Visiting The Vatican Museums in Rome | Plan Your Visit
The Vatican City, which is the smallest state in the world, is a popular tourist destination for not only being one of the most sacred places in Christendom, but because it is home to many religious and cultural sites. At its center you will find St Peter's Basilica, erected over the tomb of St Peter the Apostle, which is the largest religious building in the world. The Vatican City sees close to 5 million visitors a year. If you are hoping to visit the Holy See Country, here is all the information you need that will need to plan your trip better, from opening hours to directions to the Vatican.
How to Visit the Vatican?
Spread across 44 hectares, the Vatican is the smallest country in the world. Two of the most popular tourist spots within the Vatican are the St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums. Thanks to its small size, the Vatican is easily accessible on foot, however, it would be extremely ambitious to try and visit both on the same trip. Apart from the fact that their opening hours are different, these are both sites that deserve time and attention so you can truly explore its vast offerings.
If you are inclined towards art and history, then the Vatican Museums, which houses the art collection within the Vatican City, is the attraction that should make it to the top of your list. One of the most visited art museums in the world, it is home to 54 galleries that features classical antiquities, as well as modern religious artworks. While you can cover the entire museum in a day, it can take you many days to view the many hallways and rooms filled with masterpieces.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica, on the other hand, is a Renaissance-style church located within the Vatican. It is still considered to be one of the most renowned works of Renaissance architecture and one of the holiest Catholic shrines. Inside you will find Michelangelo’s pietà, Vatican Grottoes, and the famous St Peter's Tomb. Make it a point to visit St. Peter's Square that was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini while visiting the Basilica.
Skip the Lines at Vatican
The Vatican is an extremely popular attraction and it is safe to expect long lines at the venue. In fact, if you visit the Vatican without tickets, you could find yourself waiting in line for up to 2 hours. However, it is not impossible to skip the lines. Book your tickets online to avoid the hassle and be sure to choose skip-the-line tickets to ensure a shorter wait line.
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Vatican Museum Opening Hours
Till 31 Oct 2021
Monday to Thursday: 8.30 AM - 6.30 PM (Final entry 4.30 PM)
Friday and Saturday: 8.30 AM to 10.30 PM (Final entry 8.30 PM)
From 2 Nov 2021
Monday to Saturday: 8.30 AM – 6.30 PM (final entry 4.30 PM)
Temporary closure: On 24 December, and 31 December, the Vatican will be closed between 3.30 PM and 6.30 PM. The last entry is at 1.30 PM on both days.
Closed: 1 November, 8 December, and 25 December
What's the Best Time to Visit the Vatican Museums?
If you are hoping to visit during the low season, then plan a visit between October to March (excluding Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s). During this time you can expect lesser crowds, which makes enjoying the various attractions within the Vatican a hassle-free experience.
In order to explore all the galleries within the Vatican Museums, plan to spend at least 3-4 hours here. To avoid the rush, and fully explore all the artworks, plan your visit to the Vatican Museums for early morning or late afternoons on a weekday. On Wednesdays, during the Papal audience, you can avoid the long lines by visiting the Vatican Museums as the crowd waits outside the St Peter's Basilica.
Where is Vatican?
How to Reach The Vatican?
Duration: 11-15 minutes
- Board the metro from Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, or Roma Termini.
- Take Line A to the Ottaviano-S. Pietro station. From here, St. Peter’s Square is just a 5-minute walk away.
- You can also alight at Cipro (8 mins) or Lepanto (16 mins) stations.
Duration: 30-35 minutes
- Bus 49 will stop at the square in front of the Vatican Museums.
- You can also take 32, 81, 982, which stops at Piazza del Risorgimento (7 mins).
- 492 and 990 will stop in Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni (5 mins).
Duration: 53 minutes
- Take line number 19 running from Piazza dei Gerani.
- The closest stop is Piazza del Risorgimento just outside the Vatican city walls.
- A quick 7-minute walk will take you to Vatican Museum.
Do I Need a Passport to Visit Vatican?
The Vatican City is an independently recognized state thanks to the Lateran Pacts that were signed by Benito Mussolini in February 1929. However, despite being a sovereign state, it has no former border controls. It does not have its own airport or sea borders, and so the only way to enter the Vatican is through Italy. If you can enter Italy, then you can enter Vatican City. You can simply walk into St Peters Square to enter the Vatican.
Covid-19 Passport to Enter the Vatican
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the Vatican City State put in place a series of guidelines to halt the spread of the Coronavirus. This includes restricting entry into the Vatican to those who have a Basic Green Pass Covid-19 certificate or an equivalent certificate for non-EU countries to gain entry. The Green Pass is a certificate that can be verified via an app, which attests that the person has either received vaccination against Covid-19 or has recovered from it, or has received a negative result from a molecular or rapid antigen test. The certificates must contain the following information: identifying information such as name, surname, date of birth, name, and the batch of the vaccine, date of administration, and details of the State and Health authority that issued the certificate.
The certificates must be in Italian, English, French, Spanish, or German.
Know Before You Visit Vatican Museums
- Cloakroom: Visitors can use the cloakrooms for no charge.
- Audioguide: Have an MP3 reader accompany and guide you.
- Lost & Found: Items that have not been claimed will be stored at the Vatican Gendarmery.
- Post Office: Located adjacent to the Courtyard of the Cuirasses.
- Bookshops: You will find many large and small bookshops throughout the Museum.
- First aid: The staff is trained in emergency cardio-protective treatment.
- Restrooms: Look out for the signposts to locate the restrooms.
- Free entry to all disabled visitors as well companions of visitors who are not self-sufficient. They will also be guaranteed priority skip the line entry.
- Hire a wheelchair from the cloakroom (subject to availability).
- The Museums are accessible also to visitors on mobility scooters and with electric wheelchairs. However, in areas with space constraints, the visitor can transfer to a traditional wheelchair, which may be hired free of charge in the entrance hall.
- Disability-friendly toilets are located throughout the museum.
- Strollers: Strollers are allowed entry. Families can use the special lifts for easy access to museum spaces.
- Baby changing facilities: Some restrooms are equipped with changing facilities for babies and a nursing room.
- Relaxation areas: Seats are located along the museum to enable the visitor to take a break and rest.
- Children's menu: The Self Service corner of the Museums offers a special menu and high chairs.
- Pre-booked lunch: Families can pre-book their lunch, which would ensure them a reserved table.
- Baldacchino: A canopy that rests over an altar or tomb, supported on columns.
- Cartoon: Derived from the Italian word 'cartone', cartoon refers to a full-scale preparatory drawing for a fresco, oil painting, or tapestry.
- Chiaroscuro: The use of strong contrasts between light and dark to achieve a sense of volume.
- Fresco: A method of mural painting on plaster.
- Icon: A sacred image.
- Sarcophagus: A stone coffin.
How to Enter the Vatican?
While Vatican has no border policy as such, it does have a 2-mile long (3.2 km) brick wall surrounding the entirety of the country. However, you can simply walk in through one of the two entrances.
Vatican Museum Entrance
The Vatican Museums is accessible from Viale Vaticano on the Northside of the city-state. St. Peter's Basilica, on the Southeast side of the city, is accessible from Via della Conciliazione.
If you enter from St. Peter’s Square, to get to the Vatican Museums, you will have to take a right while facing St Peter’s Basilica and walk for about 15-20 minutes. Walk along Via Leone IV street until you reach your first left onto Viale Vaticano where you walk until you come to the entrance to the Vatican Museums.
In front of the Vatican Museum, you will find three different queues. The longest queue is likely to be the one for those who planned to purchase tickets on-site. A second queue, that starts near a yellow signboard is the one for those who purchased online tickets. The last line is reserved for those who have purchased skip-the-line tickets.
What is Inside Vatican Museums?
Gregorian Egyptian Museum
At the Gregorian Egyptian Museum, you can see sculptures, statues, and other objects that had been brought into Rome from Egypt, as well as some pieces of the Egyptian collection from the Hadrian`s Villa at Tivoli.
Pio Clementino Museum
The museum is made of twelve different rooms that showcases pontifical collections of classical sculpture dating back to the original collection of pope Julius II (1503-1513) and, donations from collectors and antiquaries.
The museum was created to display the non-religious objects of the Carpegna, Vettori, and Assemani collections present in the museum at the time of its founding.
The Borgia Apartments are a suite of rooms that were used as a residence by Pope Alexander VI. He had commissioned Bernardino di Betto to decorate the rooms with frescos in the 19th century.
Curated by Gaetano Marini, the Lapidary Gallery features a stone library with epigraphs that are written on slabs, bases, memorials, urns, altars and sarcophagi, dating from between the 1st century B.C. and the 6th century A.D.
Gregoriano Profano Museum
At the Gregoriano Profano Museum you will find original Greek sculptures, reconstructions of Greek originals made during the Roman age, and sculptures of the Imperial Roman age.
Inaugurated in 1932, the Pinacoteca is home to 460 paintings by some of the greatest artists of the history of Italian painting, from Giotto, who ushered in the Italian Renaissance, to Raphael’s last painting.
A chapel in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel is known for the beautiful frescos created by Botticelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio, Rosselli, and most importantly, Michelangelo.
Four rooms form a part of the apartment in the Apostolic Palace that was chosen by Julius II della Rovere as his own residence and used also by his successors. These rooms are famous for the frescos painted by Raphael.
All Your Questions About Visiting Vatican
A. Till 31 October 2021, Vatican will be open Monday to Thursday from 8.30 AM to 6.30 PM and on Friday and Saturday, from 8.30 AM to 10.30 PM. From 2 Nov 2021, Vatican will be open Monday to Saturday from 8.30 AM to 6.30 PM.
A. Vatican will be closed on 1 November, 8 December, and 25 December
A. Plan a visit during early mornings and late afternoons on a weekday between October to March (excluding Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s) so you can enjoy Vatican with the least amount of crowd.
A. Vatican Museums is located at 00120, Vatican City.
A. You can get to Vatican Museums via metro, bus or tram.
A. There are many small and big bookstores located throughout the Vatican Museum.
A. For security reasons, there is no Wi-Fi coverage within the museum premises.
A. No animals, other than guide dogs for those who are visually impaired, are allowed inside the Vatican Museums.
A. Vatican Museum can be accessed on wheelchair; they offer guided tours in sign language for deaf and hard of hearing visitors, and tactile and multi-sensory tours for visually impaired visitors, among other things.
A. Luggage, suitcases, rucksacks, packages and containers not considered suitable by staff, umbrellas, sticks, tripods and stands for photography, video cameras, banners and signs of any type, knives, scissors and/or metal tools, firearm, or alcoholic beverages are not allowed inside the Vatican Museums.
A. Photography, for personal and domestic use, is allowed in all part of the Vatican Museums, apart from the Sistine Chapel. Flash photography is strictly forbidden.
A. The Vatican Museums strongly discourages the use of mobile phones inside the exhibition spaces. Keep your phone on silent mode. The use of mobile phones is strictly forbidden in the Sistine Chapel.
A. Yes, there are restrooms located all throughout the Vatican Museums. Just look out for the sign posts indicating where they are.