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12:30pm Scavi Tour after the Vatican Museums? Do we have enough time?

We have a Scavi Tour scheduled at 12:30pm and plan on walking through the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel beforehand. We have bought tickets to enter the Vatican Mueseums at 9am. We did not book a tour but plan on listening to the Rick Steves' Audio Tours of the Meusums and Sistine Chapel. We plan on spending about 2 hours in the Meusums and Sistine Chapel. There will only be two of us so hoping to snake through the crowds. Does this timing allow for enough time to exit the Sistine Chapel and make it to our Scavi tour at 12:30pm? Will there be enough time to get something to eat before the Scavi Tour and after the Sistine Chapel? Any tricks we should know to make the trek from the Sistine to the Scavi Tour entrance easier?

We will be going the First week of March so we are hoping the crowds won't be so overwhelming and a little more managable then the high summer months.

Thanks for the help!

Posted by
1136 posts

I'm sure you've heard this but the Vatican Museum is huuuuge! Two hours is certainly possible if you make a beeline to the Sistine Chapel. There's a tour group exit out of the Sistine Chapel that lets you out directly to St Peter's Basilica. I've been through that exit 2x but I was with tour groups both times. Rick talks about using this exit in his guidebook but I've heard different reports that this exit is monitored at times to prevent non tour group participants from exiting. If you can use this exit, it's a breeze to make your 1230 Scavi tour. If not, give yourself at least 30-45 minutes to make your way back out the museum exit then walk around the Vatican wall to the Basilica. You will also have to go thru another security checkpoint which at that time of day can take who knows how long. If you can go through the tour group exit you can avoid going thru a checkpoint again. Good luck! If it's possible to exchange your tickets I would change your Scavi tour to later in the day or do the Vatican museum a different day.

Posted by
11613 posts

It will be tight. If you do eat at the Museums, there will be lines. Avoid the pizza in the cafeteria! Better to take a couple of protein bars to tide you over.

The tour group exit is monitored fairly frequently now.

As for the two of you snaking through the crowds, good luck. It's difficult choreography.

Posted by
583 posts

I would book a tour if there are still openings, because it will keep you on time, ensure you see the main sights, and let you through the tour exit. I went in mid-March and it was shoulder-to-shoulder crowded. Did the Scavi tour first at 11:30, had a quick lunch a few blocks away, then back for an afternoon museum tour. It is hard to prepare mentally for how big the place is. I recall our guide said there are 900 rooms. The Scavi tour on the other hand is quite intimate.
Cynthia

Posted by
11613 posts

Note that sometimes the tour can run long (my Through Eternity tour ran from meet-up at 7:30am to 1:30 exit after the basilica portion of the tour).

Posted by
16113 posts

Personally? I won't say it's impossible but you're going to be very rushed. You'll need to keep a sharp eye on the time and give yourself plenty of leeway to get from the museums to your meeting point for the scavi tour (I believe you're supposed to be there at least 10 minutes before it starts?)

As noted above, the museums are enormous and you won't have time to waste on lunch; pack a snack to eat on your walk between museums and scavi-tour meeting point. With this sort of schedule, I probably would have booked one of the three-hour Museum/basilica tours which end inside the church, or forked over for the more expensive Walks of Italy "Pristine Sistine" or the Vatican's own early-entry-with-breakfast tours which get you into the museums before people with general-entry tickets.

Posted by
11294 posts

"There will only be two of us so hoping to snake through the crowds."

What's hard to appreciate until you get there is that EVERYONE who visits the Vatican Museums has the exact same idea. Except for a few people, every visitor just wants to get to the Sistine Chapel in a hurry, and get out in a hurry. However, the Sistine Chapel is at the end of a very long path from the entrance. So, there's no snaking through, as everyone is also doing the "death march" or "Habitrail" route, right to the Sistine Chapel. And the crowds trying to do this are not to be believed - again, until you see them, or more importantly, are in the middle of them.

I know this is very negative, but I just want you to be prepared, both for how tense and stressful a visit can be, and for the fact that you simply cannot do an "in and out" visit. And these two are directly linked - if you're trying to do a fast visit (and two hours to see one of the world's largest museums is indeed fast), you will be very stressed. That goes double if you have a strict appointment, like the Scavi Tour, afterward.

Posted by
16113 posts

...everyone is also doing the "death march" or "Habitrail" route,
right to the Sistine Chapel.

LOL, Harold!! That's a perfect way to describe it. 😉

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks you everyone for the replays! It's making me a little nervous.... would it be possible to do the Vatican museum after the Scavi? If ours starts at 12:30 and goes until roughly 2, could we see St. Peter's right after (since it dumps you out into it) and the do a later Vatican museum entry at around 3:30? Or I guess we could skip St. Peter's after the Scavi and do the Vatican and St, peters Tour (or sneak through the tour door). Do either of those options make more sense?

Thanks for all of the responses so far!

Posted by
16113 posts

Or I guess we could skip St. Peter's after the Scavi and do the
Vatican and St, peters Tour (or sneak through the tour door).

Tim, I just looked the website and it appears that the only slots open 1st week of March for the Vatican's Museum/Basilica combo tours are in the morning. And I would not count on being able to sneak through that door.

The museums are open until 6:00 PM but last entry is a 4:00, and they start clearing the galleries at 5:30. Why don't you go to St Peter's first thing in the morning, then grab an early lunch/brunch, go to your scavi tour and then hustle over to the museums? Assuming you can arrange 2:30 reservations (you'll need to modify your tickets for the new time slot. See: https://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do?action=modifica) that would allow you 3 hours or so; better than only 2.

Posted by
11613 posts

Don't count on snaking or sneaking. If you have the time, you can visit the Vatican Museums one day and the Basilica/Scavi another day.

Posted by
484 posts

Dunno if still true, but once there was a way to get almost directly to the Vatican Pinocatecca and from there to the Sistine. That would be the highlights of the highlights, though you'd miss Laocoon and the Raphael Rooms and miles of stuff that starts to bleed together.

Full Vatican tour is a massive walk with nearly all of humanity through miles of corridors featuring miles of tapestries, maps, statues, paintings, and more. Miles. Wife and I, two adept crowd navigators just had to go with the flow. That's atheist me, who is just there for the art, architecture and history.

I think you can do the basilica separately from the Museum, which might trim your schedule a bit. But I'd probably not schedule anything but the Vatican museum and St. Peter's outside of the late afternoon or evening.

Posted by
11294 posts

"Don't count on snaking or sneaking."

What a great title for a book: Snaking and Sneaking Won't Work: How To Visit The Vatican And Not Want To Scream.

Snideness aside, she's right, which leads to the next point:

"If you have the time, you can visit the Vatican Museums one day and the Basilica/Scavi another day."

This was going to be my recommendation too. Much less stressful and less exhausting.

Posted by
4 posts

Unfortunately we will only have one day to devote to the Vatican and its revolving around the 12:30 Scavi Tour as we hear this is a can't miss experience. I emailed them to ask about different times and nothing else was available. All that being said we definitely want to see the Museums and St. Peter's Basilica and are willing to exhaust ourselves for the morning and afternoon to make it work. I can move our Museum ticket to 8:30am and think I will do that (although I still think you cant enter until 9am). Museums 8:30-11:00. Get to the Scavi entrance by 12. Scavi 12-2. St. Peter's Basilica 2-3. I know its very tight and a ling day, but it sounds like it might b doable?

On another note, has anyone done the Rick Steves' Audio tour for the Museums and Sistine? Was it good? The Museums audio tour is 55 minutes without pausing and Sistine is 25 minutes.

Thank you everyone for all of the insight. Very Helpful!