This is the first time to Italy for me and I plan to spend a day at the Vatican. I can't decide if it is worth the money to go on Vatican sponsored tour or just go on my own. Anyone done the tour and do you think it is worth it?
I went on the guided tour last month and found it good. You have a specific time (be sure to allow time for security) and can enter through the group tour line which saves time getting to the security check. I usually don't do tours, but it was a great way to see the highlights of the Vatican with some commentary without just reading a book. If you are looking to spend an extended time exploring the museum, you may not want the tour.
A guided tour is really the only way to tour the Vatican. We are "do it ourselves" travelers and find our own bike tours and walking tours when in Europe. We splurged on the Vatican tour and it was so worth it. The Vatican is chock full of artifacts and, unless you have your head buried in a guidebook, you really don't know what you are looking at. Our guide was Fernanda D'Orazio and she was outstanding. Plus a Vatican Tour Guide has a badge that allows him/her to move more quickly through the crowds. Our 4 hour tour was amazing.
I'm a big proponent of a tour for an attraction like the Vatican. We took a Walkabout tour for the Vatican, and it was well worth the month. The skip-the-line feature alone is worth the money. You collect with your tour group and slip in through a side door while hundreds upon hundreds of people wait in line to enter through the front door. Plus our guide was incredibly knowledge about the Vatican, its history, the Sistine Chapel and the stunning amount of artwork that you'll see. Enjoy.
Go with a tour. The Vatican Museum is so large that to appreciate the collection you need a guide to explain the significance of the items.
I know you were looking for people who did go on the tour and if it was worth it, but I thought my experience might be helpful too. I did not go on a tour, I just used Rick Steve's audio guide. While I loved the audio guide at almost every other location, I still felt a bit lost in the Vatican. There is so much stuff there! If I ever went back, I would get the tour - the official one done by the Vatican.
Kay - do you have any contact info for the tour guide you recommended - Fernanda D'Orazio? I am going in June with my family and think I will take your good advice! Thank you!