Skip the Line: Walking tour of the Vatican Museums, including Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms and St. Peter’s
Rome Vatican aliveSome museums – most of them state owned and open to the public year round- can be a destination itself. According to The Art Newspaper’s 2012 attendance figures the Louvre (Paris) with 9.7 million, the Metropolitan museum of Art (New York) with 6.1 million, and the British Museum (London) with 5.5 million visitors were the most popular. But the extensive privately owned Vatican Museum Complex in Rome also draws amongst the most visitors – estimated at more than 4 million, despite the strict security measures. This massive museum complex of 5.5 hectare with exhibitions spanning nearly 4 000 years of history is immense – a walking distance of nearly 5 kilometers.

Queuing lines for entrance are very long, sometimes up to two hours (!). Even the priority lines absorb much time. But due to a new initiative, new tours provide VIP access to small groups of 20, or even just 10 people through a reserved entrance, allowing a visitor to skip all the lines – even the priority lines. These small group tours enter the complex before the general public gain access, ensuring personalised attention as well as viewing the objects up close.

An expert will be your guide during the 3 hours tour through many of the 25 sections illustrated above. He will introduce you to highlights such as Raphael’s Rooms, showcasing the artistic genius of this great painter, the Gallery of Maps with its finely crafted age-old Italian maps, the Gallery of Tapestries, or the Gallery of Candelabras, where treasures from ancient Imperial villages can be seen. The ceiling frescos inside the museums are in themselves something to behold.

The tour also includes a visit to the Sistine Chapel, with Michelangelo’s immense fresco on the ceiling depicting nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, of which the Creation of Adam is the best known, as well as the Last Judgement on the chapel’s back wall. This is the sanctuary where the papal conclave of the College of Cardinals convenes to elect a new Pope. The Pope’s private chapel can also be seen here.

The tour then takes you for a visit to the St Peter's Basilica, as well as the grottos below St Peter’s. A climb up to the dome for a view from above can also be undertaken, or a visit to the Vatican post office. The guide will assist you in finding your way.

Visitors can choose between morning, afternoon and even evening tours. The small-group tour of 08:10 never exceeds 10 visitors, whilst the evening tour, limited to 20 visitors, is undertaken from 19:30, after the main closing times. However, it does not include the visit to St Peter’s. Other tours start at 09:00, 10:00 and 14:30.
Some of these special tours have limited seasons, such as the evening tours which are only offered every Friday from May 6 until July 26, and from September 6 until October 25. There is also always the possibility that St Peter’s (sometimes also the Square in front) could be closed to the public, especially on Wednesdays due to the Papal Audience. In such cases the tour within the museums will be extended. Since this is beyond the control of the tour operators, no refunds or discounts is possible.

Book your Skip The line Vatican tour

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