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Vatican

I have almost two days to visit St. Peters, Vat. Museum and Sistine Chapel. Any recommendations when is the best time to go to avoid long lines to purchase tickets and visit? Is it really recommended that I participate in a tour group to have the best tour/shorter lines?

Posted by
25 posts

Because of all the wonderful things we have heard about Angel Tours, we booked the early Vatican Tour. I believe it is the first tour that begins at 9:30 in the morning and it is supposed to get through ALL lines - no waiting. It is more expensive than the afternoon tour (50 euro per person) but it seems to come highly recommended on this site as well as others. I'm sure others will have great recommendations, but after all our research this is what we decided on and we really aren't huge "tour" people.

Posted by
1317 posts

With the recent lengthening of Vatican hours, and helpful guides such as Rick Steves' audio tour (Sistine Chapel and St. Peters, NOT Vatican Museum), a tour is not as essential as it has been in days past. However, it is still often recommended, simply because the Vatican is so huge, so overwhelming, often crowded, and one can never quite be sure about those lines. Plus, a lot of the tours come highly recommended and are considered a good value for the information, entertainment, and experience you get out of them.

In the end, it boils down to your preferences, tolerances, and requirements. If you are willing to wait in line for 45 minutes to not be confined to a tour's route, then that's your choice. If you prefer a live guide to tell you about the art and history you are looking at, that's also your choice. There are skip-the-line tours you can buy that get you into the Museum and then turn you loose. There are also recent reports on the Helpline that going in the afternoon, not on Mondays or Wednesdays, can lead to a shorter wait time, should you decide to forgo the tour.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you for all your help Barb and Liz! Deborah

Posted by
261 posts

WE did an 8:45 "skip the line" tour with Presto. It allowed us to use the group entrace. BUT, the lines weren't too long, and when we finished at 12:30, there were no lines at the Vatican Museum. That was on a Friday afternoon. We also used the RS tour in his Rome book, then the audiotour in the Sistine Chapel. Being on our own was great for touring with our 2 teens. We could skip some things, and linger over others.

Posted by
2207 posts

Deborah - not sure what time of the year you are coming but the lines this year have not been as long as previous years. There is FAR MORE organization in the Vatican with new leadership at the Museum!

Anyway, most days the lines are done by 12:30 - 1:00 PM. The exceptions, in general, have been Saturdays and Wednesdays... as of late! In the mid to late afternoon you can walk right into the Museum!

As Liz and other have posted above, whether you go on a tour or not is a personal choice... but I also would recommend you do participate in a tour if you've never been to the Vatican Museum - it's an overwhelming amount of info/art/sculpture to see. I go often and try and listen to different tour operators... and there is QUITE a difference, all very dependent on who the guide is (more than what company they represent!).

You'll have a great time visiting the Vatican. We now live about 125 yards from the Museum entrance so I stop and talk with folks in line or who have come out and they are just blown away by the art and beauty that is the Vatican - Have fun!!!!

Ciao,
Ron

Posted by
49 posts

Ron - What do you think we will find in the way of lines on Saturday August 1st? We arrive at FCO at 8:50 and would like to tour the Vatican and museums that afternoon.

Posted by
261 posts

Hi marty,

Given the amount of jet lag you'll have, I wouldn't recommend going to the Vatican museums. Think about doing a walk around the piazzas and Spanish steps.

Posted by
70 posts

We booked the "official" vatican museum tour and really enjoyed it. It was wonderful to see the "highlights" of the collection. Our guide was extremely knowledgable and funny! She also gave us a very in depth explanation of the sistine chapel works prior to entering. Our reservation was for 10:30. It was a wednesday so much of the crowd was at the papal audience.

Posted by
9 posts

I e-mailed the Vatican to reserve a tour time last Thursday, 7/3, not thinking I would receive a response from what all I've read. After all of your help, I was considering a tour company, but probably was going to go on our own. Surprisingly, today I received an e-mail from the Vatican with a reservation for Aug. 19th. I was surprised and thrilled!

Posted by
103 posts

We've just returned from our trip to Rome, Assisi, and Florence. We reserved a tour of the Vatican Museum through an on-line agency, got a printed confirmation and reservation voucher and instructions to meet the tour guide at 1:00 p.m. When we arrived, we couldn't find the tour guide who also, apparently, had our tickets. Once we realized that our tour guide had deserted us, we approached the "reservation" line only to be told that our reservation voucher wasn't sufficient proof of ticket purchase. So in order to get into the musuem we had to purchase another set of tickets. BUT we had our Rick Steves podcast for the Sistine Chapel with us and there was virtually no line at 1:00 p.m. Once we got over being upset at the booking agency, we just moved on and had a very interesting time. And because there were so many other English speaking tour groups moving through the museum at the same time we were able to pick up interesting tidbits along the way.

So, the triple-fold moral of the story is "buyer beware" and "trust Rick Steves" and "despite precise planning, be prepared to pinch hit."