Looking for the best Vatican museum tours? Please find below a travel guide to Vatican Museum Tours, including private tours, group tours, tours for kids, night tours, audioguided tours, theme tours and more.
If you already want to book your Vatican Museum Tour right now and don’t want to read ahead, please click here to book your Vatican Museum tour.
Vatican museum tours – Is it worth taking a tour?
First of all, every tour and ticket of the Vatican museums include the Sistine Chapel!
The Vatican Museum is one of the largest art collections in the world requires a great deal of space. To see everything, you will walk around 7.5 kms. I have been a few times and still see something new each time.
Several famous masterpieces are on view and you should look out for those as you walk around. They include:
- Michelangelo’s ‘’The Last Judgement’’ depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the Saints is in the Sistine Chapel.
- Raphael’s ‘’School of Athens’’ shows scholars discussing topics of the day, philosophy and science and is found in the Raphael Rooms.
- Pinturicchio’s Annunciation in the Borgia Apartments shows the Virgin Mary dressed in blue greeting an angel.
- Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of St. Jerome in the Pinacoteca is unfinished and was only identified as da Vinci’s work in the early 19th
These four are just a fraction of classic art on display. You may have realised from these brief descriptions that in fact the Vatican Museum is in fact made up of a number of museums all of which are accessible on your ticket.
- Gregorian Egyptian Museum
- Gregorian Etruscan Museum
- Pro Clementino Museum
- Chiaramonti Museum
- Lapidary Museum
- New Wing
- Gregoriano Profano Museum
- Lapidario Profano ex Lateranense
- Plus-Christian Museum
- Christian Lapidarium
- Jewish Lapidarium
- Ethnological Museum
- Carriage Pavilion
- Christian Museum
- Profane Museum
- Room of the Aldobrandini Wedding
- Chapel of St. Peter Martyr
- Collection of Contemporary Art
- Sistine Chapel
- Raphael’s Rooms
- Borgia Apartment
- Niccoline Chapel
- Chapel of Urban VIII
- Room of the Immaculate Conception
- Room of the Chiaroscuri
- Gregorian Egyptian Museum
With so many museums to choose from, it can be a little challenging to know where to start. That is why it is best to take the Vatican Museum tours. With these tours, I was able to discover the best bits of all the 23 museums in the Vatican, forming some excellent memories along the way. Being a religious city, there are several beautiful chapels that makeup a part of the complex of museums. There are also museums that feature stunning and breath-taking pieces of art, capturing the very essence of life at the Vatican City.
Now you have 2 options:
1. Book an single entrance ticket and visit the museums at your own pace. You can book skip the line tickets here or also read more about all the different options that you have in our specific guide.
2. Book a guided tour to experience the most of your visit to the Vatican. Below you will find all the details to chose the best option.
What you need to know about booking a Vatican museum tour
Ease – No need to worry about long queues and waiting times or making a mistake on the day the museum will be open. With the Museum tour, your tickets are bought, all you need to do is visit.
Save Up on Time – With limited number, you cannot see everything at once. With a guided tour, you will be directed to the most famous art as well as some hidden important gems and museum sections. On your own, you may have missed out on these.
Fill Up Your Day – Without direction, you could get exhausted before the day is over by trying to see it all. With a guided tour, you can see just enough, and rest in between so that every moment is appreciated.
Get to the Heart of Each Museum – The guided tour allows you to ask questions as you go along, immediately you think them up. The tour guides have brilliant knowledge on all the museums and will even add on some tit bits to fill in the knowledge gaps that could be valuable to you.
Make Sure You Do Miss Out – When you are on your own, there may be some special places and experiences that you overlook. With a guided tour and an expert, you will see as much as possible and learn as well.
It can make an even bigger difference.
Vatican museum tours – Which one is right for you?
There are a significant number of tours that you can choose from, and if you are like me, you may have wondered where to get started. All of them have something special to offer, so I would not say that there is one better than the other. It all really comes down to what you want to accomplish by taking the tour. There is the budget as well, which will determine which one you are able to go on.
What you need to know is that whichever tour you pick, there is the benefit of skip the line tickets. Those who take the tours also have the benefit of being able to go around with a licensed English-speaking tour guide. These tour guides are legally permitted to take you on tours and they also have incredible amount of knowledge that they can share.
Here is a look at the different options of tours that I had to choose from: –
- Private Tours
- Group Tours
- The Express Tours
- Audio guided tours
- Tours for kids & family
- Early morning & evening tours
Decide what type of Vatican museum tours you want to book
Vatican museum private tours
If you are looking for in-depth descriptions and to do everything according to your own schedule, then the private tour is a great option. Here, you can experience a tour guide all to yourself. With a private tour guide, you can skip the lines and make the most of your time. Together with your tour guide, you can decide which would be the best museums to visit based on what you are most interested in. Most of the tour guides will speak in English, especially when you are in a group. With a private tour, you can get a guide who will speak to you in the language that you are most comfortable. There is also the option of getting picked up right for your hotel, which is ideal if you are traveling with family.
Vatican museum group tours
When in the Vatican, you will find that the Vatican Museum Group Tours are amongst the most popular. This is because of the price, as the group tours are typically the least expensive choice of the different Vatican Museum Tours. There are two types of Group Tours that you can experience. With one, you can be in a group of up to 12 people and have the chance to experience some of the museums, like the Sistine Chapel, before the official opening hours. The best thing about this – there are no lines for you to wait through. This is an intimate or small, group tour, so when booking, you will need to specify this is what you want, or you will end up in a larger group. For an even more special experience, you can try out the VIP small group tour for groups of up to 15 people. The benefit is that you even get to visit some rooms that are typically not open to the public.
Another noteworthy benefit is the knowledgeable guide who will take you on the tour. With their guidance, you will be taken to the best museums and see the places that you should not miss out on. All you need to do is go with the flow.
The group tours also give you a chance to meet some amazing people, as the groups have around 30 people each. Just in case you are worried that you may not hear the guide if you are at the back, there is no need to worry. Everyone is given “whisper” headphones, so that you can clearly hear what the guide is saying even when they are using their normal speaking voice.
Vatican museum express tours
Being pressed for time does not mean that you must miss out on the best parts of the Vatican Museum Tours. You can choose to go through the Quick Tours where you can visit before the opening hours, making your way through several museums before finishing at the famous Sistine Chapel. Within this type of tour, you can accomplish a lot in 1.5 to 2 hours. These are the tours that make it possible for you to see beautiful and famous masterpieces such as Michelangelo and Bernini.
Vatican museum audioguided tours
This is the cheapest option; the cost is the entrance ticket plus 5 euros for the audio guide rental. Check online here for best prices. If you are on a budget, with an audio tour, you can still get lots of information as you are going around and seeing all the different sites. I tried out the audio guide on one of the days I was exploring the Vatican Museums to see how it works. It made it possible for me to visit the museums at my own pace, and still get the information that I needed to know while I was doing my rounds. The audio guided tour is much better than trying to get the information you need from reading the little printed info-cards that are next to some of the most famous pieces in the museums.
It is possible to get your audio guide before hand when you are pre-booking your tickets, or if you prefer, you can get yourself an audio guide once you enter a museum.
Vatican museum tours for kids
Travelling with young children can be a challenge, especially because they may get tired or lose their focus when engaging in looking at a museum. In fact, with my kids, they think that a museum is boring. Thankfully, there are some Vatican Museum Tours that have been designed especially for families who have children. There are lots of benefits for choosing these tours. To begin with, you will have the benefit of a child friendly guide, so that the entire experience is both informative as well as highly engaging.
Avoid the crowd – Early morning & evening Vatican museum tours
The Vatican Museum Tours are highly popular because they have so much to offer. The problem is that this brings around lots of crowds, meaning that you waste a large amount of your day standing in line. If you do not do well with crowds, then you can opt to visit the Vatican Museums either in the Early morning or in the evening. There are special tours available for those who want to visit at these times, and one good benefit is that with some, you can choose to include breakfast or dinner. Before making your decision, make sure that you check out the prices on Tour Scanner.
- Morning options
There are several options that you can explore in the morning, with most tours starting by 7.15 am. You could choose to go at your own pace using the audio guide or by simply purchasing a ticket. There is also the option of a guided tour, which may include a full breakfast as well if you wish. For this, tours are normally done in small groups of a maximum of 20 people.
- Night options
At certain times of the year, it is possible to experience all that these museums have to offer with a night tour. These allow you to experience the stunning masterpieces in the museums after regular closing time, after which it is possible to enjoy a delicious dinner. The maximum size of the group for these tours is 20 people.
Decide what you want to visit
Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel
As said at the beginning of the article, every tour includes the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is always visited at the end of the tour, except with the option of Early Morning tour, in which you will get access to the Vatican Museum before the normal opening hours and you will be conducted directly to the Sistine Chapel by your guide. In this way you will be able to enjoy the Sistine Chapel before that it gets crowded.
Vatican museums and St. Peter’s Basilica
Since you are already in Vatican City, it’s probably worth visiting St. Peter’s Basilica as well. The good point of taking a tour which includes both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica is that you will not need to leave the Vatican Museums and queue again for the Basilica, but you will enter the Basilica from a back door after the Vatican Museums visit, led by your guide.
Guided tours including the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica start from 38€. The price can depend on the day, the availability, the durations and the quality of the tour.
The hidden Vatican museums
A great tour that will help you find many inaccessible places within the Vatican Museums. This tour is quite expensive but it is definitely a true experience. A special part of the museum (The Cabinet of Masks) will be opened specially for you. It is a once in a lifetime experience for art lover. Moreover, you will get early entrance to the Sistine chapel. You can check the offer here.
Vatican museums and Vatican gardens
Experience the stunning outdoors at the Vatican Gardens as well as the artistic masterpieces of the Vatican Museums.
Costs for these tours vary, so it is important to get in touch with tour organizers and plan.
Vatican museums and gardens in Castel Gandolfo
To feel like you have walked the same path as the Pope, this is a brilliant tour to experience. This tour allows you to experience the summer residence of the Popes in Castel Gadolfo, plus the Vatican museums as usual. Check the prices here.
Combos – tips for booking guided tours with other Rome attractions
The best way to go about experiencing the best that the Vatican Museums have to offer is to spend some time with your guide. Letting them know the main sights you want to see can help you create a private tour that meets all your needs. This means that you can save some time and money. When coming from or going to Rome, you can book a Vatican Museum Tour and include the Colosseum as well. Before you book anything, make sure that you compare prices as they are updated routinely.
Is there any free Vatican museum tours?
If you want a human guide, or even an audio guide, you will need to make a payment. There are no free Vatican Museum Tours. The cheapest tour is one that is audio guided and it costs 7 Euros extra for adults, and 5 Euros extra for children that are between the ages of 6 – 12 years old.
There are some people who can benefit from a free Vatican Museum tour and they include:
- Children below the age of 6, who do not require any reservations or tickets.
- Museum directors
- Select academics and journalists
- Select people with disabilities and their companions.
Cancel/modify your Vatican Museums Tour?
This is an interesting variable. If for any reason you want to cancel or modify your tour, it is best to reach out to the tour provider for an individual agreement.
Are any Vatican museum tours included in the Roma Pass or Omnia Card?
No. Roma Pass does not give access to the Vatican museums. Instead, the Omnia Card gives access to the Vatican, plus a lot of other attractions in Rome, but a tour of the Vatican is not included.
Enjoy your visit in the Vatican 😉
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