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Is a paid guided tour of the Vatican really necessary?

We will be in Rome with our teenage daughters (ages 13 and 15) next month. We are only really interested in showing them the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, so were planning only on being at Vatican City for a couple of hours.

With that in mind...is it worth it to get a tour (through the Vatican, online in advance), or would it be just as good to buy only individual entrace tickets online in advance and then download the audio tour free from the Rick Steves website? (We all have our own mp3 players).

If you go via individual ticket instead of going with a tour, are you excluded from anything important? Do you still have to wait in a long line to enter if you had bought your tickets online in advance?

Also, can you see the Pieta sculpture with a regular admission ticket? I realize that the last time we were at the Vatican, we did not see that (or I don't remember seeing it).

I need to add....my husband and I have been to Vatican City previously. We are going again mainly to show some of it to our daughters (this is their first trip to Italy). They get "museumed out" easily, so we don't want to spend too much time in museums there.

Thanks, I appreicate the advice.

-Lynn in California

Posted by
52 posts

Lynn, if you purchase the tickets ahead of time (the Vatican site you're referencing is the best way), you won't have to wait in the long line. You'll just have to make your way through security. Also, the entrance fee entitles you to see the sistine chapel. At the back right of the chapel there is a door that will lead you out of the museum and into St. Peter's cathedral. The pieta is in there to the left of the front doors as you face them. If you were to walk into the front of the cathedral (which you won't be), the pieta would be to your right.

You should be able to make it through in a couple of hours with no meltdowns (hopefully).

One more thing, both of your daughters are eligible for the children's fare when ordering the tickets (children's fares are good up to a generous 18 years old).

Have fun.

Posted by
52 posts

Get Rick's Italy 2009 book and there's a whole section on the Vatican. On page 673, there's a great little diagram that shows you right where the pieta is.

With a month to go before you leave, this book will give you alot of info that will make your trip more enjoyable and stress free. You'll have your hands full enough with the two girls...

Oh, and use the audio downloads instead of a guide. You can rewind a guide if you miss something, and the pace you want to move at will be faster than any guide will be going.

Posted by
9042 posts

I would think they would enjoy walking up inside of the dome of St.Peters. This was one of my highlights of Rome along with giving you an awesome view of the city when you get outside. Getting to the top is the fun part, you get to look down on everybody in the church and then part of the walk is through these slanted passageways and then at the top, they had these little spiral stairs with a rope hanging down to hold onto. for the last couple of feet. We found this to be a lot of fun and well worth the extra cost and the extra wait.

We toured the Vatican without any kind of tour and thoroughly enjoyed it. We were there in Feb. though and only waited in line about an hour or so.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you all very much for your replies. We bought 4 admissions to the Vatican, without paying extra for a guided tour. I was listening to Rick Steves' audio guide of the Sistine chapel and I think it will be just fine. Not to mention, it saved us a lot of money (half the cost!)

I remember a few years ago we took the girls to London and did a tour of the Tour of London. It was very entertaining, but the girls were really bored after a while. I think most long offical tours are better for adults!

Posted by
1317 posts

As the first poster mentioned, the Pieta is actually in St. Peters' Basilica, which does not require admission. We used the shortcut out of the Vatican Museums, but they sent us around to the front entrance of St. Peters to enter. It still saved a lot of time not having to trek back through the Museum.

Posted by
411 posts

Just a FYI for those who want to see the Sistine but not the rest of the museum --- you can also purchase a ticket for the Vatican Gardens and Sistine.