Vatican Museums · Sistine Chapel · Tickets · Hours

Vatican Museums – we answer frequently asked questions and give practical tips for visiting the Vatican Museums. Read what to consider if you want to visit the Vatican Museums.

With more than six million visitors a year, the Vatican Museums are number five in the world ranking of the most visited sights. The queues at the museum ticket offices were notorious and the museums were often very crowded.

The Vatican Museums have now taken measures to avoid the accumulation of visitors due to the risks associated with the coronavirus. There is therefore no longer a museum ticket office and you have to buy the tickets in advance online. There are only a certain number of tickets for each quarter-hour window. Anyone who is late will not be admitted and the ticket will expire.

Please note that tickets are often fully booked for some time in advance. You should therefore book early.

I Musei Vaticani riaprono dopo il lockdown – The Vatican Museums reopen after lockdown

Video: The Vatican Museums are preparing to reopen

Entrance to the Vatican Museums

You can only reserve online for access to the Vatican Museums. You absolutely have to be on time, otherwise your ticket will expire. You cannot enter the museums before the specified time and the ticket expires after 15 minutes. In addition to your booking, you must have valid ID with you for all participants.

If you have booked a ride on the open bus for the gardens, you have to be at the “Cancello Petriano” 15 minutes before the specified time. It is on the left behind the colonnades of Bernini on the left side of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Before you are admitted, your body temperature is measured. You will not be let in with a temperature of 37.5°C / 99.5°F or more. Masks are also obligatory in museums and gardens and you must keep a minimum distance of 1 m / 3.3 ft from other people. If you do not follow the rules and instructions of the staff of the Vatican Museums, you will have to leave.

See the report of the reopening at the Reuters agency.

Guided tours

Vatican museums routes itineraries
Vatican Museums itineraries pdf (download)

We generally recommend booking a tour or audio guide for the Vatican Museums. This is the only way to correctly grasp the many exhibits and the many details.

The tours usually last three hours. Through a special passage that is only open to guided groups, you can walk directly from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica. However, the passage is currently closed.

This passage makes you save a lot of time because you don’t have to walk back to the entrance through the Vatican Museums and then walk around the museums to St. Peter’s Basilica. You also save yourself the security check at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Vatican Museums movements
The Vatican Museums like my photo on Instagram

The downside is that you can’t see the part of the museums that are on the way back to the entrance. You should also not leave anything in the cloakroom at the entrance to the Vatican Museums, otherwise you will have to return.

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Tickets to the Vatican Museums

Evening in the Vatican Museums, St. Peter's Dome
Evening in the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Dome

The Vatican Museums have greatly reduced the number of admitted visitors to avoid overcrowding the museums. You must therefore book the tickets online in good time.

Admission is free for children under the age of 6 and they do not require a reservation. Adolescents up to 18 years and students up to 25 years pay a reduced entrance fee. You must show proof of age or a student ID upon arrival.

Please note that tickets are often fully booked for some time in advance. You should therefore book early.

Tickets with early admission before the official opening time are something special. When these tickets are available, it’s a very special opportunity to take a leisurely look at the Vatican Museums.

The Vatican Museums are open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Visiting the museums in the evening is particularly impressive.

What you can see in the Vatican Museums

Popes have collected and commissioned works of art for centuries, churchmen worldwide have missionized, researched, collected and reported to Rome in two millennia.

The Vatican Museums include one of the largest and most important collections in the world. The highlight of the visit to the Vatican Museums is the Sistine Chapel. It can only be visited together with the Vatican Museums.

The collection is divided into 26 museums, including the Sistine Chapel. It is therefore impossible to see everything in one day.

Museo Pio Clementino – Pius Clementine Museum

Video: Museo Pio Clemente
Guided tours show the most important parts of the collections. Some tours also include a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is one of the main attractions of the Vatican Museums. A visit to the Sistine Chapel is included in the tickets to the Vatican Museums.

Cappella Sistina – Sistine Chapel


Sistine Chapel entrance

Vatican Museums Google MapsThe Sistine Chapel is right next to St. Peter’s Basilica. However, you can only access it from the Vatican Museums. To get to the Sistine Chapel, you have to walk through the entire length of the Vatican Museums.

The way there leads on the upper level through various galleries such as the gallery of tapestries (arazzi) and the gallery of geographical maps. At the end of the galleries you can either go straight to the Sistine Chapel or you can first visit the rooms painted by Raffaello and the apartment of the Borgia Pope.

Vatican Museums Sistine Chapel No photography allowed
No photography allowed in the Sistine Chapel

Photography is not allowed in the Sistine Chapel. In addition, one should behave quietly, as befits the dignity of the sacred place.

The Vatican Gardens

There are Vatican Gardens at St. Peter’s Basilica and at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

There is a walking tour of the Vatican Gardens near St. Peter’s Basilica that starts at the Vatican Museums. The tour is 2 hours long, therefore you should be able to walk well.

There is also an ecological bus tour that starts to the left of St. Peter’s Basilica at the “Cancello Petriano”. The gate is on the left outside the Bernini colonnade. The tour of the Vatican Gardens is ecological and takes 45 minutes. It is not possible to get out while driving. Children under the age of 6 are not allowed to participate.

Alla scoperta dei Giardini Vaticani – Discovering the Vatican Gardens

The garden in Castel Gandolfo is the garden of Villa Barberini. This garden can also be visited with ecological vehicles.

Opening hours of the Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums View of Rome at full moon
View of Rome at full moon

The Vatican Museums are open Monday – Thursday 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. with last admission at 6:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday the opening hours are 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. with last admission at 8:00 p.m.. From September 14 the Museums open at 9 a.m.

The Vatican Museums are always closed on January 1st + 6th, February 11th, March 19th, Easter Sunday and Monday, May 1st, June 29th, 14th + 15th August, 1st November, 8th, 25th and 26th December.

Dress Code

For entry into the Vatican Museums, clothing regulations and safety regulations must be observed.

Pictogram clothing at sacral sites St. PeterThe dress codes are the same as for all sacral sites in Rome: shoulders and knees must be covered. Strapless dresses and skirts are not allowed, even in off-the-shoulder shirts, mini skirts or hot pants you can not get into the Vatican Museums. Short pants will have to cover your knees. Hats are also not allowed.

You should not have a fever ( 37.5°C / 99,5°F or more), you must wear a mask in the museums and gardens and must keep a minimum distance of 1 m / 3.3 ft. from other people.

In the Vatican Museums, the wearing of weapons is prohibited even with a license. Dangerous items must be handed in at the cloakroom as well as alcoholic beverages. Weapons can not be handed over at the cloakroom. Also backpacks, large bags and luggage must be handed in at the cloakroom.

Eating and drinking in the museums is only allowed in the provided rooms. Telephoning is undesirable in the museums.

Animals may not be taken. Excluded are guide dogs, which must, however, be kept on a leash and must wear a muzzle.

How to get to the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are to the right of St. Peter’s Square, above Piazza del Risorgimento. From St. Peter’s Square it is a half mile walk to the entrance of the Vatican Museums.

Piazza del Risorgimento is the terminus of tram line no. 19, from there it is still a third mile to the entrance. The metro station Cipro of Metrolinie A. is about a quarter mile away.

Right in front of the entrance is the bus line 49, which comes from Piazza Cavour. The line also stops in Via Crescenzio corner Via Terenzio, near to Castel Sant’Angelo.

Access for persons with disabilities

Persons with a certified disability of more than 74% have free admission to the Vatican Museums and the Papal Villa in Castel Gandolfo. If they can not cope alone, an accompanying person is also admitted for free.

The tickets can not be pre-ordered, but will be picked up in the lobby of the Vatican Museums at the counters “Permessi Speciali” or “Reception” on presentation of a certificate of invalidity.

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