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VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?

Atlanta, Georgia
9 posts
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VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?

Hello again folks,

You all have been really kind and generous with your advice and time here, I want to thank you! I'm glad I stumbled onto you during my searches online. All of the suggestions have been extremely helpful to me, wish I had planned about 10 more days into this trip...

I mentioned that I have been researching this trip for some time now and have a few really good guide books. Do I need a tour to beat the line into the Vatican Museum? Or, is it really not that bad? Paying for the tour, and then going on my own way once inside is acceptable to me. I'm an early riser (0400 daily), so early is fine with me. Some blogs I've read say afternoons at the Museum are a better time? Middle of the week seems to be the better days to go? My main interest there is the Sistine Chapel, which looks to be the "end" of the tour. I'd almost rather begin there and work my way back out. This is a Catholic Pilgrimage for me, as I had talked about earlier, so all of the Religous artifacts are my main interest; not to say that the Egytian Rooms, Greek and Roman Sculpture, Tapestries, Maps & the Views are not.

Guys, I intend to be in "Total Awe" when I step off of that Airplane in Rome! This is it for me! Regardless of crowds jostling me, or noise levels; I will be in continous prayer & meditation "mode" in the City where "The Vicar of Christ" lives, and the bones of St. Peter rest. If I could find some Monks there to invite me to stay, I would never leave.....You all see where I'm heading here. Thanks again for all of the wonderful advice and sites you've suggested.

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1. Re: VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?


We were in Rome the first week in October and went to the Vatican just after lunch. There was a queue but it only took about 10 minutes to get in to St Peters and we just wandered around on our own. We then went to the Vatican museum and entered the Sistine Chapel from there. There is so much to see you will be in there for hours. We saw lots of guided tours being herded about but much preferred to do out own thing.

Hope you enjoy your trip to Rome. It has really got under my skin and I cant wait to go back.

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?

I understand this is a crazy way to approach this, but I share this with no regrets.

You could do it the way we just did, which was to get in line at 7:30am, be inside by 8:35, and do a direct beeline to the Sistine Chapel to get an optimal experience with the least amount of people.

After a 5 minute walk, we arrived at the Sistine Chapel and a few tour groups were already in there...before 9am (How does that even happen?) Anyway, there weren't a lot of people yet, and we had a lot of room to move around, pick different spots to gaze up from. Husband took a long time, as he drew in his journal/sketchbook a few images from the ceiling. In all, we were in there for about an hour, and in that time, it had gotten increasingly busy.

(After a quick refueling break), we then all the way back to the starting point and took our time through the rest of the museum, but at that point (say, around 10am) the route through and to the Sistine Chapel had changed dramatically. But no matter, we still saw as much as we wanted to see (esp the Raphael rooms), and by the time we reached the Sistine Chapel again for one last farewell gaze up, the place was packed. Granted, the lighting was better at this later hour, but picture-taking isn't allowed anyway, the crowds made it much more claustophobic, and the distracting sounds of guards' claps and "Silencio!" became much more frequent.

I'm glad we didn't pay more for a tour. We got there in plenty of time to beat most crowds.

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3. Re: VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?


I can taste your excitement. It is contagious!

With regard to the Vatican, we never do a tour for a ticket. We have done the audio guide inside which is perfect for us.

In our experience, even a line that crawls around the wall - which seems at its longest has never been more than 20 minutes.

Confederate, with regard to your obscene waking hours, you should consider joining the Benedictines for some Gregorian chanting about 05 : 40.

A liturgical chant existed in Rome before Saint Gregory in the 6th century.

But Saint Gregory the Great gave it new prominence. After Saint Gregory the Gregorian chant tradition continued to develop and be enriched right through the upheavals that brought an end to the Middle Ages.

Maybe it was the Benedictines protection and distribution of knowledge that played a part in its end, which led to the Renaissance...

The monasteries, especially those of the Benedictine Order, have done much to preserve the Gregorian Chant heritage.

While in Rome maybe you’ll find one here who’ll accept you:


Buon Viaggio!

Victoria, Australia
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4. Re: VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?

We were at the Vatican at 9 am. in early Sept. and only half a dozen people in the queue. At around lunch time on the same day, it was a 10 min. queue.

Queue at the Vatican museum was about 10 mins. at 9.30 am.

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5. Re: VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?

I agree with what you have just read from others. This time of year the lines won't be too long. Also ---- Take your time! An audio tour is good, but tour groups get rushed along much too fast! This is a place that would bowl over even a non-beleiving heathen. A whole day can easily be spent there, and I envy you the chance to see it. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Atlanta, Georgia
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6. Re: VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?

This is absolutely the Best place for advice! You all are excellent "Guides". These replies are what I was hoping to hear and what I really felt was probably the truth. Although I would not mind spending the money for a tour guide to get me in the door quicker, and then shoo them away, I don't relish spending a lot of time in line; I've only got 8-9 days to get to all I can see and do. -- And now, I've got to insert some time for 0400 a.m. Vigils with the Benedictines one morning and do some Chanting with them...maybe they'll let me stay......

Thanks Guys!

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7. Re: VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?

we have just come back from rome and went to the vatican museums in the afternoon, at about 2pm, and there were no queues, please note though that last admission is 1.5 hrs before closing which is 4.45

but we found that 3 hours was plent of time to see everything,

you could go to st peters in the morning then the vatican in the afternoon

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8. Re: VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?

Our experience was about the same as Baron777red's. We got to the Vatican museum around 1:45 and our wait was only about 20 minutes to get through security and then a short wait to buy the tickets. This was on a Monday afternoon too. In the beginning the museum wasn't too crowded but as you got closer to the Sistine Chapel the rooms became more crowded and the Sistin Chapel was crowded but I wouldn't say it was packed. We still had plenty of room to move around and view from different spots.

Enjoy yourself in Rome. We too spent 9 days there and still didn't see everything.

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9. Re: VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?

All a tour will give you is three hours of information, the level of interest dependant upon your interests. It also occupies 3 hours you may wish to use more usefully. You don't need a tour to get in but arriving early helps reduce the queue length. Entrance is 14 euros per person.

As suggested go straight to the Chapel which is at the end of a one way circuit around the museum, then rejoin the loop again at the start to enjoy the rest of the museum at leisure. This will bring you back to the chapel later in the day when the light will be different and this will create a totally different feel to the place. Food at the Vatican resturant is OK.

Again you will need to queue again to enter the Basicilla but queues move pretty quickly for this.

Bucharest, Romania
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10. Re: VATICAN MUSEUM: Do I need a tour to beat the lines?


I’d go early in the morning as suggested in some previous posts.

Might I also recommend that you take the virtual tours:


You can locate each item, put a magnifying glass on it etc. Moreover, I think you will acquire orientation and visual bearings that will help you save time once you’re in the presence of the real thing.

Kind regards,