So you’ve come all the way to Rome to see the Sistine Chapel and the incredible collections housed in the Vatican Museums?
The Vatican Museums are no sprint, they’re a marathon. The complex is enormous with some of the world’s most impressive collections. The Sistine Chapel is located inside the Vatican Museums, so it is required to enter the Museums even if that’s all you came to see. Below we’ve put together a short guide to visiting the Vatican Museums, from purchasing tickets to an explanation of the complex itself. If you’re still looking for a place to rest your head at night and you’d like to stay close to the museums, we’ve got that covered too.
Purchasing Tickets for the Vatican Museums
You can purchase your tickets online from the official Vatican website. *Beware there are many impostor websites that are not authorized to sell tickets but will take your money. These tickets may be completely false or simply resold at a higher price. But it’s best to purchase them safely from the source.
On the Vatican website you can purchase tickets for various tours and experiences. Note: the most basic ticket (Open Tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel) costs €16 per person. Reduced rates are available for children between ages 6 and 18, priests and other religious figures with documentation, and employees of the Vatican (more info on website), for €8. Prices for guided tours or audioguide increase in price.
Skip the Line
Purchasing your ticket online offers the benefit of skipping the line. At the time of purchasing the ticket, you’ll reserve a time to arrive. At your reservation time, you’ll be able to enter the Museums via a reserved line and avoid the potentially long line winding its way around the Vatican walls.
Roma Pass and Omnia Card
You can enter the Vatican Museums and skip the line by purchasing the Omnia Card. Learn more about the benefits of both the Omnia Card and the Roma Pass from our past blog post.
Are you staying with ROMAC? Contact us! we’ll purchase the tickets for you and have them in the apartment when you check in.
How to Reach the Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are located directly adjacent St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. The entrance is located through the Vatican wall on Viale Vaticano.
The closest Metro stop is on Line A, Ottaviano. You can also get off at the Cipro stop, either way it’s about a 10 minute walk from the Metro to the museums entrance.
Bus no. 49 stops directly in front of the museums entrance.
Bus no. 32, 81 and 982 stop at Piazza del Risorgimento and it’s just a few minutes walk along the wall to the museums entrance.
Bus 492 and 990 stop on Via Leone IV/Via degli Scipioni and then just a short walk to the museums entrance.
Take Tram 19 to Piazza del Risorgimento and walk just a few minutes, following the wall to the museums entrance.
The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums (yes plural) represent one of the largest museums in the world. With 20,000 works of art displayed (from a total collection of nearly 70,000 works) in 54 different rooms and galleries, they are also one of the most visited museums in the world.
The museums contain collections of art built up over the centuries of Popes. Founded in the early 16th century by Pope Julius II, visitors are taken through a route that brings them through each and every room including those decorated by Raffaello and, of course, the Sistine Chapel with its ceiling masterpiece by Michelangelo.
The Vatican Museums are open from 9:00am to 6:00pm, Monday through Saturday.
The last Sunday of every month the Vatican Museums are open and free to the public, from 9:00am to 2:00pm. *Generally the free entry attracts large crowds and tickets cannot be purchased online, only at the ticket office of the museums. In our opinion, the free entry is not worth the experience of large crowds, long lines, and limited hours.
Bag deposit: There is a luggage deposit located inside the museums for visitors to use (it is mandatory to leave large bags in the deposit). The deposit is only for the Vatican Museums, so you will not be able to leave your belongings here and venture elsewhere.
Restaurant: There is a simple, self-service snack bar in the Vatican Museums. Not a place for a fancy meal, but something to tie you over during your visit.
Attire: Just like in visiting churches, modest attire is required to visit the museums. Nothing sleeveless, and appropriate length for skirts and shorts. Hats will be asked to be removed.
Photography: There is no flash photography in the galleries, and NO photography in the Sistine Chapel. This is strictly enforced.
Short Visit through the Museums: While it would be a pity to not visit the entire Vatican Museums, some visitors pressed for time may wish to see just the highlights. The Sistine Chapel is the final room through the visitor route, so keep in mind it’s not possible to visit just the Sistine Chapel. You can shorten the visit by starting from the Cortile della Pigna and heading for the Simonetti Staircase. After the first flight of stairs you’ll come upon a gallery of antiquities. Walk all the way down this hall passing the halls of candelabra, tapestries, and maps. At the end of the hall take the modern staircase to the Sistine Chapel.
Even for the abbreviated visit, you should budget 2 hours.
Where to stay near the Vatican Museums
Wake up in the Vatican neighborhood and start each morning by walking through the stunning colonnade of St. Peter’s Square. ROMAC manages several apartments in close proximity to the Vatican and Vatican Museums for small to large groups.
For 2 guests: Take a look at our Giulio Cesare apartment for your cosy home away from home near the Vatican. One bedroom and one bath provide a comfortable home base with characteristic brick vaulted ceiling and modern fixtures.
Up to 5 guests: If you’re traveling as a family or with a few friends, our Vaticano apartment provides more space with a spacious bedroom and living room (with pull out sofa) and modern fixtures in the kitchen and bath.
Up to 14 guests: Bringing the whole family along for the trip? Stay connected near Piazza Mazzini at our large Mazzini apartment that comfortably accommodates up to 14 guests in 5 bedrooms and 3 baths. Cook family dinners in the modern Scavolini kitchen and sit around the large table in the dining room.
Have you visited the Vatican Museums? Share your experience in the comments below!