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Vatican-Saturday afternoon or Monday AM

We will arrive in Rome around noon Saturday 12 Oct and leave Tuesday AM 15 Oct. With so little time, we want to be efficient. We definitely will take a skip-the-line tour of the Vatican. Our choices seem to be Saturday afternoon starting around 2-2.30 or early Monday AM (Vatican closed Sunday). Tours seem to be about 2.5-3 hours. Will that type of tour be enough time or would we want to add our own time to the tour? Is Saturday afternoon or Monday AM likely to be less crowded? Also, any tour recommendations are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Posted by
200 posts

I would do an early tour on Monday morning. We did Sistine Pristine Tour through Walks of Italy. We met about 7:15am and we were done around noon/1pm. After our tour was over we walked to the top of the Dome which you can do outside the Walks of Italy Tour. It was worth it to go up there for us.

Perhaps on the day you arrive do a 3pm tour of the Colosseum if that's on your list. We did a 3pm tour and then had dinner at about 6:30pm on the day we arrived. On Sunday you can visit the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain etc.

Posted by
1643 posts

Hi fritzy,

Also, any tour recommendations are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Monday would be the better day to visit. I visited The Vatican on a Saturday - never again.

Below is the information plus other tidbits I suggested to another traveler with a similar question.

The Vatican

Purchase your own tickets and take a self guided tour
Purchase tickets along with an official, in-house Vatican guide tour

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's is free to enter on your own. If you are part of a guided tour, your guide will escort you through a back way after you visit The Sistine Chapel - most of the time, unless otherwise specified, you are on your own in St. Peter's.

Some important info - there is a bag security check at The Vatican. Bags or backpacks of "about" 15 inches were "safe." Big bulky bags or backpacks, large umbrellas will have to be (free) checked.

This will impede your going directly to St. Peter's after The Sistine Chapel visit. If you use a mobility device, as in a cane, no worries.

If you are not with a tour, then you retrieve your bags and queue in line to get into St. Peter's. Same bag/security policies apply.

If you are interested in visiting Castel Sant'Angelo, best to view on the same day as The Vatican and St. Peter's - it is fairly close to both; unless of course it is part of an inclusive tour.

Other choices from "top" tour companies to maximize your visit from enthusiastic and amazing experts. Each company offers small group tours of approximately 2- to 3- hours. Each tour company seems to get very good reviews with satisfied customers.

Some companies may offer a discount when booking. And some offer very early AM or Evening tours to accommodate any schedule.

The Roman Guy --
Walks of Italy --
Dark Rome --
Through Eternity --
Angel Tours --

It is very important to check the direct websites of The Vatican and St. Peter's.

A heads up -
No phones, photos or talking in The Sistine Chapel
No photos or any recording devices or talking in The Chapel of The Blessed Sacrament - St. Peter's Basilica

If you are interested and events coincide, check the calendar of St. Peter's. Perhaps you may be part of a celebration Mass officiated by Pope Francis. I happened upon one - in December - celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe. An event that is sketched in my memory. What a night!

Pictures are allowed in St. Peter's Basilica with the exception above. Also, if you favor La Pieta, and want a picture, it has plexiglass or similar protecting it. Some jerk years ago did damage to The Blessed Mother.

I visited many times to St. Peter's. Water bottles "were okay" as long as put into personal bag.

There are cafes inside The Vatican. Depending on your visit, it may be best to eat something hearty since food is not allowed walking around.

The Vatican can and will be "hot." So keep that in mind. I visited one time in the month of December.

St. Peter's is much cooler and seems not as crowded. And, I went at different times of day and on different days to see differences. I would think though a weekend day would dictate a larger crowd for obvious reasons.

The Vatican will always be crowded. With that, better times are dictated by seasons, holidays, and time of day. If you are with a guided tour, you "have access" to shorter lines but still must go through security checks.

No need to buy "skip the line tickets" that are sold by outside walking vendors. It is best to buy direct from The Vatican or an escorted official tour or escorted tour company I referenced above.