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VIP Vatican Private Tour

  • Group Size:
    Group Size: Private
  • Language:
    Language: English
  • Duration:
    Duration: 3.5 hrs
  • Start:
    Start: 10:00 AM / 2:00 PM
  • Price:
    Price: From 459 €
  • Cancelation:
    Cancellation: Free Cancellation*

Tour Overview

VIP Vatican Private Tour: Benefit from skip-the-line access and your very own Vatican expert to guide you through the exquisite collection of the Vatican Museums. With more than 1,200 rooms, it can feel like a spectacular maze. Save yourself the time and energy of going through it alone and head straight to what you want to see. All your questions are answered and all the personal attention you need.


Tour Highlights

  • Pinecone Courtyard
  • Belvedere Apollo
  • Laocoön and His Sons
  • Raphael Rooms
  • 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
  • Private customizable tour
  • All tickets and reservations

What you’ll See Along the Way

Bernini's Baldachin

The bronze canopy, known as the Baldachin, stands at 200 meters tall in St Peter’s Basilica, towering above the main altar. Its bronze was said the have been taken from the Pantheon ceiling in order for renowned artists Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini (who would later become competitive rivals) to create the collaborative canopy. Meticulous planning and intricate techniques were used to create a soft fabric effect, similar to that of traditional cloth canopies. It was the first example in which Bernini combined sculpture with architecture, and it marked a pivotal moment in the Baroque movement.

Pinecone Courtyard

This charming courtyard is adequately named after its bulky bronze pinecone sculpture. Upon its unearthing near the Pantheon, curious contemporaries went straight to work to discover the origins of the mysterious treasure. They concluded that it had been brought to Rome from Hadrian’s Villa, in Tivoli, which would make it approximately 2,000 years old today. More interestingly, though, the pinecone functioned as a fountain – a wine fountain! Legend has it that Emperor Hadrian, known for his lavishly luxurious lifestyle, apparently had the pinecone rigged to pour white wine on one side and red on the other.

Belvedere Apollo

The larger-than-life Apollo Belvedere stands at over 7 feet tall and was once thought to exemplify aesthetic perfection by 18th century neoclassicists. Its origin, however, stems all the way back to the 2nd century, when a solid block of white marble was masterfully chiseled into the stunning icon we see today: Apollo with soft curls and a flowing cape providing a drastic contrast to the toned musculature of his body as he releases an arrow from his bow.

Laocoön and His Sons

Much mystery surrounds the sculpture of Laocoon and his sons, in which the three are depicted near life-sized, suffering an attack by giant sea serpents. The characters stem from ancient Roman and Greek Mythology, so its legend is well known, but its age remains uncertain, with approximations being placed between 27 BC and 68 AD. The impressive work, created by three Greek sculptors Agesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus, serves as an excellent example of Hellenistic Baroque style.

Raphael Rooms

Walk in the very footsteps of Renaissance master Raphael. In the public portion of the Papal Apartments you will find the four Raphael Rooms: The Hall of Constantine, The Room of Heliodorus, The Room of the Signatura, and The Room of the Fire in the Borgo, all of which were named after and attributed to Raphael himself, although he did receive some assistance from his students. The artist spent more than 16 years of his life on these fascinating frescoes and one could almost spend an equal amount of time admiring them.

Belvedere Torso

While one might feel inclined to question the relevance of a mere sculpted torso, - with no arms, legs, or face - it is worth noting that The Sistine Chapel would not have been the same without The Belvedere Torso. The ancient statue dates back to the 1st century BC and was brought to Rome the 1400s. During his reign, Pope Julius II called upon Michelangelo to recreate its missing limbs, but the artist declined, as he believed the torso was perfect. So perfect, in fact, that he studied it for years and used it as a model for many characters featured in the Sistine Chapel, including Christ himself in The Last Judgment.

Round Room

Decadent details adorn this hemispherical vault from top to bottom. Tread lightly on intricate 3rd century mosaics that pave the floor beneath you as you make your way past stunning statues and circle round the decadent red porphyry bath of Nero. A bronze statue of Hercules looks down on visitors as they gaze upward towards the coffered dome ceiling, which was modeled after that of The Pantheon.

Greek Cross Hall

Neighboring the Round Room is the Greek Cross Hall which houses two towering Egyptian style statues from Hadrian’s Villa, a 4th century mosaic of Minerva, and two grand sarcophagi of red Egyptian porphyry. Here you will learn a bit about the Ancient Romans’ fascination with Egypt, discuss the lavish lifestyle of Emperor Hadrian, and have a chance to formulate your own opinion on the ongoing debate about whom the sarcophagi were intended for.

Gallery of Candelabra

2nd century candelabras pave the way through the gallery amongst a mesmerizing collection of marble statues. In Ancient Rome, the poor used oil lamps for illumination, but the rich used sturdy candelabra, which line this corridor today. The 19th century floors, decked with perfectly symmetrical patterns of colored marble, surround a hyper-realistic 2nd century still-life mosaic at the center of the room – together highlighting the masterful skill in Rome’s stonework throughout the centuries.

Gallery of Tapestries

The incredible story-telling tapestries hanging in this gallery were designed and woven in Brussels by the students of Raphael. The elaborate works of wool and silk were displayed for the first time in 1531 draped along the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel. In fact, they were originally made for the purpose of insulating the chapel during cold winters. Instead, they now line the walls of their very own gallery, mapping the story of Christ in chronological order – and with some advanced ‘shifting perspective’ techniques to be admired, as well.

Gallery of Maps

This gallery is one of the most impressive of the Vatican Museums. Light beams in through the windows illuminating the various shades of gold that adorn the corridor. The 40 maps, representing the regions of Italy, were frescoed onto the walls between 1580 and 1583. Even without aircraft technology, these artists managed to portray amazingly accurate overviews of the regions. What’s more, the ceiling was painted to exhibit a brief history of events that had taken place in each of the corresponding regions below them.

Sistine Chapel

In 1508 Pope Julius II summoned Michelangelo to Rome, asking him to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo, who considered himself a sculptor and not a painter, respectfully declined the commission. Unsurprisingly, the pontifex did not take the artist’s “no” for an answer (they didn’t call him the “Warrior Pope” for nothing) and thus Michelangelo was forced to spend the next 4 years of his life unwillingly frescoing the chapel’s enormous vault. But, as much as Michelangelo loathed his neckbreaking chore, the fruit of his labor was spectacular, perhaps one of the greatest pictorial decorations in all of Western art.

St. Peter's Square

Spanning out from the sides of St Peter’s Basilica and centering on a towering Egyptian Obelisk are the colonnades of St Peter's Square, designed by famed architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. An aerial view offers a symbolic perspective in which the shape of the stunning piazza resembles a keyhole. This was not an accident! It was, in fact, designed in reference to the keys handed to Saint Peter by Christ – the key to the church and the key to the city. Every week, visitors from all around the world gather here to receive a public address and a blessing from the Pope himself.

St. Peter's Basilica

The crown jewel of The Vatican holds some of the city’s most magnificent must-sees within its towering walls. Bernini’s most powerful contributions include his work on the bronze Baldachin, St Peter’s throne, and his enormous sculpture of Saint Longinus. Michelangelo’s marvelously sculpted Pieta is known to move witnesses to tears, but nothing tops (literally) his magnificent dome. Even for those who are not religious the church offers incredible feats in both architecture and art, which surround you from all angles – a truly stupendous experience.

Michelangelo's Pietà

Upon entering St Peter’s Basilica, each guest is quickly greeted by Michelangelo’s magnificent marble sculpture: The Pieta - one of his most famous masterpieces. Carved from a solid block of white marble, it depends Jesus’ body lying across the lap of Mary. Interestingly, this is the only work that Michelangelo ever signed or, in this case, carved his name on. Contemporary artist, Vasari, claims that Michelangelo had overheard some onlookers doubting his ability to have created the sculpture, so he broke into the church and carved “MICHAELA[N]GELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTIN[US] FACIEBA[T]” (Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made this) across Mary’s sash. Afterwards, he regretted the act and vowed to never sign his works again.

Tour Summary Get in the Know

An Incredible Way to See the Vatican A Private Tour

Welcome to the Vatican Museums, where some of the greatest artists in history made their most significant contributions. Delve into this magnificent gallery of unparalleled art, where corridors enhanced with chiaroscuro frescoes bring flat surfaces to life with character and dimension. Where walls are draped with tapestries of golden thread and optical illusions. Where life-sized sculptures exemplify the complex beauty of the human form. Where the treasures are seemingly timeless and certainly priceless.

Feast your eyes on iconic works by the big names of the Renaissance and Baroque periods including Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and more. Not only will you have the opportunity to check off some of the world’s top “bucket list” items, with the help of your passionate private guide and their knack for storytelling, but you’ll also leave with a well-rounded perspective of the art and the artists themselves.

From the Gallery of Maps to the Raphael Rooms with an Expert

Make your way to the Raphael Rooms, taking all the time you need. Amazingly, many Vatican tours don’t venture into these fabulous galleries to make a beeline for the Sistine Chapel, but we won’t cut any corners. It is our mission to show you “the best of the best” at the Vatican Museums, which means that skipping the Raphael Rooms simply would not do, especially for his iconic masterpiece ‘The School of Athens.

In the early 1500s, Raphael spent the last years of his life adorning these “stanze”, or “rooms”, with frescoes. In fact, a group of his students, who had to finish the projects upon his passing in 1520, assisted him throughout the project. Each of the four rooms has a theme, which the frescoes illustrate. For example, the ‘Room of the Fire in the Borgo’ boasts vivid imagery of the Borgo, a neighborhood just outside of the Vatican Walls, in flames. This was marked as a special event as it is believed that a pope called for a miracle to stop the fire.

See Michelangelo’s Masterpieces The Sistine Chapel & Pietà

It goes without saying that a trip to Rome would not be complete without a thorough gaze upon the Sistine Chapel – and we wouldn’t dare let you miss it! But first, your personal Vatican expert will fill you in on the events, techniques, and details that led to the completion of Michelangelo’s mega-masterpiece. Discover lesser-known secrets and not-so-obvious symbolism within the stunning frescoes, examine how the layout of the ceiling was planned, study his brilliant Sistine Chapel altar wall The Last Judgment, and get the inside scoop on how the Renaissance master was actually forced into painting the chapel against his will!

The finale of your Vatican private tour culminates in St. Peter’s Basilica. Majestic and inspired, it is the perfect place to come full circle on your in-depth itinerary. Every inch of this 240,000 square foot church is breathtaking, but our tour goes beyond the gold and splendor, revealing the true stories of fervor, innovation, faith, and power. Feast your eyes on Michelangelo’s Pietà and admire the stunning interior of the dome he designed, as well as Bernini’s massive bronze baldachin erected over the Pope’s private alter directly above the tomb of St. Peter himself.

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REVIEWS

VIP Vatican Private Tour

What our Customers say...

Fabulous tour of the Vatican

Our tour guide Tonia was fantastic! So knowledgeable about the entire tour, Rome, traditions, customs, history and Catholicism. Thoroughly enjoyed her time and knowledge and would recommend her to all of our friends taking a tour and would recommend What A Life Tours for your professionalism and promptness and organization. Thank you so much for a life experience.”

Highlight of Europe!

Our tour with Mario was the highlight of our entire two week trip to Europe. In fact, we loved Rome. I wish I had a fraction of Mario's historical knowledge. He was kind, entertaining and engaging, loved the tour. I'm already planning a trip back to Rome. We will definitely use What a Life in the future!”

Priceless

We had an amazing tour guide, Carlotta. She was very knowledgeable and accommodating. We had issues with our bags missing and she genuinely offered to help resolve it. She said that if we needed any assistance after the tour was over, to call the office and ask for her and she would help, converse in Italian and all. We spent a lot of time in the Sistine chapel and Carlotta was very thorough and pointed out a lot of things that we would have missed. The office staff were also very friendly and helpful. Thank you for an amazing tour, wishing you all well.”

Excellent Guide

My family of 3 especially my daughter had a very informative insights into the Renaissance period and the exhibits in the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel. Our guide Carlotta is very knowledgeable, patience and detailed in leading us through the renaissance period to what we see today in the Vatican City. She was really patient and didn’t watch the clock but ensured that we learnt what we could during our 3 hour tour. We were very fortunate to be guided by Carlotta and have no hesitation to recommend your services!”

Magic and Memorable

Carlotta was fantastic! Her knowledge added the story behind what we were seeing, so much more than we were expecting. Her passion for the topics and history really shown through and made the 3 hours magic and memorable. One other thing that was a huge help; Carlotta had a good read on us and where we wanted to focus our limited time, so the personal tour was well worth it to us and set us up for the rest of the day at the Vatican. Superstar in every way!”

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