At a Glance Why You'll Love It
Tour Summary Get in the Know
The Perfect Vatican Tour in Only 2 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 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 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 learnt this the hard way was Biago 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.
What You'll See Along the Way
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.
Increased security measures at the Vatican Museums may cause some lines to form for tours with skip the line entry. Customers will still enter with priority over general admission ticket holders.
A dress code is enforced at some sites on this tour, namely the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Please make sure that both your shoulders and knees are covered.
Due to venue restrictions at the Vatican Museums we are only able to accept persons requiring wheelchairs on our private Vatican tours.