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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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