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Vatican Tour

What is the best way to see the Vatican and St. Peter's. Is it best to go as early as possible. thankyou

Posted by
1660 posts


You inquired about "best way." Here are a few options:

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.

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. Something 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.


Posted by
3651 posts

We used Through Eternity tours and loved it. The guide had a Masters in Art History and told us the history behind the art, she brought it to life for us. We also used Through Eternity for the Colosseum/Forum.

Posted by
27 posts

We did the "before it opened" tour through Walks of Italy. Thank goodness we did. Our guide took us directly to the Sistine Chapel. No crowds at that time at all. But the Pope was there and they were closing the Chapel at 10am! So she rushed us to the Chapel and then gave us the tour of Vatican. When they reopened the Chapel the crowds were insane. People pushing and shoving, babies in strollers, we were packed in tighter than sardines in a can. I almost freaked out. Some people did!

Posted by
33 posts

thankyou very much for your responses. It definitely helps. I have been there before but the crowds were a lot to manage and I feel I missed out. I will make my decision soon. Will be there early October