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St. Peter's Dome: Tickets and Tours

Nestled within the city of Rome, Vatican City is its own sovereign state, governed by the Catholic Church.

The beating heart of the Vatican is St. Peter's Basilica which is the largest church in the world and can be seen from any point in Rome. The true highlight of the basilica is its impressive dome which was designed by Michelangelo.

St. Peter's Dome tickets are inexpensive, and climbing the Cupola is the only way to gain an aerial view of the world's smallest country.

How much do St. Peter's Dome tickets cost?

While entrance to the basilica itself is free, you'll pay a fee if you want to climb the dome.

There are 551 steps to the top of the dome and you can choose to purchase a ticket based on whether or not you'd like to climb them. You can buy a walking ticket or one that includes the use of the elevator, which cuts out the first 320 steps.

The elevator takes you to the roof level and offers remarkable views of Vatican city, so don't worry if you don't have the energy to climb the following 231 steps.

The St. Peter's Dome entrance fees are as follows:

  • Walking ticket: €8
  • Elevator ticket: €10

There are no reduced rates for children or persons with disabilities, and tickets must be bought on site.

What are the best St. Peter's Dome tours?

St. Peter's Basilica, dome climb and papal crypts guided tour

This early-morning tour enables you to learn more about the extensive history of Vatican city, as well as its basilica with a knowledgeable guide. You'll take the elevator to the first level of the dome before climbing the corkscrew staircase to the very top of St. Peter's.

You'll also enjoy a guided tour of the papal crypt and the basilica itself.

Private tour of St. Peter's Basilica and dome

This St. Peter's Dome tour takes place with an art historian guide who will show you the best artworks within the church. You'll skip the queue upon entry and explore both the basilica and the dome.

Private tour of St. Peter's Dome and  basilica with breakfast

If you want to create a truly memorable experience of the dome, you can do so by taking this tour that includes a rooftop breakfast. You'll work up an appetite by climbing to the top of the Cupola, before enjoying a breakfast of pastries and refreshments overlooking Vatican City.

From there, you'll descend to the basilica and discover the plethora of masterpieces that the church holds.

Are there any combined tickets or tours including St. Peter's Dome and other attractions?

There is plenty to see in Vatican city and a combined ticket will save you time and money on your trip to St. Peter's Dome.

●    Entire Vatican tour and St. Peter's Dome climb:  Become enthralled learning more about the central hub of Christianity in this tour of St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

●    2-in-1 Vatican ticket and St. Peter's Dome climb: Don't spend your day in Vatican city queueing. Instead, skip the line with this fast pass ticket that includes the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums.

Should you book St. Peter's Dome tickets in advance?

You purchase St. Peter's Dome tickets at the door, however, Vatican City can be extremely busy due to its abundance of rich culture. Because of this, there are often queues to visit the most interesting sites, and St. Peter's Basilica is the No. 1 destination in the Vatican.

Some bookable St. Peter's Dome tickets include skip-the-line entry to other attractions such as the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. This will enable you to spend more of the day discovering the unmissable gems of the city rather than queueing in the hot sun.

By booking your St. Peter's Dome tour beforehand, you'll have access to the best experiences such as the opportunity to have breakfast atop the basilica.

What will you see inside the St. Peter's Dome?

Those that choose to climb the dome inside St. Peter's Basilica do so for the views.

The site took over 100 years to build and was first commissioned in 1506. Finally finished in 1626, the dome is now the crowning jewel of Vatican City at over 130 meters tall. In saying that, a church has existed on the site of St. Peter's since the fourth century.

The basilica was built upon the burial site of St. Peter the Apostle who is regarded as the first pope. The design was the handiwork of Michelangelo, and several other Italian artists also helped to create the famous landmark. These include Raphael, Bramante and Peruzzi.

The interior of the Cupola is adorned with elaborate mosaics that depict notable figures from the Bible.

There are two levels of the dome and at the first, you can step out onto the viewing platform. On this level, you’ll see the sculptures of the apostles facing out onto St. Peter's Square.

If you choose to climb the winding staircase all the way to the top, you'll be rewarded with an unbeatable vista of Vatican City. This includes famous landmarks such as St. Peter's Square and the views stretch across the River, and as far as the Alban Hills, over 40 kilometers away.

It is the largest church in the world and purchasing a St. Peter's Dome ticket is crucial to see Vatican City from a bird's-eye view.

How to get to the St. Peter's Dome?

The Cupola is located in the heart of Vatican City and a visit to St. Peter's Dome is possible via several forms of public transport. The number 64 bus takes you the closest to the religious site and you'll need to depart at Via di Porta Cavalleggeri. From there, it takes a few minutes to walk to the dome.

Alternatively, buses 32, 81 and 982 stop at the Piazza del Risorgimento which is just a 10-minute walk away.

If you're wanting to take the metro to see the dome, make your journey from Rome to Ottaviano-S Pietro Metro Station on the red line. Then walk for around 10 minutes to the site.

Lastly, you can take tram number 19 across the city to the Piazza del Risorgimento which is just under 15 minutes away by foot.

When is the best time to visit the St. Peter's Dome?

St. Peter's Dome is an iconic landmark of Vatican City and the crowds can often reflect this. If you want to discover the site without hordes of tourists, you should consider visiting when it first opens.

The opening times are as follows:

  • April - September: 8 AM — 6 PM
  • October - March:  8 AM — 4:45 PM

The basilica itself is open later than the dome, so if you visit in the late afternoon, you should climb the dome before exploring the rest of the site.

Another option is to purchase St. Peter's Dome tickets towards the end of the day when the crowds have thinned out.

Which other attractions can be visited in the city?

Travel tips

  • While it's not necessary to buy St. Peter's Dome tickets before you visit, it's advisable if you want to avoid queueing.
  • There are 551 steps in total to reach the top of the dome, so ensure you're prepared with comfortable shoes and a bottle of water.
  • Vatican City has a modest dress code. You can respect this by keeping your knees and shoulders covered, and avoiding low-cut tops.
  • Large bags aren't allowed in the basilica and there is a security check upon entry. For this reason, you shouldn't visit the religious site on your way to or from the airport.