Rome: The Vatican – The Right (and Wrong) Way to Visit

I have some tips to those planning their trip to the Vatican and see the Sistine Chapel so you can avoid making the same mistake that we did. Granted, we went on a Saturday, but after talking to a local about it, he recommended paying extra for the private tour in the mornings.

1) DO NOT under any circumstance go without a ticket!
You’ll see the huge line wrapped around the side of the building no matter what time of day you go and will thank me later. The wait was estimated at about 3-4 hours at 11AM! It’s important to note that even if you do buy a ticket and are given a reservation time, you may have to wait in a short line inside to actually buy your ticket (based on your reservation time).But I’m not done yet, because you need to take the most important advice in the world (read below)

2) DO NOT go during normal business hours (especially on a Saturday like we did)
Huh? Anyone who has been to Times Square in New York knows how crowded, chaotic and maddening the tourist crowds can be. But unlike Times Square where you can quickly go see it and escape, you’ll want to spend a few hours at the Vatican. And if you want to see the Sistine Chapel, you WILL be spending a few hours at the Vatican because like IKEA, you have to go through the entire museum just to see the chapel. Jeremy and I assumed that since this was the Vatican that they would limit the lines, that people would be respectful and there wouldn’t be a selfie-stick anywhere in sight. It was the exact opposite! We had a ticket with a reservation at 11:30AM and it was like going to Times Square, it was wall-to-wall people, 100’s of tour groups each with 30 people (the ones who claim you “skip the lines”) and unfortunately a lack of respect for the rules. Being shoulder-to-shoulder with so many people in both galleries and hallways made it tough to move throughout the exhibits and sadly, very tough to enjoy the Vatican. The worst were the tourists who had to get a selfie with everything, and were very unaware of where their selfie-sticks were pointing. In the end, it was so miserable that we walked as quickly through the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel as quickly as possible, and even that took us over 5 in-a-half hours.

3) Pay the extra money for a private morning tour
We wish we had done this! This was what a local recommended, and we most definitely wish we had. Again it’s a little more expensive, but actually being able to enjoy the museum without a selfie stick threatening to poke your eye out and behind shoulder-to-shoulder to people in the Sistine Chapel is entirely worth it.

The Vatican doesn’t always sell early admission, tickets, so here are a few resources below depending on what time of year you’re traveling.

Early Entrance to the Museums and Breakfast

Early Entrance to the Museum and Breakfast for the World Tourism Day

Private Guided Tour


4) Don’t do this as part of a full-day tour

You’ll spend most of your day at the Vatican if you do this, and you’ll miss out on all of the other amazing sites in Rome. Take a half-day and pay the extra money for early entrance into the Vatican.



About Kailee Crawford

I'm an Oregon-born travel addict living in New York making the most of my vacation days. I started this travel blog to keep track of my bucket list and it's morphed into a journal of my adventures and recommendations for things to see, do, eat and drink. My hope is that I can help other travelers find their way. I want to try everything once and to live a life without regrets or missed opportunities. I call my philosophy on life the "the death bed philosophy" - I want to be laying in my death bed reflecting on all of the things I've done and seen in this world, not the things I wished I had done. It's not meant to be morbid, just a reminder to take risks, go out of your comfort zone and live life to the fullest. ♫♫♫♫♫ "You were only waiting for this moment to be free" --- "Blackbird" by The Beatles This quote is undoubtedly my favorite quote because it's a reminder of the infinite opportunities available to us. That in each moment there is an opportunity to find true happiness, and a sense of freedom when you're doing what you love. Freedom to explore, to create, to improve oneself, and to find fulfillment even during the 9 to 5 grind. ♫♫♫♫♫ I'm an incredibly pensive person with a wide variety of interests. In addition to traveling, my guilty pleasures include wine, food, music, art, languages and history. I grew up a nerd, watching The History Channel and reading The Lord of the Rings with my Dad. I'm driven by my pursuit of knowledge and growth and most passionate when I'm able to be creative. ♫♫♫♫♫
Gallery | This entry was posted in Europe, Italy, Rome, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Rome: The Vatican – The Right (and Wrong) Way to Visit

  1. Pingback: When in Rome… (August 13, 2016) | MomentToBeFree

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