Did you know you can visit the Vatican Museums Friday night? (And as of 2022, also on Saturday night!)
This may be one of the best-kept secrets in Rome. Find you why you should put this special visit on your itinerary.
This is one of my favorite "special things to do in Rome", because it feels like you are somehow in on a secret.
How is it possible to be able to visit one of the world's most stunning places, with so few people?
Why don't more people know about this?
Here's what you need to know about visiting the Vatican Museums on a Friday or Saturday night:
I really cannot recommend this highly enough.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know.
From late April through the end of October (the specific day of the month may vary from year to year) you can visit the Vatican Museums on Friday AND Saturday nights.
Usually the Vatican Museums close at 6 PM during the week and all week long during the other months of the year.
(Over the Easter and Christmas holidays, they stay open until 7 PM.)
However, from late April - late October, the museums offer extended hours as follows:
On Friday nights, the museums close at 10:30 PM (last entry is at 8:30 PM.)
On Saturday nights, the museums close at 8:00 PM (last entry is 6 PM.)
Whatever the closing time is, that means they close the doors at that time.
Which means that you will start being shooed out about half an hour before that.
So on Friday nights, you will need to start leaving by 10 PM.
On Saturday nights, you will need to start leaving by 7:30 PM.
To visit the Vatican Museums Friday night or Saturday night, you MUST buy tickets online in advance.
You will not be able to purchase tickets on site.
The cost for visiting the Vatican Museums Friday night or Saturday night is the same as during the day:
17 € for adults; 8 € for children between 6-18, and free for children under 6.
There is a 4€ fee to book online via the Vatican Museums website.
You can also use an online ticketing agency to book.
You might want to do this if you have trouble with the Vatican museums website, or if you can't easily find tickets available through the Vatican Museums.
Visit my page for everything you need to know about purchasing Vatican Museum Tickets.
I think the thing people want to know most about visiting the Vatican Museums is how to avoid the crowds.
This can be tough in high season, since the museums are busy every day they are open, all day.
Up to 35,000 people may visit the museums throughout a given day, and it looks like 2023 tourism crowds might even beat this estimate!
So, are the Vatican Museums crowded when you visit on Friday or Saturday nights?
On Friday nights, if you go at around 6:30 or 7 pm, when most people want to go (presumably so they can go out to dinner afterward), then, yes, they are sort of crowded.
But, if you do what we did . . . go at 8:30 PM, hang out in the Pinecone courtyard (you can even have a glass of wine if you like) until about 9 PM . . . then, well, look for yourself:
This was not a special visit.
This was a Friday night in high season, June 1.
We paid like everyone else, and we just went in later and stayed to closing time.
Colosseum by night
Another amazing night visit you can do in Rome is visit the Colosseum by night. Find out how!
Saturday nights the museums are open later but only until 8 PM.
This means they will be a little more crowded than late on a Friday night, but probably a lot less crowded than on any given day, again, as long as you stay closer to closing time.
REMINDER - don't forget to dress really comfortably when you tour the Vatican museums. And since these night visits are throughout summer, don't forget also to bring a scarf or cardigan to cover your shoulders!
No matter what season you visit Rome, here are 4 things never to leave at home:
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!
Yes, you can take a tour of the Vatican Museums Friday night and Saturday night.
You can book this tour on the Vatican Museums website or through a tour agency.
I highly recommend this tour with Walks of Italy.
You can also visit on your own, and rent the audio guide.
I always suggest a tour of the Vatican Museums, because it helps to know where to go and what you are looking at.
However, most tours go on the earlier side.
If you want to do what we did, and go late and stay late on a Friday night, a tour may not work for you.
Or, you could book the tour, but simply stay inside.
If you visit the Vatican Museums on a Friday night or a Saturday night, you are going after Saint Peter's basilica has closed for the day.
The basilica closes at 6:30 PM in winter, and 7 pm the rest of the year, so you won't get to see it on the Friday or Saturday night visit to the museums.
You can either visit the basilica on a separate occasion, or visit it at around 4-5pm, and leave around closing time, then head to the museums.
Make sure to give yourself a lot of time for waiting in the security line to get into the basilica.
In high season, it can take over an hour to get through that line.
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.
Every visit to the Vatican Museums finishes inside the Sistine Chapel.
This is the last major room you will see when you visit the Vatican Museums, whether on a regular visit or on Friday or Saturday night.
On Friday nights, the museums close at 10:30 PM, so they will start shooing you out at about 10 PM.
On Saturday nights, the museums close at 8 PM, and you'll start being asked to leave by about 7:30 PM.
You will find the Sistine Chapel less crowded than during daytime visits.
Can you imagine, having a lovely glass of wine and snacks right inside the Vatican Museums' Pinecone Courtyard?
Well, you can actually do this when you visit the Vatican Museums Friday night or Saturday night.
When you go to the Vatican Museums website to book, you can select the option for "Admission tickets - Admission ticket and Happy Hour" there, for 40€ (includes entry to the museums.)
Ready to plan your trip?
If you visit the Vatican Museums Friday night, the following will be closed and inaccessible: the Pinacoteca (paintings galleries) and the Chiaramonti Museum (and the Braccio Nuovo, or new wing.)
Other rooms may be closed or off limits as well.
If it's your first time in Rome, visiting the Vatican Museums on a Friday or Saturday night can be a great idea, purely because it's much less crowded at night.
But you should know that you will not see St. Peter's Basilica, be able to climb St. Peter's Dome, or enjoy St. Peter's Square by day.
So you may want to plan those things for a separate day, or go before you visit the museums.
Whether you visit the Vatican Museums Friday night, Saturday night, or normally during the day, if you are visiting the Vatican Museums for the first time, I'd really suggest you take a tour.
There is so much to take in, and they are enormous, that it's worth having someone guide you, and point out the most important works so you don't get overwhelmed.
If you are not that into tours, try the self-guided audio-guide.
Want to save this page about visiting the Vatican Museums Friday night to Pinterest? Pin it here!
Get your free Rome trip planner!
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?
Please come over to the private Romewise Facebook group and join in the conversation.
You will often find me there, happy to answer your questions / comments!
You will also meet other Rome lovers and experts, too.
What are you waiting for?