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Early Entry Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel and Skip-the-Line Tickets

Gain access before the daytime crowds
From US$217 for 1 person
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Tour Details
3.5 Hours
Product Type
  • Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
  • St. Peter's Basilica
Photos & Highlights
  • Be among the first inside the Vatican
  • Includes early entry tickets and an expert art historian guide
Tour Description
The early bird gets the worm—or in this case, a chance to visit the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel before the daytime crowds pour in. Explore the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica right when the museum doors open. By the end of this tour, you’ll have gained some insight into the Vatican's rich palimpsest of history and art, and have visited the ultimate Rome venue before most people have even had their morning coffee. 
  • Vatican Museums
  • Sistine Chapel
  • St. Peter's Basilica
  • Early entry access tickets
  • 3.5 hours with a Ph.D. or MA-level guide
You’ll meet your expert guide bright and early, so you will be among the first to enter the Vatican when it opens to the tour groups with priority access tickets at 8:00 AM. Accompanied by a Context Expert, you’ll have the chance to walk the halls of the Museums without all of the mid-day crowds, enter the Sistine Chapel, and then proceed to St. Peter's Basilica. As you readily await the opening of the museum doors for the day, since talking is prohibited in the Chapel your expert will use this time to delve into the Sistine Chapel's vibrant frescoes. You'll begin your tour fully understanding the story of one of Michelangelo's most famous contributions to the history of art and why it's something you'll be glad you didn't miss during your visit to Rome.

Upon entrance this tour will start off in the Vatican Museums, discussing papal history as you start on the ‘percoso classico’, the path to some of the world’s most famous ancient and Renaissance paintings and sculptures. Along the way you may make a number of stops depending on your interests, including the Pio Clementino Museum, the Gallery of Maps, the Gallery of Tapestries, and maybe the Pinacoteca as well, connecting the dots between the history and aesthetic significance of these masterpieces as you stroll. You will benefit from some extra space as you navigate the hallways thanks to your early entrance. 

Having been fully briefed by your expert guide when you meet, you will then have the opportunity to enter the Sistine Chapel and admire the intricacy and grandeur of Michelangelo's most admired work. 

Your last stop will be St. Peter’s Basilica, where you’ll gaze upon the profound beauty of Michelangelo’s Pietà and survey the church’s celebrated architectural features, before heading out to St. Peter’s Square to finish off with a peek at the Swiss Guards. 

Please Note: While your guide will do their best to show you the highlights of the Vatican Museums, there may be closures and reroutes that are beyond our control: works of art can be on loan elsewhere or entire galleries may be closed due to private Papal or Vatican functions. St Peter's Basilica may also experience closures or restricted access due to official celebrations or ceremonies. Should this be the case during your walk, your guide will allow more time in the Vatican Museums and spend time discussing the exterior of the church. 

Interested in visiting the Vatican at a different time? Check out our Arte Vaticana Tour or our After Hours Vatican Museum Tour.
Do people with disabilities pay to enter the Vatican?
People with disabilities may be entitled to free entry to the Vatican Museums. Please contact us to discuss if you qualify, and consult the Vatican Museums website for further information.

Is this tour wheelchair accessible?
While it is possible to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel in a wheelchair, there is no wheelchair access from the Sistine Chapel to St Peter's Basilica. If you use a wheelchair, please contact us to discuss alternate options.

How crowded are the Vatican sites?
Please be aware that during the summer travel period, the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica can be subject to extremely high levels of visitor traffic. It’s important to anticipate slower movement, limited visibility, and potential restrictions on accessing certain areas due to the density of crowds. Our experienced guides are adept at navigating through these challenging conditions and will strive to optimize your tour experience.

Does this tour include the Raphael Rooms?
They are one of the most visited parts of the Museums, and often become extremely congested, especially during the summer. Our experts typically like to curate a unique tour route that includes areas less explored, with exceptional work worth seeing with fewer crowds. You can request to visit the Raphael Rooms at the start of your tour and your expert can adapt the tour route to include them, please just note this means you'll likely be unable to see other parts of the Museum due to time restrictions.

Why is this tour special compared to other Vatican tours?
Context is proud to offer clients a very unique and exclusive 8 am first entry into the Vatican Museums’ doors, guaranteed to be reserved only to a handful of other collaborating tour operators. This means that you will be among the first to enter both the Museums' galleries and the Sistine Chapel, before the larger daytime crowds flood in. 

Does this tour "skip the line"?
Our visit to the Vatican includes advance entry tickets, which allow us to skip the general admission line. However, we will still be required to wait in the security line. At times, this line may take up to 20 minutes. Regardless, our guide will spend this time wisely by providing an overview of the history of Vatican. The most important consideration is timing your visit to avoid large tour groups and cruise ships which cause excessive crowding. We schedule our tours to try and find the best conditions inside the museums. 
Where You'll Start
210 Reviews (4.67)

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Getting there early is the way to go, beautiful!!!
Brenda was exceptional, she was so personable and knowledgeable. She was so patient and kind with my father. Helpful, I have so many wonderful things to say about her. She loves her job and it shows. I feel so very thankful and blessed she was our guide and will remember the experience forever thanks to Brenda and her kindness. Thank you so much Brenda! You are the best! I would give her 50 stars if possible.
Amazing tour!