Vatican Museums 

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See outstanding art in the city of the pope.

The Vatican Museums contain some of the most incredible pieces of art ever created. With works by masters such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Da Vinci, and Caravaggio, it’s one of the most visited art museums in the world.

Vatican Musuems dome building and gardens in Rome


  • Visit the world-famous Sistine Chapel and gaze up at Michelangelo’s remarkable ceiling.
  • Get lost in details in the Raphael rooms, four rooms of outstanding frescoes by the Renaissance artist and his school.
  • Discover the Italy of the past in the Gallery of Maps.

Tickets & Prices

The Vatican Museums has so much to offer that each visit is a unique experience.

Check out the ticket options below to discover which experience best suits your needs.

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

This is your standard entrance ticket which grants access to the many different collections of the Vatican Museums, including the world-famous Sistine Chapel

By booking online you’ll avoid the queue – infamous for being the longest in Rome. Use that saved time to spend even longer enjoying the galleries.

Important Ticket Information:

  • Book your time slot online and arrive at least 15 minutes before your designated time.
  • The tickets will arrive in your email which you can then show either printed out or in digital form.
  • The Vatican Museums are open Monday to Saturday from 09:00 to 18:00. Last admission is at 16:00.
  • Optional audio guides are available, for an additional fee, in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, or Russian.

Full Price Ticket

This ticket is for adults over the age of 18.

Reduced Ticket

This ticket is for children from the ages of 6-17 and students up to the age of 25 (with a valid student ID). Remember to bring a valid ID for reduced tickets, or you’ll be asked to pay full price.

Prime Experience Ticket

This ticket grants you premium access to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel one hour before it opens to the general public. Experience the museum without the crowds!

It’s the same booking procedure as the ticket above, just with earlier time slots!

What’s Included:

  • A two-hour tour of the highlights of the museums, including the Sistine Chapel, with an official guide.
  • A delicious ‘American-style’ breakfast seated in the museum.
  • Free time afterward to peruse the museum at their own pace for the rest of the day.

Rome Tourist Card

Get this nifty card and enjoy skip-the-line access to the collections of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. It also includes access to other famous tourist attractions, such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Additional Information:

  • Includes an audio guide in 10 languages, plus a guide to the city of Rome.
  • Select your visit dates online and receive tickets by email. Arrive at least 15 minutes before your designated time.

The Vatican City Pass

Discover the holiest country in the world with this handy pass. Simply book your visit dates online and receive tickets by email. Valid for three days from the starting date.

What’s included:

  • Skip-the-line access to the collections of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
  • Guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica with an official Vatican guide.
  • Rome: City Audio Guide App with over 130 hotspots to discover.

Additional Information

  • Big bags and suitcases are not allowed inside the museums. You can leave them in the on-site lockers.
  • Shoulders and knees must be covered.
  • Photos and videos are strictly forbidden inside the Sistine Chapel.

Getting There

Before you go anywhere, make sure you’re dressed appropriately. Yes, it’s a museum, but part of the museum is the Sistine Chapel which is still a functional place of worship, so ‘modesty’ rules apply. 

In a nutshell: regular-length shorts are okay. Overly exposed legs and low-cut sleeveless tops are not. Have a thin scarf/shawl/sarong on hand to cover up.

(Souvenirs and convenience shops up and down the city are wise to the shoulders and knees rule, so if you do forget, you’ll be able to pick up a scarf along the way).

Map & Directions (Location)

Address: Viale Vaticano, 00120 Vatican City, Italy

The entrance to the Vatican Museums is a ten-minute walk from St. Peter’s Square, which is to the north of the city center of Rome. You must go around the brown walls of the Vatican City. It’s also easily accessible by public transport.

Metro: Line A, stops ‘Ottaviano’, ‘Cipro’, or ‘Valle Aurelia’

Bus: 49 – stops in the square in front of the museums

32, 81, 982 – Piazza del Risorgimento

492, 990 – Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni

Tram: 19 – Piazza del Risorgimento

Train: San Pietro


If you’re staying anywhere in the historic centre, Metro stations will be noted by their absence. Often, by the time you’ve figured out the bus route and waited around for it, chances are you could have walked in half the time. 

Such are the joys of Rome, so all I can suggest is to bring comfortable walking shoes. 

  • Walking directions from Piazza Navona: Take Via dei Coronari all the way until you reach the fantastically named Via del Panico and then cross the bridge Ponte Sant’Angelo. From there, St Peter’s Basilica will be in your sights, and signs for the Vatican Museums will abound. 

Yes, it’s a 25-minute walk – but that’s only ten more than the bus, and believe me, you won’t want to start your day waiting for the bus. Not in Rome. They come when they come, and it’s all a question of faith. So in the meantime, get your walking boots on. 

If your starting point is located near a Metro stop, then get off at Ottaviano (A). If you’re on the B line (blue), then this will involve changing at Termini. Once at Ottaviano, take one of the left-hand side exits up to street level. 

Even if you exit on the right-hand side, as you come up to street level, you will start to see signs. 

There are a couple of ways to walk (as the conflicting signs would indicate), but I’d advise the following:

  • Take Via Ottaviano down as far as the popular gourmet store Castroni. It will be on your right-hand side. 

  • Turn right down Via Germanico. If you see a cafe called Clementina with tables and chairs (opposite Castroni) outside, you’re going in the right direction.  

Three reasons for this particular walking route:

  1. Castroni. You’ll want to bookmark Castroni as a place to visit for either gourmet Italian produce or for random items you can’t do without from back home in their world foods section. There are several Castronis dotted around central Rome.

  2. Pam. On Via Ottaviano, a one-minute walk further up from Castroni (on the same side of the street), you’ll find the supermarket Pam. Affordable, well stocked. Come here for water and honestly priced snacks as museum fuel. You’re going to need it. 

  3. Clementina. At the start of Via Germanico, opposite Castroni, is the rather charming cafe Clementina. Full range of breakfasts on offer, including eggs, pancakes, fruit bowls, and salads, in addition to traditional Italian fare. If you’re a hearty breakfast eater, this might be the perfect pre-museum breakfast spot. 
  • Continue down Via Germanico until you reach the end, where you meet Via Leone IV. 
  • Cross over, and straight ahead and to the right you will see Viale del Vaticano flanked by the enormous Vatican City Walls, where the pavement has been split in two by a metal barrier. 

The left-hand side is for non-ticket holders, while the right is for ticket holders. Staff wearing Vatican badges will check with you and usher you to the appropriate lane. 

The ticket holder line will be significantly shorter and ought to move quite quickly. (This guide assumes you have a pre-booked ticket and a Vatican-guided tour).


Once you’ve walked up Viale del Vaticano, you’ll be directed towards this canopy, where staff check tickets and motion you towards the entrance. 

Vatican Museum Staff scan the QR code on your ticket at the door, and once through, any bags will need to go through the metal detectors. 

Water bottles are permitted. If in doubt, just put everything in your bag – wallet, phone, keys, the lot. 

You’re Finally In! Now What? 

As instructed on the very helpful Tiqets app, once you’ve passed the metal detectors, look for the big sign for ‘Guided Tours’. Head up a short flight of stairs, and on your right, you’ll find the ticket office dedicated to guided tours. 

‘Guided Tours’ sign you see just after the metal detectors

The ticket office for guided tours where you get your physical tickets

Show a member of staff your ticket (a printout or on your phone) so they can once again scan the code, and in return, they will give you a receipt and a ticket.

Hold on to both of these.

They will write a letter on the receipt which corresponds to the Meeting Point stand you will need to wait at for your guide. 

At the Meeting Point, they take your receipt in exchange for an earpiece so you can hear the guide. 

You will need the ticket to go through the museum barriers with your guide – a bit like on the Metro. 

You scan the barcode on the back of the ticket, which allows you through the barriers. 

One of the meeting points. A member of staff will ask you to redeem your receipt for an earpiece. No receipt, no earpiece. 

In peak season, tour groups can reach up to 30. Your Vatican Museums guide will be holding a pole with a numbered flag attached at the top. Be careful not to lag behind too much as the radio signal gets out of range, and you won’t be able to hear the guide. 

The earpiece hooks over your ear and has volume controls. Stray too far away from your group, and the radio signal will go out of range, so keep up.


Sphere Within a Sphere

The big bronze ball thing, a.k.a Sphere within a Sphere by Arnaldo Pomodoro.

Located in the Belvedere (Pinecone) Courtyard (Cortile della Pigna) at the start of your tour. It’s open to interpretation but generally thought to represent the new world emerging from the old world. It’s certainly striking.

The Warped Arch by Michaelangelo Simonetti

Cool optical illusion arch thing – a.k.a The Warped Arch by Michaelangelo Simonetti.

Architecture nerds, behold. This optical illusion and feat of mathematics was designed by Michaelangelo Simonetti in 1780. 

You’ll be doing a few double takes as you approach this archway, just trying to understand how it works. (I still don’t get it). 

The Laocoön

Ripped beardy man with a serpent statue thing, a.k.a The Laocoön.

Believed to be an original Greek statue from 40 BCE, buried for centuries in a ditch in Rome, and discovered in the 16th century. Promptly brought to Pope Julius for his collection and ogled by Michaelangelo.

It depicts the priest Laocoön and his two sons being killed by a vicious serpent. A harrowing punishment devised by Athena when he predicted the Trojan Horse was an elaborate trick. She was not amused.

The attention to detail and the facial expressions are absolutely stunning. 

Ancient Roman Ornament Mask

I was pretty stoked to learn that this wee mask here (it has several other friends placed at the top of each archway in the Octagon Room) was salvaged from the ruins of Hadrian’s Villa over in Tivoli. 

If you’ve already been or it’s on your agenda to head over there, it’s a nice little callback. 

The Belvedere Torso

Amazing torso guy thing, a.k.a. The Belvedere Torso (by Apollonius).

Remains of an Ancient Greek sculpture of what is believed to be Ajax contemplating his own suicide from the 1st century BCE. 

A personal fave of Michaelangelo, who is said to have religiously studied this anatomically perfect sculpture and used it as inspiration for his own sculptures and paintings. 

Rodin fans will appreciate this nugget: it was customary to pay sculptors to add on the missing limbs to Greek statues, but Michelangelo refused, feeling it was perfect as it was. 

The Gallery of Maps

The Gallery of Maps at the Vatican Museums

These maps of all the regions of Italy were completed in 1583, but still today, cartographers can’t get over the details and accuracy. 

Fun fact – they were commissioned by the Pope for the Vatican, and as such, everything is from Rome’s perspective. 

So Sicily, shown here, appears upside down. 

My favourite room, for sure.

Detail of map showing Rome in the 16th century

The Raphael Rooms

The School of Athens painting in the Raphael Rooms at the Vatican Museums
The School of Athens by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael.
  • The Raphael Rooms are a clear winner on the must-see list. Prepare to be bombarded with facts and visual overload. There are four Raphael Rooms in total, the most famous being the Room of the Segnatura, where you will find this fresco, considered to be Raphael’s masterpiece. 
  • The School of Athens is a sort of who’s who of all the Ancient Greek greats, from mathematicians like Pythagoras to philosophers, poets, and engineers. 

The guys taking centre stage (that appear on your ticket) are Aristotle and Plato, and the gentleman upfront in pale lilac, seemingly lost in thought? That’s our pal Michaelangelo who Raphael snuck in as a friendly cameo.

 It was completed in 1511, a year before Michaelangelo completed the Sistine Chapel. 

Seriously nice floor details things in the Raphael Rooms

Take a moment to stop and admire the floor – if you can. 

Floor details from the Room of the Segnatura

The Borgia Apartments

The Borgia Apartments, consisting of six ornately decorated rooms, are in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the pope. Bernardino Pinturicchio was commissioned to decorate Pope Alexander VI’s (belonging to the infamous Borgia dynasty) private rooms in the late 15th century. These lavish and intricate rooms are a must-see – you’ll be transported in time.

The Gregorian Etruscan Museum and the Gregorian Egyptian Museum

Founded in 1836 by Pope Gregory XVI, the Etruscan Museum was one of the first museums dedicated to Etruscan antiques. Here you’ll find artifacts such as vases, sarcophagi, and bronzes excavated from cities of ancient Etruria. It’s a must-see for those interested in discovering Italy’s ancient pre-Roman past.

The Rotunda Room

You might get a feeling of deja vu when entering this round room as it is modeled after the Roman Pantheon and even includes an oculus in the ceiling. Right in the center is the famous porphyry basin – famous because Emperor Nero used this giant basin, carved out of igneous rock brought from Egypt, as a bathtub.

The Sistine Chapel

No visit to the Vatican is complete without a stop at the Sistine Chapel, which features the most iconic painting in the world: The Creation of Adam. Don’t forget to check out the ceiling’s other incredible panels and the fresco over the altar, The Last Judgment, another one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces. The Sistine Chapel is located at the end of the Vatican Museums and concludes your visit to this incredible place.

Bars / Restaurants / Gift Shops / Recommended Souvenirs 

Exit through the gift shop(s)

After an overwhelming voyage through time, you will have yet to walk through several galleries that house various bits and pieces of papal tidbits. At this point, what is undoubtedly a very worthy collection, quite frankly, all blurs into one. 

But the savvy marketing folk at the Vatican have placed at least two pop-up gift shops along the way to break the monotony and provide a burst of retail relief. (In case you’re absolutely bursting for a magnet).

Keep going through what feels like fifty more sumptuous galleries that look like this, and you will arrive at the main foyer/gift shop next to the spiral staircase that heralds the end and will lead you out.

Expect overpriced artbooks on Michelangelo, Rosary beads, bibles, and decorative plates featuring Jean-Paul II. Frankly, not much you couldn’t find outside the Vatican City Walls for a fraction of the price.

Vatican Pharmacy

What did catch my eye, though, was the Vatican Pharmacy. Not an actual pharmacy but a perfume store.

Did you know the Vatican City has its own laboratories? With actual monks concocting and distilling perfumes and colognes? For the past couple of years only, they are now available to buy and modestly priced, too, I have to say. 

Unavailable to buy outside the Vatican City Walls, I loved this gift set and went ahead and bought it for my mother. Farmacia Vaticana is located at the very end, right before you exit, I recommend heading over and giving it a sniff. 

Gift Set. Eau de Cologne from Vatican City, made by Vatican monks

Solid Lemon scented soap with Vitamin E

Vatican Eau de Cologne. Only available to buy within the Vatican City Walls).


Restaurants are available but reputed to be tourist traps, selling overpriced and subpar quality food, which somehow hurts more when you’re in Italy, where food is normally so good. 

Personally, I was so overwhelmed by the visual stimuli that stopping for food didn’t even occur to me. 

However, just for peace of mind, if you or the person you’re traveling with has mobility issues, know that there are several places available for a pit stop: 

  • Cafe Bistro Caffetteria Le Carrozze – Down on the Basement Level by the Carriage Pavilion.
  • Self Service, Caffetteria Centrale, Pizzeria – Up on Level 1 (where you enter the museum after getting your ticket), you’ll find the Self Service (offering cafeteria/canteen style food), the Caffetteria Centrale for an espresso on the fly, and the Pizzeria.
  • La Pigna – The most tempting bistrot on site, though, placed in the middle of the Belvedere (Pinecone) Courtyard, pictured below to the left. Inflated prices within a serene setting.

The serene Belvedere Courtyard with restaurant La Pigna to the left and plenty of benches to relax and picnic on

Top Tip

If you have the luxury of time, then plan to spend the day.

Get a morning ticket for the Vatican Museums with a guided tour. It’s honestly a lot to take in, and you will get so much more out of it with a guide. Our Vatican guide Kinga was a Doctor in Art History. She was academic, entertaining, and engaging and really brought the whole thing alive.

You will spend the best part of two hours on this tour, at the end of which you will be directed to the Sistine Chapel via the Contemporary Art Collection (which you enter without your guide). 

So my absolute top tip would be to bring a packed lunch/trail mix since it’s essentially an indoor art hike (over 7kms of galleries). 

Take a well-deserved break after the Sistine Chapel but do not leave the museums (as you won’t be able to get back in). 

Make your way back out into the Cortile of the Pigna (above), give the Bistrot a wide berth, find a bench, and relax for a while. Take in some rays. Hydrate. Eat some of that trail mix or a sandwich from Pam. 

Go back and look at the things you enjoyed the most again calmly. Or go and explore some rooms your guide didn’t have time to take you to, like the Egyptian Rooms. The abundance of beauty and people can make this an overwhelming experience. But after the bottlenecks come occasional moments of calm and peace where you can really take it all in. 

Nearby Attractions / Food & Drink

You want more? Seriously? OK then, how about… 

Castel Sant’Angelo – 15 Minute Walk

Originally the site of Emperor Hadrian’s tomb, then converted into a fortress and then a castle. You know Hadrian – of Hadrian’s Villa fame over in Tivoli and Hadrian’s Wall in Scotland. He kind of got around. 

You get nice views from the top, and the bridge leading up to it is stunning. If you can’t quite face going in, the area itself is worth spending time in. There’s a very cute library / outdoor bar to the right along the river called Bibliobar which has a relaxed Parisian feel to it.

Castel Sant’Angelo and Sant’Angelo Bridge. 

Bibliobar. An outdoor library-cum-cafe with snacks, coffee, and drinks.

Food & Drink (For All You Prati People)

The area closest to Vatican City is Prati. It’s a pretty upmarket kind of place and Prati people have cash to splash. It shouldn’t necessarily be the first port of call if you’re on a budget, BUT this is still Rome, and you’re never too far away from something honestly priced and delicious.

  • Eroi della pizza – Piazzale degli Eroi, 4, 00192

A 7-minute walk away (closest metro- Cipro on the A).

You can’t beat this place for pizza by the slice and excellent supplì. Friendly staff and easy on your wallet too. 

  • Fischio – Piazzale degli Eroi, 00136 

Cross the road and find this outdoor kiosk turned bar area where Prati people head when they’re feeling a little “edgy”. Spritz and gin Tonic are sold in hipstery cans, and they also have organic (quite pungent) wine on offer. It’s youthful, laidback, and potentially the perfect antidote to all that high culture at the Vatican. 

  • Il Sorpasso – Via Properzio, 31/33, 00193 

A 10-minute walk away

Laid-back wine bar with an excellent wine selection (without being hoity toity about it). All are reasonably priced. They offer Italian ham and cheese boards (and will advise you in which order to eat the cheese). Good mix of young and seasoned local clientele. Where Prati people go to unwind. 

Argot (Prati) – Via Alessandro Farnese 2, 00192 (Closest Metro Lepanto, one stop after Ottaviano on the A-line).

15 minutes metro and or walk away

Seriously above average cocktails and eats at the trendy yet unpretentious bar/restaurant Argot. Cocktails are a bit steep but unique and extremely well-made.

Did You Know That: 3 Interesting Facts 

  1. If you visit every single room in the Vatican Museums, you’d have to walk 9 miles (14.48km), and if you looked at every single painting for one minute, it would take you four years to see them all.

  2. The Laocoon is the sculpture that started it all! Discovered in a vineyard, it was brought to the Vatican and became the very first piece of the collection.

  3. Michelangelo and Raphael were working in the museums at the same time but were great rivals and only met once.


  • During the 15th century, various popes had chapels and rooms built and decorated in the complex that is now the Vatican Museums, as they were originally used as papal palaces.

  • However, it wasn’t until 1506 with Pope Julius II that the museums can be said to have originated when he purchased The Laocoon sculpture and put it on display.

  • Julius II was also the pope responsible for commissioning Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and Raphael to fresco the walls of the Raphael rooms.

  • Over the course of 500 years, various popes would leave their mark on this gigantic complex by adding to the collection and opening new museums, as well as commissioning the top artists of the time to decorate them.

  • Today, the Vatican Museums are the fourth most visited art museum in the world and are enjoyed by millions of visitors a year.


Are the Vatican Museums free?

No, entry to the Vatican Museums is not free. You will need to purchase a ticket to enter the museums as well as the Sistine Chapel. However, you can explore the Vatican City and St. Peter’s Square without charge.

Can you buy Vatican Museum tickets at the door?

Yes, you can purchase tickets for the Vatican Museums at the door, however, expect very long queues. We recommend purchasing a skip-the-line ticket so you can spend more time exploring and enjoying the museums.

Vatican Museums map

Address: Vatican Museums, , 00120 Vatican City, Vatican City · view larger map