Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel
Enter a Full Hour Before General Opening
As one of our bestselling Rome tours, this early access Vatican Museums tour skips the regular line and goes straight to Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Led by a professional English-speaking guide, see the best galleries and St. Peter's Basilica.
What you get with this tour
What you will see on this tour
- Sistine Chapel
- Michelangelo's Masterpieces
- Vatican Museums
- 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
- Laocoön and His Sons
- Nero's Bath
- Belvedere Torso
Our Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour starts at 7:30 a.m. and we enter the Vatican Museums just after 8 a.m (an hour earlier than general public access). As a result, witness the jaw-dropping Sistine Chapel before the masses stream in. After visiting the Sistine Chapel, our professional English-speaking guide will take you back through the highlights of the Vatican Museums. Then pass back through the Sistine Chapel and head to St. Peter’s Basilica. One of our most popular Rome tours, this 3.5-hour Vatican tour includes:
- - Skip the line Vatican tickets
- - Small group size
- - 7:30 a.m. start for entry shortly after 8 a.m.
- - A professional English-speaking guide
- - Skip the line entrance to St. Peter's Basilica (except on Wednesdays)
Short delays at the security check may occur during our busiest months, often during the summer. We do, however, have a team of experts at the Vatican every morning to help our groups avoid delays as much as possible. At 7:30 a.m., meet your guide who will explain the Sistine Chapel while you prepare to enter the museums when the doors open for special groups at 8 a.m.
The Sistine Chapel
First stop is a visit to the Sistine Chapel before it’s open to the general public. Since the Sistine Chapel is inside the Vatican Museums, it’s included in your Vatican Museums ticket. When you enter the Sistine Chapel, you’ll realize our descriptions cannot do this incredible work justice. As well as being one of Michelangelo’s most prized masterpieces, the Sistine Chapel also serves as a gathering place for cardinals of the Catholic Church. This is also where new popes are elected - including Pope Francis! The Sistine Chapel is a place of worship, so speaking inside is forbidden. Don’t worry though, your guide will provide you with a map/handout for reference before you enter.
The Sistine Chapel is a sacred place, so both men and women must cover their knees and shoulders. Otherwise, you may be refused entry to a portion of your Vatican tour. We understand the summers in Rome are hot - a great alternative is to bring a shawl/sweater to wrap around you when necessary.
The Best Galleries at the Vatican
Led by our guide, visit our favorite galleries including the Borgia Apartments, Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of the Tapestries and the Gallery of the Maps. Predating a unified Italy by nearly 300 years and based on painted topographical maps of Italy, the Gallery of the Maps is one of the coolest places in the Vatican Museums. One of these frescoes contains the image of a sea monster - see if you can spot it!
The term Renaissance literally means "rebirth" and refers to the period of European civilization that produced a great revival in art, literature and learning. Raphael was one of Rome's most famous Renaissance artists who encompassed all the ideals of a Renaissance man. He designed and frescoed multiple rooms connected to the Vatican Museums. Among other masterpieces, you’ll see one of Raphael’s most famous works of art, The School of Athens.
Skip the Line St. Peter’s Basilica
Except on Wednesdays
St. Peter's Basilica is the grand centerpiece of the Vatican. Imagine walking into the biggest church you've ever seen, filled with artwork from all the famous Italian artists you learned about in school. Skip the lines that wait outside in St Peter's Square as you access the basilica from the inside, through a special side entrance our guides can use. Once inside, admire masterpieces that include the Baldacchino, La Pieta, the statue of St. Peter and more. While it is free to enter, this guided tour helps you make the most of it, without suffering the long lines.
Important: If you wish to stay in the Vatican Museums toward the end of your tour, you must forgo the guided visit of 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, please remember to return your headset to the tour guide. In addition, if you follow our guide to St. Peter’s and would like to stay in the basilica longer, or would like to climb the St. Peter's Dome on your own, do not leave with your guide to take photos in the piazza once the tour is over. The regular security line is long and re-entry on your own is not recommended.
Pio-Clementino Museum and Nero’s Bathtub
On Wednesdays Only
If you take the Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour on a Wednesday, St. Peter's Basilica is substituted with a visit to the Pio-Clementino Museum and three of the most iconic statues in existence. Learn about the myths and legends associated with the Apollo Belvedere, Laocoön and His Sons and the Belvedere Torso. You'll also visit one of the biggest and oldest bathtubs you'll ever see, which is impossible to recreate, even today!
We are recommended by Rick Steves for our Vatican tours!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to meet?
Between Hotel Alimandi and Caffé Vaticano, at the top of the big staircase (Viale Vaticano, 100). A representative will be there holding a sign with our company name on it.
What to bring?
Cover your knees and shoulders. There's no need to dress like the people who live in Vatican City, just avoid short pants, dresses and tank tops. If you're a woman and you are wearing something that bares your shoulders, bring a shall or sweater. Comfortable shoes are always recommended for walking tours. No tripods or large backpacks can be brought into the museums, we kindly ask you to leave them at your accommodation.
Q: Does this tour always include St. Peter's Basilica?
A: St. Peter's Basilica is closed on Wednesday mornings 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 8:00 am, an hour before the general public.
Q: What are the chances my tour will be cancelled 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.
See what people are saying
153 total reviewsLeave a review
What an amazing day! Beautiful tour with our excellent & knowledgeable guide, Raffa. She made our day!! We truly would recommend this tour to any first timer - it started early and we skipped every line and found ourselves alone in the most magical sights, misting the crowds by a couple of hours. PERFECT! Thank you Roman Guy and Raffa!!!
The right way to visit the Vatican
I know it's an early start but it is worth it! Our guide Azura was amazing - friendly, kind, knowledgeable. She took us straight to the Sistine Chapel, so we could enjoy it before it got flooded with people. Then we went back and walked through the rest of the museum. When we went through the Sistine Chapel again (to get to St. Peter's Basilica) we almost couldn't get through... So many people in a small room. So happy we did it "the wrong way around". When the tour was over she made sure that everyone knew how to get where they wanted to go. It was truly an amazing tour and I am so happy I didn't have to stand in line to the Vatican museum and to St. Peter's Basilica. It would have taken forever to get in. I would definitely recommend this tour if you want to visit the Vatican! Oh and go to the top of St. Peter's dome. I know it's a lot of steps but it is worth it!
The only way to go for seeing the Vatican
After a fabulous cycling trip in Umbria I had only two days in Rome. I started the first day on this tour. It is definitely the way to go for seeing the Vatican no matter how much time you have in this city. Our guide, Elizabetha, was knowledgeable and friendly. The earpiece system (which amplifies your guide's voice) is genius, and it was so great to beat the crowds. After our tour I climbed the stairs to the top of the basilica--which I also recommend. Going on this tour helped me beat that line, too. By the time I came down, it was so long I might not have done it.