If you’re heading to the Vatican during a trip to Rome, you’ve probably already thought about hiring a tour guide. After all, the Vatican stretches for miles, and it’s almost impossible to explore the historic site thoroughly without the helping hand of an expert.
While large group tours remain the most common type of tour that visitors take at the Vatican, there are also many tour companies operating in Rome that offer private guided tours for smaller groups of people. These types of tours are ideal for those with genuine interest in the Vatican and its artifacts, as private tours tend to only accommodate between 6 and 12 people; this means that you have a lot more time to speak with your tour guide and ask questions during the tour.
But are you able to choose your own places to visit when you opt for a private Vatican tour, or do you have to follow a strict, pre-planned programme? Let’s take a look.
What is a private Vatican tour?
A private Vatican tour is a more intimate alternative to a large group tour, and will usually accommodate between 6 and 12 visitors at one time. Private tours are increasingly popular amongst tourists, who are losing interest in the scattered, impersonal nature of large group tours. With a private guided tour, you’ll enjoy a more personalized, one-to-one experience with your tour guide, and greater flexibility over the areas of the Vatican that you choose to explore.
What does a private Vatican tour include?
While tour guide companies across the Italian capital may vary in what they offer, most private tours will include a full tour of the Vatican, unlimited questioning and answering, as well as an expert tour guide who will guide you from site to site and offer thoughtful commentary on the history and culture of the Vatican. Additionally, a private tour will also include access to areas that are not available to those who take part in large group tours, such as certain artifacts or monuments that can only be viewed by small groups.
In addition to this, some private tours (such as those offered by What a Life Tours) offer skip the line privileges, meaning that you won’t need to wait outside for hours before being granted entry to the Vatican. Some private tours also offer early morning access, where you’ll be able to explore the Vatican privately at your own leisure, before the bustle when the afternoon tourists arrive.
Can I choose where to visit with a private Vatican tour?
In general, a Vatican private tour will be somewhat pre-planned; your tour guide will usually take you through some of the following areas of the Vatican (do note that these may vary from company to company, and some private tours may not cover all of the following sites):
- The Vatican Museums
- The Sistine Chapel
- Pinecone Courtyard
- St Peter’s Square
- Gallery of Tapestries Gallery of Maps
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- Michelangelo’s Pietà
- Bernini’s Baldachin
That being said, you do have greater flexibility with a private tour. While large group tours may rush from site to site in order to respect their given time slot, private tours can last for around 3-4 hours; plus, as you’re exploring the Vatican as a smaller group, you’ll have the opportunity to influence the direction of the tour, or spend more time visiting the areas of the Vatican that you find the most interesting.
Is a private Vatican tour worth the money?
Yes! If you’re looking for a more personalized experience, with greater flexibility – as well as the opportunity to explore parts of the Vatican that aren’t available to the general public – then a private tour is definitely worth the investment. Not only will you have an expert guide to help explain the history and culture of the historic site, but with skip-the-line privileges, you’ll be able to get in and out of the Vatican without waiting around for hours beforehand. Aka, you’ll be able to spend more time eating pizza and gelato, taking photographs at the Trevi Fountain, and exploring the beautiful Italian capital!