Vatican Museum Tickets - What does "Skip the Line" mean?

What's the best way to get your Vatican Museum tickets and see the Sistine Chapel?

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!

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

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

No time to read the whole page?

The best way to get Vatican Museum tickets is on the Vatican Museums website. They open availability for entry tickets 60 days in advance.

There is a 5€ pre sales fee, so a standard ticket will cost 20€ on site or 25€ in advance.

You can also book on a third-party site, such as Tiqets or GetYourGuide. This may cost slightly more but you will also likely find more availability.

The worst ways to get Vatican Museums tickets are standing in the long line outside the museums, or purchasing tickets from someone who approaches you on the street or in front of the museums.

Tour rating:

4.25 stars

(4.2/5 stars)

Vatican Museum tickets costs

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

20€ per adult over 18

This is the flat cost without any pre-sales or tour fee added on as of January 1 2024.

If you book your Vatican Museums tickets ahead of time, some additional fees will apply, whether you book through the Vatican Museums official website or a reseller.

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 9 AM and close at 2 PM, with last entrance at 12:30 PM.

The Vatican Museums have also been free in the past on World Tourism Day, which is always September 27, but you should always check if this is the case in any given year.

As you might imagine, it's crazy busy when it's free and unless you are on a tight budget or have 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 12:30.

Discounts - Who is Eligible?


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

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.

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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 until closing.

Nobody will kick you out or make you leave the museums once you are inside.

You can even loop around several times if you want.

A typical visit can last anywhere from 2-3 hours (although I can spend and have on occasion spent 5-6 hours in there.)

The basic ticket does not include the audio-guide or any tour.

What will you see?

(Click here to visit my page with my top 10 Vatican Museum Must-Sees.)

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

If you follow the whole route of ALL the museums, you will walk about 7.5 kilometers, or about 4.5 miles (although it's not likely you will do all that in one visit!)

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.

Your 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 Sistine Chapel.

I go often to visit the Vatican Museums and I have certainly not seen it all.

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.

I also have videos on my YouTube channel about how you can visit the Sistine Chapel first thing in the morning or close to closing, and have it nearly to yourself.

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


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 that is sometimes available, although NOT if you have entered the museums with a regular ticket.

St Peter's Basilica Shortcut

You can only take the shortcut from the Sistine Chapel to St Peter's Basilica if you are on a tour that INCLUDES the basilica.

The shortcut is open from 9:30 am - 5 or 5:30PM, and it's ONLY accessible to tour companies or private guides that you book OUTSIDE the Vatican Museums website.

The Vatican Museums does not have any ticket or tour that includes the shortcut.

This means that you won't have access to the shortcut during the KeyMaster tour, the Extra Time tour, or any other tour that does not specifically include the basilica.

If you book any tour of the Vatican Museums, you can check the details to see if it finishes in the Sistine Chapel or the basilica.

Click here to view a map of Vatican City (it will open in a new page.)

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.

If you are on a morning tour that includes Saint Peter's Basilica on a Wednesday, you may be informed that you won't see the basilica on that tour (as it's closed), but instead may visit something else, such as the Pinacoteca (paintings gallery.)

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



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.

NEW FOR 2024!

The archeological area of the Vatican Necropolis of Via Triumphalis is now open for visitors.

This is an ancient Roman burial site that is within the Vatican walls and before now was very difficult to get access to.

You can only enter as part of an official Vatican tour group, and tickets need to be purchased through the official website.

This is an entirely separate visit, so you will not have access to either St Peter's Basilica or the Vatican Museums.

Click here to watch my YouTube video about it and see what it's like!

Skip the Line Vatican Museum Tickets

You may purchase tickets to the Vatican Museums on site.

If you opt for this, you will likely face very long lines.

They give priority to people who have booked in advance.

Once those people have gone in and gone through security, they will let more people in a little at a time.

Unless you arrive very early (before the museums open), or in low season, you risk having a long wait in the queue before you can get in just to purchase tickets.

Once past security, you will then have to wait in a second queue to purchase your tickets.


My trick to purchasing tickets last-minute and also to having (slightly) fewer crowds is to go right at closing time.

As of 2024, closing time is either 7 PM or 8PM.

This means last entry is at 5 PM or 6 PM.

So I would say to try to get there by 4:45/5:45PM and usually there's not much of a line by then.

There is NO guarantee this will work but if you didn't get tickets in advance, and want to give it a try, that's my suggestion!

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 5€ booking fee but trust me, it is so worth it during mid and high season when the lines are snaking around several blocks.

Availability for regular entry tickets opens on the Vatican museums website 60 days in advance.

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.

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

The Vatican Museums open at 8 AM as of 2024.

Even if you have an 8 AM entrance ticket, you will still need to take the time to go through security and go up into the museums.

The official Vatican Museums ticket office closes once the last entry time has passed.

All visitors will start to be moved along around half an hour before closing time to make sure everyone is out on time.

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 well in advance.


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, 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.

This is in addition to the difficulty you may have in actually finding the tickets you want!

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 electronic Vatican Museums ticket.

You can print out the ticket or show it on your smartphone/tablet.

NB - If you print your ticket, you only need the first page. Don't print the last 7 pages, it's a waste of paper!

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 ticket.

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.

I would personally get there even a bit earlier just in case.

Your ticket is the pdf with a bar code on your phone (or printout).

Once you pass security, head up the stairs (or elevator), and go through the turnstile.

I often see many people having trouble putting their tickets on the turnstile.

The idea is to have the bar code up against the dark glass reader.

As soon as the light turns green, just move forward and you're in!

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.
  • 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.

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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.

If you do not want a tour or to purchase through a reseller, you can go to the Vatican Museums entrance and try to purchase same-day tickets.

You will likely have a long wait in line.

**I do NOT recommend purchasing tickets or tours from people who approach you in the street.**

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!


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?


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?


All Vatican museums tickets are nominative.

This means that once you purchase your ticket, you'll have to enter the name of the person who will use it.

And when you go to the museums, you'll need to show some form of ID (your passport is NOT necessary), to show that you are the person whose name is on the ticket.

And once you book your tickets, it is impossible to change anything about them.

If you have booked a Vatican Museums tour through an agency and need to make a change, check with the agency to find out if it's at all possible to make changes through them.

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