Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Price guide: Expensive

Viale del Vaticano 49, Rome, 00165

Price guide: Expensive

Save money and beat the queues by booking attractions, tours and things...

By Lee Marshall, your Rome expert

I write for Conde Nast Traveller, .... Read more
#13 of 20
expert-rated things to do in Rome
Expert overall rating:4.7 out of 5
Value for money:
Recommended for:
First-time travellers, Art

Expert review of Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes are not the only draw of the Vatican’s art collections.

This huge collection of art and artefacts, founded by Julius II in 1503, covers over five centuries of papal patronage. There are Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Etruscan sections, and others dedicated to tapestries and maps, but most visitors make a beeline for the Sistine Chapel, at the end of the labyrinthine route (allow an hour to get there), with its audacious frescoes by Michelangelo of Old Testament scenes and the Last Judgement, their colours fresh and vivid after recent restoration. On the way, even if time is tight, it’s worth seeking out the classical marble statues of 'Laocoon' and the 'Belvedere Apollo' in the Museo Pio-Clementino, and the Raphael Rooms (Stanze di Raffaello), with their exquisite frescoes by Raphael and Giulio Romano.

Price advice: 

Full price admission is 15 euros.

Expert tips: 
There’s no failsafe strategy for beating the crowds in here: even if you turn up at 8am you’ll find a crowd of early-birds waiting outside. But weekends are best avoided – especially the free end-of-the-month Sundays, when you’ll save money but feel like a sardine in a barrel.
If you’re planning to come at a busy period – such as Easter – it’s well worth paying the 4 euros online booking supplement to beat the entrance queue, which can stretch quite some distance down Viale del Vaticano (there’s a separate line for pre-bookings). Note that if you do book online, you must print out the voucher that is sent via email and take it with you, and also make sure that all those in the pre-booked party have valid ID.

More information on Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel:

Price guide:
Art gallery, Museum, Religious site
Viale del Vaticano 49, Rome, 00165
06 6988 3860
Months open:
All year round
Opening times:
Mon-Sat 8.30am-6pm (last entry 4pm). Last Sunday of the month 9am-2pm (last entry 12.30pm).
Free tags / Keywords:
Michelangelo, Raphael, Art, History, Rainy days

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