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Skip-the-line Vatican Small Group Tour

  • Group Size:
    Group Size: Max 12
  • Language:
    Language: English
  • Duration:
    Duration: 3 hrs
  • Start:
    Start: Multiple start times
  • Price:
    Price: From 99 €
  • Cancelation:
    Including: Skip the line tickets

Tour Overview

The Vatican usually has long lines that can keep you waiting for hours. The crowds outside the Vatican often deter many travelers, but you don’t have to worry about that with What a Life Tours. Our Skip-the-Line Vatican Small Group Tour lets you access the Vatican without having to worry about tickets or hours of long lines to make the most of your experience!

Book the top-rated Vatican Tour and skip the general lines! See the best of the Vatican Museums with a local official tour guide.
Get straight inside with skip-the-line access to see a host of treasures including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, all with enlightening storytelling from a passionate guide to putting you front and center at Rome’s premier collection of artistic masterpieces.
Groups of 12 people or fewer!


**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

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

What's included

  • Skip-the-line access to Vatican Museums
  • Skip-the-line access to St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Expert English-speaking tour guide
  • A small group of 12 or fewer
  • All tickets and reservations
  • Headsets to hear the guide clearly

What you’ll See Along the Way

Pinecone Courtyard

Every visit to the Vatican Museums begins in the Pinecone Courtyard; one of the most beautiful patios of the entire Apostolic Palace. Needless to say, the courtyard takes its name from the colossal pinecone sculpture perched at its northern end. The statue, which is completely cast in bronze and stands almost 13 feet tall, is said to have belonged to a temple of the Egyptian goddess Isis in ancient times. Later on, it would come to adorn both the Pantheon and the Old St. Peter’s Basilica before it finally ended up in its current home, where it has been standing proudly for over 400 years.

Belvedere Apollo

Few other works of antiquity have wielded such an effect on modern artists as the Apollo Belvedere. Since its rediscovery in the late 1500s, this Roman copy of a Greek bronze original has inspired countless sculptors and painters, including the Renaissance wunderkinds Michelangelo and Canova. Goethe is said to have been “shaken” by the beauty of the sculpture and the German scholar Winckelmann claimed that it was "the highest ideal of art among all the works of antiquity". For many centuries the statue Apollo of Belvedere was the symbol and model for male beauty and a synonym for aesthetic perfection.

Laocoön and His Sons

This marble showpiece is one of the most esteemed works of the Vatican collection but one very important enigma regarding its origin remains unresolved – who made it? Some experts speculate that Michelangelo himself sculpted the Laocoön in an attempt to pass it off as an invaluable antiquity (which would explain why the statue is in such excellent condition) but, so far, no one has been able to prove this controversial theory. While the question of whether the Laocoön is indeed the result of a cunning forgery or truly a piece made by an ancient Greek sculptor is still up for debate – no one can deny its timeless beauty.

Belvedere Torso

Headless, legless and armless, this sculpture fragment may not look like much at first sight and, thus, is often overlooked by the casual passerby. What most visitors don’t realize is that this modest marble trunk has been an invaluable spring of inspiration for artists throughout the centuries, contributing to give life to some of the most esteemed masterpieces in the entire Vatican collection. Michelangelo was greatly influenced by the piece; so much in fact, that the peculiar twisted pose of the torso is replicated by the Renaissance master up to 20 times in the Sistine Chapel frescoes alone.

Round Room

As you walk into this hall, you’ll find yourself completely surrounded by ancient statues of Roman and Greek gods and heroes. While the marble sculptures are certainly worth admiring, the 13-foot tall bronze rendering of Hercules completely steals the show. The colossal piece is remarkably unique; as it is the only statue of gilded bronze that has been preserved since antiquity. Historically, bronze sculptures were often melted down to make weaponry in times of war but, luckily, the Hercules lay buried underground until the 19th century, which saved it from this unfortunate destiny.

Greek Cross Hall

This hall got its name from its unusual architectural shape – seen from above, its ground plan takes the form of a cross. While most visitors don’t take the time to stop here on their beeline march to the Sistine Chapel, this Egyptian themed hall is a favorite amongst tour guides. Some of the interesting pieces housed here are the twin sets of sphinxes, sarcophagi and telamones but also the stunning 3rd century mosaic at the center of the floor. It's meticulously laid around the head of the Medusa, whose image on the ground protected the householders from evil forces, according to the ancient superstition.

Gallery of Candelabra

While the sculptures on display in this gallery have stood their ground for centuries, the walls and the roof of the corridor were constructed only some 200 years ago. In fact, this entire space used to be an open loggia (an outdoor sculpture garden of sorts) and one of the favorite places for previous popes to come for a refreshing stroll on particularly stifling summer days. While we would have loved to see Pope Francis meandering across the sunlit marble displays, we can’t imagine any ambiance could be more fitting than that of the present gallery. The ceiling is especially impressive, boasting stunning 3D-like frescoes.

Gallery of Tapestries

The art of the Vatican is filled with curious optical illusions. One of the most illustrious examples of “moving perspective” artwork can be found in the Tapestry Gallery, more specifically in the wall hanging depicting the resurrection of Christ. Amazingly, visitors who look into the eyes of Jesus will find that his glance eerily follows them as they make their way along the hallway – an incredible trompe l'œil feat by the 16th century weavers who created it! The eye-deceiving effect was achieved by using threads of different density, creating an illusionistic play of light and shadow.

Gallery of Maps

With the development of cartography in the 16th century, maps became fashionable as a palace decoration and Pope Gregory VIII did not hesitate to jump on the bandwagon. He commissioned some of his favorite artists to paint the walls of this gallery with representations of all the Italian regions that were under Papal power at the time. Incredibly, the ambitious project was completed in only 18 months and the result was nothing short of spectacular. To this day, the Gallery of Maps is one of the most notable in the entire museum complex and curious visitors linger here to admire the topographical depictions in detail.

Sistine Chapel

In 1508, Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to revamp the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Michelangelo, who didn’t consider himself a painter, was strongly hesitant to accept the task and even signed the contract as "Michelangelo, sculptor”. According to rumors, it was Michelangelo’s arch-rival Bramante who convinced the pope to entrust Michelangelo with the painting. He hoped that Michelangelo's reputation would be damaged if his work wasn’t satisfactory – after all, he had no previous experience with this kind of assignment. It’s safe to say that the plan fell flat; the Sistine Chapel came to be an unparalleled masterpiece.

St. Peter’s Square

This 250,000 square foot piazza is not only the largest in Rome but also one of the most beautiful. It’s a superb example of religious architecture, designed in the 17th century by Renaissance mastermind Gian Lorenzo Bernini. While the square is of enormous proportions; the draftsman did not want it to feel intimidating. Starting from the Basilica portico, he encircled almost the entire perimeter of the plaza with colonnades, seeming to embrace the visitors. Today, St. Peter’s Square is visited by roughly 6 million people yearly and every single one is still welcomed by the famous “open arms” of Bernini’s colonnade.

St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is the second largest Christian structure in the world and the biggest building in Rome at a staggering 613 feet in length. The construction of the church began in the early 1500s as an ambitious project by Pope Julius II, known for his elaborate tastes in art.120 years, four artistic styles and seven architects later, the world could finally feast their eyes on the completed St. Peter's Basilica, which, to this day, is marveled at by millions of pilgrims and tourists annually. The basilica is located on the Vatican Hill, not far from the Circus of Nero, where the first Apostle Peter suffered his martyrdom.

Michelangelo's Pietà

When Michelangelo was commissioned to sculpt the Pietà, he arrogantly vowed that it would be “the most beautiful work in marble Rome has ever seen.” A lot to live up to for a young and inexperienced sculptor, but Michelangelo’s creation did not only meet the expectations – it exceeded them! Everyone was astonished by the achievement; in less than two years, the 25-year-old artist had indeed carved the most remarkable sculpture ever made from of a single block of marble. The sculpture soon gained world fame and pilgrims would travel to the Vatican from all around the globe to behold the incredible masterpiece.

Bernini's Baldachin

To complete this 120 ton canopy, Gian Lorenzo Bernini was in desperate need of large quantities of bronze. Unfortunately, this precious metal was a rare commodity in Italy in the early 1500s and when no more could be found, Pope Urban XIII gave Bernini permission to harvest the bronze from the portico of the Pantheon. Needless to say, this did not sit well with the Roman people and the shrewd deed gave rise to the proverb "What the barbarians do not do to Rome, the Barberini (the family of the pope) certainly did". But the stunning result of the larceny, as you can see, may just have been worth all the badwill.

Tour Summary Get in the Know

The Best of the Vatican: Skip The Line Tour

Dive into Vatican tours, with must-see attractions with the highlights you absolutely can’t leave Rome without. Luckily, they’re all on a straight shot to the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, but you’ll still be in awe of the immense treasure trove you’ll find along the way. This tour has been specifically designed to get you inside as quickly as possible with skip-the-line entry and move through the collection without hitting the bottlenecks. You’ll have a passionate Vatican expert with you all the way for a true insider’s perspective, and in groups of only 12 guests or fewer, both you and the priceless works of art will get the attention you deserve.

This is hands down the perfect tour for families traveling with small children or teens, people who “don’t do” museum tours, or those who have limited time and want to see the Eternal City in less than an eternity. Whatever the case may be, you’ll walk away with a deep understanding of the rich history and vibrant masterpieces housed inside the Vatican’s walls.

Shortcut to the Sistine Chapel: VIP Tours

Return to a time when Michelangelo and Raphael were rivaling Renaissance geniuses, and examine timeless art and the progressive ideas that changed the face of western civilization. You’ll be led on an enlightening discovery of what happened, exactly where the events took place. As you wander the vastness of courtyards and open-air sculpture galleries, you’ll no doubt be struck by the dazzling Gallery of Maps and Pinecone Courtyard, brimming with frescoes, sculptures, tapestries, and more. Your guide will create a rich experience, summoning historic personalities and leaking the backstories on the artworks.

The buildup can only lead to the Sistine Chapel, and you’re sure to sigh upon entering. Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes are one of the most incredible creative achievements ever, and to think he considered himself a sculptor. You’ll see the crown jewels of this four-walled masterpiece, The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment, summing up the biblical history of humankind in vivid, living color. Michelangelo dedicated 9 years of his life to the tasks, and when you see his hidden self-portrait you’ll know how he felt afterward. Your guide will have provided context on this and more as you take precious time to explore.

Splendors of St. Peter’s

This tour winds down with a bang inside St. Peter’s Basilica, where you’ll witness the incomparable grandeur of its mosaics, golden ceilings, gigantic statues, and the spectacular dome. Optical illusions will be unveiled and history will unfold as we escort you to Bernini’s bronze Baldachin and the chair of St. Peter himself. Last but not least, we will stop by the Pietà, one of the cornerstone masterpieces of the Renaissance. Learn what led Michelangelo to defile one of his most prized sculptures and the reason he modeled the Virgin Mary to appear the same age as her son.

While some may say that you’d need a lifetime to fully explore the Vatican, we know that our guests don’t have that kind of time on their hands. With our skip-the-line Vatican tours and an insider expert leading the way, you’ll leave your Vatican adventure feeling enlightened and still have time to see the rest of the Eternal City.


Vatican Best-of-the-Best Tour

What our Customers say...

Amazing tour guide - very informative

Extremely informative and enjoyable tour of the Vatican City with Ana. Went at our pace and had all the answers to our questions!”

Best Tour of the Vatican!

Top marks to our guide Elaine! She was very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and informative. Great to hear a guide say how much she loves her job - and it showed, with many interesting points of interest pointed out to us by Elaine. Fully recommend her for this tour!!”

Great Vatican Tour

Ana was an excellent tour guide and had 20 years experience with the Vatican. She was very knowledgeable and brought the stories of the past to life. We got to learn a lot of things you may miss by doing a self guided tour. 3 hours was the perfect amount of time and it gave you plenty of time to look around and take pictures.”

Skip the Line Vatican Tour

Great tour with a wonderful guide. Her English was perfect, she was fun & interesting. The Vatican Museum was so much larger than I expected. Everything was amazing! Well worth the extra money to get a lot of inside information about what we were seeing. Incredible!”

The Best!

We all enjoyed our tour with your group this morning. Elaine is THE BEST guide we have had whilst travelling. Her knowledge and story telling is exceptional, witty and engaging all whilst being very professional. She kept the tour moving at a good pace without leaving us feeling rushed. We wish Elaine all the best with her future! Thanks for a great look at the Vatican.”

How long are the lines at the Vatican on an average day?

The historical Sistine Chapel rests at the end of a very long, time-consuming line throughout the museums. Vatican lines can range from 2 to 4 hours long, with some taking even longer at 5 or 6 hours! It’s well worth it to get your early entry ticket to enjoy Renaissance masterpieces and the historical significance of the Vatican.

What is there to see at the Vatican?

Your skip-the-line Vatican tickets will grant you access to all the beautiful sights at this historical landmark. Booking one of our Vatican tours gives you the expertise and knowledge of our local guides as well.

Nestled in the Vatican, you’ll find lots of impressive architecture, an immense collection of works by Renaissance artists, the Vatican Gardens, and more. There’s almost nothing you can’t find at the Vatican.

Can you just show up at the Vatican?

The Vatican Museums require an entry ticket, but you can enter Vatican City without a pass of any kind. However, we don’t recommend simply showing up to the Vatican tourist attractions on a whim. The crowds are staggering, and your experience won’t be as pleasant if you have to wait in long lines.

Our skip-the-line Vatican tours allow you to walk past the waiting crowds and enter the Vatican stress-free.

Can I bring my kids to the Vatican?

Absolutely. The security guards often direct parents and families with young children to the best parts of the museums for viewing. Keep in mind that there’s a lot of walking involved with touring the Vatican, so bring a stroller for very young children. Our skip-the-line Vatican tickets may make things easier on children.

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