Receive the latest Rome news, travel tips, insights and more + 10% off our store AND a free eBook - Subscribe Today!

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 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 Friday Night


At the time of this writing in fall 2021, the Vatican Museums have slightly new hours.

Until further notice, they are now open on Friday AND Saturday nights until 10:30 pm.

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, below.

So, exactly what is the Vatican? Find out here!

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 at 6pm.

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

Vatican Museums Night's visitWhen you visit the Vatican Museums Friday 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.

So on Friday nights, you will need to start leaving by 10:30pm.

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. 

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.

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.

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?

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.

Looking for a Brief  History of the Vatican? Visit my page here.

How to enjoy 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.

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.

Want to save this page about visiting the Vatican Museums Friday night to Pinterest? Pin it here!

pin vatican museums friday night

Get your  free Rome trip planner!

Simply sign-up today for our free newsletter and get the Romewise Quick-start guide to Rome .

We are committed to respecting your data. Click for our Privacy Policy .

Looking for Facebook comments?

I removed them to make this page load faster and thereby improve your page experience.

I am happy to answer your questions / comments!

Please come over to the Romewise Facebook page , or, if you want to send me a message, visit my Contact Me page .