Are you looking for the best Vatican museum guided tours? In this article you will find a detailed travel guide about the different kind of tours available to visit the Vatican Museums, including private tours, group tours, tours for kids, night tours, audio-guided tours, theme tours and more. Find out which Vatican guided tour suits you the most, and how to pay the best price.
If you already want to book your Vatican Museum Tour right now and don’t want to read ahead, 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: to see everything, you will walk around 7.5 kilometers! I have been a few times and I 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 it is placed 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. This is the entire list:
- 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
As you can see, the Vatican Museums include a huge number of artwork and it can be challenging to understand what to look at. Moreover, the artwork cannot be fully understood without knowing the history of the Vatican and the main artists. Therefore, a guided tour could really change the experience of visiting the Vatican Museums.
To visit the Vatican, there are mainly 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. The tickets include the entrance to all the museums but there is not a 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.
Why booking a Vatican museum tour
Ease – Your guide know his way around the museums. You will only need to show up at the meeting point at the right time and the guide will take care of everything, including the skip the line tickets (which are included in the tours).
Save Up on Time – With limited time, it is difficult to spend the correct amount of time for each section. With a guided tour, you will be leaded through to the most famous masterpieces as well as some hidden important gems and museum sections. On your own, you may miss some of these.
Get to the Heart of Each Museum – The guided tour allows you to ask questions to the guide and get proper answers. The tour guides have brilliant knowledge on all the museums and will add a lot of information about the artworks that you will see.
Make sure you do not 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.
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 the 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
- 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 doing everything according to your 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 talk 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
The group tours are the most popular choice for a guided visit of the Vatican Museums. In fact, group tours are typically the cheapest option among the tours of the Vatican.
The group tours also give you a chance to meet some amazing people, as the groups have around 25 people each. However, there are also options with small groups, between 6 and 12 people. They are just a little more expensive.
In case you are worried that you may not hear the guide if you are at the back of the tour, 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.
Among the group tours, there are also several different options, such as tours with early entrance or evening tours. You can find below an explanation of these options.
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. There are some tours that are shorter than others. If you are short in time, I recommend to check the duration and pick an express tour, which will quickly lead you to the main artwork and finish in the Sistine Chapel.
Vatican museum audioguided tours
This is the cheapest option: the cost is the entrance ticket plus 5 euro for the audio guide rental. 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 is one the most visited museum in the world. There are thousands of people visiting the large museum everyday. Therefore, it is very crowded. In particular, if you would like to see the Sistine Chapel without many people to be able to take the best pictures, it would be very difficult during the normal opening hours. Moreover, people can make background noise and it can be more difficult to follow the tours.
Luckily, there are special tours that give you the possibility to visit the Museums when there are less people.
- Early Morning options – Access before the normal opening hours
The Early Morning Vatican tours are the best choice to avoid the crowds: you will be the first to enter the Sistine Chapel! You will be allowed to enter 15-30 minutes before the normal opening hours. Moreover, you will be conducted by the guide directly to the Sistine Chapel. so that you will see the masterpiece when it is empty. In all the other tours, the Sistine Chapel is visited at the end of the museums.
Early morning tours star very early, usually around 7.15 am. Depending on the availability, you will be able to choose a private, semi-private or group tour.
- Night options
Every Friday, 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. The evening tour is also a good choice if you are short in time to spend in Rome and you do not have much time during the day.
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 is 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. The Vatican Gardens are open to a limited number of people per day. The entry ticket includes both the gardens and the museums, plus, of course, the Sistine Chapel. There are also interesting options for guided tours or experiences, such as breakfast in the gardens and early entrance (before opening hours) to the museums.
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 – tours of Vatican and the Colosseum
There are several options for tours which include multiple attractions. That kind of tours are particularly interesting for visitors who have a limited time to spend in Rome. If fact, if you have only 1 or 2 days, it can be challenging to explore the main sights of the city on your own. And, if you want to experience both the Vatican and the Colosseum on the same day, it can be a good idea to book a combo tour, which include the visit to the Colosseum in the morning and Vatican in the afternoon (or the other way around). With the tour, you will not need to plan ahead how to move from one location to the other and you will have more time to experience the attractions.
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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