Pre-Opening Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica Private Tour
Skip the Line on this Private Vatican Tour
Witness the renowned collections of the Vatican on this early access skip the line private Vatican tour. Experience the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica with a private guide with expertise in art history. Ask all the questions you want.
What you get with this tour
What you will see on this tour
- Sistine Chapel
- MIchelangelo's Masterpiece
- 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
Our pre-opening private Vatican tour lets you skip the regular line* and enter the museums an entire hour before the general public. After visiting the Sistine Chapel with your own personal English-speaking tour guide, tour the highlights of the Vatican Museums including the Candelabra Gallery, Gallery of the Tapestries, Gallery of the Maps, Raphael Rooms and Borgia Apartments. Finish up with a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, the most magnificent church in the world. This 3-hour tour includes:
- Skip the line Vatican tickets
- Early Morning Access to the Sistine Chapel
- A private English-speaking guide with expertise in art history
- A guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica
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, remember to return your headset to the tour guide.
Michelangelo’s Restored Sistine Chapel
*After meeting your private guide, your Vatican Museums tour begins. As an accredited tour operator, we do not have to wait in the ticket line, but we still have to wait in a much shorter security line. Short 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. Once inside, head straight to Michelangelo’s restored Sistine Chapel before the crowds flood in.
Since the Sistine Chapel is located inside the Vatican Museums, entrance is included in your private Vatican tour. Only when you’re inside, is it clear why the Sistine Chapel is one of the most celebrated works of art in Western civilization. The Sistine Chapel is a place of worship, so speaking inside is forbidden. Don’t fret though, your private Vatican guide will provide you with a map/handout for reference before you enter.
Please Note: Since the Sistine Chapel is a sacred place, 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/scarf/sweater with you. That way, you can cover your knees and shoulders when necessary.
The Main Galleries of the Vatican Museums
After experiencing the incredible Sistine Chapel, circle back through the most beautiful galleries of the Vatican Museums: the Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of the Tapestries and our personal favorite, the Gallery of the Maps. Predating unified Italy by almost 300 years, the frescoes show the geography of the Italian peninsula circa 1580. Painted between 1580 to 1585, the maps are based on drawings by famous geographer Ignazio Danti.
Raphael Rooms - The School of Athens
In constant competition with Michelangelo, Raphael designed and frescoed multiple rooms connected to the Vatican Museums. On this private Vatican tour, among other masterpieces, visit the famous The School of Athens painting. A depiction of philosophy, the painting represents all the greatest mathematicians, philosophers and scientists congregated and sharing ideas. In an early version of a selfie, Raphael included himself in the painting!
Private St. Peter’s Basilica Tour
(Except on Wednesdays)
St. Peter's Basilica is a massive church filled with artwork from some of the most celebrated artists in history. On this private Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica tour, skip the long lines snaking their way through St. Peter’s Square and enter the palatial church through a special door by way of the Sistine Chapel. Once inside, admire masterpieces that include the Baldacchino, La Pieta, the statue of St. Peter and more.
Important: Remember, it isn’t possible to return to the Vatican Museums from St. Peter’s Basilica. If you want more time inside the basilica, 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.
Octagonal Courtyard and Pio-Clementino Museum
If you take the Privileged Entrance tour on a Wednesday, St. Peter's Basilica is substituted with a visit to the Octagonal Courtyard in the Pio Clementino Museum. Home to the Apollo Belvedere, Laocoön and His Sons statue and the Belvedere Torso, this area of the Vatican Museums is not to be missed. Learn about the myths and legends associated with these iconic statues, before visiting one of the biggest and oldest bathtubs you'll ever see. Within the Pio Clementino Museum, visit Nero's Bathtub. Stretching a whopping 25 ft in diameter, the tub is made from a kind of red marble so precious, it’s impossible to recreate it.
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 long a shawl or sweater. Comfortable shoes are always recommended for walking tours.
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 bc 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 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, this is your best bet for a Vatican tour. Private Vatican tours are more easily customized to the needs of people with reduced mobility.
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.
See what people are saying
16 total reviewsLeave a review
Our guide was very informative and personable. We chose the early morning tour to try and avoid the most crowded time. Even with the early entry it was still quite crowded. Thank you very much for a very enjoyable tour!
BEST way to see the Vatican
This tour was the highlight of our trip! My family loved it, our guide was super attentive, informative and navigated us through the museum with ease. Preopening is definitely the best way to see the Sistine Chapel with as few people as possible and we felt so lucky.
Pre-Opening Vatican Tour - amazing!
I am not at all a morning person but this tour CANNOT be missed. Not only did we get to see the Vatican before all the crowds went in, but as it was a private tour our guide gave us a truly personal experience. It felt like we were the only people there! I cannot recommend this enough.