Vatican Museums Early Access tickets

Are you looking for Vatican Museums early access tickets and tours? Are you wondering if guided tours or early morning tickets are worth it? Read below our suggestions about Vatican Museums early access tours and get the most out of your visit to the Vatican.

The Vatican Museums are among the most visited in the world today, and the waiting lines are generally very long and can prevent you from fully enjoying your holidays. In that case, the best thing to do is to order Vatican Museums early access tickets online to skip the line and save a lot of time.

Are you ready to book your Vatican Museums early access ticket or guided tour? Go ahead and book your ticket or guided tour now, or continue reading for more details about the Vatican Museums early access tickets.

How much do Vatican Museums early access tickets and tours cost?

Bramante Staircase

You can find Vatican Museums early access tickets for €40, while tours with the ticket included start at €60. The price of the Vatican Museums early access tour depends on what you get and how many areas you would like to explore.

Vatican Museums Early Access Tickets and Tours

Vatican Museums Early Access Tickets and Tours

Get a head-start on your stay by skipping the lines and entering the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums before the doors open to the public.

This is different from most tours, as the Sistine Chapel is normally visited after the Vatican Museums. Due to this and the early hour, you can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience in a much more peaceful setting.

Admire the masterpieces in the Vatican Museums and enter the Sistine Chapel before everyone else to peacefully enjoy Michelangelo’s incredible frescoes — most notably “The Creation of Adam,” which spans across the ceiling.

Early morning tours start quite early, usually between 7:15 AM and 8:45 AM. Depending on the availability, you will be able to choose a single ticket or a guided tour — from group tours to semi-private and private ones.

What is included in the Vatican Museums Early Access Ticket and Tour?

what is included in the Vatican Museums Early Access Ticket and Tour

Tour companies offer different services for the purchase of a Vatican Museums early access ticket, but they will all include the following.

  • Early entrance to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
  • Skip the line access (no waiting!)
  • Headset (to more easily hear your guide)

Are Vatican Museums Early Access tickets worth it?

Yes! Early access tours are great, you will skip the line and visit the Vatican Museums without the crowds.

Furthermore, there are even special tickets that include a full American-style buffet breakfast in the Pinecone Courtyard. If you’re an early riser, this is certainly a tempting offer! The price is a bit higher than standard tickets, but it’s definitely worth having such an exclusive experience! For more information on the different types of Vatican Museums tickets, be sure to check out our complete guide.

You will be allowed to enter about an hour before the regular opening hours. The guide will take you directly to the Sistine Chapel, where you will be able to appreciate in near solitude Michelangelo’s masterpiece paintings up the walls and along the ceiling.

How to book Vatican Museums Early Access Tickets and Tours?

book Vatican Museums Early Access Tickets

You can book directly with an online travel agency such as Viator, GetYourGuide, Civitatis or Musement, to name a few. TourScanner compiles all these offers to help you easily compare the options available.

Prices are very competitive, and discounts are offered on a regular basis. Make sure you make a price comparison before booking, as you will often find generous discounts.

Why should you book in advance?

book Vatican Museum tickets in advance

With millions of tourists every year, visiting the Vatican is one of the most popular things to do in Rome. That can mean waiting in line for a long time (over 2 hours in the summer!). This is the first experience of the Vatican for many visitors, at least for those who didn’t book their tickets online in advance.

Booking your ticket online in advance will allow you to skip the line and go straight to the security check. Yes, you will pay a little bit more than buying your ticket in person, but is saving a few euros really worth waiting for hours in the hot sun?

On the other hand, if you didn’t have the chance to book your tickets in advance for the Vatican Museums, don’t worry – our guide on Vatican Museums last-minute tickets has got you covered!

What will I see during my visit?

things to see at the Vatican Museums

With a population of approximately 1,000 people, the Vatican State is the smallest state globally and is considered a city within a city. Despite covering just a quarter of a square mile, it attracts more than five million visitors annually!

The Vatican Museums house numerous historical and artistic treasures created by some of the world’s most prominent artists, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Titian, among others.

It’s worth noting that the Vatican Museums contain one of the world’s largest art collections. To view every painting and sculpture, one would have to walk for over 7 kilometers! Some famous masterpieces are also on display, so be sure not to miss them.

what is included in the Vatican Museums ticket

  • The Sistine Chapel features two of Michelangelo’s renowned masterpieces: “The Creation of Adam” and “The Last Judgement,” which span dozens of meters on the ceiling and main altar wall.
  • The Raphael Rooms’ highlight is Raphael’s “School of Athens.” Try to identify the famous figures from the Renaissance and antiquity, including the painter’s self-portrait!
  • Caravaggio’s “The Entombment of Christ” is perhaps the most sought-after painting in the Pinacoteca Vaticana.
  • In the Pinacoteca Vaticana, you’ll find Leonardo da Vinci’s sole artwork in the Vatican, the unfinished “St. Jerome in the Wilderness” painting.

The Vatican Museums consist of numerous museums, as the name implies. These are just four notable examples of what you may discover in this extensive collection. Your ticket will grant you access to all of the following areas.

  • Sistine Chapel
  • Raphael Rooms
  • Pinacoteca Vaticana
  • Gregorian Egyptian Museum
  • Gregorian Etruscan Museum
  • Pio-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
  • Borgia Apartment
  • Niccoline Chapel
  • Chapel of Urban VIII
  • Room of the Immaculate Conception
  • Room of the Chiaroscuri

Certain sections are exclusive to group tours and are not available to the general public.

  • The Vatican Gardens
  • The Villa Barberini and its gardens
  • The Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo
  • The Hidden Pontifical Villas
  • The Necropolis of the Via Triumphalis
  • The Carriage Pavilion

See also: Vatican Museum Tours – How to Choose the Best One?

Vatican Museums access

The Vatican Museums contain a collection of over 70,000 paintings and sculptures, although only 20,000 are currently exhibited, and they date back to the 16th century when Pope Julius II initiated the idea and contributed art to the displays.

The Sistine Chapel, featuring Michelangelo’s iconic ceiling mural, and St. Peter’s Basilica, an impressive work of Renaissance architecture and the world’s largest church, are the two highlights of Vatican City.

In addition to the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, dozens of museums in the Vatican are open for exploration, exhibiting contemporary and classical works of art created by the world’s best painters and sculptors.

The Vatican Museums draw over 6 million visitors annually, making it one of the world’s most frequented art museums. Although it could take weeks or months to explore all of the works in the museums, if you only have a day, don’t miss the masterpieces mentioned below.

The Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums

Michelangelo’s iconic works can be found in the Sistine Chapel, where you can admire his timeless masterpieces. “The Creation of Adam,” a panel in a series of murals spanning 40 meters across the ceiling, depicts God extending his finger to mankind.

Meanwhile, covering the entire altar wall, Michelangelo’s incomparable fresco “The Last Judgement” depicts over 300 figures illustrating the Second Coming of Christ, and measures 14 meters high and stretches 12 meters across.

Apart from its artistic significance, the Sistine Chapel is also the site of the papal conclave, a centuries-old tradition where cardinals meet to elect a new pope. Visitors can join the crowd observing the chimney of the chapel, waiting for the white smoke that signals the election of a new pope.

St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican

St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world and a testament to Renaissance architecture. The church spans over 23,000 square meters and features a dome that is legally the tallest building in Rome, reaching a height of 136 meters.

Visitors to St. Peter’s Basilica can marvel not only at the church’s size but also at its art. Michelangelo’s “La Pietà” is one of the most famous sculptures in the church and is all the more impressive considering the artist carved it at the age of 24. Frescoes and other sculptures are also on display.

Bernini’s baldachino is another highlight of St. Peter’s Basilica. The canopy marks the burial site of Saint Peter and is situated directly under the dome. Christians can reflect on Jesus’s proclamation from the Bible, “you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18), while standing beneath it. The four bronze columns, sitting on marble plinths and reaching a height of 20 meters, mediate the vastness of the church to the human scale.

It is important to note that St. Peter’s Square and the Basilica are closed to visitors on Wednesdays for the weekly Papal Audience. However, visitors can purchase separate tickets to attend the audience if they wish to visit on a Wednesday.

The Raphael Rooms

Raphael Rooms, Vatican

Contained within four grand rooms, the works of the Renaissance master, Raphael, are showcased. The walls and ceilings of each room are adorned with grand frescoes depicting both mythological and historical events.

Of all the paintings featured, The School of Athens is the most renowned. A self-portrait of Raphael can be found within, alongside portraits of notable figures from both his own era and antiquity, such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Plato, and Aristotle. If you look closely, you can spot them within the painting.

Pio Clementino Museum

Pio Clementino Museum, Vatican

One of the Vatican Museums’ most historically significant pieces is the Belvedere Torso. Though only a fragment of the original marble statue of a male nude remains, it dates back to the first century BC.

If you pay attention to the male figures in Renaissance paintings and statues, such as those by Raphael and Michelangelo, you can see the influence that this piece had. For instance, the likeness of Saint Bartholomew in Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgement” to the Belvedere Torso is striking.

The Pinacoteca

The Pinacoteca, Vatican

Located in Room IX of the Vatican Museums’ Art Gallery, you’ll discover Leonardo Da Vinci’s sole work on display – an unfinished painting titled “St. Jerome in the Wilderness.”

This painting is just one of the many timeless pieces you’ll encounter in this gallery. Other masterpieces on display include Bellini’s “Pietà,” Raphael’s “Madonna of Foligno,” and Caravaggio’s “The Entombment of Christ.” Visitors can fully appreciate the artistry and skill of these celebrated works at the Pinacoteca Vaticano.

Borgia Apartments

Borgia Apartments, Vatican

The six rooms in the apartments once occupied by Pope Alexander VI, or Rodrigo de Borja, were adorned with frescoes designed by Bernardino di Betto, also known as Pinturicchio due to his small stature.

Currently, most of the rooms now serve as the home to the Vatican Collection of Modern Religious Art, which features Vincent Van Gogh’s “Pieta,” Salvador Dalí’s “The Announcement,” and August Rodin’s “The Thinker.”

The Belvedere and Pine Courtyards

Belvedere and Pine Courtyards, Vatican

Although it may initially appear to be a singular courtyard, the area is actually divided into two distinct levels: the lower terrace, Cortile del Belvedere, and the upper terrace, Cortile della Pigna.

The name of the upper terrace is derived from the bronze pinecone measuring four meters tall that is located in the massive niche in the wall of the Vatican. This pinecone was once a Roman fountain and dates back to the first century AD. Dante referred to this pinecone in his Divine Comedy to describe a giant’s head as “long and large as is at Rome the pine-cone of Saint Peter’s.”

On the west side of the Belvedere Courtyard is the Gallery of Maps. This gallery deviates from the traditional frescoes depicting religious and historical events and instead has a more geographical theme with paintings outlining various regions of the Italian peninsula.

Vatican Gardens

The Vatican Gardens

Guided tours including the Vatican Gardens can be booked along with a visit to the rest of the Vatican. The gardens are not part of the Vatican Museums, and the only way to explore them is by joining a guided tour.

The Vatican Gardens are extensive, covering an area of 23 hectares, which is nearly half the size of the entire Vatican! According to legend, the gardens were founded using soil from Mount Calvary, the site where Jesus Christ and many early Christians were crucified.

Only recently opened to the public in 2014 by Pope Francis, the Vatican Gardens provide a unique opportunity to visit a secluded area of the Vatican.

The collection of Blessed Virgin Mary shrines is a notable feature of the gardens, with countries from around the world gradually adding to the collection since the early 20th century. In addition to statues and fountains, these shrines are a highlight of the gardens.

What are the Vatican Museums’ opening times?

Vatican Museums opening times

The Vatican Museums are accessible to visitors from Monday to Saturday, operating from 9 AM to 6 PM. However, the final entry of the day is at 4 PM.

On the last Sunday of every month, the museums are also open from 9 AM to 2 PM. Admission is free on these days, but expect longer lines. The final entry is at 12:30 PM.

The Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays, except for the last Sunday of the month, as well as on Easter Sunday, Christmas, and Boxing Day (December 25-26), and Saint Peter and Saint Paul Day (June 29).

Furthermore, the Vatican Museums are closed on January 1 and 6, February 11, April 10, May 1, August 15 and 16, November 1, and December 8.

For more information on museum openings and closures, please refer to the museum’s calendar.

Travel tips

best Vatican Museums travel tips

  • Follow the rules. As the holiest of all Christian sites in the world, the Vatican has rules that every visitor must follow. That means no hats, sleeveless tops, or shorts and skirts above the knee. Also, in some areas, it is forbidden to talk or take photos.
  • Will I need a guide? It is not compulsory, but it is highly recommended to make better use of your time and better appreciate the religious and historical significance of everything around you.
  • Give enough time for your visit. Although the Vatican is the smallest country in the world, it holds some of the largest collections of historical, cultural and artistic artifacts. Spending just a few hours in the Vatican will not be enough. You should really plan for a half-day or full-day visit.
  • Attend the Papal Audience if you have the opportunity. It takes place at 10:30 AM on most Wednesdays and lasts about 2 hours.
  • Are there free visits? Yes! On the last Sunday of each month, there is no entrance fee!

We wish you a pleasant visit to the Vatican Museums, and we hope that this guide has been useful in enhancing your experience. Enjoy! 😊⛪

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Lorie Halliday is a freelance content writer based in the UK, with over a decade's experience as a professional journalist, including a tenure with CNN. Passionate about traveling, she continually journeys across the globe, crafting compelling articles for TourScanner's blog. Whether exploring historical places, nature trails, or surf beaches, Lorie brings a unique perspective to her readers.