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Vatican Museums Friday Night

Did you know you can visit the Vatican Museums Friday night?

This may be one of the best-kept secrets in Rome. Find you why you should put this special visit on your itinerary.

vatican museums candelabra roomHave you ever seen the Candelabra room in the Vatican Museums like this? It's usually wall to wall with people. But not late on a Friday night!


Why You Should Visit the Vatican Museums Friday Night

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 night:

I really cannot recommend this highly enough.

Keep reading to find out all you need to know. Or, just watch my video, above.

Vatican Museums Friday Night - Dates and Times

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 nights. The museums close normally during the day at 6pm.

On Friday nights, they open back up at 7pm, and close at 11pm.

Note that 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 10:30pm.

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Costs for Visiting the Vatican Museums on Friday Nights

To visit the Vatican Museums Friday 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 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 some online ticketing agencies to book. Visit my page for everything you need to know about purchasing Vatican Museum Tickets.

Crowds at the Vatican Museums on Friday Nights

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. 

vatican museums crowdsThe Vatican Museums on an afternoon in May. Ugh!

Up to 35,000 people may visit the museums throughout a given day.

vatican museums tapestries room with crowdsThe Vatican Museums Tapestries gallery on a July afternoon. Mob scene!

So, are the Vatican Museums crowded when you visit on Friday nights? If you go at 7pm, when most people want to go (presumably so they can go out to dinner afterward), then, they are sort of crowded. 

vatican museums tapestries room with NO crowdsThe Vatican Museums Tapestries gallery at 10pm on a Friday night. Just us and some guards.

But, if you do what we did . . . go at 8:30pm, hang out in the Pinecone courtyard (you can even have a glass of wine if you like) until about 9pm . . . then, well, look for yourself:

vatican museums rotunda roomThe rotunda room of the Vatican museums is wonderful on a Friday night. With no crowds, you can enjoy the art up close and personal.
vatican museums greek cross roomThis "Greek Cross" room with the sarcophagi of Saint Helena and Saint Constantina (the wife and daughter of the Emperor Constantine) is always mobbed with people. But not late on a Friday night!
vatican museums maps galleryFrom 9pm - 10:30pm, when you start getting kicked out, there is hardly anyone in the Vatican Museums. Here's the maps gallery at 10pm.

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. 

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Tours of the Vatican Museums on Friday Evenings

Yes, you can take a tour of the Vatican Museums Friday night.

You can also visit on your own, and rent the audio guide.

I always suggest a tour of the Vatican Museums, because it helps 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, a tour may not work for you. Or, you could book the tour, but simply stay inside.

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Will you see St. Peter's Basilica if you Visit the Vatican Museums on a Friday Night?

If you visit the Vatican Museums on a Friday night, you are going after Saint Peter's basilica has closed. The basilica closes at 6:30pm in winter, and 7pm the rest of the year, so you won't get to see it on the Friday night visit to the museums.

saint peter's basilicaYou cannot visit Saint Peter's Basilica during or after a visit to the Vatican Museums Friday night. The basilica is a separate building, and it closes at 6:30pm or 7pm.

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.

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WILL YOU SEE The Sistine Chapel IF YOU VISIT THE VATICAN MUSEUMS ON A FRIDAY NIGHT?

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 night.

sistine chapel late friday nightYou will always see the Sistine Chapel at the end of your Vatican Museums visit. On a Friday night, towards the end, there is hardly anyone inside!

On Friday nights, the museums close at 11pm, so they will start shooing you out at about 10:30pm. You will find them much less crowded than during daytime visits.

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How to Have Happy Hour inside the Vatican Museums on Friday Evenings

Can you imagine, having a lovely glass of wine and snacks right inside the Vatican Museums' Pinecone Courtyard? 

pinecone courtyard aperitivoWant to enjoy a glass of wine and some snacks? Book the option for an "aperitif" when you book your ticket. Bonus - you get to enjoy this beautiful pinecone courtyard while you sip!

Well, you can actually do this when you visit the Vatican Museums Friday night.

snack buffet vatican museums aperitivoThe Friday night aperitivo in the Vatican Museums includes a pretty extensive snack buffet.

When you go to the Vatican Museums website to book, you can select the option for "Happy Hour" there, for 38€ (includes entry to the museums.) Or you can book a tour that includes the Happy Hour via an online tour agency.

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Is This the Best Way to Visit the Vatican Museums if it's Your First Time in Rome?

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 night can be a great idea, purely for the reason that it's much less crowded at night.

Just know that you will not see St. Peter's Basilica, 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.

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.

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