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Vatican Museum Tickets - How to Skip the Line

Want to know the best way to get your Vatican Museum tickets and see the Sistine Chapel?

Find out all about how much they cost, who is eligible for discounts, how to skip the line, and more!

spiral staircase in vatican museumsDon't miss seeing this beautiful spiral staircase in the Vatican Museums. Find out the best way to get Vatican City tickets and skip the line!

Vatican Museum Tickets - Everything You Need to Know

On this page, you will find a comprehensive guide to getting tickets for the Vatican Museums, including:

  • Cost - How much do tickets cost?
  • Free Entry - When is it free to visit the Vatican Museums? 
  • Discounts - Who is eligible for discounted or free entry?
  • What's included? Is the Sistine Chapel included? Is St. Peter's Basilica included?
  • Skip the Line - How do you book Vatican City tickets in advance? How do you skip the line? 
  • Cancel/modify - Here's how to cancel or change your Vatican Museum tickets

Vatican Museum tickets costs

If you were to just walk up to the ticket counter at the Vatican Museums, you would pay:

17€ per adult over 18

This is the flat cost without any pre-sales or tour fee added on.

However, right now you have to book your Vatican Museums tickets ahead of time, so you need to do it online where additional fees may apply, depending on the ticket type you purchase.

To visit the Vatican Museums on Friday or Saturday night (I HIGHLY recommend this!), you should book in advance. The cost is the same as for a daytime visit.


Free Entry - When is it free to enter the Vatican Museums? 

On the last Sunday of every month (unless it's a religious holiday), the Vatican Museums are open and free for everyone.

Hours are reduced: they open at 9am and close at 2pm, with last entrance at 12:00pm.

The Vatican Museums have also been free in the past on World Tourism Day, which is always September 27, but they have not yet confirmed if this will be the case in 2022.

As you might imagine, it's crazy busy this day and unless you are on a tight budget or tight schedule constraints, I strongly recommend you avoid going this day.

In addition to large crowds, the lines can be very long.

If you don't come first thing, or book in advance (only available via the Vatican website when you book a tour with them), you risk waiting in line so long that you don't even get in by 12:00.

Discounts - Who is Eligible?

VERY IMPORTANT!

If you pre-purchase a discounted ticket, you should be prepared to show proof of eligibility for the discount.

And if, when you show up at the museums, it turns out you are not eligible, you will have to purchase a brand new-full price ticket, and your original discount ticket will not be refunded or applied.

I often get asked about who is eligible for discounted Vatican Museum tickets. The clearest answers I can give are:

  • Everyone aged 6-18 (including 6 year olds and 18 year olds) pays a reduced rate of 8€
  • SOME “international” students 25 and younger pay a reduced rate of 8€
  • Members of the clergy pay a reduced rate of 8€

The Vatican Museums are free for:

  • Children under 6. They also do not need any ticket or reservation.
  • Museum directors
  • SOME journalists and academics
  • SOME people with disabilities and their companions

There is NO discount for:

  • Seniors of any age

Where I wrote SOME, you will need to check the Vatican website for specifics.

There is a much longer and more detailed explanation of who is eligible for discounts and free entry.


What's included in your Vatican Museums tickets?

The ticket gets you into the Vatican Museums on the day you reserve/enter.

There is no re-entry.

Once you are inside, you may stay as long as you like.

A typical visit can last anywhere from 2-5 hours. The basic ticket does not include the audio-guide or any tour.

What will you see?

The Vatican Museums holds one of the largest art collections in the world.

If you follow the whole route of the museums, you will walk about 7.5 kilometers, or about 4.5 miles. 

vatican museums tapestries hallThe Tapestries Hall is one of many galleries you will see when you visit the Vatican Museums.

The Vatican Museums are actually made up of several museums.

The Vatican Museum tickets get you into all of them (although not into every room, as there are some rooms normally off limits to regular museum visitors.)


Vatican Museums Rooms Closings

From time to time, and usually without any notice, you may find that a section of the museums is closed.

Or a work of art is absent because it's on loan to another museum or exhibit, or being restored.

If this happens when you visit, you will just have to grin and bear it and move on.

There is so much to see, you won't run out!

The collections include paintings from some of Italy's greatest artists like Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio.

There is an extraordinary collection of Egyptian antiquities, including papyrus, pottery, and mummies in their sarcophagi.

You'll see spectacular ancient Roman and Greek sculpture in the Pio-Clementine Museum, amazing wall tapestries down one long hallway, ancient and antique maps in another, and of course:


The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome

Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.

In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Castel Sant'Angelo, and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.


Is the Sistine Chapel included in the Vatican Museums ticket?

Yes, the Sistine Chapel is included in all Vatican Museum tickets.

It is the very last thing you visit.

There is no ticket that allows you to ONLY see the Sistine Chapel.

You must purchase Vatican Museum tickets and at a minimum, go through the main galleries of the museums to get to the Sistine Chapel at the end.

There is no other way (for visitors to get) into the Sistine Chapel

michelangelo painting The CreationThe Creation of Adam by Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1508-1512

If you want, you can book a fast-track, shortened visit of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel that only lasts 90 minutes.

Click here to find out the Top 10 Vatican Museum Must Sees!



Is St. Peter's Basilica included in the Vatican Museums ticket?

inside st peter's basilica - not part of vatican museumsThe inside of St. Peter's Basilica - free to visit and not part of the Vatican Museums ticket

No.

St. Peter's Basilica is a church, and there is no fee to enter.

The basilica is the other must-see when visiting the Vatican, but it's a separate building and site from the Vatican Museums, and is not included in the ticket to the museums. 

Click here to open a Google map showing where the Vatican Museums are in relation to Saint Peter's Basilica.

This being said, the lines to enter the basilica from its main entrance in St. Peter's Square can be long, because everyone must go through security.

When you enter the Vatican Museums, you already go through security, so if you could enter the basilica from the museums, you wouldn't need to do this again to visit St. Peter's Basilica.

From the Sistine Chapel, there is a 5-minute shortcut to St. Peter's Basilica. It is designated as only for tours and groups, so if you are on a tour, you will have this privilege.

If you are not on a tour, you cannot take the shortcut from the Sistine Chapel into Saint Peter's Basilica.

As of September 2022, the shortcut between the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica is back!

The shortcut had been blocked for everyone after things reopened post-Covid, which led to some huge queues in St Peter's Square for entering the basilica.

As of now (September 2022) when visiting the Vatican Museums, if you are on an official tour, either with the Vatican Museums or an external agency, you WILL be able to take the shortcut from the Sistine Chapel to Saint Peter's Basilica.

If you are not on a tour, you will have to exit the museums and walk around to St Peter's Square - hopefully the queues won't be as long without all the tour groups there!


St. Peter's Basilica is closed Wednesday mornings during the Papal Audience, and reopens sometime around 12-1pm that day.

It is also closed during any papal mass being held at the Vatican.

The basilica may also be closed last-minute, for other and sometimes unknown reasons. 

Are the Vatican Gardens included in the Vatican Museums ticket?

view of the vatican gardens from aboveThe Vatican Gardens are wonderful but to visit them, you need to book this separately from the Vatican Museums

No.

But!

The Vatican Museums ARE included in the Vatican Gardens ticket!

If you book a visit to the Vatican Gardens (it has to be booked in advance, and by the way I really recommend a visit here), then you automatically get skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican Museums.

But it does not get you into the basilica from the Sistine Chapel, as this is available only to tour groups.

If you're planning on visiting Vatican City, click here to see how to plan your visits during your trip.

Skip the Line Vatican Museum Tickets

It's no longer possible to purchase Vatican Museums tickets on-site.

You must pre-book.

All Vatican Museum tickets purchased in advance, whether through the Vatican website, or through an agency, are “skip the line.” 

Disclosure : If you make a purchase through a link on this page, I may receive a small commission - at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site!

Pre-purchasing Skip the Line Vatican Museum tickets through the Vatican website

You can pre-purchase Vatican Museum tickets online through the Vatican Museums official website.

There is a 4€ booking fee per ticket but trust me, it is so worth it during mid and high season when the lines are snaking around several blocks.

The languages for the official Vatican Museums ticket office online are Italian or English.

You will need to first select the kind of ticket you want (usually just "Admission tickets"), then at the next screen you will see the days with availability.

Time slots available on the Vatican website are every half hour, from 8:30am until 3pm.

Whatever time slot you choose, you will have 15 minutes' leeway on either side of that time.

The Vatican Museums open at 9 am.

Even if you have an 8:30 am entrance ticket, you will still need to take the time to go through security, exchange your voucher for an actual ticket, and go up into the museums.

So by the time you are done with all this, it will be just about 9am.

The Vatican Museums close at 6 pm.

The official Vatican Museums ticket office closes at 4pm and last entry is at 4 pm.

All visitors must be out by 5:30 pm.

In high season, they sell out quickly and you often will not find all time slots available.

Sometimes it is possible to get tickets even on the same day but in high season, you should try to plan for this at least 1-2 days in advance.

AMAZING OPPORTUNITY!

Do you want to visit the Vatican Museums BEFORE they open, I mean REALLY before they open, at 6 AM, and go through with the keymaster and open the museums and turn on the lights?

Including in turning on the lights in the Sistine Chapel?

I promise you will never forget this experience!

Click here to book Vatican Museums tickets to open the museums with the keymaster!

Next you will select the number of full-priced or reduced-price tickets.

You can pre-book and pre-pay the audio-guide, but you can also decide this once you are at the museums. 

The audio guides are available in 10 languages (Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Portuguese.)

I've had a lot of experience with the Vatican Museums website, assisting our hotel guests with their Vatican Museum tickets bookings over the years, and I will tell you that it can be quirky.

Some banks have very high security measures in place to protect their clients against fraud, and you may find it difficult to book a ticket online through the Vatican Museums website.

Once you have completed your online purchase, you will receive two emails: one to confirm your payment only. The second email is the really important one: it contains your voucher for your Vatican Museums ticket.

You can print out the voucher (you only need the first page. Don't print the last 7 pages, it's a waste of paper!) or show it on your smartphone/tablet.

On the day and time you booked, bypass the huge snaking line and go to the entrance  of the Vatican Museums, and show the guys there your voucher.

What time do you have to arrive when you have a timed ticket?

Whatever time you book, you have about 15 minutes' grace on either side. So, for example, if you book a ticket for 11 am entry, you can show up any time between 10:45 am and 11:15 am.

Once you pass through security, go to the left to the "cassa" and turn in your voucher for an actual ticket.

You may find you have to wait in a small line of others who, like you, have pre-booked.

But it's a short wait.

Head up the stairs (or elevator), and go through the turnstile.

Now you have one more huge escalator to go up and finally you will be at the entrance to the Vatican Museums.

Pre-purchasing Skip the Line Vatican Museum tickets through an agency

If you want to take a tour of the Vatican Museums, of course they take care of purchasing the skip the line Vatican Museum tickets for you.

If you just want to pre-purchase Skip the Line Vatican Museums tickets (only), there are some benefits of doing so through an online agency:

  • If you have any problems with the Vatican Website, such as with payment, or just generally finding it unwieldy, using an online ticket agency is an easier way to go.
  • Tour agencies often have reserves of tickets that they purchase long in advance. So if you don't find availability on the Vatican website for the day/time you want, try with the agency.
  • If you book with our trusted partner GetYourGuide, they have a special agreement with the Vatican Museums, allowing them privileged access to their Skip the Line ticket holders, that bypasses even the priority lines.
  • When you book through an agency, they take care of getting your tickets and getting you into the museums. You just have to show up.

No chance or no time to buy Skip the Line Vatican Museum tickets?

What happens if you cannot purchase Vatican Museum tickets in advance (maybe your credit card isn’t working, or, you left it too late and it’s your last day in Rome and there is nothing available on the Vatican Museums website)?

One option is to try to book this ticket through an authorized ticket vendor like GetYourGuide.

They may have tickets available. Another option is to book a tour.

Disclosure : If you make a purchase or booking through a link on this page, I may receive a small commission - at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site!

BE AWARE OF PICKPOCKETS!

Given how many people go into the Vatican Museums daily, and in particular the crowded Sistine Chapel, you should be VERY careful with your belongings and aware of pickpockets!

Inside the Sistine Chapel, visitors are very distracted and looking up, and may not notice they are being pickpocketed.

Disclosure : If you make a purchase through a link on this page, I may receive a small commission - at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site!

How to Cancel or Modify your Vatican Museums ticket

Can you cancel your Vatican Museums ticket and get a refund?

No.

If you pre-book Vatican Museum tickets through the Vatican Museums website, and then need to cancel, there is nothing to do.

There are no refunds whatsoever.

If you book a tour with an outside tour company to the Vatican Museums and then need to cancel, contact the agency you booked with to find out their terms and conditions for cancellations.

Can you modify your Vatican Museums ticket?

Yes. Once only.

If you pre-book a ticket to the Vatican Museums through their website, and then need to make a change, visit the Vatican Museums online ticket office.

From the menu, you may choose to modify the date and time, and/or the names on the booking. You may do this only once.

If you have booked a Vatican Museums tour through an agency and need to make a change, check with the agency to find out how to make changes through them.


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