Home >  Tours  > Vatican Tours  > Private Vatican Tours VIP Early Entry Tour

Private Vatican Tours VIP Early Entry Tour

  • Group Size:
    Group Size: Private
  • Language:
    Language: English
  • Duration:
    Duration: 3.5 hrs
  • Start:
    Start: 7:45 AM
  • Price:
    Price: From 414 €
  • Cancelation:
    Including: Skip the line tickets

Tour Overview

Top-ranked on TripAdvisor since 2011 with thousands of 5-star reviews, you’re guaranteed to have the experience of a lifetime on your Private Vatican Tour with early entrance. See the Vatican Museums as soon as its doors open to the general public and get skip-the-line access to St. Peter’s Basilica, exploring all the timeless treasures including the Sistine Chapel with a top-rated personal guide.

**The Fabbrica di San Pietro has begun the replacement of the glass diaphragm protecting the marble group of Michelangelo’s Pietà with a new pane of glass to guarantee adequate parameters of visibility and safety. The renovation works are expected to go on until the end of September 2024 and during this time, Pietà will not be visible.**

Tour Highlights

  • Intro Outside Vatican
  • Sistine Chapel
  • Pinecone Courtyard
  • Belvedere Apollo
  • Laocoön and His Sons
  • Belvedere Torso
  • Round Room
  • Greek Cross Hall
  • Gallery of Candelabra
  • Gallery of Tapestries
  • Gallery of Maps
  • Raphael Rooms
  • St. Peter’s Square
  • St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Michelangelo’s Pietà
  • Bernini’s Baldachin
  • Private Guide

What's included

  • Skip-the-line access
  • Expert English-speaking tour guide
  • Private customizable tour
  • All tickets and reservations

What you’ll See Along the Way

Intro Outside Vatican

Our early morning tour is especially unique! As the Vatican doors open, we whisk you straight to the Vatican Museums. But, what’s the use if you perhaps don’t know all of the interesting stories and information that go along with it and its crown jewel, the Sistine Chapel? We’ve arranged a special introduction for you so that, before you enter the museums, your expert cicerone will provide you with tons of insightful information about the chapel! Afterwards, you’ll be able to examine Michelangelo’s masterpiece from a fully knowledgeable and enlightened perspective.

Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel ceiling is divided into nine main panels which each depict an important scene from the Bible, beginning with the Creation of Light and finishing with the Drunkenness of Noah over the main altar. Michelangelo painted the vault contra-chronologically and the stylistic evolution that occurred during the four-year project is clearly recognizable as your gaze wanders from one part of the ceiling to the next. The most famous image is undoubtedly the Creation of Adam, in which Michelangelo portrays God as a surprisingly muscular figure who descends to the earth to breathe life into man.

Pinecone Courtyard

The very centerpiece of this Renaissance courtyard is a futuristic-looking work of art called "Sphere within Sphere", which harmonizes perfectly with the dome of St. Peter’s on the horizon. While most of the other works of art displayed in this patio date back to antiquity, this is a contemporary piece made as late as 1990. It consists of two layered spheres, the smaller of which is hidden inside the other; visible through gaping holes resembling natural cracks and corrosion. The 13-foot wide structure was a gift to Pope John Paul II from the artist himself, the Italian sculptor Arnoldo Pomodoro.

Belvedere Apollo

This marble sculpture from Classical Antiquity was unearthed somewhere in the Roman countryside in the late 14th century (though the exact details of its time and place of uncovering are still held in mystery). It was the art-loving Pope Julius II who brought the statue to the Vatican in 1511, placing it in the Octagonal Courtyard of the Belvedere Palace, where it still stands today. Upon it’s installation in the Vatican, the statue immediately became immensely popular and its representation spread like wildfire across Europe in the form of castings, bronze prints, marble copies and engravings.

Laocoön and His Sons

When the Laocoön was dug up in a vineyard just outside Rome in 1506, Michelangelo was one of the first people to catch a glimpse of it – and it was love at first sight! The Renaissance master became so besotted with the sculpture that he publically praised it as a “miracle of art”. The anguish on the faces of the marble figures sparked a desire within Michelangelo to create more emotions in his own pieces. Prior to this, most Renaissance art had a lack of sentiment, but the Laocoön prompted the entry of the mannerism – a game changer unlike few others in the history of art.

Belvedere Torso

This limbless torso is the centerpiece of the Muses Room – and, of all the halls of the Vatican, this is the most fitting room in which it could be perched. After all, this Hellenistic work from the 1st century AD has been used as a model for sculptors and painters ever since the Renaissance – making it one of the most coveted muses in all of art history. Even Michelangelo himself is known to have knelt in front of its marble trunk and exclaimed: “Truly, this was created by a man who was wiser than nature!” While the creator of the masterpiece remains unknown, his legacy lives on as the torso continues to spellbind its viewers.

Round Room

In this room, the dome’s oculus allows an entrance for the sun to perfectly highlight the rare antiquities on display. The entire hall is encircled by ancient sculptures, which tower above awestruck onlookers from their niches. Some of the must-sees include a marble depiction of Emperor Hadrian’s young lover Antonius and a 2nd century Hercules rendering in gilded bronze. There’s also an unusual sculpture of Emperor Claudio, portrayed as Jupiter. These types of god-like representations of emperors were placed in public places in Ancient Rome, presenting a glorified image of the ruler to the people.

Greek Cross Hall

As you enter this stunning hall, you’re transported to a new time and space with a freshly unique Egyptian theme. A pair of pink granite telamones, or supporting figures, flank the imposing entrance and stand guard over sphinxes and two elaborate sarcophagi on display. Incredibly, the meticulous ancient caskets were carved out of single blocks of Egyptian porphyry and once held the bodily remains of Emperor Constantine’s mother and daughter respectively. The Greek Cross Rooms also boast a unique sculpture of Cleopatra, believed to be the only preserved portrait of the legendary Queen of Egypt to this day.

Gallery of Candelabra

This is one of three main gallerias of the Papal Palace – and quite possibly the most breathtaking! The ceiling is dazzling with painted frescos, the flooring is a superb puzzle of colored stonework, and everywhere you look your gaze falls on yet another marble masterpiece from Roman and Greek antiquity. One of the highlights here is the rather bizarre sculpture of the goddess Artemis, portrayed with numerous pendulous breasts, which are said to symbolize fertility. The true stars of the hall, however, are the 12 sumptuous candelabras after which the gallery was named.

Gallery of Tapestries

Commissioned by Pope Clement VII in the 16th century, the tapestries in this gallery previously adorned the walls of the Sistine Chapel. They weren’t relocated to their current home until just over 100 years ago. Each tapestry is woven with incredible attention to detail but the most esteemed pieces on display are the nine unique carpets based on sketches by the pupils of Raphael. To protect the valuable but delicate tapestries, the entire corridor is equipped with a special air conditioning system, making it one of our very favorite galleries to dwell in on warm summer days.

Gallery of Maps

While the 16th century maps painted on the walls of this spectacular gallery are certainly beautiful (and surprisingly accurate!), the exceptionally luxurious vaulted ceiling usually steals the attention of every visitor straightaway – in fact it’s the second most photographed vault in the Vatican, trumped only by the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The vault is lavishly embellished with impressive gold reliefs while the walls features maps of all regions of Italy, cleverly organized so that you find the provinces which look to the Mediterranean Sea on one side and those that face the Adriatic Sea on the other.

Raphael Rooms

While Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, a young Florentine artist studied the master's brushstrokes intensively. Raphael, who had been commissioned to decorate a suite of rooms for Pope Julius II, was keen to gain inspiration from his older colleague. Surprisingly, Raphael’s frescoes would become almost as celebrated as his mentor’s and one room in particular, the Stanza Della Segnatura, has made art history many times over. This room served as the Pope's library and Raphael appropriately decorated its walls with philosophers from ancient Greece in his renowned School of Athens fresco.

St. Peter's Square

In 1656, exactly 30 years after the induration of St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Alexander VIII decided that the cathedral needed a plaza in front of it. The pontifex wanted the square to accentuate the grand magnificence of the basilica and commissioned the important task to Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini was known as a master of illusion and his sketches bear witness to a careful study of proportions and angles; all to make the church appear bigger than it actually was. To enhance the monumentality of the façade and draw the visitor’s attention to it, he cleverly made the area closest to the church slope as a stage floor.

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is the beating heart of the Catholic world; every year millions of pilgrims come here from all over the world to visit St. Peter’s tomb, pray and receive the blessing of the Pope. The construction of the basilica was commenced in 1506, under Pope Julius II but wasn’t completed until 120 years later, during the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII. Nearly all well-known architects of the second half of the 16th century participated in the construction of the cathedral, including Bramante, Raphael, Maderno, Bernini and Michelangelo, of which the latter is considered to have contributed the most.

Michelangelo's Pietà

Michelangelo’s Pietá remains one of his most famous pieces. It wasn’t only the mastery of craftsmanship that established the sculpture’s fame, but also the fact that it broke previous conventions about how Christ and the grieving Virgin Mary should be portrayed. While the exact same scene had been rendered by many artists before him, Michelangelo deliberately dissociated himself from the usual dynamic expressionism of the mediaeval tradition and, instead, implemented a sense of realism. Unlike his contemporaries, Michelangelo renounced the exaggerated sorrow of Mary for a more understated grief.

Bernini's Baldachin

There is a surprisingly touching story behind this towering, bronze masterpiece. In the early 17th century, Pope Urban VIII was deeply concerned about his favorite niece, who was going through a difficult pregnancy. The mother and her unborn child were both at risk and the hope of salvation faded with each passing day. In a cry of desperation, the pope vowed that he would build a giant altar in the center of the cathedral if the birth was successful - and he stayed true to his promise. A healthy baby boy was born and the pope commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to implement the 95-foot tall canopy in 1623.

Private Guide

The Treasures of the Vatican: Vatican VIP Tours

If there’s one thing to wake up early for on your trip to Rome then our Private Vatican Early Entry Tour is precisely it. Private Vatican tours in the early morning are the best way to see this incredible location.

On this VIP-style journey inside the walls of the Holy See, you’ll have the opportunity to tailor your tour based on your points of interest and itinerary of choice:

-The Sistine Chapel
-Michelangelo’s Masterpiece
-St. Peter’s Basilica

You’ll skip the line to discover the treasures of the world’s largest and most influential church. Your private guide will be there every step of the way to make sure your experience is a mesmerizing one.

After meeting your guide at our comfortable offices just steps from the entrance to the Vatican Museums, you’ll take advantage of the earliest possible entry time. Not only will you be able to navigate corridors and galleries with ease and time to focus on details, but you’ll also see the Sistine Chapel with fewer crowds, compared to the number of people who will literally “occupy” it later in the day.

Michelangelo & The Sistine Chapel: Private Tours Of Pure Mastery

Sorry, Raphael, but any visit to the Vatican is all about Michelangelo. From the omnipresent dome of St. Peter’s to the multi-masterpiece Sistine Chapel, and the spectacular Pietà to the cameo in Raphael’s iconic School of Athens, his mind, brushstrokes, and chisel-work are everywhere. Your guide is a bonafide expert in the affair and will walk you through the extraordinary accomplishments of this Italian master and true-to-the-word Renaissance man.

The most amazing of the Sistine Chapel ceiling panels is the Creation of Adam, depicting God and the first of all men nearly touching fingers, an image that has become an integral part of our understanding of art and the divine. Nonetheless powerful in imagery is Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment, a representation of the second coming at the end of days as good souls are separated from those with less sinless natures, many with symbols of their martyrdom. The vibrant colors of all of this are no less breathtaking than the backstories provided by your guide.

Feast your eyes on all of these incredible sights in The Sistine Chapel:

-The Creation of Adam
-The Last Judgment

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica: Private Guided Tours of a Vast Treasure Trove

The magic of St. Peter’s Basilica is just through a set of skip-the-line doors, also closed to standard attendees who’ll have to take the long way around the world’s smallest country to get inside. Welcome to majesty personified as architecture. This massive work of human endeavor took 120 years to complete involving the greatest engineering and artistic minds of the age, from Michelangelo to Bernini. There were in fact no less than seven architects put to the task by some 20 popes.

Inside you’ll stand agape by the sublime proportions. Your guide will take you to see Michelangelo’s Pietà, a masterpiece the famed Florentine sculptor completed at just 24 years of age, followed by a series of dazzling side chapels including that dedicated to Pope John Paul II. Then it’s on to Bernini’s enormous bronze baldachin, the canopy to the Pope’s private altar above the ancient tomb of St. Peter himself. You’ll also have the chance to discover the secrets of St. Peter’s Square with the optical illusions that Bernini so carefully planned for its visitors.

Still, have questions? Your private guide will satisfy your every curiosity before parting ways.

The Vatican: Private Tours Of An Architectural Wonder

The magic of St. Peter’s Basilica is just through a set of skip-the-line doors, also closed to standard attendees who’ll have to take the long way around the world’s smallest country to get inside. Welcome to majesty personified as architecture. This massive work of human endeavor took 120 years to complete involving the greatest engineering and artistic minds of the age, from Michelangelo to Bernini. There were in fact no less than seven architects put to the task by some 20 popes.

Inside you’ll stand agape by the sublime proportions. Your guide will take you to see Michelangelo’s Pietà, a masterpiece the famed Florentine sculptor completed at just 24 years of age, followed by a series of dazzling side chapels including that dedicated to Pope John Paul II. Then it’s on to Bernini’s enormous bronze baldachin, the canopy to the Pope’s private altar above the ancient tomb of St. Peter himself. You’ll also have the chance to discover the secrets of St. Peter’s Square with the optical illusions that Bernini so carefully planned for its visitors.

Still, have questions? Your private guide will satisfy your every curiosity before parting ways.

if you have any questions about the trips, see our FAQ. LEARN MORE
REVIEWS

Private Vatican VIP Early Entry Tour

What our Customers say...

Fantastic history, art and architecture tour

Fantastic tour of the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peters Church - spent 3 hours looking up with my jaw on the floor! Tour guide Manuela was top notch - super knowledgeable and lots of historic fun facts kept our small group 100% engaged for 3.5 hours. A must do when in … Vatican City ;)”

Worth Every Penny!

Go ahead and book this tour right now! Elaine was our tour guide and absolutely knew her stuff, was passionate about what she was teaching us, and funny. I couldn't imagine doing this tour with all the crowds, so the early morning start was perfect. Getting a guide makes the experience so much more valuable. We had an amazing time!”

Awesome Tour!

I highly recommend booking this tour. You do not want to go and visit Vatican without a tour. The agency is very well organized and the staff are very communicative. We had a very knowledgeable and at the same time funny your guide. Mario is an excellent storyteller, answered all of our questions and managed the time perfectly. Book your tour today”

Lucia is fabulous! Great tour with Skip the Line/ what a life tour

Lucia as a fantastic tour guide ! We are both teachers, and we are an appreciative couple when it comes to a really good tour guide who keeps everyone in line so no one gets lost, and meets the needs of all the people in the tour. Highly recommend this tour, and Lucia!”

Fantastic tour

The score was wonderful! Our tour guide, Tonia, was very knowledgeable, friendly, and fun. She kept all of us, including our young teenage son, engaged throughout the tour. My wifey even remarked after the tour that she felt like giving Tonia a hug because she was so warm and made us feel like part of the family. Highly recommend!”

More of Our Amazing Rome Tours…