Do you want to visit the Vatican Museums without wasting time in line? Here are our insider tips!
With over 70,000 works of art, 42,000 square-meters, and more than 5 million visitors per year, these impressive Vatican Museums numbers certainly justify waiting in line for endless hours to visit them. The Vatican Museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the sixteenth century after the famous Laocoon Group sculpture and since then have welcomed collections and treasures of all subsequent Popes. Today, you can admire the wonderful ancient sculptures in the Vatican Museums such as the Apollo del Belvedere and famous paintings such as Raffaello’s Athenaean School. As you cross the amazing Galleries that are each unique and characterized by a particular artistic element such as the Candlelight Gallery, the Arazzi Gallery and the Geographic Gallery, you will arrive in the incredible Sistine Chapel.
A few hours of waiting in line may seem like a small price to pay for so much beauty. Luckily, there are ways to avoid wasting your precious time and enjoy your visit to the Vatican Museums to the fullest. So here are our tips.
1. Skip the line
The best way to avoid wasting time is to buy a skip-the-line ticket: after you buy your ticket, make sure to print your voucher and present it to security along with a valid identity card. You will only have to wait in line for a short time due to mandatory security check to the right of the main entrance, which is reserved for those who have booked ahead of time. After passing through the metal detector (where you may need to check your bag or backpack) make your way to the “Casse Online and Groups”where you can start your visit. Remember to be on time, or you could lose your chance to the jump the line!
2. Choose the best date and time to schedule your visit
The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are open to the public from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm; they are also open on the last Sunday of the month from 9am to 2pm, provided this does not coincide with a holiday such as Christmas, Santo Stefano, Easter, SS. Peter and Paul that offer free admission. Starting April 2018, it will become possible to visit the Museums and the Sistine Chapel every Friday from 7pm to 11pm. Remember that visitors are always requested to exit from the hall 30 minutes before the museum closes.
3. Schedule at least half a day for your visit
As you may have guessed, the Vatican Museums collections are immense: take all the time you need to admire the artworkto avoid rushing from room to room. Make sure you allow yourself at least half a day to visit the Vatican Museums (or even a whole day, if you like to take your time on the details of each piece of art) and don’t plan to visit any other museums in the same day. Instead, plan a relaxing stroll along the Tiber River after your visit.
4. Don’t forget to visit St. Peter’s Basilica
Don’t be discouraged by the seemingly endless lines at the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica! In the last hall of the Vatican Museums, at the far right of the Sistine Chapel, there is a long corridor through which you can gain access to the Basilica free of charge, without another check-in and any subsequent queues.
5. Dress appropriately
Rome can get to some very hot temperatures, especially during the summer. Although, it would be a shame to have to give up your visit because of inappropriate clothing. To visit the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and the Saint Peter Basilica (and all sacred places in general), remember that you must wear a long skirt or pants, and a shirt that does not expose your shoulders. If the Roman climate does not accommodate wearing this type of clothing during the day, pack a golf shirt or a shawl in your day-bag so you can wear it at the entrance.
6. Do not pack lunch
Don’t worry, there won’t any risk of you going hungry during your visit! Although it is forbidden to bring food or drinks inside the Chapel and the Museums, there are plenty of dining options along the way. Among them, we suggest the Bistrot della Pigna in the charming Cortile della Pigna and the Caffetteria delle Carrozze overlooking the Cortile Quadrato and the Pinacoteca Vaticana; or for a more filling meal option, you may dine at the self-service restaurant located inside the Museums.
7. Turn off the flash of your camera or smartphone
You may take photos to bring home a piece of the wonder of the Vatican Museums, as long as you take them without flash! The splendor of the Sistine Chapel however will only remain imprinted in your memory, as once you have entered the Sistine Chapel, all photos are forbidden.
8. Go prepared
The amount of works in the Vatican Museum collection will more than likely disorient you: click here if you want to know more history and any helpful information about all the works that you will see during your visit.