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St. John Lateran: Tickets and Tours

The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran has been attracting Christians and history enthusiasts for centuries. While less well-known than the famous St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the church is the most important site in Christianity.

The religious ground contains relics and artifacts that are thought to be touched by Jesus Christ himself. You can walk in his footsteps to the basilica's private papal chapel, which is a bucket list moment for many.

It is not necessary to purchase tickets for St. John Lateran and you do not need to reserve a slot. For this reason, it's an excellent choice for a spontaneous trip while in Rome.

How much do St. John Lateran tickets cost?

The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran entry is free which makes a day trip to the church accessible to everyone.

If you want to visit the cloister, you'll pay a small admission fee of €2 to do so. Likewise, the Sancta Sanctorum has an entrance fee of €3.50. You can visit the site between 9:30 AM and 12:40 PM, or 3:00 PM to 5:10 PM from Monday to Saturday.

If you're seeking a detailed explanation of the basilica, you can purchase an audio guidebook upon arrival for €10.

What are the best St. John Lateran tours?

St. John Lateran, Holy Stairs and the Baptistery private tour

By purchasing tickets for this St. John Lateran tour, you'll benefit from a three-hour private tour of the religious grounds. You'll explore each point of interest in great detail and even visit the pope's private chapel — the Sancta Sanctorum.

You can walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ himself by climbing the Holy Stairs to the private chapel on your knees. You'll also discover the Baptistery and the Chiostro with a professional guide.

Lateran Complex and Holy Stairs guided walking tour

This guided walking tour roams the site in a small group that is limited to 10 participants. Your St. John Lateran visit will last for two hours and allows you to discover the architecture, artwork and religious significance behind the basilica.

You'll have the opportunity to crawl up the Holy Stairs to the papal chapel, as well as gain a detailed view of its noteworthy cloister.

Are there any combined tickets or tours including St. John Lateran and other attractions?

If you have a limited amount of time to spend in Rome, choose one of the combined St. John Lateran tickets. This will allow you to pack more into your itinerary. Tickets that grant access to multiple sites are often cheaper than buying them all separately, which saves you money.

  • Catacombs and St. John in Lateran combo tour: Travel underground to learn about the history behind the Catacombs of Rome, before visiting the most important church in the Christian faith.
  • Papal basilicas: St. John Lateran, Saint Mary Major and St. Paul outside the walls: Visit three of the basilicas in Rome to be provided with a deeper understanding of Christianity and how it has evolved over time.
  • Tour of Rome's Churches & Underground Vaults: The Basilica of St. Clement & the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran: Discover four of the most fascinating churches in Rome and see what lies beneath the holy sites.

Should you book St. John Lateran tickets in advance?

If you're looking to learn more about the relics of Jesus Christ and the significance of the archbasilica to the Christian faith, it's worth booking a St. John Lateran guided tour.

While you can view the church for free, a guide will enable you to delve much deeper into the history behind it. Booking your St. John Lateran tickets in advance is advised to ensure tours are not sold out.

What will you see inside St. John Lateran?

The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is one of the oldest and most significant churches in Christendom. The church was originally built in the fourth century by Emperor Constantine, and it has been rebuilt and added to over the centuries.

Many people would assume that St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City is the seat of the Pope. However, it's actually the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

The church is dedicated to the well-known figures of Christianity — St. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. Another reason to visit the site is the important historical relics of the religion which include a piece of the true cross.

Tour tickets to St. John Lateran include the Holy Stairs, also known as Scala Sancta. This set of 28 marble steps is the main attraction that entices visitors to the site and is located opposite the basilica.

They have been imported from Jerusalem and it is thought that these were the original steps that Jesus climbed before he appeared to Pontius Pilate. Although the authenticity cannot be confirmed, archaeologists have revealed that the steps do coincide with the correct time period and are missing from Jerusalem.

The 13th-century Lateran cloister that can be found in the church is a work of art in itself. Sculpted by Vassellectus and the Cosmati, the twisted columns are intricately carved and a unique feature of the basilica.

How to get to St. John Lateran?

The church is located around 4 kilometers from Vatican City and St. John Lateran visits are easy to arrange from the center of Rome. It's affordable and quick to access the site via metro, bus or tram.

The line 3 tram is the most direct route and will take you from the Colosseum to the doors of St. John Lateran.

Another option if you don't mind walking for a few minutes is to take the metro A or C line to the San Giovanni station. Once you're there, the remaining journey takes seven minutes by foot.

Lastly, there are several buses that pass near the basilica. These include numbers 81, 85, 87, 665 and 714.

When is the best time to visit St. John Lateran?

The church is open from 7:30 AM to 6 PM daily and can get especially busy during the late morning and early afternoon. The best way to get around this is to visit as early in the morning as possible before other tourists head into the city.

Which other attractions can be visited in the city?

Travel tips

  • Although you do not need to book St. John Lateran entrance tickets, it's a good idea to pre-arrange a guided tour in order to skip the queues. You'll also gain more knowledge from your excursion.
  • If possible, plan your trip outside of the peak summer season. You'll benefit from fewer crowds and milder weather. Pilgrims travel to the archbasilica over Christmas, so it’s advised that you visit in November before they arrive.
  • Pay attention to the dress code in Vatican City. You are required to keep your knees and shoulders covered at all times, and avoid low-cut shirts. If you don't adhere to this policy, you may be refused entry to the church.
  • If you want to nose around the papal chapel, remember that this is only possible at certain times during the basilica's opening hours.