If you’re going to be visiting the Vatican, it’s always best to do so with a professional guided tour. While you’re free to visit the historic site on your own, a guided tour will allow you to learn more about the various Vatican sites in more detail, and even allow you certain tour privileges, such as being able to skip the queue or access the Vatican outside normal hours.
In general, there are two types of Vatican tours on offer: a private guided tour, and a group tour. But what’s the difference between the two? In this blog, we’ll be comparing and contrasting private and group tours of the Vatican, so you can make the best decision for your upcoming trip. Let’s take a look!
What’s the difference between group tours and a private tour in the Vatican?
A private tour of the Vatican tends to accommodate up to 6 people, whereas a group tour can accommodate up to 12 visitors at a time. The size of the group isn’t the only difference between a private and group tour – most private tours tend to offer VIP benefits and perks, such as nighttime tours, VIP access, or skip the line privileges.
Here are just a few other differences between a group and private tour:
Intimate vs. group setting
With a private tour, you’ll be able to enjoy a more intimate, cosy setting to enjoy the Vatican’s historic sites. You won’t need to move swiftly through each site or pass quickly by each artefact – you’ll be able to linger and take your time at each site, while also being able to ask as many questions you like to your professional tour guide.
With a group tour, the atmosphere will be more energetic and fast-paced, with large groups of people moving quickly through each site. While you won’t have the same level of intimacy as a private tour, group tours can still be an enjoyable experience, allowing you to meet new people and carry out your sightseeing quickly.
Another major difference between a group tour and a private Vatican tour is the cost – group tours tend to be much lower in cost per person (anywhere from $40 to $80) while a private tour will be slightly more expensive.
However, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. With a private Vatican tour, you’ll be able to enjoy visiting the site at a more relaxed pace, and be able to ask questions and converse with your guide throughout the duration of your tour. Plus, many private tours come with VIP perks and benefits that a basic group tour just doesn’t offer; for example, a private Under the Stars Vatican tour allows you to explore the site at nighttime, while an early bird tour allows you to enter the site before most tourists arrive, offering a more peaceful, quiet setting for your visit.
If you opt for a group tour, it’s likely that the tour is already pre-planned, with a set itinerary and schedule for visiting the various Vatican sites; you likely won’t have much flexibility regarding what you see, or how long you spend at each site. Group tours also tend to adhere strictly to a planned schedule – this is to ensure good timekeeping, as professional tour guides will carry out a number of tours with different groups every day.
However, this can be slightly limiting if you’re interested in learning more about certain Vatican sites, specific art pieces, or if you simply want to explore the museums or chapel at your own pace. A private guided tour will allow you to take your time and participate in the tour, giving you the opportunity to pick and choose what sites you’d like to explore, and how long you’d like to spend at each location.
Private Vatican tour vs. guided tour: which is best for me?
The best option for your group will depend on your preferences, as well as your sightseeing schedule. If you’re looking to save money and you’re tight on time, a group tour will offer you a chance to visit the Vatican’s many historic sites and artefacts, albeit in a more rushed and less intimate setting.
If you’re interested in exploring the Vatican at your own pace and don’t want to be limited by a set itinerary, a private tour is most likely your best option. You won’t be impacted by time constraints in the same way, and the intimate group setting means everyone gets a chance to ask questions and direct the group to sites they find interesting. With the added VIP perks and skip-the-line privileges, a private tour is the ideal option for those looking to have an unforgettable Vatican experience.