How to Visit the Sistine Chapel in Rome

Covered in frescoes by Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel is truly one of the unmissable spots in Rome. There is something so unworldly about the celestial paintings in this Vatican church. You may be completely surrounded but once you look up, the crowd fades away and you cannot help but be astounded by the detail in the colorful ceiling and walls of the church. But just how exactly do you visit the Sistine Chapel?

The Cost to Visit the Sistine Chapel

So how much does it cost to visit the Sistine Chapel? Well, it depends on how you look at it because the Sistine Chapel is free to visit once you are inside the Vatican Museums. If someone offers you sell you a ticket to only the Sistine Chapel, this is a scam.

You are only required to buy a ticket to enter the museums, which costs €17 if you wait in line and buy it on the spot or €21 to reserve ahead and skip the line. You do not need a special additional ticket to visit the Sistine Chapels outside of the regular museum ticket- it is included as part of your visit to the wider collections.

There are no timed entrances into the chapel itself. You can wander through the museums and enter the Sistine Chapel before you leave, or run straight there when the museums open. 

How to Skip the Line

You cannot skip the line at the Sistine Chapel, but you can skip the line to get into the Vatican museums. The best way to ruin your visit to this wonderful place is to wait in line outside for hours to get into the museums (and yes, this is the normal wait in peak season). The cheapest way to get a skip the line ticket is to buy your tickets online directly from the Vatican (€17 + €4 mandatory booking fee).  This will give you a dedicated entry time so you don’t have wait in line to get into the museum. 

I don’t know who the Vatican’s web developer is but the site to buy tickets is frankly terrible. I find that it only works about half the time. I wish you the best of luck, but if you cannot book through the Vatican (it happens to me regularly), then you can also book skip the line tickets for the museum and Sistine Chapel here. There is also a last minute ticket option and in both of these cases, the ticket is delivered directly to your smartphone. 

For a quieter experience, visit the museums and the chapel on Friday nights during the summer months. The crowds are much more manageable giving you more space and time to enjoy the artwork. 

The Vatican Museums are so much more than the Sistine Chapel that I highly recommend taking a tour to see the most important pieces in the extensive and the most glorious rooms in the papal palace. (Guides are not allowed to speak inside the chapel but they will give you secret tips for what to look for before you go in). If you want a discount tour, you can check the options here (but larger groups are sometimes less engaging).

If you are not a tour person, but you plan to do a lot in Rome, you can buy a Rome CityPass which includes entrance to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, skip the line tickets to St. Peter’s Basilica, Colosseum tickets and audio guide, hop on hop off bus tour, airport transfer, and 20% discounts at other museums for under €100.

Where to Find the Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is not technically in Rome – it is located in Vatican City. To visit the Sistine Chapel you first need to visit the Vatican Museums.

The Sistine Chapel is inside the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City and accessible via the Vatican Museums. If you plan on doing a self-guided tour of the Vatican Museums, there are plenty of signs to help you find the Sistine Chapel. If you are taking a Vatican Museum tour, I promise that your guide will bring you here.

If you want a sense of how to get directly there: once you have your tickets, go up the escalators, turn left to walk through the Pine Cone courtyard. Then, after going directly across the courtyard, you turn left up a flight of stairs.

Go through the octagonal courtyard through the room with animal statues. Then you go through the Room of the Muses and pass on to the Room of the Rotunda – where Nero’s bathtub is.

Turn left out of that room to go through the room with Constantine’s tomb and go up the stairs and continue straight. You’ll pass through the Room of the Tapestries and the breathtaking Gallery of Maps. If you turn left here, you can go to the Raphael Rooms (which are definitely worth seeing), but if you simply keep going straight you will reach the Sistine Chapel.

Again, this is such a major site within the museums that you simply have to follow the signs but the above directions should give you an idea of the route you need to take to get to the Sistine Chapel.

You do not exit out the same door that you enter so keep that in mind because it will complicate backtracking. 

You cannot reach the Sistine Chapel from St. Peter’s, but you can go into St. Peter’s from the Sistine Chapel if you are on a tour. (It is a one-way route, so remember to start from the Vatican Museums if the chapel is on your list to see).

Dress Code and Photography

There is a dress code for the Sistine Chapel because it is a place of worship. You must have your knees and shoulders fully covered, even in summer. You can find more information on what to wear to the Vatican here.

Photos are not allowed inside the Sistine Chapel. You will be yelled at by the guards if you try to take them, and potentially be asked to leave. Best to enjoy the chapel in the moment and reflect on the beauty in front of you. 

Sistine Chapel Opening Times

The Sistine Chapel closes slightly earlier than the Vatican Museums in order to give you time to make your way from the frescoed chapel to the museum exits. 

The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm. The final entrance is at 4 pm. The Sistine Chapel closes 30 minutes before the museums (so 5:30 pm is when they kick you out of the back door). 

On the special Friday night openings, the Sistine Chapel closes at 10:30 pm.

If you want a very special experience, you can take a special early tour of the Vatican and visit the Sistine Chapel before the museums open to the public. These tours usually start at around 7 am. Walks of Italy has one of the most highly rated (and most affordable) early entrance tours of the Sistine Chapel

Unless you are a member of the clergy or associated with the Vatican, you cannot attend mass in the Sistine Chapel. 

That’s about all you need to know to visit the Sistine Chapel for yourself! Enjoy the unforgettable experience!

Please note: This post includes information to the official ticket office of the Vatican Museums as well as other links to purchase personally recommended tickets and tours which are affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase via these links, I may receive a small commission. 

10 thoughts on “How to Visit the Sistine Chapel in Rome

  1. Mary says:

    We purchased the early admission with breakfast tour last month and felt it was worth every euro! We had a group of about 30 people. We walked to the cafe and ate, then they handed out audio guides and sent us on our way about 7:45. Most of us walked straight to the Sistine Chapel. When we arrived, there were only about 30 people there, including a private tour. It was an amazing experience! We spent about an hour in the chapel, and when we left, it was still only about one hundred people. We were able to walk back and view all the galleries we walked past on the way, and exited the same place we came in.

  2. Tiffany Horton says:

    Thank you so much for this very helpful article! I will be visiting with my husband and three children in a couple of weeks and had the same trouble booking tickets through the Vatican website. I was unsuccessful last night and this morning on my Safari browser, but as soon as I switched to Firefox, I got the tickets without any trouble.

  3. Tori says:

    My daughter and I are going to our first trip to the Vatican this summer. I wanted to find out if there is a mandatory dress code when visiting. In our country, for example, women in trousers and bare-headed cannot go to Orthodox churches. Thanks.

  4. Adriana says:

    Thanks to your blog I got the skip the line guided tour from the Vatican Site last minute yesterday for today’s visit. Although I’m not a history enthusiast, the guided tour is worth it. Thanks again!

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