Detailed Itinerary Vatican in a Day Tour with Sistine Chapel
For those who appreciate fine art and religious history
This five hour complete Vatican tour includes skip the line tickets, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica and hidden gems that include the Pinacoteca and Papal Tombs. Make the most of your time in Vatican City.
- Skip the Line Vatican Tickets
- Sistine Chapel
- Vatican Museums
- Pinecone Courtyard
- Vatican Pinacoteca
- Laocoön and His Sons
- Nero's Bath
- Belvedere Torso
- Gallery of the Candelabra
- Gallery of the Tapestries
- Gallery of Maps
- Raphael Rooms
- Borgia Apartments
- St. Peter's Basilica
- La Pietà by Michelangelo
- Baldacchino by Bernini
- The Underground Crypts
If you're a major art history nerd or history buff and you want to experience the Vatican Museums as in-depth as possible, this is the best Vatican tour for you. On the Detailed Itinerary Vatican Tour, skip the regular entrance line and visit the best highlights and hidden gems of the Vatican Museums. With the help of a passionate Vatican guide, learn the most interesting and bizarre stories related to the Vatican City State, the popes, the collections housed at the Vatican Museums. This five-hour tour includes:
- Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel
- Skip the line early access Vatican Museums tickets
- A professional English-speaking guide
- Skip the line entrance to St. Peter's Basilica
Some delays at the security check may occur during the busiest months, June and July. We do, however, have a team of experts at the Vatican every morning to help our groups avoid delays as much as possible.
If you wish to stay in the Vatican Museums toward the end of your tour, you must forgo the guided visit to St. Peter’s Basilica. If you choose to do this, you’ll lose the chance to use the special entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica from the Sistine Chapel and skip the lines with your guide. If you decide to leave the tour early, remember to return your headset to the tour guide.
Want to skip the line at the Vatican without having a guided tour? Click here for skip the line Vatican tickets.
Michelangelo’s Masterpiece - The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is one of the most famous sites in the world due to the monumental fresco paintings that cover the walls and ceiling. If you book this Detailed Itinerary Vatican tour in the morning, it includes early access privileges. This means you get to visit the Sistine Chapel before it’s open to the general public. Originally known as the Cappella Magna, the Sistine Chapel is located inside the Vatican Museums.
The private chapel of the pope, this is also where cardinals from around the world gather to elect a new pope. Now restored, every detail and color in the frescoes is easily admired. The best way to see the chapel is by entering as early as possible. Consequently, this is why an early access, skip the line Vatican tour is your best option to experience Michelangelo’s masterpiece.
The Sistine Chapel is a place of worship, therefore, speaking inside is not allowed. Since our guide cannot explain the frescoes while you are inside, we explain the chapel in advance and provide you with a map/handout for reference before you enter. Men and women must cover their knees and shoulders before entering. We understand the summers in Rome get hot, a good alternative is to bring a scarf or shawl to cover up with before you enter.
The Vatican Pinacoteca
One of the most rewarding rooms at the Vatican Museums is the Pinacoteca, also known as the Vatican Art Gallery. Arranged through a series of rooms, in chronological order and divided by art school, the Pinacoteca is home to some of the most impressive paintings in the Vatican. Get up close and personal to a total of 460 works of art, painted by the likes of Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian and Leonardo. The Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery) is one of the more modern sections of the Vatican Museums. This is why it's often overlooked by other Vatican tours. Not for you though, you get to experience it all!
The Carriage Pavilion
Another hidden gem of the Vatican, rarely visited by Vatican tours, is the Carriage Pavilion. This underground exhibit houses an impressive collection of historical vehicles used by different popes, including a Fiat Campagnola. This Fiat is known around the world because this is where Pope John Paul II was standing on the day of his attempted assassination in St. Peter’s Square back in 1981. The collection also contains three Popemobiles and the Renault 4 donated to Pope Francis in 2013.
Pio-Clementino Museum Tour
Next up is a visit to the Bramante Courtyard. Designed by Bramante Lazzari, this part of the Vatican Museums is home to the "Apollo Belvedere", "Laocoön and His Sons" and the "Belvedere Torso". Learn about the myths and legends associated with these iconic sculptures, before visiting the biggest and oldest bathtubs in existence. Nero's Bathtub measures an incredible 25 feet in diameter. The massive tub is made from a rare red marble so precious, there's no way to recreate it again.
Top Three Vatican Galleries
Explore the Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of the Tapestries and our personal favorite, the Gallery of the Maps. Back in the day, pontiffs rarely left Rome. In order to explore the Italian peninsula without endangering his life, Pope Gregory XIII commissioned 40 giant meticulous maps. Most of these maps measure more than 15 by 16 feet, and the end result is nothing short of spectacular.
Raphael, one of the most famous Renaissance artists, designed and frescoed a series of papal apartments now called the Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms). One of the most celebrated works on display here is the "School of Athens" - a painting that represents a gathering of the greatest mathematicians, philosophers and scientists. In an early version of a selfie, Raphael included himself in the painting.
Downstairs from the Raphael Rooms and occupied by Borgia Pope Alexander VI, these private chambers were frescoed by early Renaissance artist Pinturicchio. A co-pupil of Raphael’s under master Perugino, Pinturicchio had a penchant for embedding fake jewels and other three dimensional objects like metal saddle studs in his frescoes. The Borgia Apartments also contain another hidden gem - the first European depiction of Native Americans.
St. Peter's Basilica and the Papal Tombs
Except on Wednesdays
Skip the lines to St. Peter’s Basilica and enter through a special door to enter the most opulent church in the world. Once inside, admire celebrated artwork including the Baldacchino, La Pieta, the Statue of St. Peter and more. Then, go underneath the church’s floors to visit the tombs of hundreds of Popes, as well as a Swedish Queen who converted to Roman Catholicism. Learn the stories behind some of the most fascinating leaders of the Roman Catholic church, as you visit their final resting places. Please note: if your Vatican tour lands on a Wednesday, St. Peter's is not open for tours. This is because Papal Mass takes place on Wednesday mornings.
Remember, it isn’t possible to return to the Vatican Museums from St. Peter’s Basilica. If you want more time inside the museums, you must forgo the guided tour of the basilica. Also, if you’d like to stay in St. Peter's Basilica longer, don't leave with the guide to take photos in the piazza. Because the security line is long and re-entry on your own is not recommended, we suggest you stay inside St. Peter’s and explore on your own after the tour concludes.
What you get with this tour
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4.96 / 5 based on 80 total reviews
Elle was a great passionate guide. Very much worth the price to beat the crowd.
The Most Amazing Tour I have Ever Taken!
One of the most compelling reasons for wanting to go to Rome for me was to see Vatican City and really get into the experience. This tour did not remotely disappoint. I left St. Peter's Basilica the the feeling that I really had fulfilled my wish to get a full and deep experience of the history, art, sculpture, and religion of the place. Starting outside the Vatican Museums, I met our guide and the three other tour guests, and our quintet immediately went to stand in the short line for groups. As we waited for the opening, our guide began explaining all about the history of the Sistene Chapel's construction, the discord between the Papacy and Michaelangelo over painting it, and the imagery, so as to have given us enough to really understand it before we actually got there and so we could have as much time as possible to be there to admire it and take it in. By the time we got there, we were among maybe 20-25 other people in there at the time. We were able to maneuver without bumping into other tourists, to sit quietly and admire the chapel from the benches around the room with unobstructed views, and to really find peace in enjoying it. Later, when we went back to get to the Basilica, we passed through again when a least a couple hundred people were inside, and it would have been a completely different experience. That alone made this tour worth it. But things didn't at all stop there - we had entire galleries and rooms to ourselves many times, and were able to admire art that we would have been fighting to even glimpse much of the time. Our tour guide (and I'm terrible with names, so my sincere apologies!) had a background in archaeology and, if not a degree in art history, then surely a sincere love for it. She was well-read and extremely knowledgeable about everything from the tapestries and maps to the furniture, symbols, documents, floors, ceilings, paintings, and architecture of this amazing place. She could recant stories of popes and artists with as much detail and ease as she could point out favorite sculptures and the details in the paint on some of the cabinets (once holding documents, but in at least one instance, now a broom closet!). She also gave us a moment for a break and an espresso halfway through the tour, and helped me with buying a copy of her well-used book about the art of Michaelangelo and Raphael in the Vatican - recounting a story to me about her grandfather's first edition of the same book she had read and used until it fell apart! There was so much to see, and yet the pace of the five-hours-plus walking tour never really seemed to be too fast or rushed. It was just right. Even the spot where we ended was perfect - at the cross roads between the ticket line for the climb to the top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica (551 steps, and the views were amazing!), a bookshop, and a place to sit and rest a moment next to a public water fountain. I am still digesting everything I got to see and experience here, and I expect to remember this trip and this particular tour for a very long time to come. It was incredible!
Our tour guide was knowledgeable, enthusiastic and helpful. Thank you!
RUSSELL C. WELLS
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to meet?
In front of Caffé Vaticano – on Viale Vaticano, 100. This is across the street from the Vatican Museum Entrance. A representative will be there holding a sign with our company name on it.
What to bring?
The Vatican dress code dictates you cover your knees and shoulders. If you do not meet the dress code, you may be denied entry! No need to dress like the people living there, covering your knees and shoulders is sufficient. Wear comfortable shoes.
Q: Is there a dress code to enter the religious sites on this tour?
A: We ask both men and women to cover knees and shoulders, otherwise you may be refused entry to religious sites and miss out on a portion of your tour. We understand the summers in Rome can be hot, so a great alternative is to bring a shawl/scarf/sweater with you. That way, you can cover your knees and shoulders when necessary.
Q: Does this tour always include St. Peter's Basilica?
A: St. Peter's Basilica is closed on Wednesday's in the morning due to the papal audience. We still run the tour because it might be your only day in Rome! Instead, we visit some of the most iconic statues in the world and Emperor Nero's enormous marble bathtub.
Q: Does the tour go inside at 7:30 am without waiting in any lines?
A: As an accredited tour operator we do not have to wait in the ticket line, but we still have to wait in a security line. For this reason, we leave the meeting point as early as possible and get in the security line reserved for tour operators. The doors open for us at 8 am, an hour before the general public.
Q: What are the chances my tour will be canceled or the Vatican will close something?
A: We run the tour rain or shine all year round. Although it is rare, sometimes part of the Vatican City closes for special religious events. If an area normally covered on a tour is closed, our guide will still provide explanations of the closed areas from outside. Plus, we will show you an extra site or gallery to compensate.
Q: I have some doubts about my mobility. Is this tour right for me?
A: If you have any doubts about your mobility, we strongly suggest you take a private Vatican tour.
Q: Is there a way to see the Vatican without a guided tour?
A: Of course. Click here for skip the line Vatican tickets.
Q: Does this tour always visit every artwork listed?
Often artwork undergoes restorations or is loaned to another museum as an exhibit. Our itinerary will include the stop if it is open to be seen. If not, we will add a substitute.