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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 right now Rome is busier than it ever has been.
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.
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!
Yes, you can take a tour of the Vatican Museums in the evenings.
You can also visit on your own, and rent the audio guide.
However, most tours go on the earlier side.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Can you imagine having a lovely glass of wine and snacks right inside the Vatican Museums' 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!
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.
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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