Are you looking for the best Vatican museum guided tours? In this article, you will find a detailed travel guide about the different kind of tours available to visit the Vatican Museums, including private tours, group tours, tours for kids, night tours, audio-guided tours, themed tours and more. Find out which Vatican guided tour suits you the most, and how to pay the best price.
If you already want to book your Vatican Museum Tour right now and don’t want to read ahead, click here to book your Vatican Museum tour.
Vatican museum tours – Is it worth taking a tour?
The Vatican Museum is one of the largest art collections in the world: to see everything, you will walk around 7.5 kilometers!
The Vatican Museum is made of several museums (full list below). With your tour, you will be able to visit all of them, including the Sistine Chapel, which is always included in the tickets or tours. The Vatican Museums include a vast number of artworks, which cannot be fully understood without knowing the history of the artists and the Vatican itself.
Therefore, a guided tour could really change the experience of visiting the Vatican Museums.
To visit the Vatican, there are mainly 2 options:
1. Book a single entrance ticket and visit the museums at your own pace. You can book skip the line tickets here or also read more about all the different options that you have in our specific guide. The tickets include the entrance to all the museums, but a guided tour is not included.
2. Book a guided tour to experience the most of your visit to the Vatican. Below you will find all the details to choose the best option.
Why booking a Vatican museum tour
It is easy! – You will only need to show up at the meeting point at the right time and the guide will take care of everything, including the skip the line tickets (which are included in the tours).
Save up on time and make sure you do not miss out – With limited time, it is difficult to spend the correct amount of time for each section. Your guide, instead, knows very well the museums and you will be led through the most famous masterpieces, as well as, some hidden gems and valuable museum sections. On your own, you may miss some of these.
Get to the heart of each museum – The guided tour allows you to ask questions to the guide and get proper answers. The tour guides have brilliant knowledge of all the museums and they will add a lot of information about the artworks that you will see.
Vatican museum tours – Which one is right for you?
You can choose from a significant number of tours. They can differ by:
- Size of the group: private tours, semi-private or small group, group tours
- Duration: standard or express
- Inclusions: St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Gardens, etc.
- Special tours: tours for families, early morning, night tours, hidden Vatican, etc.
- Price: some can be cheaper than others
What you need to know is that whichever tour you pick, there is the benefit of the skip the line tickets and a licensed English-speaking tour guide.
Decide what type of Vatican museum tours you want to book
Vatican museum group tours
The group tours are the most popular choice for a guided visit of the Vatican Museums. In fact, group tours are typically the cheapest option among the tours of the Vatican.
The group tours also give you a chance to meet some amazing people, as the groups have around 25 people each. However, there are also options with small groups, between 6 and 12 people. They are just a little more expensive.
In case you are worried that you may not hear the guide if you are at the back of the tour, there is no need to worry. Everyone is given “whisper” headphones, so that you can clearly hear what the guide is saying even when they are using their normal speaking voice.
Among the group tours, there are also several different options, such as tours with early entrance or evening tours. You can find below an explanation of these options.
Vatican museum private tours
In general, private tours are the ones that leave the best memories in the mind of the visitors. The clear reason is that the tour is private for you (your family, your couple or you alone) and the guide will customize the tour according to your requests and will be fully available to answer your questions.
During a private tour, you and your guide will be less distracted by the presence of other people attending the tour. Even if private tours are more expensive than group tours, they are a great choice if you want to experience more privacy, personalized explanations and a feeling of intimate relationship with the place that you are visiting.
Vatican museum express tours
Some tours are quicker than others. If you are short in time, check the duration and pick an express tour, which will quickly lead you to the main artworks and finish in the Sistine Chapel.
Vatican museum audio-guided tours
The audio-guided tour is the cheapest option: the cost is the sum of the entrance ticket plus 5€ for the audio guide rental. If you are on a budget, with an audio tour, you can still get lots of information while you are going around and seeing all the different sites.
You can get an audio-guide at the entrance of the museum, but you could waste time in the queue of the ticket office since you will not be able to skip the line if you need to queue for the audio-guide. Therefore, it is recommendable to book the audio-guided tour when you reserve your ticket online.
Vatican museum tours for kids
Traveling with young children can be a challenge, especially because they may get tired or be bored during a visit to a museum. Some tours have been designed especially for families who have children. The guides are trained to be more fun, engage with kids and tell the history in a more child-friendly way. Most of these tours are private for your family alone.
Avoid the crowd – Early morning & evening Vatican museum tours
The Vatican Museum is one of the most visited museums in the world. There are thousands of people visiting the large museum every day and it can be very crowded.
If you would like to see the Sistine Chapel without many people to be able to take the best pictures, it would be tough during the regular opening hours. Moreover, people can make background noise and it can be more challenging to follow the tours.
Luckily, there are special tours that give you the possibility to visit the Vatican Museums when there are fewer people.
- Early Morning options – Access before the regular opening hours
The Vatican tours with Early Access (our guide about Early Access Vatican Tours) are the best choice to avoid the crowds: you will be the first to see the Sistine Chapel!
You will be allowed to enter 15-30 minutes before the regular opening hours. The guide will conduct you directly to the Sistine Chapel: you will see Michelangelo’s masterpiece Last Judgment being almost alone in the room. With all the other tours, the Sistine Chapel is visited at the end of the tours, after the other sections of the museums.
Early morning tours start very early; usually, around 7.15 am. Depending on the availability, you will be able to choose a private, semi-private or group tour.
- Night options – Access after the regular opening hours
Every Friday, the Vatican Museums remain open during the evening as well. It is possible to visit them with a night tour. These allow you to experience the stunning masterpieces in the museums after regular closing time. The evening tour is also the right choice if you are short in time to spend in Rome and you do not have much time during the day.
Decide what you want to visit
Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel
As said at the beginning of the article, every tour includes the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is always visited at the end of the tour, except with the option of Early Access tour in which you will get access to the Vatican Museum before the normal opening hours and you will be conducted directly to the Sistine Chapel by your guide. In this way you will be able to enjoy the Sistine Chapel before that it gets crowded.
Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica
Since you are already in Vatican City, it is probably worth visiting St. Peter’s Basilica as well. Moreover, a reason why it is worth taking a tour which includes both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica is that you will not need to leave the Vatican Museums and queue again for the Basilica, but you will enter the Basilica from a back door after the Vatican Museums visit, led by your guide.
Guided tours including the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica start from 38€. The price can depend on the day, the availability, the duration and the quality of the tour.
The hidden Vatican museums – the cabinet of masks
A great tour that will help you find many inaccessible places within the Vatican Museums. This tour is quite expensive, but it is a real experience. A special part of the museum (The Cabinet of Masks) will be opened specially for you. It is a once in a lifetime experience for art lovers. Moreover, you will get early entrance to the Sistine Chapel. You can check the offer here.
Vatican museums and Vatican gardens
The Vatican Gardens are open to a limited number of people per day. The entry ticket includes both the gardens and the museums, plus, of course, the Sistine Chapel. There are also interesting options for guided tours or experiences, such as breakfast in the gardens and early entrance (before opening hours) to the museums.
Vatican museums and gardens in Castel Gandolfo
To feel like you have walked the same path as the Pope, this is a brilliant tour to experience. This tour allows you to experience the summer residence of the Popes in Castel Gandolfo, plus the Vatican museums as usual. Check the prices here.
Combos – tours of Vatican and the Colosseum
There are several options for guided visits which include various attractions. Those tours are particularly interesting for visitors who have a limited time to spend in Rome. If you have only 1 or 2 days, it can be challenging to explore the main sights of the city on your own. And, if you want to experience both the Vatican and the Colosseum on the same day, it can be a good idea to book a combo tour, which includes the visit to the Colosseum in the morning and Vatican in the afternoon (or the other way around). With the tour, you will not need to plan ahead how to move from one location to the other and you will have more time to experience the attractions.
Vatican Museum – What will you see?
Several famous masterpieces are on view and you should look out for those as you walk around. They include:
- Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement, depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the Saints, is in the Sistine Chapel.
- Raphael’s School of Athens shows scholars discussing topics of the day, philosophy and science and it is placed in the Raphael Rooms.
- Caravaggio’s The Entombment of Christ in the Pinacoteca Vaticana
- Leonardo da Vinci’s St. Jerome in the Wilderness, installed in the Pinacoteca Vaticana, is an unfinished painting and it was only identified as Da Vinci’s work in the early 19th century.
These four artworks are just a fraction of classic art on display. You may have realized from these brief descriptions that the Vatican Museum is made up of several museums, all of which are accessible on your ticket. This is the entire list:
- Gregorian Egyptian Museum
- Gregorian Etruscan Museum
- Pro Clementino Museum
- Chiaramonti Museum
- Lapidary Gallery
- New Wing
- Gregoriano Profano Museum
- Lapidario Profano ex Lateranense
- Pio Cristiano Museum
- Christian Lapidarium
- Jewish Lapidarium
- Ethnological Museum
- Carriage Pavilion
- Christian Museum
- Profane Museum
- Room of the Aldobrandini Wedding
- Chapel of St. Peter Martyr
- Collection of Contemporary Art
- Sistine Chapel
- Raphael’s Rooms
- Borgia Apartment
- Niccoline Chapel
- Chapel of Urban VIII
- Room of the Immaculate Conception
- Room of the Chiaroscuri
- Gregorian Egyptian Museum
Are there any free Vatican museum tours?
There are no free tours of the Vatican Museum.
Children below the age of 6 can enter for free. There are also discounts for children between the age of 6 and 18 and students with an international student card.
How to cancel/modify your Vatican Museums Tour?
Cancellations and modifications strictly depend on the tour operator and the tour itself. Very often there is the possibility to cancel up to 1 day before the date of the visit with a 100% refund policy. However, conditions may vary also depending on the season. Therefore we recommend to check it in detail in the description of the tour.
Are any Vatican museum tours included in the Roma Pass or Omnia Card?
No. Roma Pass does not give access to the Vatican museums. Instead, the Omnia Card gives access to the Vatican, plus a lot of other attractions in Rome, but a tour of the Vatican is not included.
Enjoy your visit in the Vatican 😉
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