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Vatican Highlights Tour with Sistine Chapel and Skip-the-Line Tickets

Guided exploration of the Museum's multiple collections
From US$155 for 1 person
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
Photos & Highlights
  • Join an immersive experience led by a knowledgeable local expert, a renowned authority in the field of art history. Together, you will uncover the treasures of the Vatican Museums and behold the magnificence of the Sistine Chapel.
  • Context offers unique, personal tours for the intentional traveler. Choose from private tours for just you and your party, or join a small group tour with up to 10 other travelers.
Tour Description
Our Vatican Highlights Tour with skip-the-line tickets allows us to explore one of the most sacred sites of Christendom, enriched by a highly knowledgeable tour guide. We will focus on the Vatican Museums, which opened in the 16th century and are visited by six million people a year. These hallowed halls contain a world-class collection of artworks. On this three-hour tour, we will get an immersive look into the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s rooms, and more.

Please Note: This tour does NOT include St. Peter's Basilica. If you would like to combine all three iconic sites in a four-hour tour, please consider booking The Complete Vatican Tour with St. Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel, and Skip-the-Line Tickets.

If you would like to experience just the Basilica on your tour, we offer a shortened St. Peter's Basilica Tour.  
  • Vatican Museum
  • Sistine Chapel
With approximately 4 miles of halls and corridors to choose from, at the discretion of our guide and your preferences, we will be selective in the exhibitions we see. We often begin in the chronologically arranged picture gallery known as the Pinacoteca. The broad collection of paintings and other artworks included here provide an excellent overview of art history from the late medieval to high Renaissance periods. From here, we’ll traverse the halls of the Vatican palaces, with the option to visit the Museo Gregoriano Egizio (Egyptian Museum). Here you can see pieces taken from Egypt during the Roman times, a sarcophagi from around 1000BCE, and a mummy on display.  Another option is the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco which contains artifacts unearthed in Etruscan tombs and Roman antiquities. You will see a range of impressive craftsmanship and artistic endeavors that span the Iron Age to the fifth century BC.

After seeing some of the highlights of the Vatican Museum, we will make our way to the famous Sistine Chapel. We’ll discuss the cultural, religious, and artistic climate that influenced the various artists who worked on the numerous frescos. You will hear about the tenuous relationship between Michelangelo and the then-cardinal Carafa as well as the techniques, materials, and processes that brought his incredible accomplishments to life. 

At the conclusion of this tour, you will have seen some of the highlights from the Vatican Museums' world-class collection where our expert tour guide will have contextualized these masterpieces with stories of the cultural, political, economic, and religious climates in which they evolved. You will have experienced the majesty of the world-famous Sistine Chapel and have an appreciation for the immense skill and effort involved in bringing this artwork to life.

This tour is often coupled with our St. Peter's Tour with Historian, a three-hour tour of the Basilica and Treasury Museum. Together they create a more in-depth six-hour experience.
If you are a family with children under 12 we highly recommend that you book our Vatican for Kids Tour.

Please Note: 

While our visit includes advance reservations to the museums, the Vatican Museums are extremely popular.  We will need time to pass through the security checkpoint. Therefore, we may spend a few minutes at the beginning of the walk waiting in the reserved entry line, during which time our guide will provide an overview and contextualization for the walk. No time will be wasted.
What are the best days/times to visit the Vatican?
The best times to visit the Vatican Museums are the late afternoon, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday. That’s not to say you couldn’t go other days, these just happen to be the times when we’ve found the crowds inside the museums are thinner. The Museums are closed on Sundays.

Does this walking tour "skip the line"?
We use a reserved, timed entry to bypass the general admission ticket line at the entrance. Context, like all other registered tour companies with special accounts at the Vatican, can enter without waiting in the general entry line. You, as well, can make a reservation individually for a timed entrance, through the Vatican's website. Despite some marketing efforts from other tour companies, using the reserved entrance, and "skipping the line" does not alleviate the biggest difficulty in visiting the Vatican: the crowds. The most important consideration is timing your visit to avoid large tour groups and cruise ships. We schedule our walks to try and find the best conditions inside the museums.
Can we change the start time of the tour?
The Vatican opens at 8:30 am and is open until 6:30 pm. We can schedule our tour anytime during the day with the latest start time being 2:30 pm. We do recommend afternoons to avoid the morning crowd. On Fridays and Saturdays during summer, the museum is open until 10:30 pm so our last booking can be 8:30 pm. 
Why don’t you offer any of your Vatican Museum tours on Wednesdays?
Since the Papal Audience takes place every Wednesday morning, St. Peter’s Basilica is closed until about 1 pm. Because of this, we don’t schedule anything in the morning. We also stay away from Wednesday afternoons because so many people who attend the audience in the morning go straight to the museums, making it unusually crowded inside. We can schedule something privately on Wednesday afternoon but suggest you pick another day for your comfort and enjoyment.
What is the availability?
To assist you in planning your trip to the Vatican, we have created an informative resources page - How to Tour the Vatican. Best availability on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

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.

Do people with disabilities pay to enter the Vatican Museums?
Guests with disabilities may be entitled to free entry to the Vatican Museums. Please consult the Vatican Museums website for further information and please contact us to discuss if you qualify. Vatican Museums Accessibility Information

Should I take a group tour if I have mobility concerns?
We recommend a private tour to clients with mobility concerns or with wheelchairs. This is because in order for wheelchair users to reach the Sistine Chapel there is a different route to avoid the stairs, the whole group in the small group tour wouldn't be able to join you. With a private tour, your expert will ensure the tour is adapted smoothly for you.
Do you do tours of the Scavi under the Vatican?
No. These are organized by the Vatican itself. You need to email them directly at

Does this tour include the gardens?
No, unfortunately, it’s not possible to visit on one’s own.  It’s a separate tour/ticket only available on the Vatican website and only as part of a tour with the Vatican (no one can wander the gardens). You would have to book that yourselves for after our tour if you wish to see the gardens.
How can I participate in the Papal Audience?
The Pope addresses a general audience every Wednesday at 10 am. You can make reservations by calling the Vatican prefettura at +39 06.69883017. The prefettura also has an official website, which can confirm the dates of the scheduled audiences. Be forewarned that the Papal address creates a “stadium-style” spirituality. It’s not the intimate engagement that people may expect, as hundreds of pilgrims are in attendance within St. Peter’s Square.
What is the dress code inside the Vatican buildings?
Both St. Peter’s and the Museums are considered holy places. Men should wear slacks, and women should wear slacks or skirts below the knee. Shoulders must also be covered. If you are intent on wearing spaghetti straps or a halter-top, bring a shawl and expect to keep it around you. Shorts above the knee are not allowed on anyone, including children. These rules may seem unduly strict, but remember, you are a guest in the Vatican.
How large a bag can I take with me to the Vatican Museum?
The only bags you’re required to check are larger backpacks, like the camping kind. Ordinary ones for everyday use are fine. Carry-on bags are no problem, just nothing like a suitcase. Our advice is to check anything cumbersome or anything that may knock something over.
Can I store my luggage or stroller at the Vatican during my tour?
Before entering the exhibition spaces, visitors are required to leave all luggage, suitcases, large bookbags, packages, or containers considered unsuitable by Vatican staff in the cloakroom. Please be sure that if you check something into the cloakroom, you must pick up your baggage before the end of the business day at the Vatican.
Is photography allowed inside Vatican buildings?
Photography is allowed without flash in all areas except for the Sistine Chapel. There is no photography allowed in the Sistine Chapel. If you see photos others have taken, it’s due to the fact that they’ve ignored the guards and taken photos. We do not recommend this, as we believe in adhering to the rules.
Is it possible to enter the Sistine Chapel without going through the entire museum?
This seems to be a popular belief but is in fact untrue. One must follow the entire route of the museums before entering the Sistine Chapel, which is located at the very end.
Book with confidence — see Context's flexible cancellation policy here.
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401 Reviews (4.82)

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The absolutely best tour experience! It amazing how passionate the tour guides are, it really gives the experience more meaning. My family and I had were in awe the whole tour. We can’t wait to book our next tour.
Quick entry to the Vatican
Amazing guide. Amazing knowledge. Highly recommend this guide.