Vatican Highlights Tour with Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Basilica
Get a taste of the Vatican's top sights an hour before the general public
If you have a lot to see in Rome in a short amount of time, this Vatican Highlights Tour is one of the best Rome tours for you. See the best galleries, tour St. Peter's Basilica and see Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel in less time.
- Skip the Line Vatican Tickets
- Vatican Museums Tour
- Gallery of the Candelabra
- Gallery of the Tapestries
- Gallery of Maps
- Sistine Chapel Tour
- Michelangelo's Masterpieces
- St. Peter's Basilica
- La Pietà by Michelangelo
- Baldacchino by Bernini
- Papal Tombs
- Laocoön and His Sons
- Nero's Bath
- Belvedere Torso
- Continue Exploring the Vatican State
This Vatican highlights guided tour meets at 7:30 am for access to the Vatican Museums just after doors open for "privileged entrance" groups at 8:00 a.m. Why is this so special? Well, the general public has to wait until 9 a.m. to enter! Skip the long general admission line and visit the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica in just 2.5 hours, leaving you plenty of time to explore the rest of Rome.
- Skip the line Vatican tickets
- Meet at 7:30 am for entrance just after 8:00 am
- Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel
- English-speaking guide with expertise in art history
- A guided tour of 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 the busiest months, June and July. We have a team of experts at the Vatican every morning to help our groups avoid delays as much as possible.
The Best Vatican Galleries
Explore the Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of the Tapestries and one of our favorite collections, the Gallery of the Maps. Based on painted topographical maps of Italy by Dominican Italian friar Ignazio Danti, the Gallery of Maps is both beautiful and informative. Predating a unified Italy by nearly 300 years, the Gallery of Maps shows the length and breadth of the peninsula in the late 1500s.
The Sistine Chapel’s Ceiling
While you stand beneath the frescoes of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, it’s impossible not to appreciate how difficult it must have been for Michelangelo to toil away year after year at this masterpiece. Visiting the Vatican is simply not complete without a Sistine Chapel tour. The chapel is inside the museums, so entrance is included in your Vatican tour.
Please note: 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/scarf/sweater with you. That way, you can cover your knees and shoulders when necessary.
St. Peter's Basilica and the Papal Tombs
Except on Wednesdays
Skip the long lines to enter St. Peter’s, and access to the jaw-dropping St. Peter's Basilica directly through the Sistine Chapel. Once inside, admire masterpieces that include the Baldacchino, La Pietà, the statue of St. Peter and more. Your guide will also take you underneath the basilica to visit the tombs of some special popes, as well as a Swedish Queen with a peculiar story.
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.
Emperor Nero’s Bathtub
Since Papal Mass takes place on Wednesday mornings - St. Peter’s Basilica is closed until the afternoon. If your Vatican Express Tour lands on a Wednesday, St. Peter’s Basilica is substituted for a visit to a collection of the most important Roman and Greek artwork, the Pio-Clementino Museum. Visit three of the world’s most iconic statues: the Apollo Belvedere, Laocoön and His Sons and the Belvedere Torso. Learn the stories behind the statues, before visiting Nero’s massive red marble bathtub.
What you get with this tour
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4.99 / 5 based on 74 total reviews
Perfect tour with our knowledgeable tour guide. Would definitely recommend!!
We were very happy with our tour of the Vatican from beginning to the end.
Our guide was wonderful ! (Sorry her name escapes me) Her enthusiasm and energy made it so much fun and rewarding. She is engaging and articulate and we completely enjoyed our time .
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?
Entrance into any religious site requires a strict dress code. Knees and shoulders MUST be covered for both men and women. We understand the summers in Rome are hot - a great alternative is to bring a shawl/scarf/sweater with you. Also, comfortable shoes are always recommended for walking tours. We kindly ask that you leave any large backpacks or tripods at your accommodation as they are not permitted inside the museums.
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 regular 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: 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.