Vatican Museums Friday Night - And Saturday night too!

Did you know you can visit the Vatican Museums on Friday night as well as Saturday evenings?

Find out why you should put this special visit on your itinerary.

Vatican museums maps galleryHave you ever seen the Vatican Museums maps gallery like this? It's usually wall to wall people. But not late on a Friday night!

Why You Should Visit the Vatican Museums in the evening

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.

Vatican Museums Friday Night and Saturday Night - Dates and Times UPDATED FOR 2024

As of 2024 the Vatican Museums opening hours are being extended.

From January 1, the regular hours will now be 9:00AM-7:00PM, apart from the Free Sunday events when the opening hours will still be reduced at 9:00AM-2:00PM.

However, starting from March and running all year (even in the winter months) the museums will be open for an extra hour until 8PM every Friday and Saturday.

The 8PM closing time will also be in effect on days around holidays such as the dates around Easter, Ferragosto and Christmas.

This means that the Saturday night events will remain as they were, with last entry at 6:00PM and closure at 8:00PM, but on Fridays the museums will be closing earlier, at 8:00PM instead of 10:30PM.

Vatican Museums Night's visitWhen you visit the Vatican Museums Friday night or Saturday night, you get to see Michelangelo's dome in this beautiful dusky light.

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.

Costs for visiting the Vatican Museums on Friday / Saturday nights

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, there will no longer be a separate ticket for the evenings.

As of January 1 2024, this will be 20€ for adults; 8€ for children between 6-18, and free for children under 6.

There is a 5€ 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.

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, and right now Rome is busier than it ever has been.

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 or Saturday nights?

Previously, the extra late opening on Fridays meant that the galleries were pretty empty after 8:30/9PM.

On Saturdays the museums were not as quiet as on Fridays but the evenings did tend to be better for crowds than going during the day.

vatican museums rotunda roomThe rotunda room of the Vatican museums is wonderful on a weekend night. With smaller crowds, you can enjoy the art up close and personal.

The idea behind the new extended opening hours is to make the museums more accessible to all, so we will have to see what the crowds are like later in the day.

My instinct tells me that the evenings will still be less crowded, as most people will tend to want to visit during the day. I will update here once the new hours come into effect!

No matter what season you visit Rome, here are 4 things never to leave at home:

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Tours of the Vatican Museums on Friday Evenings

Yes, you can take a tour of the Vatican Museums in the evenings.

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.

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

If you visit the Vatican Museums on an evening, 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 a 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 6:30 PM or 7 PM.

You can either visit the basilica on a separate occasion, or visit it at around 3-4pm, and 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.

Will you see the Sistine Chapel if you visit the Vatican Museums Friday night or Saturday 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 or Saturday night.

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

When the museums close at 7PM you'll start to be shooed out around 6:30PM.

When the museums close at 8PM you'll start being asked to leave by about 7:30PM.

You will find the Sistine Chapel less crowded than during daytime visits.

How to enjoy happy hour inside the Vatican Museums on Friday and Saturday evenings

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

pinecone courtyard aperitivoEnjoy a glass of wine and some snacks while you enjoy this beautiful pinecone courtyard!

Previously you could book a specific ticket that included a drink and access to the buffet, but this seems to be have been removed for 2024.

I will keep checking and let you know if this gets reinstated!

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

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.

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