Regardless of your faith, you really do need to visit the Vatican at least once. The museums are filled with treasures that stretch from ancient times to modern masterpieces. But one way to ruin a beautiful experience is to waste it by waiting in line, and that is exactly what might happen if show up at the Vatican Museums without a ticket.
I recommend that everyone who is planning to visit the Vatican and Sistine Chapel plan ahead to buy Vatican tickets to skip the line. The line can honestly be more than two hours long and when you have limited time in Rome, it does not make sense to spend it inching your way along the dreary sidewalk outside the Vatican.
Even if you are googling this while literally waiting in line right now, there are ways to skip this horrible queue. But naturally planning ahead is the cheapest way to skip the line and waltz right into the museums.
I will give you every way to get to the front of the queue but basically what you need to know is that skip the line Vatican tickets are available for a specific day and time and you can buy them directly yourself, without needing a special guide. The tickets are released 60 days in advance, though you can buy them even farther in advance if you use a reputable ticket seller. In addition, all good Vatican tours should also include skip the line tickets as part of the tour.
Just remember: there is a dress code! It would be a shame to have your tickets all ready and be turned away for wearing the wrong thing.
Ready to get straight into the museums? Here is every way to skip the line at the Vatican.
How to Buy Vatican Tickets to Skip the Line
- Buy Vatican tickets through the official website. The Vatican Museums are massive so it’s not a bad idea to take a tour. Tour guides are all licensed by the Vatican and can explain what you are looking at, as well as ensure you don’t miss any of the main pieces. However, the cheapest way to skip the line is to buy tickets online from the Vatican. These skip the line Vatican tickets cost €17 (the base ticket price) plus a €4 online reservation fee, for a total price of €21. Seeing as the line can be two hours long, the extra €4 is more than worth it. The only problem is that the Vatican Museum’s website is completely out of date. So in order to buy these tickets, you need to decipher their system and hope that the website accepts your credit card. First, select the type of ticket that you want. The basic skip the line ticket is this one:
Pick the month you want to go (up to two months/60 days in advance), then the number of participants. From here, you will be taken to a calendar. Days that are green still have tickets available, so select one to be able to see the available entry times. It is this reserved time which really allows you to skip the line at the indicated hour.Enter all your information and click “Conclude Reservation”. The payment will then process and if successful, you will receive an email with the ticket reservation information.
You need to show up within about 15 minutes of the appointed time and you can then literally walk past the entire, snaking line, and skip the queue into the Vatican. Walk up to the front door and you will see the separate line for pre-purchased tickets. Show the security guard and you will be ushered to a ticket booth where the barcode on your reservation will be scanned and you will be given a physical ticket in order to continue through the turnstiles and into the museums. It’s not a bad idea to print out your reserved ticket if possible (it’s easier for them to scan) but you can also show up with the digital ticket (email confirmation) and slide your smartphone across for it to be entered into the system.
I honestly personally find that the Vatican ticket website works for me about half the time. If your payment does not go through, try again. Then try a different browser. Then try a different card.
- Buy skip the line tickets from a trustworthy seller. I have followed all of the above steps with care, over and over again, only to want to slam my laptop shut in frustration when it doesn’t work. Sometimes the website takes my American card and sometimes it doesn’t and I honestly don’t know why. In cases when the Vatican skip the line tickets are sold out or not working, I always use Tiqets. This trustworthy reseller has the lowest markup and the easiest use website that I have found, so this is how I got tickets when my mother wanted to go the next day and the Vatican website wouldn’t process our payment. You can find basic skip-the-line tickets for €29.70, last minute options for €33, or you can combine the Vatican entry with other things on your Rome to do with a package that allows you priority entry to other sites like the Colosseum as well.
- Take a tour. I love exploring Rome on my own and try to share everything that I discover on this blog so that you can create your own self-guided trip through Rome but there are a few times when I will say that you really should take a tour and the first time at the Vatican is one of those things where a guide can really make this such a richer experience. Any good, reputable Vatican tour should include skip the line tickets. You can buy a tour and ticket combo from the Vatican directly, but I personally recommend Walks of Italy because of their professionalism and the quality of their tours. You can take an early morning tour to see the Sistine Chapel without the crowds or keep things short and sweet to see just the Vatican highlights with a knowledgable guide. Finally, take a complete Vatican tour with skip the line access to be sure you don’t waste time and don’t miss a thing.
- Don’t fall for scams. If you are waiting in line right now, you might hear people walking around trying to get you to join a tour to skip the line. If you are desperate, you might go for it, but I can promise you that the quality of these “guides” is notoriously bad. You are better off checking for last minute tickets here or here.
How Far in Advance to Buy Vatican Tickets
If you’re lucky and it’s not too busy, you can find Vatican skip the line tickets the day before you want to go – but you cannot usually find them the same day. Login in the morning before and you may be able to purchase tickets from the official site for the next day (usually in the afternoon). If you are standing in line right now, or planning to go to the Vatican ASAP, look into buying last minute tickets.
In other (non-holiday) cases, a week should be sufficient time to buy the tickets in advance. If there is a specific entry time you need – like 10 am versus 1 pm – then plan to buy your tickets two weeks in advance to be really sure.
Checking on April 24th, I found that all of the tickets were sold out for the rest of April and through the first week of May, which is why you should be looking two weeks in advance.
Mornings are the most popular entry time, and these will sell out first. Early afternoon is actually a bit quieter, though there is never a good time to wait in line.
Mondays tend to be busy because the museums are closed on Sundays. The same goes for any day following a holiday. Book your Monday tickets by the Thursday before in order to ensure you get them.
Just to be clear – you have to buy these Vatican tickets to visit the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s frescoed chapel is inside the Vatican Museums and is included in any regular ticket. Another good reason to take a tour rather than see everything yourself is because most of these should include St. Peter’s Basilica as well. Unlike the Sistine Chapel, do not need to visit the Vatican Museums to visit St. Peter’s. However, if you visit the museums on your own, you will have to exit the complex, walk back to St. Peter’s Square and wait in a different line to enter St. Peter’s (but you don’t need a ticket – it’s free). Here’s how to skip that line if you get stuck in it.
Enjoy your trip to the Vatican! It really is an amazing place once you get inside.
Note: This post details how to purchase official skip the line tickets to the Vatican and also provides alternatives that I personally recommend and services I use. These may include affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission should you choose to make a purchase.