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Private tours of Vatican and Louvre while on Best of Europe in 14 days

Seems we will be on our own when visiting the Vatican and Louvre Museums during our Best of Europe in 14 days tour.
They are suggesting using the Rick Steves App. I am going with a friend who had not been to either of these destinations. Has anyone had experience with this? I want to get a private/semi-private tour. What does the day look like for these museums days? Thanks!

Posted by
18891 posts

I cannot give guidance on private tours but will note that the overwhelming advice on this forum has been to see the Vatican Museums (which include the Sistine Chapel) on one of the early tours that permit entry before the complex opens up to others. The least expensive of those early-access tours are offered by the Vatican itself, then there are commercial tours available at higher price points. Perhaps some of those tours are small enough that they would meet your needs. The only way to get into the museums during the early-access period is take someone's tour. At other times you have the option of just buying an entry ticket. Although even the Vatican early-entry tour is quite a bit more expensive than a plain entry ticket for later in the day, it seems that if you're really interested in the Museums, it's something you need to budget for (but see the next paragraph). The official ticket website is here:

If for some reason a tour that stars super early in the morning doesn't work for you and you have the luck to be in Rome on a Friday, there's the extra option of going to the Museums in the evening. People have reported here that the museums are less crowded during that late entry period.

If by "Vatican" you just mean St. Peter's Basilica, that's a completely different matter.

I'm sure Rick discusses the Vatican options in his guide books. Current procedures may be somewhat different from those in books published pre-COVID, of course, and who knows what will be happening next year.

Posted by
8244 posts

OK, I looked at the itinerary for this tour. It looks like you have paid admissions for both the Vatican Museum and the Louvre so if you want to hire a private guide you'd want to try and coordinate times. For the Louvre the group entry would be timed and although I'm NOT up on the Vatican Museum entry I suspect this will be a timed entry as well. TBH, I think this is going to be hard to coordinate.

You'll do the Vatican in the AM, lunch on your own and then leave for Florence. There were some early entry Vatican Museum tours and if this is still available that is probably what I'd do. I don't know if those tours include entry fees but you may wind up having to cover that twice.

With the Louvre, you'll be coming in from Beaune so they will probably have a later time in the afternoon scheduled for your tour time. For Paris you'll have the Museum Pass which will allow you entry to the Louvre one time but coordinating a time with an outside guide may be a challenge.

I would check with the tour office on the timing for your actual tour. They may not have actual times now but closer to your departure they will likely be able to be more exact and may be able to give you good advice based on timings. For one of the tours I took I called to ask a question about timing and got some recommendations I didn't even know I needed, lol!! Her suggestions worked out perfectly.

I don't suppose there is any chance you are going in to Rome a few days early and staying in Paris a day or two after?

Posted by
4970 posts

For the Vatican Museums, we did it on our own, with Rick’s guidebook and audioguide to assist. We got there about 3 minutes after they opened, and it was great being there before the crowds arrived - at least for a while, and it got noticeably busy an hour or two later.? Arriving at the front doors, it was remarkable seeing the long roped maze that had been set up outside, with nobody standing in line- we walked right in!

For the Louvre, the absolute way to go is a tour with Paris Muse ( ). The guides seem to be art history professors, graduate art students, or other experts, and every private tour we’ve taken with them has been well-led, and an outstanding value.

Posted by
2466 posts

For the Louvre: you can wander helplessly for days (and we’ve nearly done that). On our last visit we tore the pages from Rick’s Paris book and followed his self tour. Took a few hours, worked well for us and my wife’s BFF who was with us, had never been to the Louvre.

Posted by
3401 posts

I would contact the Rick Steves Tour office to find out how this is planned. The itinerary sometimes isn’t specific enough to give you this sort of detail. Even then, we are still talking many months out and plans/tours may yet change in response to changing circumstances.