Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Ticket options, prices and our tips

In a nutshell: Our top tips for the Vatican Museums

  • The Vatican Museums are one of the top highlights in Rome. To avoid long lines, it’s best to buy an online ticket in advance.
  • Whether you’re an art lover, photography fan, or interested in history – you’ll have plenty to see here. The main attraction is the Sistine Chapel.
  • The Vatican Museums also include the beautiful Vatican Gardens, which are absolutely worth a visit.
  • Because the Vatican Museums are so vast, we recommend that you book a guided tour. This way, all the planning will be done for you.
  • For your visit, make sure to plan enough time. Also, avoid weekends and holidays.

Those were our top tips for the Vatican Museums. In our article we will go into more detail about which museum highlights you should not miss and give you tips on tickets, how to get there, and tours.

Vatican Museums: Tickets and Prices

Tickets are available on-site, online at the Vatican Museums’ official website, or via GetYourGuide.

On-site tickets cost 17 euros. The box office for admission usually has a long line so buying tickets online is a better option. With a standard ticket from the official website you will still have to wait in line though.

GetYourGuide has its own entrance with fast entry. So the small additional cost on GetYourGuide will give you more time inside the exhibit and save you some time standing in line.

With GetYourGuide you can also cancel your tickets up to 24-hours in advance for a full refund. So if your plans change, you don’t have to worry. Standard online tickets cannot be canceled; they can only be rebooked.

The following table compares the three ticket options for the Vatican Museums:

On site ticketTicket from official websiteGetYourGuide ticket
Fast entryNoNoYes
Cancellation with refundNoNoYes
Price17 euros17 euros + 4 euros fee26 euros
To the ticketTo the ticket

Our tip: Book your tickets for the Vatican Museums at least one week in advance or they might be sold out for your desired date.

The Vatican Museums’ Must-See

If you don’t have a whole day to spend, you should focus on just a few highlights. Here are some of the most popular exhibits:

The Stanzas of Raphael

Stanzas of Raphael in the Vatican
The colorful, detailed frescoes in Raphael’s stanzas are truly impressive (© isogood)

The Stanzas of Raphael are four rooms with numerous frescoes created by the Renaissance artist Raphael da Urbino around the same time as Michelangelo’s masterpiece. The name is derived from the Italian “la stanza” (the room). Originally, it was used as Pope Julius II’s private chambers.

One of the frescoes, The School of Athens, depicts some of the most famous philosophers like Aristotle and Plato.

Pinacoteca Vaticana

Gardens of the Vatican, with the building of the Pinacoteca, which is part of the Vatican Musems
With paintings by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and co, the Pinacoteca is one of the most popular Vatican museums

Art enthusiasts absolutely must visit the Pinacoteca of the Vatican Museums. An extensive collection of artwork spanning eight centuries is on display in the museum’s 16 halls, making it one of the finest art collections in Europe.

Notable works by Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Bellini, and Leonardo da Vinci can be found along these corridors.

Gallery of Maps at the Vatican Museums
The Gallery of Maps in the Vatican Museums will take you back to the 16th century (©

What did we do before Google Maps? Oh, right, hand-drawn maps! The Galleria delle Carte Geografiche features 40 of the most beautiful historical maps, depicting Italy and the world as it was imagined in 1581.

Though useful for navigation, these maps are more than that; they are intricate works of art with beautiful details. At only eight meters wide and the length of a soccer field, this narrow exhibit hall wows visitors with its architecture and impressive collection.

The Bramante Staircase

View down from a spiral staircase at the Vatican Museums
The spiral staircase at the exit of the Vatican Museums

The Bramante Staircase’s name is somewhat misleading. In fact, there is a second, older staircase in the Vatican that was built by Bramante. This one was actually built by Giuseppe Momo.

Located at the exit of the Vatican Museums, this staircase features a unique design with two separate staircases that lead up and down, but never meet. Photographers interested in architecture should not miss this opportunity to grab a shot.

The Egyptian Museum

Sarcophagus in the Egyptian Museum at the Vatican
At the Vatican’s Egyptian Museum, you’ll be immersed in a completely different world (©

Did you know that ancient Egypt was once under Roman rule? And that’s why it has its own Vatican Museum filled with sacred artifacts from ancient Egypt.

Many statues and reliefs from ancient Egyptian tombs, as well as mummies and sarcophagi, are on display here. The Egyptian Museum is fascinating because you can catch a glimpse of an entirely different ancient culture.

The Sistine Chapel

Wall painting "The Last Judgement" by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel in Rome
The Sistine Chapel is the highlight of the Vatican Museums (© ilfede)

For centuries, the new Pope has always been elected in the Sistine Chapel, but that isn’t the only reason this site attracts visitors from all over the world.

Some of the world’s most famous works of art can be found on the walls and ceilings of this breathtaking hall. It is best known for Michelangelo’s ornate ceiling frescoes. You’ve probably seen The Creation of Adam, where God and Adam’s fingers almost touch.

The Sistine Chapel is located at the very end of the Vatican Museums tour and will undoubtedly leave you impressed.

Attention: Taking photos is strictly prohibited in the Sistine Chapel!

How to get to the entrance of the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are not accessible from St. Peter’s Square; the entrance is located outside Vatican City.

You must leave St. Peter’s Square and walk along Via Porta Angelica, along the city walls of the Vatican, until you reach Piazza del Risorgimento. There you turn left into Viale del Vaticano and the entrance to the Vatican Museums is then just a few steps away.

The walk from St. Peter’s Square takes about ten minutes. Cipro on line A is the nearest metro station. From there it is also a 10-minute walk to the entrance of the Vatican Museums.

There are actually three entrances depending on whether you already have your ticket or need to purchase one:

  • an entrance if you still need to buy a ticket
  • an entrance for online tickets purchased on the official website
  • an entrance with fast entry for GetYourGuide ticket holders

The entrance you can buy tickets on-site has the longest line.

The Vatican Gardens

View of St. Peter's Basilica from the Vatican Gardens
Directly adjacent to the Vatican Museums are the Vatican Gardens

A trip to the Vatican Museums isn’t complete without a visit to the Vatican Gardens.

Sculptures, fountains, temples, and ruins dating back to the Middle Ages and a small forest that spreads out across the 23-hectare Vatican Gardens stun visitors with its beauty and tranquility.

Here you can see several centuries of garden design in English, Italian and French styles, away from the bustling streets of Rome.

The Vatican Gardens are only open to visitors on a guided tour, either on foot or by minibus. You can book this as a combined ticket with the museums.

Note: The Vatican Gardens tour sells out quickly, so book in advance!

To the full entry ticket Vatican Museums & Vatican Gardens (in minibus)
To the full entry ticket Vatican Museums & Vatican Gardens (on foot)

Helpful Tips for Your Visit to The Vatican Museums

Finally, here are a few general tips to prepare for your visit to the Vatican Museums.

#1 Book a guided tour of the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums offer both self-guided and guided tours for visitors. The sheer size of the Vatican Museums makes booking a guided tour an excellent idea though. All the planning will be handled for you, and your guide will lead you right to the highlights of the museums.

Plus, you won’t have to wait in line for a tour if you book online. The price difference between the skip-the-line ticket and a tour is often only a few euros.

Tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel: this guided tour will take you to select rooms with the most popular exhibits and to the Sistine Chapel for a combined admission.

The Vatican Museums at night: a cool alternative to avoid the tourist crowds during the day and the ambiance of Vatican City at night is beautiful.

Vatican Museums with St. Peter’s Basilica: Guided tours of St. Peter’s Basilica are highly recommended if you are already touring the Vatican Museums and this tour will allow you to do just that.

#2 Appropriate attire

Though the museums don’t have a strict dress code, the Sistine Chapel is an exception.

Like in most Italian churches, shoulders and knees should be covered. So if you plan on visiting the Vatican Museums, you should dress accordingly.

#3 Give yourself enough time

The Vatican Museums have more than 1,300 rooms, and you could easily spend a whole day here. We know your travel itinerary is busy, but we recommend you plan at least two to three hours to take in a few collections.

Our tip: It’s better to visit fewer rooms, but to do so extensively. You won’t be able to fully take in a lot if you rush through the exhibits.

#4 The best time to visit the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are always busy, but it’s usually less crowded early in the morning and late in the afternoon (during the opening hours). You should avoid weekends and holidays if possible.

On Wednesday mornings, the audience with the Pope takes place in St. Peter’s Square. It’s a bit emptier then. But if you want to visit St. Peter’s Basilica after the Vatican Museums, you should keep in mind that it will not be open for visitors until the afternoon.

Remember: Usually, on the last Sunday of each month, entrance was free for all visitors. It was much more crowded then of course. However, this regulation has been suspended indefinitely.

#5 Rent an audio guide

Many of the exhibits in museums lack an information board or label. For just 7 euros you can rent an audio guide at the entrance, which is well worth the price.

#6 Visit St. Peter’s Basilica after your tour

Your visit to the Vatican Museums ends in the Sistine Chapel. There are two exits: the left exit is for those visiting without a tour and leads to the Bramante Staircase. The right is for guided tour visitors; from there, you can head directly to St. Peter’s Basilica.

Without a guided tour, you will have to leave the Vatican Museums and line up again at St. Peter’s Basilica. A tour saves you so much time. We linked tours for you above.

Of course, as a visitor with a regular ticket, you can also try and sneak through the right exit. This usually goes unnoticed because there are so many people, but it is not actually permitted.

#7 Use discounts

The Vatican Museums are free for children under the age of six. Young people under the age of 18 and students under the age of 25 pay only 8 euros (student-id required!), plus a 4 euro online booking fee.

With these city passes for Rome, you get free admission:

Turbopass Rome Our recommendation!
Rome Tourist Card
Omnia Card
Go Rome Explorer Pass

Have you been to the Vatican Museums?

These were our recommendations for your visit to the Vatican Museums. Do you have any questions or cool insights to share? We’d love to hear from you, feel free to leave a comment!