9 of the best Vatican tours 2024

Have you been wondering about the best Vatican tours? I’ve got you covered!

Travelling to the Vatican is a must-have experience if you’re visiting Rome. There are so many different Vatican tours to choose from, and I’m here to tell you that the best ones are those that delve deeply into the history, culture, architecture and stories of this remarkable place.

I’ve lived in Italy for more years than I can count, and have spent countless hours exploring the Vatican and talking to travellers who have been on different tours.

From my conversations with them I can confidently say that there are certain tour guides who offer an exceptional level of authority and trustworthiness when it comes to providing the perfect tour experience.

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My Top 3 Picks: best Vatican tours

#1 Top Pick
#2 Pick
ROME, ITALY -  the famous spiral staircase with double helix. Vatican Museum, made by Giuseppe Momo in 1932

Tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica

  • 3 hours
  • Skip the line
  • Admission tickets included
#3 Pick
The bridge across the Tiber and the Vatican City view, Rome, Italy.

Exclusive Early Access Vatican Semi Private Tour

  • 3.5 hours
  • Max of 6 people
  • Skip the line tickets

9 of the best Vatican tours

Rome Italy. The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican (Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano)

1. Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums & St Peter’s Basilica Guided Tour

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars | ⏳ LENGTH: 3 hours | ✅ Book it!

On this guided tour, you’ll get to bypass the line to tour the Vatican with a knowledgeable guide, who will ensure that you get to know the information behind all the beautiful works of art and historical buildings of this cultural institution.

Amazing tour with Oscar very informative and really made the tour interesting! Would definitely recommend the tour to friends and family visiting Rome! -Lubaina_C

Meet the guide at your chosen time right outside the Vatican entrance, where they’ll guide you to special entrance that is a step above “skip-the-line” access – at the Vatican, even the fast track lines are long, so booking with this tour helps you to avoid waiting at all!

The group will explore the Vatican Museums while listening about the history and context of all of the buildings and objects, before moving into the Sistine Chapel and then touring St Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. Some evenings, St Peter’s may not be available, in which case the guide will spend extra time exploring the Vatican Museums with the group.

Important details

  • Start time (and location): At the steps across from the Vatican Museum entrance, next to Caffe Vaticano. Choose between start times from 7:50 am to 2:35 pm.
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: Priority access to the Vatican museum, guided visit of St Peter’s Basilica (most tours), Sistine Chapel access, Audio headset, maximum group size of 20 people.

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ROME, ITALY - the famous spiral staircase with double helix. Vatican Museum, made by Giuseppe Momo in 1932

2. Skip-the-Line Group Tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars | ⏳ LENGTH: 3 hours | ✅ Book it!

Skip the line to access the Vatican on this group tour, where you’ll be guided through the buildings of the Vatican by a friendly and engaging local guide. 

Our tour group was about 10 people. The skip-the-line for the Vatican Museum is the only way to go (which you realize as you are walking past the LOOOONG line to get in). We had an earpiece so we could hear, which is also the only way one could hear. It is tightly crowded in all parts of the museum and also the Sistene Chapel. The tour was 3+ hours, so make sure to use the bathroom before and bring water if it is hot. This tour company was well-organized and easy to work with.Susan_R

The lines at the Vatican get very long, so by booking guided tours of the Vatican with priority access you can really maximise your time in Rome! On this tour, the guide is also extremely well-informed, as all guides used by the company have over ten years of experience.

The group will meet in the ancient neighborhood of Borgo, from which the guide will walk everyone over to Vatican City while sharing the history of the neighborhood and about the daily life of people living in the world’s smallest country.

After entering the Vatican Museum via a priority entrance, you’ll get to see all the famous artwork, ancient maps, and will finish with the incredible Sistine Chapel.

Upon leaving the museums, your host will lead you to the front of St. Peter’s Basilica, where you will again be able to skip the line.

Important Details

  • Start time (and location): Via Plauto 17A in the Borgo neighborhood of Rome. Choose your start time from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm.
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: Expert veteran guide (over 10 years of experience), Skip-the-line access to the Vatican Museums, all admission tickets for the buildings on the tour.

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The bridge across the Tiber and the Vatican City view, Rome, Italy.

3. Exclusive Early Access Vatican Semi Private Tour | with Private Option

⭐️ RATING: #/5 Stars | ⏳ LENGTH:  hours | ✅ Book it!

Experience the Vatican without the hassle with this very early morning semi-private tour, where guests get to experience the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel before the general public are invited in.

Our tour guide Tonya was very informative and provided a wonderful tour of Vatican City. My husband and I appreciated all the knew knowledge we walked away with and the beauty we were able to see uninterrupted by other tourists because we got to do the early tour and skip the line. We got lucky and it ended up being just my husband and I for the tour! Good value for the money and we would recommend LivTours to anyone! -Jasmyn_P

There are many options for tours of the Vatican in Rome, but this semi-private group tour is for those who truly want to make the most of their Vatican experience.

There are a maximum of six people on each tour, so everyone will have plenty of opportunity to ask the guides questions, and it will be easy to move through the museum (compared to all the huge groups you’ll see wandering through!).

Meet your guide right at 7:30 am outside of the Vatican Museum’s entrance, and they’ll lead you straight into the museums with priority entrance.

The group will spend 2 hours together exploring the Vatican Museums, before going into the Sistine Chapel (after a detailed explanation of the Chapel’s significance, as you can’t speak when you’re inside!)

The tour ends with a detailed tour of the interior of St Peter’s Basilica, where the group will also be able to bypass any lines.

If even six people is too much, this tour also offers the opportunity to update to a fully private option, which just may be the best way to see the Vatican.

Important Details

  • Start time (and location): Outside of Caffe Vaticano, across from the Vatican Museums entrance, at 7:30 am
  • Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Includes: Guided tour of St. Peters Basilica and dome, Entrance ticket to St Peter’s Dome, breakfast at “Al San Michele”, headsets.

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The gardens of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Italy.

4. Semi-Private Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica Guided Tour

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars | ⏳ LENGTH: 3 hours | ✅ Book it!

Enjoy the wonders of Vatican City with a smaller group tour of only ten people maximum, while benefiting from the knowledge of a local expert guide.

It was a wonderful experience, with most thanks to our excellent tour guide, Assunta! She was super knowledgeable, kind and caring for her group! We had 10 total and she always made sure we were together!!! We could have listened to her all day! -Karen_M

Small group tours hit the sweet spot- this one has a much smaller group size than you would typically experience on Vatican tours, but having a max of 10 guests allows them to keep the price at a more reasonable level than other similar tours with an even smaller group size.

After meeting your guide at the Caffe Vaticano, just outside of the entrance to the Vatican Museums, skip the line with your reserved entry to the Vatican museums, where you’ll be given a full history of Vatican city and all the incredible artifacts housed there.

The museum visit culminates with the Sistine Chapel, where you’ll have a special entrance which will again let you skip any lines, even priority lines.

After the Sistine Chapel, the group continues to St. Peter’s Basilica, where the guide will give a tour of the interior of the beautiful church before leaving you to spend time taking it all in.  

Important Details

  • Start time (and location): Outside of Caffe Vaticano, across from the Vatican Museums entrance, chooseing a time between 7:50 am and 1:30 pm.
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: Small semi-private group of no more than ten people, skip-the-line reserved access to the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s, guide visits of all sites by an English-speaking art historian guide.  

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Vatican - Empty St. Peter square in Vatican city center of Rome Italy, famous travel and religious tourism landmark cityscape capital of Pope

5. St. Peter’s Basilica & Cupola Guided tour with Breakfast

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars | ⏳ LENGTH: 2-3 hours | ✅ Book it!

Start your day off right with a delicious Italian breakfast, before heading on an in-depth guided tour of St Peter’s Basilica, including a climb up to its famous dome (Cupola di San Pietro).

 The cafe where we began was a great start with excellent pastries and coffee to chose from. Our guide was experienced, knowledgeable and ensured we all saw the highlights of the Basilica and walked safely through the cupola on a very wet day in Rome. -Gail_H

There’s nothing that says “best early morning vatican tour” more than breakfast being included! This tour is a really delightful experience in addition to being very informative, and it’s a great option for anyone who wants to delve more into the history of the Vatican and of all the different parts of St Peter’s Basilica.

The group meets at a local bar called “Al San Michele”, where a traditional Italian breakfast is served as part of the tour. This is a great chance to meet fellow travelers over a morning espresso and a pastry or two.

After breakfast, the guide will lead you into the center of St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City to climb to the top of the Vatican’s famous dome for views overlooking all of Rome. They’ll then guide the group through the rest of the basilica.

You’ll see all the iconic sites of the Vatican, including the pieta, St. Peter’s mausoleum, and the Vatican Obelisk, all while receiving an in-depth history from your knowledgeable guide.

The group will also visit areas that are often overlooked, like the Tomb of Pope Jean Paul II and the statue of St. Peter Entrhoned. The tour ends with a climb to the top of the Vatican’s famous dome for views overlooking Vatican City and Rome.

Important Details

  • Start time (and location): At “Al San Michele” bar across from the Vatican Museums entrance, at 8:00 am
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • Includes: Small semi-private group of no more than six people, early entrance to the Vatican Museums, skip-the-line tickets, local expert guide, upgrade to fully private upon request.

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Interior of the St. Peter Basilica, Vatican, Italy.

6. Tour of St Peter’s Basilica with Dome Climb and Grottoes in a Small Group

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars | ⏳ LENGTH:  1 hour 45 mins hours | ✅ Book it!

Experience a different side of Vatican City with this tour of St. Peter’s Basilica that lets you climb to the top of its dome, and down into its underground grottoes.

Sarah was an excellent guide. Engaging, Informative, easy to follow, somehow easy to hear in a crowded noisy environment and ask questions to. Listening devices were important for following in a noisy and packed environment. Was a nice early morning half day tour to get a great taste of the history of the Basilica and Vatican area. Ascending down into the Tombs and then up to the Cupola for refreshments, rest and long city views was a great addition. -Jennifer_L

Differing a bit from most Vatican City tours, this unique tour really lets visitors explore everything there is to see at St. Peter’s Basilica. You’ll meet the guide, an actual art historian, right outside St. Peter’s Square, and spend some time viewing the square and learning about its history.

Next, the tour continues into the basilica, where you can marvel at Michelango’s “Pieta” and the beautiful architecture and décor of the church.

After learning more about St Peter’s, follow the guide down into the grottoes underneath the church, where you can discover St. Peter’s tomb and admire the beautiful frescoes that decorate the walls, dating all the way back to the 4th century.

Finally, you’ll get the chance to take the long climb up to the duomo of the basilica, where you can see an incredible birds eye view of the Vatican and all of Rome surrounding it from the balcony.

Important Details

  • Start time (and location): Largo del Colonnato, 5, right outside the first columns of Vatican city. Choose between 8:45 am and 2:00 pm options.
  • Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Includes: Professional art historian guide and all entry fees for St. Peter’s, the grottoes, and the dome.

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Rome at night, Italy. Sant`Angelo bridge and St Peter's Basilica. Rome landmark. Saint Peter's Basilica (San Pietro) is one of main travel attractions of Rome. Scenic night view of Rome and Vatican.

7. Sistine Chapel First Entry Experience with Vatican Museums

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars | ⏳ LENGTH: 1.5 hours | ✅ Book it!

Book this experience to spend a morning exploring the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel ahead of the day’s crowds. You’ll basically have the place to yourself (well, almost).

Sabina was an utterly incredible tour guide. A font of knowledge and super fun. Would highly recommend!-Florance_T

Many would say that dawn is the time for the best tours of the Vatican, and I’d argue they’re correct. Book this early morning Vatican tour if you’re an early bird who would like to see the Vatican Museums when it’s calmer than usual.

In a small group of 12, you’ll get to explore Vatican City and the Vatican Museums an hour before the usual opening time. The tour features a knowledgeable guide, who will teach you about all the artwork and history around you.

It ends with a dropoff at the Sistine chapel, so you can spend time enjoying the beauty of the chapel with no deadline.

Important Details

  • Start time (and location): Next to Caffe Vatican, across the street from the entrance to the Vatican Museums, at 8:00 am.
  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Includes: All entry fees, including early entry into the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, English-speaking well-informed guide, and a guaranteed small group of 12 people or less.

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ROME, VATICAN STATE -  long line of people waiting in front of Saint Peter Basilica entrance. Concept for overtourism and mass-tourism.

8. Rome in a Day: Colosseum, Vatican & Historic Rome Small-Group Skip-the-Line Tour

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars | ⏳ LENGTH: 7.5 hours | ✅ Book it!

Enjoy a full-day tour of Rome, including some of the city’s most epic attractions, and culminating in a visit to the Vatican.

We loved our Rome in a day tour (before our Mediterranean Cruise). It was fast paced and chock full of history. The check in process was smooth and easy to find. Our guide was amazing. She was knowledgeable, funny, and take-charge. She navigated our group with ease to skip the lines and make the most of our day. Couldn’t recommend it more! -Jennifer_W

If you’re short on time in Rome, or just want to get a lot done in one day, this tour is an ideal option for you.

The day begins near the Colosseum, where the group will get to skip the long line to visit this iconic Roman landmark and to learn about all of the sports and battles which took place there.

The tour continues with a walk to hill overlooking the Roman forum, where you’ll get to learn more about the ancient civilization of Rome, before heading to Piazza Venezia and the Trevi Fountain.

Along the way, the guide will give you detailed information and stories about all the interesting places you pass.

You’ll also get to see (and learn about) the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, before heading to the Vatican and seeing all the amazing art and history there, including the Sistine Chapel.

The whole day you’ll be well informed by your local guide, and the tour includes skip-the-line access to the day’s attractions.

Important details

  • Start time (and location): Via delle Terme di Tito, 72 (Opposite Oppio caffe), at 9:30 am
  • Duration: 7 hours and 30 minutes
  • Includes: Skip the line tickets for the colosseum and the Vatican museums, an expert English-speaking guide, a headset, and a relatively small group cap of 18.

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Rome - Inside St Peter Basilica, Rome, Italy. Saint Peters cathedral is top landmark of Rome and Vatican City. Ornate Baroque interior of St Peter church, famous luxury S Peter basilica

9. Private Early-Bird Vatican Tour

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ LENGTH: 3 hours | ✅ Book it!

Spend a morning exploring the Vatican with minimal distractions with this fully private early-bird tour, which we consider one of the best private Vatican tours out there.

The only way to visit St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums! Our driver picked us up at our hotel and drove us to meet our guide, Ala. Ala had our tickets already and we were able to get right in which is huge as the lines are LONG. This was a private tour so we were able to move through the Church and the Museums much easier than the large groups. Ala was very knowledgeable and gave us a great lesson on the history of Vatican City. – Stacey_L

If you’re looking for Vatican private tours, this is the perfect experience for you. After being picked up at your hotel or other accommodation by a licensed Blue Badge tour guide, either take a taxi or a private transfer to the Vatican with the guide to start your tour.

As the tour includes early bird access, the guide will be able to take you past all the crowds and lines to enter the Vatican Museums.

The guide will spend the next hours taking you through all the beautiful galleries of the Vatican Museums and explaining the significance of everything you see, culminating in an informative and impressive Sistine chapel tour.

After leaving the chapel, you’ll be taken to St Peter’s Basilica to explore more, with expert commentary from your guide.

In addition to being a great, peaceful way to experience a very busy place, the flexibility and organisation make this one of the best Vatican tours for families.

(Section 4) Important details

  • Start time (and location): 8:00 am, at your hotel or accommodation.
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: Meet and greet service with guide at hotel or accommodation, professional Blue Badge guide, early-bird Vatican Museums ticket and Sistine Chapel ticket, option to upgrade to a private hotel pickup and drop-off.

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FAQs About vatican museum tours

is a guided tour of vatican worth it?

A guided tour of the Vatican is definitely worth it! As one of the world’s most renowned centers for art, culture, and religion, there’s so much to explore in and around the walls of the Vatican City.

From the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica, you’ll be able to appreciate both religious and artistic masterpieces while learning about the long history of Catholicism.

Plus, no trip to Rome would be complete without a stop at St. Peter’s Square! While it may come with a steep admission price tag, you won’t regret taking a guided tour through this magnificent city-within-a-city.

is the early morning tour of the vatican worth it?

Yes, the early morning tour of the Vatican is definitely worth it! Touring the historic and holy grounds before the crowds begin to arrive gives you an opportunity for a more intimate experience with the artwork and architecture that the Vatican has to offer.

The early morning light also makes it easier to appreciate all of the details and artistry in the sculptures and paintings. Plus, you’ll be able to beat the heat of Rome’s summer temperatures while seeing some of its most iconic sites.

what to wear visiting the vatican

Visiting the Vatican requires modest attire. Women should wear long pants or skirts that reach below their knees, and short-sleeved or sleeved blouses must cover shoulders.

Men should wear long pants and shirts with at least short sleeves. No matter what you choose to wear, make sure it is not too tight fitting – avoid any clothing that may be considered immodest.

Hats are not required but are a nice touch when visiting the Vatican as it shows respect for the customs of this holy place.

As it can get quite hot in the summer months, consider wearing lightweight fabrics that will provide some breathability and keep you cool in the sun.

Taking along a shawl or pashmina is also a great option for keeping covered up in case you find yourself getting too warm while inside the museum or basilica buildings.

statue of St. Paul with sword at the Vatican in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy

Final Thoughts: guided tours of vatican

Visiting the Vatican is an experience like no other, and these are the top tours to experience it to its fullest. So why wait?

Get your tickets today and let a professional tour guide make your visit to one of the most amazing places in the world even more special!

No matter what kind of traveller you are, there’s a perfect Vatican tour for you. With an array of choices ranging from fully guided tours to private visits, you can rest assured that all your needs will be met with these incredible options. So don’t miss out – book now and be part of this timeless journey!

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Author

  • Genevieve Horchler

    Genevieve is a dynamic traveler with a passion for adventure, blending travel marketing acumen with hands-on exploration. From the US to Italy and London, she seeks bold experiences like road trips with friends and romantic getaways in Europe. Notable adventures include a solo 5-month journey across South America, trekking to Machu Picchu, and sailing from Cartagena to Panama City. Specializing in Couples Travel, Europe, The Americas, Hiking, and Experiential Travel, she offers valuable insights for immersive journeys.

    View all posts https://www.tiktok.com/@genevievehorchler

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