Basilica di San Pietro

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 during the General Audiences, as well as during the Pontifical Masses and the Angelus prayers of the Pope. The General Audiences always takes place on Wednesday when the Pope is in Rome, and St. Peter’s Basilica is not accessible until about 12 noon. The Angelus prayer takes place on most Sundays and religious holidays at 12 o’clock. All dates can be found in my

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 Masses and the Angelus Prayer on Sunday.

Entrance Vatican · Admission fees St. Peter’s Basilica 2019

Admission charge St. Peter’s Basilica: Admission to St. Peter’s Basilica is free of cost. Admission to the Pope’s Mass and Pope’s audiences is also free. The free tickets to the Pope’s Masses and the Pope’s general audiences must be ordered in advance in good time.

To avoid the long queues at the security checkpoints, you can book the preferred entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica with audio guide or with guided tour. This service is offered by the official Visitor Service of St. Peter’s Basilica. The preferred entry to St. Peter’s Basilica with Audioguide costs 19.50 euros. Persons with disabilities can use the preferential lane to the security control of St. Peter’s free of charge. The preferred entrance is under the right arcade behind the post office of the Vatican.


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.

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