If you're intent on feeling like the ultimate Vatican VIP, this is the best tour for you. Enter an entire hour a half before the general public does, at 7:30a.m., and experience the glory of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel at it's most serene and atmospheric. Other Vatican tours claim that they are early access, but this is the only Vatican Museums tour that enters an hour and a half before the general public. Visit the Candelabra Gallery, Gallery of the Maps, Gallery of the Tapestries and St. Peter's Basilica.
What to See at the Vatican Museums
After entering at 7:30 am like a celebrity, follow your guide through the Candelabra Gallery, Gallery of the Tapestries and Gallery of Maps. In these favorite galleries, admire ancient Roman and Greek statues, Flemish tapestries created by Raphael's students and gorgeous topographical depictions of Italy.
The Sistine Chapel at it's Most Quiet
See the Sistine Chapel at its finest, when there's almost no one else around. If you've ever seen the Sistine Chapel during normal hours, then you know what an incredible opportunity it is to see it without the crowds. As you admire the ceiling frecoes that feature hundreds of biblical figures depicted in intricate detail, keep in mind that this is also where new popes are elected.
The Sistine Chapel is a place of worship, therefore, speaking inside is not allowed. Since our guide cannot explain the frescoes while you are inside, we explain the Chapel in advance and provide you with a map/handout for reference before you enter. Men and women must cover their knees and shoulders before entering. We understand the summers in Rome get hot, a good alternative is to bring a scarf or shawl to cover up with before you enter.
Bernini's Baldacchino - St. Peter's Tour
This is your chance to skip the line and enter St. Peter's through a special entrance. Contrary to other Vatican tours, this exclusive tour allows you to see how the chapel sounds and looks when mass is taking place. In order to respect those partaking in mass, it's not possible for guides to speak inside the basilica at this time in the morning. As a result, your guide will explain St. Peter's Basilica and the Papal Tombs before you enter. Designed by Renaissance architects that include Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Michelangelo, and Donato Bramante, St. Peter's is the largest church in the world.
If your Vatican tour lands on a Wednesday, St. Peter's is not open for tours due to the weekly Papal Audience. On this occasion, your guide will take you to visit even more masterpieces and hidden gems inside the Vatican Museums.
Important: Remember, it isn’t possible to return to the Vatican Museums from St. Peter’s Basilica. If you want more time inside the museums, you must forgo the visit to St Peter's Basilica. Also, if you’d like to stay in St. Peter's Basilica longer, don't leave with the guide to take photos in the piazza. Because the security line is long and re-entry on your own is not recommended, we suggest you spend at least 30 minutes inside St. Peter’s and explore on your own after the tour concludes on the terrace outside.