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How to Buy Tickets for the Vatican Museums

How to buy tickets for the vatican museums

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If you’re traveling to Rome, the Vatican Museums should be high up on your list of must-see attractions. And ensuring you have your Vatican tickets booked before you get there only makes the experience more enjoyable.

It’s a good idea to book well in advance. But, with all the options available, it may be hard to know where to start noting that the official ticketing site has limited availability, refunds can be difficult, and the booking process can be confusing.

So we’ve put together this guide to help you navigate buying tickets for the Vatican Museums and ensure a stress-free visit to this Rome itinerary staple. We’ll cover everything from when to book your tickets to recommended third-party sellers and frequently asked questions.

So, continue reading to discover how to buy tickets for the Vatican Museums.

Editior’s note – In 2024 standard opening times are expected to move to 8.00am therefore early access tours will then be deemed first access tours. We recommend choosing this option and joining a tour where the guide has the knowledge and expertise to access the Sistine Chapel quickly if that is your focus

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Vatican Museums Tickets and Tours Quick Links

vatican museums tickets

If you’re in a rush and would prefer to get the details ASAP, have a look at this quick summary of our recommendations for the best Vatican tours.

  • Vatican Tickets and Tours on Musei Vaticani (official booking site) > can be confusing to navigate, has limited availability, and getting refunds can be difficult.
  • Vatican Tickets on GetYourGuide (official partner site) > booking policy is fairly flexible, and the site’s more user-friendly. That said, it’s slightly more expensive.
  • Liv Tours > offers private tour options for small groups, with engaging, knowledgeable guides – Take advantage of our 5% off discount using the code – UNTOLDITALY.
  • Take Walks Small Entrance Group or VIP Key Masters Tour > join a small group for a Sistine Chapel tour or join the key masters in opening the Chapel.
  • Tiqets > their simple, easy-to-use website with a good cancellation policy but slightly higher ticket prices.
  • Viator > industry-leading flexibility, user-friendly, and slightly more expensive due to the added convenience.

DISCOVER: more about the VIP Vatican Keymaster’s tour

Vatican Museum Tickets or Tour?

sistine chapel tickets

Should you go with a fully guided tour or just purchase entry tickets? An entry ticket is quite limiting as you walk through mostly unmarked galleries and leave having learned almost nothing.

To get the most value out of your visit, we recommend taking a tour instead. Taking this approach means you enjoy the full experience of the museum and its 20,000+ artworks with a knowledgeable tour guide. Guides can offer fascinating and lesser-known insights and answer any questions you may have.

Certain guided tours with partner companies also offer skip-the-line access and exclusive access to areas like the Sistine Chapel before they open to the public. 

What Does Your Vatican Museums Ticket Include?

tickets for sistine chapel

The basic ticket to enter the Vatican includes:

  • Access to the museums’ galleries, including the Sistine Chapel
  • Access to the Vatican Gardens
  • Access to the Christian Museum
  • Access to the Profane Museum

Buy Tickets on the Official Vatican Museums Site

You can buy tickets directly from the official site, Musei Vaticani. But, navigating this site and booking tickets can be frustrating.

  • Pros of booking on Musei Vaticani site – lower prices and various ticket options available.
  • Cons of booking on Musei Vaticani site – the website doesn’t offer a pleasant user experience, and it’s mainly in Italian, making it difficult for non-speakers to navigate from the homepage. Obtaining a refund is quite challenging.

Vatican Museums Tickets via an Official Partner

Tickets sell out quickly on the Vatican website. Thankfully, there are a few other places to secure your tickets. Booking tickets to the Vatican through an official, trusted partner is the best way to ensure a secure experience and avoid scams.

  • Pros of booking via official partners – Official partners offer easy, user-friendly sites and flexible cancellation policies. There are also a variety of tours and ticket options to suit your needs. Often, you’ll only be able to secure a ticket with a partner site.
  • Cons of booking via official partners – tickets cost slightly more than buying Vatican Museum tickets directly from the official website, as you’re paying for the added convenience.

Recommended Vatican Museums Tours

tickets for the vatican museums

The best way to understand the cultural context and appreciate over 500 years of art and history is to join a guided Vatican tour, as the exhibits are quite plain and hard to understand without one.

When considering which tour to book, consider which sites in Vatican City the tour will cover, the tour style, and the duration of your tour.

Official tour partners have to go through a rigorous examination process to obtain their licenses, so you can trust that you’re getting value for money on your tour. Below are some recommended options to consider. 

  • Official Tours via Musei Vaticani – these last 30 minutes and allow a maximum group size of 10 people. Their €17.00 ticket only provides entry to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. 
  • Liv Tours – This Rome-based company offers a Skip-the-line Highlights of the Vatican tour for groups of up to a maximum of six people. This semi-private guided tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel draws you into over 2,000 years of history, from antiquity to the Renaissance, ending in the early 17th century. 

You’ll learn fascinating tidbits and stories surrounding the artworks, such as the fresco maps and rich tapestries that adorn the Museum. Plus! Get 5% off with our code, UNTOLDITALY.

  • Take Walks Skip the Line Vatican Highlights tour – This tour focuses on enriching visitors with captivating stories and anecdotes. Marvel at classical artworks by Michelangelo and Bernini, all while learning about their origins and history. 
  • CityWonders – Offering a skip-the-line tour of the Vatican, their expert tour guides take you on a journey to experience the Vatican in all its glory. This tour takes you to the Pinecone Courtyard, with the interesting pagan symbol of fertility planted in its center. 

The tour guides will also lead you to the Gallery of Tapestries, where stunning displays of tapestries abound. Afterward, explore the rest of the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel.

Vatican Museums Tickets FAQ

Do You Need to Buy Vatican Museums Tickets in Advance?

Yes, you need to buy Vatican tickets in advance. It is no longer possible to show up on the day and stand in line to purchase tickets. All tickets purchased are effectively skip the line Vatican Museums tickets so the benefit is faster access. 

Do I Need a Separate Ticket to Visit St Peter’s Basilica?

How to buy tickets for the vatican museums

No. A separate ticket is not required to visit St Peter’s Basilica which is free to enter however if you’d like to visit Michelangelo’s dome and the Necropolis you need to purchase separate entrance tickets. Note that it’s standard procedure for security to search your bags at the security checkpoint before you enter the church and this is not part of the ticketing system.

TIP: before entering the basilica, try to follow the dress code by wearing clothing that covers your knees and shoulders. 

When Do Vatican Museums Tickets Go on Sale?

Vatican tickets typically go on sale about two months in advance on the official site. But tickets are often sold out by that time, so it may help to look out for them earlier from official partners.

Can You Buy Vatican Museums Tickets on the Day?

There are no longer tickets available at the door – you must book them online. You can try to book your Vatican tickets online in the morning of your visit, although you may need fast fingers for that. Your best bet for last-minute tickets will be to take a look at trusted third-party providers.

What Are the Vatican Museums’ Opening Hours?

vatican museums tickets

The Vatican Museums are open from 09:00 until 18:00, Mondays through Saturdays.  Opening hours in 2024 are expected to change to 8am. We will update this page as more information becomes available. The museums are closed on Sundays, except for the last Sunday of the month and on special occasions.

The museums also have extended opening hours until 22:30 from the 24th to the 30th of April and the 5th of May – the 28th of October.

What Is the Best Time to Visit the Vatican Museums?

The Vatican Museums can get busy and crowded. The best time to visit to avoid the crowds is usually on Tuesday, as this day tends to be the quietest.

Try to avoid the free admission on the last Sunday of the month unless you’re prepared for throngs of tourists.

Are There Any Discounts or Free Entry to the Vatican Museums

The last Sunday of every month is free, but it’s not a good time to visit as it’s usually very busy. That said, children between the ages of six and 18 have free admission to the Vatican Palace.

Employees — both in service and/or retired — of all Offices, Dicasteries, and other entities of the Holy See and/or Vatican City State are admitted free of charge (but only upon presentation of identity document).

Priests, seminarians, and novices are also admitted for free (upon presentation of valid documentation).

Do I Need to Print My Vatican Museums Tickets?

No. If you purchased a ticket from the Vatican Museums website, you don’t need to print it. Just show the voucher on your phone.

Is the Sistine Chapel Included in My Ticket to the Vatican Museums?

sistine chapel tickets

Yes, a regular ticket includes the Chapel, the Gregorian Egyptian Museum, and the Borgia Apartments in Vatican City. So there’s no need to purchase separate tickets for the Sistine Chapel or any of the other mentioned sites.

Can I stay close to the Vatican?

tickets for sistine chapel

Yes, here is our recommendation for the best hotels near the Vatican and we also recommend staying near The Pantheon if you want to be near the Vatican and Rome’s other top sites. Or, for other options, see our detailed guide on where to stay in Rome to choose the best location for your trip.

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