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.
- 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). Witness the jaw-dropping Sistine Chapel before the masses stream in. As one of our most popular Rome tours, this 3.5-hour Vatican tour includes:
- - Skip the line Vatican tickets
- - Maximum group size of 14
- - 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)
Want to skip the line at the Vatican without having a guided tour? Click here for skip the line Vatican tickets.
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
After your skip the line access, your first stop is a visit to the Sistine Chapel before it’s open to the general public. As 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.
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.
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. Among many of his famous works, discover 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. Walk into the biggest church you've ever seen, filled with artwork from all the famous Italian artists. Skip the lines 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 Pietá, 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: 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.
Pio-Clementino Museum and Nero’s Bathtub
On Wednesdays Only
If you take this tour on a Wednesday, St. Peter's Basilica is substituted with a visit to the Pio-Clementino Museum, where you'll see three of the most iconic statues in the world. 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!
What you get with this tour
See what people are saying
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Average customer rating
4.95 / 5 based on 195 total reviews
Worth the money
So glad we booked this tour. Our guide, “RAF”, was so informative and knowledgeable. It was a VERY rainy morning and her professionalism and sense of humor, brought sunlight to our excursion through this incredible site. As we left the Basilica of St. Peter, the line was a 4 hour wait for entry into the site; this on a very, rainy Monday. Again, so glad we had booked this tour. Excellent job RAF!
Even though we had this "privileged" tour, we still waited over a half hour to get in. There were so many other groups trying to get in at same time. It felt our guide was having a difficult time explaining the historical facts because of the crowds. It was difficult to hear through the ear pieces, again because of the crowd noise. We all definitely felt rushed through the tour. If we do this again, we'll go without a guide and spend more time viewing the Vatican history and reading the info that is posted at all the exhibits.
Amazing tour - well worth the early start
A fabulous tour with Laura as our guide and a small group (13) with The Roman Guy. Having a small group makes it so much easier to negotiate the crowds at the museum and Basilica. Getting in early to see the Sistine Chapel was worth getting up early for - we were able to move about the chapel and see everything with ease. ( we went through chapel again after the general opening and it was like sardines in a tin!) Laura was so knowledgable about the museum and explained so much to us - The Raphael Rooms are also stunning. The beauty of a guided tour is getting around the site much quicker than doing it alone and if you only do one tour make it one of the Sistine Chapel and Basilica - so worth the money for the input from guide and ease of movement . So much to see on this tour - we only scratched the surface and the tour lasted 7.30-11am. Go up the dome as an extra - stunning views looking inside the Basilca and outside from the roof.
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.
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.