Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums tickets and tours

Italy

Things to do in Vatican Museums

4.5/5 (13046)

The treasures of the Vatican museums may be open to the general public, but there are areas that fewer people see. The Archivum Secretum Apostolicum Vaticanum is an archive of important documents covering twelve centuries of church history . . . and perhaps a few secrets.

Here you’ll find Pope Leo X’s 1521 decree excommunicating Martin Luther, and a petition from English clergymen in 1530 asking Pope Clement VII to annul King Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. There’s also the official doctrine of the Immaculate Conception as defined by the Church in 1854, supporting the notion that Mary was conceived without original sin.

Though many people are fond of conspiracy theories (ancient evidence of extra-terrestrial life?), the archive has been open to scholars since 1881. Nevertheless, access is not easy. Journalists, students, and amateur historians should not apply, and even professional scholars must renew permissions every six months.

Browsing is not allowed and nor is photography. Researchers must ask for a specific document from supplied catalogues. But what secrets are not contained in the catalogues . . .?

Opening times

  • St Peter’s – daily 7.00am-7.00pm April to September, 7.00am-6.00pm October to March
  • St Peter’s Dome – daily 8.00am-6.00pm April to September, 8.00am-5.00pm October to March
  • The Treasury – daily 9.00am-6.15pm April to September, 9.00am-5.15pm October to March
  • Grottoes – daily 7.00am-6.00pm April to September, 7.00am-5.00pm October to March
  • Museums ­– Monday-Saturday 9.00am-6.00pm, last entrance: 4.00pm. Free entrance on the last Sunday of every month, admission 9.00am-12.30pm. Museums close at 2pm

Museum entrance closes 75 minutes before closing time

About the Vatican

The origins of the Vatican might be traced to 324AD when the Roman emperor Constantine started construction of a church with the tomb of St. Peter at its center. It would be a focus of the early Catholic Church, although the first popes lived at the Lateran Palace during the Middle Ages and actually moved to Avignon in France in the fourteenth century.

It wasn’t until the end of that century that the popes returned to Rome and again considered a monumental church. This was a time of great building projects, including the Sistine Chapel, the Belvedere Courtyard and a new St Peter’s. Nevertheless, the growing collection of ecclesiastical buildings was not known yet as the Vatican.

In fact, it wasn’t until 1929 that the Vatican was recognized as a sovereign state, later becoming recognized and protected under the Hague Convention as a cultural heritage site. In 1984, UNESCO recognized the Vatican as a World Heritage Site. Today, it has a population of around 800, its own TV channel, its own post office and telephone service. It is protected by the lavishly uniformed Swiss Guards and even has permission to have a navy, though no ships exist at the moment.

For the visitor, the attractions may be religious (audiences with the Pope draw thousands) or cultural. The museums and galleries are storehouses of great and famous art collections, the gardens are beautiful oases of calm, the architecture is stunning and – of course – there’s the colossal majesty of St Peter’s church to explore.

Getting there

  • By Metro
    • Line A stations: Ottaviano - S.Pietro-Musei Vaticani, Cipro
  • By bus
    • 49: stop in front of the museum entrance
    • 32, 81, 982: Piazza del Risorgimento
    • 492, 990: Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni
  • By tram
    • 19: Piazza del Risorgimento
  • By taxi
    • Taxi stand: Viale Vaticano in front of the museum entrance
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Best of Rome Pass
Attractions & guided tours

Best of Rome Pass

Visit all the best sites in Rome with a single pass, skip long queues and get easy access to Rome's major sights.

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Skip-the-line entrance to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
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Attractions & guided tours

Skip-the-line entrance to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Benefit from skip-the-line access to admire the beautiful Vatican Museums and visit the greatest attractions in Rome, the Sistine Chapel.

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Reserved entrance and guided tour of Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Likely to sell out
Attractions & guided tours

Reserved entrance and guided tour of Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Benefit from reserved access to admire the beautiful Vatican Museums and visit the greatest attractions in Rome, the Sistine Chapel.

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Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica guided tour
Attractions & guided tours

Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica guided tour

Book your guided tour including Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Less time in line, more time on art!

free cancellation
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Complete skip-the-line Vatican tour for small groups
Attractions & guided tours

Complete skip-the-line Vatican tour for small groups

Book the ultimate Vatican experience with express access to the museums and Sistine Chapel and a full guided tour led by a Vatican expert.

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Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel skip-the-line tickets with assistance at the entrance
Attractions & guided tours

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel skip-the-line tickets with assistance at the entrance

Enjoy skip-the-line access to the Vatican museums with assistance at the entrance. Includes access to the Sistine Chapel and courtyards.

free cancellation
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24 or 48-hour hop-on hop-off bus and Vatican Museums tickets
Activities

24 or 48-hour hop-on hop-off bus and Vatican Museums tickets

Book a 24 or 48-hour hop-on hop-off Rome sightseeing tour that includes skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

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Semi-Private Sistine Chapel Tour with Museums and St. Peter's Basilica
Attractions & guided tours

Semi-Private Sistine Chapel Tour with Museums and St. Peter's Basilica

Discover the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums and the St. Peter's Basilica during this essential guided tour.

free cancellation
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Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter Basilica guided tour
Attractions & guided tours

Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter Basilica guided tour

Skip the line and make the most of your time admiring the divine architecture, and discovering the fascinating history of Rome with a guide.

Duration 3 hours
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Exclusive first entry: Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums tour
Attractions & guided tours

Exclusive first entry: Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums tour

Book this combo offer including Exclusive First Entry Tickets: Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums!

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Fast track Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica tour
Attractions & guided tours

Fast track Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica tour

Make the most of your time in Rome! Explore the Vatican Museums on a 2-hour guided tour and then visit the magnificent Basilica of St. Peter.

Duration 2 hours
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Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel self-guided audio tour

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel self-guided audio tour

Get to explore the Vatican Museums at your own pace and find out plenty of facts and curiosities about its masterpieces thanks to your self-guided tour!

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Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

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Reviews Vatican Museums

3/5
John, Mar 02, 2024

“The vatican museum is so big and there is simply too much art to see. What most wanted was to see Rafaels art and the sistine chapel...but we had to go through the rest to get there ....and it was very painful at times. There need to be shortcuts. The guide knew her stuff, but continually made us aware of her own Roman Catholic views. Her words were a mixture of biblical truth and fiction/tradition/ folk tales which were all put across as fact”

3/5
David, Aug 10, 2023

“Skipped the queues which was good, but the Vatican was very busy so be prepared to be shoulder to shoulder. This is not a visit for small children in my opinion.”

3/5
Nichola, May 19, 2023

“Vincenzo the guide was excellent. He got us seats right at the front so had a good view of the pope. Not really sure why this cost £22.00 each considering tickets are free to watch. Also described as a guided tour, we was only guided through security and to a seat so not sure what part was a guided tour. It doesn't say in booking what the excursion actually includes so very misleading”

5/5
GDPR Expired data, May 15, 2016

“Ottima esperienza, guida molto preparata, tutto ben organizzato, assolutamente consigliato.”

Rome