The Vatican City Tour Hacks: Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel And St. Peter’s Basilica

The Vatican City Tour Hacks: Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel And St. Peter’s Basilica

I recently came back from my second trip to Vatican City: Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Something about that St. Peter’s Square gets me going and reminds of all those Dan Brown books. Here’s are a few things you should know before visiting The Vatican City and our day trip in photos. Planning a trip to Rome? Here are 35 Things to do in Rome!

A Friend In Rome Tours: Review And Prices
Start your day early when visiting during peak season.

Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica: Choose A Tour

So most tourists, like us, who go to Rome during peak tourist season i.e. July, book their tours in advance but we were just so spent from planning all our trips in Switzerland and the Czech Republic, we started taking things super easy.

A Friend In Rome Tours: Review And Prices

My husband actually opted for the Prague Night Castle Tour and loved his guide, who then recommend A Friend In Rome Tours. This was a private tour for 2.5 hours that helped us skip the line, curate our tour according to interests and make it as personalised as possible. For 4 adults and 1 child we paid 165 euros to A Friend In Rome Tours. Apart from this, we paid for entry tickets (20 euros per adult, 10 euro per child).

The Vatican City Tour Hacks: Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel And St. Peter's Basilica

A private tour with our guide (I think her name was Nicole), we started our day early at 9.30 am. We met her outside the Vatican Museum, which was buzzing with hundreds of tourists and street hawkers.

Things To Remember When Starting Your Tour

  1. If you’re going for a group tour, look for the sign or flag.
  2. If you’re going for a private tour, it’s best to call or look for badges (like I did).
  3. Do arrive on time or 10 minutes early because the crowds at Vatican have only become bigger. Getting inside takes you 20 minutes if not more.

How To Make Your Vatican City Tour Cheaper

Well, for one, you don’t have to go for a private tour.You can opt a group tour which costs lesser. Stick close to the guide and don’t ever lose sight of your group!

The other thing that you can do is to just buy tour tickets and give yourself a tour, especially if you’ve been there before. Can I give you another idea? Tourist season is full of guides on your left and right. Since the queues make you walk slower than you’d like, you have access to a tour guide at no cost! Sure, you can’t get away for it for 2.5 hours but get closer just before you enter the Sistine Chapel or around the sculptures in Vatican Museum.

How To Make Your Vatican City Tour Cheaper


What To Wear To The Vatican City

So if you see my last blog post here, I’m wearing a long dress because traditionally knees should not be visible. I was also smart enough to remember to carry a scarf (that did not match) but covered up my shoulders. However, I couldn’t find anything clean in my suitcase except for a few dresses, so I wore the longest one. Our guide told us we’d need the scarfs, especially in the Chapel, so I ended up using my bargain skills to buy two scarfs for 10 euros.

Here’s your packing list for the Vatican City Tour

At the end of the day, it is a holy place and there are rules about your attire. Here’s your packing list for the Vatican City Tour: Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel And St. Peter’s Basilica

  1. Any outfit that covers your knees and shoulders: think summer dresses, cotton and linen dresses.
  2. Carry a scarf instead of buying one like me!
  3. Apply a layer of sunscreen. In case you need recommendations, check out our article, 20 Sunscreens For All Skin Types.
  4. Carry 2 bottles of water per person especially if you’re going in the summer. The only fountain you will get access to comes after the museum and before the St. Peter’s Basilica. That’s an hour away guys!
  5. Sunhat/Fedora, if you’re that person.
  6. Sunglasses. Compulsory for kids too.
  7. Wear comfortable shoes with thick soles and good heel support.

I have a problem when it comes to focussing in tours and when we went this time in July 2019, it was super crowded. Our last trip was in July 2012 and let me tell you, the crowds have tripled. Do anything you can to stay focussed, ask questions and more importantly, enjoy your time at the Vatican Museum.

How To Get More Time In The Sistine Chapel

As you enter the Sistine Chapel, you will be asked to switch off your phone (please do). And if you talk very loudly, the security will take no time in pointing you out. Stand on one side of the ceiling and just take in everything: the separation of good and evil, creation of Adam and Eve and then the fall of humanity. Then go to the other side and try to remember what you heard during the tour.

Keep an eye out on the benches at the corner of the chapel. I made my way through to a corner where I saw a family leaving and sat down. Unfortunately, my family wasn’t fast enough but that’s OK. The trick is not to move for at least 5-10 minutes. Give your legs a break, have a sip of water and tell yourself this is real.

After this, we continue to St. Peter’s Basilica and ended our tour at St. Peter’s Square.

You can keep walking to see the riverside but since it was one of the hottest days in Rome (35 degrees), we decided to find a cafe for an early lunch.

Things To Remember When Ending Your Vatican City Tour

  1. Ask your guide if it’s possible to recommend a cafe.
  2. Heading back to the hotel? Try to be dropped as close as possible and then plan the rest of your day.
  3. You’d be spent, both mentally and physically, so take a break from going on other tours of the same day. Instead, spend time discussing about what you saw. That’s the best part about travelling with friends and family.

How was your trip to Vatican City? Tell me below in the comments’ section!


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