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Vatican Private Express Tour

  • Group Size:
    Group Size: Private
  • Language:
    Language: English
  • Duration:
    Duration: 2.5 hrs
  • Start:
    Start: 8:30 AM
  • Price:
    Price: From 299 €
  • Cancelation:
    Including: Skip the line tickets

Tour Overview

Streamline your Vatican visit with a personal insider who knows not only the history but also all the shortcuts, bypasses, and timesavers. We’ll whizz pass the nonessentials and shine the spotlight on the two main protagonists of the show – the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Tour Highlights

  • Breakfast in our Office
  • Intro in our Office
  • Sistine Chapel
  • St. Peter’s Basilica
  • The Pietà
  • The Baldachin
  • St. Peter’s Square

What's included

  • Skip-the-line access to Vatican Museums
  • Skip-the-line access to St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Expert English-speaking tour guide
  • Private customizable tour
  • All tickets and reservations

What you’ll See Along the Way

Breakfast in our Office

While the typical Roman tour company would send you off to an expensive, touristy café for an over-priced and over-rated morning meal, we prefer to treat you to a typical Italian breakfast, so you can get the full experience. Make yourself at home in our foyer while you take a moment to mingle with our office staff and get familiar with your guide over a cup of java and a delicious handmade pastry – on us! What’s more, we always provide a fresh assortment of fruit to help you get your day started off right. Once our bellies are full, we’ll set off for a two-minute walk to the Vatican entrance.

Intro in our Office

Although Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel has received centuries of praise, there are details that many have yet to discover. Before entering the museums, your knowledgeable guide will give you the inside scoop with an inspiring 30-minute introduction. Discover the man behind the masterpiece, and find out that he was never interested in painting the vault to begin with. Discuss his intricate technique and debunk myths about how he lay on his back when, in fact, he stood on his feet bowing himself back and upwards for four years to complete his life’s most prized work.

Sistine Chapel

From 1508 to 1512 Michelangelo dedicated his every waking moment to painting the Sistine Chapel vault. Part of the reason if took Michelangelo so long to complete the ceiling was that he was inexperienced; after all, he was sculptor by trade and had only painted professionally once before. Another important explanation is that he chose adorn the ceiling with a traditional painting technique called “buon fresco”. This made for a highly demanding painting process but Michelangelo suffered through, knowing that his “true fresco” efforts would pay off in durability – and, in fact, his vibrant frescoes still look freshly painted today.

St. Peter's Basilica

The basilica we see today is actually the second draft of St. Peter’s. The first version was built by Emperor Constantine in 326 but, after 1100 years of use, the Basilica was a ramshackle, threatening to fall apart at any minute. The idea of ​​a new church was sparked in the mid-1400s, but it wasn’t until 1506 that Pope Julius II set the project into motion. The original structure was demolished and new construction began, with the aim to surpass all existing Catholic churches in the world. Sadly, the pontifex didn't live to see the basilica’s inauguration in 1626, but there's no doubt he would have been satisfied with the stunning result.

The Pietà

The Pietá, which was carved by Michelangelo between 1499 and 1501, is considered to be one of the greatest sculptural masterpieces in history. While Michelangelo was a true Renaissance man who dabbled in everything from architecture to poetry, he always thought of himself as a sculptor, first and foremost. In fact, ever since childhood, the artist had felt an overpowering calling to “release the figures trapped in the stone”. Michelangelo is said to have believed that every stone had a statue within it and that the sculptor’s task was to discover the shape and to carve away all the stone that did not belong to it.

The Baldachin

The construction of St. Peter’s Basilica was coming to its conclusion when the newly elected Pope Urban VIII decided that he wanted to leave his own, ever-lasting mark on the edifice. He consulted his friend Gian Lorenzo Bernini for advice and the sculptor came up with the idea of ​​erecting a bronze baldachin above the grave of St. Peter – a spectacular way to direct all eyes towards this holiest of sites. Needless to say, Pope Urban loved Bernini’s bold vision and the construction of the canopy quickly commenced. The 95-foot-tall baldachin was unveiled in 1534 and remains to be one of the largest bronze structures in the world.

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Square is the heart of the Catholic faith and one of the most outstanding examples of religious architecture anywhere; a true masterpiece by the baroque virtuoso Gian Lorenzo Bernini. When Pope Alexander VIII asked Bernini to design the square in a way that would "grant the greatest number of people possible with the opportunity to see the pontifex’s public appearances", the accomplished architect went above and beyond his duty. The finalized St. Peter’s Square can hold up to 400,000 visitors at a time and, to this day, pilgrims fill the entire space to brim during important religious events.

Tour Summary Get in the Know

The Perfect Vatican Tour In Only 2.5 Hours

On a tight sightseeing schedule? Traveling with some not-so-museum-loving kids? Or just looking to maximize your precious time in the Eternal City? Whatever your reason may be, we are happy to announce that there is in fact a way to get the best of the Vatican without making it a full-day affair. On our whistle-stop tour of the Vatican featuring the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, you will breeze past all lines and fast-track straight to the main must-sees in only 2.5 hours.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; there is no better way to start a morning of sightseeing in the Vatican City than with the quintessential Italian breakfast in the pleasant company of an expert local. Get to know your guide over a scrumptious croissant and a cup of hot coffee (or a fresh orange juice for the youngsters) before taking the 2-minute walk to the Vatican Museums’ entrance.

Experience the Sistine Chapel Before the Crowds

We could save the best for last… but we’d rather make your jaw drop right off the bat! Gawk at stunning tapestries, lifelike sculptures, and intricate Baroque ceilings on the art-filled route to the very crown jewel of the Vatican – the glorious Sistine Chapel. With exclusive access to the Museums and all of their treasures one hour before the general public, you will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to marvel at Michelangelo’s piece de résistance in the blissful peace it deserves – without the usual rush and crush of tourists.

The exceptional storytelling skills of our official Vatican tour guides are put to good use as you learn more about the man behind the world’s most famous ceiling. Hot-tempered and never one to shy away from controversy, Michelangelo has left quite a few intriguing tales for posterity. The Renaissance “rock star” was known to avenge himself against the few who had the courage to criticize his work – using a paintbrush as his only weapon. One who learned this the hard way was Biagio da Cesena, the Master of Papal Ceremonies under Pope Paul III. Tucked away in the bottom right corner of the enormous Last Judgment fresco, this critic can be found – hand-painted in Hell, surrounded by snakes and demons. You can imagine what he must have done to deserve this – or you can let us fill you in on the backstory.

In Awe of St. Peter’s Basilica Immense & Sublime

Navigating from one masterpiece to another, we’ll save hours in line by taking advantage of an exclusive passage from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica. The majestic church can fit up to 65,000 people but, fortunately for us, we won’t have to worry about fighting crowds at this time of day. Listen to enthralling stories of the popes, pilgrims, and artistic prodigies who have left their marks on this iconic Catholic site as you explore its every nook and cranny. Some of the awe-inspiring highlights include Bernini’s massive bronze Baldachin and, yet another of Michelangelo’s chef d’œuvres – the towering 446-foot tall dome.

Lastly, we’ll stop to admire the sculptural wonder of the Pietá, one of the finest treasures of the Renaissance. The calmness of the Virgin Mary’s unspoken suffering as she cradles her dying son has moved viewers for over 500 years and continues to do so to this day. Take a moment to study the folds and creases in Mary’s dress and the tension of the muscles in Christ’s body – it’s almost impalpable that such amazing detail and beauty could be made by one man and his chisel. Even more astonishing is the thought that Michelangelo sculpted this masterpiece at the tender age of 24. On your way out your guide will give you an explanation of St. Peter’s Square from the immense portico that overlooks it.

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Early Entry Vatican Sistine Express Tour

What our Customers say...

Great tour guide!!

Last year we visited the Sistine Chapel without a guide, so, this year we decided to visit again with a guide and we're so glad we did because we learned so much about the Sistine Chapel from our tour guide Carlotta. She is very knowledgeable but aside from that she is passionate and enthusiastic when speaking/describing the many various things in the Chapel and Basilica. She held our interest from beginning to end! Great tour guide!!”

Sistine chapel and St. Peter’s express

Our guide Matteo was amazing! Prior to the tour he gave an overview and history of what we were about to see. This allowed us to look for specific things of interest. Matteo was friendly and knowledgeable and provided a great experience which enabled us to SKIP ALL THE LONG LINES!”

Vatican and Sistine Chapel Tour

This is a must for anyone vacationing in Rome! Our guide Mateo was amazing! He was so knowledgeable and passionate...I can’t imagine having a better experience. Thank you!”

Such knowledge!

So very glad we booked the early morning tour! There were times our group (of 10 I think) had entire halls and rooms to ourselves. The Vatican and Sistine Chapel are must sees when in Rome. My favorite part of the tour was our most knowledgeable guide, Matteo. Not only did he give us wonderful history lessons, but you could tell he has a real passion for what he does. Money well spent!”

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