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Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

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Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

My wife and I will be visiting Rome for the first time in December and was curious as to why you hear about the lines being very long to get into the Vatican.

Does it take a long time just to get a ticket for the tour or entrance fee?

Do you get to meet the pope individually ,is the what take the time ?

Is it just a slow process to tour the site ?

What can we expect to see while their ?

I have heard you can buy tickets and bypass the long lines ?

Not to sound stupid ,but Can someone give me more education on the Vatican ,Is it just home to the Pope or is thier more significant to this holy land.

Silver Spring...
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1. Re: Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

It is a very visted site. Everyone doesn't get to meet with the Pope individually. It's not like sitting on Santa's lap.

To get into St. Peter's Square, there is no line. To get into the Basilica, there is sometimes a line.

Lines for the Vatican Museums vary by time of day, day of week, time of year. I was there in December 07 and didn't wait on a line but it was still crowded.

There is a long thread (and many others) called survivor's guide or something to the Vatican museums.

If you don't understand what I meant by lines for this, lines for that, read up more on the Vatican and look at a map of Vatican City.

Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

I will be a first time visitor as well and I found this thread to be invaluable re the Vatican lines, tickets, etc. Good Luck!


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3. Re: Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

You must go through security before you are allowed to enter the vatican museums. This combined with people waiting to buy their tickets have caused long lines in the past. At the end of last year they started selling entrance tickets online, thus alleviating most of the lines to get in. We get reports every now and then of long lines but nothing like it was in the past.

If you wish to purchase entrance tickets or book a tour online here is the website:


I would suggest since this is your first visit and the museums are immense that you go with the 2 hour vatican tours. The tour, including entrance fee, costs 30 euros. This will take you through the most popular rooms in the museums including the map room, tapestry room, rafael rooms and the sistine chapel. From there you will be able to re-enter the museum on your own or enter the basilica without having to go through the security check-point again.


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4. Re: Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

inexplicably people on this site talk about 'touring the Vatican' when they really mean visiting the Vatican Museum

the Pope doesn't meet people who line up to see him (all that is arranged privately through the church)

english expat in...
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5. Re: Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

It's worth pointing out (for those who have never been or don't know the layout) that there are two quite separate entrances for a(The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel and b) St Peter's Church/square.

There is no queue to get into the square, although occasionally there will be a function or Mass going on and entry will be restricted.

There are queues to get into St Peter's itself, for the simple reason of security checks (like going on a plane). I have never found these to be excessively long though.

It costs nothing to entre the basilica, by the way, and one of the first things you'll see inside is Michelangelo's wonderful Pietà (first niche on the right as you enter).

The real queues are for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, the entrance to both being situated a few minutes walk away from St Peter's Square (heading right as you face the basilica).

I haven't been inside for some time but presumably there are now more stringent security checks and tickets to buy.

However, like the Uffizi in Florence, I believe you can buy tickets in advance and avoid the long queues on arrival:


In answer to your initial question, The Vatican City is a State unto itself, and the Pope is its Head of State.

You do not need a Passport to enter though.

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6. Re: Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

The Vatican City is an independent state situated in Rome. For most tourists, the important things to see are:

(1) St. Peter's Square where you can see the facade of St. Peter's Basilica (the most important and largest church in the Catholic world). From there you can also see the Pope's weekly sermon on Sundays at noon. There is no queue to enter the square.

(2) The interior of St. Peter's Basilica with its many famous items of historic and artistic interest. There will be a queue to get through the security checks (similar to those you will encounter at airports) but it tends to move fairly quickly.

(3) The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel with many works of art and the famous Michelangelo ceiling. There will be a queue to both purchase tickets as well as to pass security checks. In our experience, the best time to visit is early afternoon when the queues tend to be both short and move quickly.

Hope that helps.


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7. Re: Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

If you visit St Peter's on Wednesday when the pope appears, you will have to go through security and that can take a little while.We went to the museums right after seeing the pope, about 1:00PM and the lines were short.

St Paul, MN
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8. Re: Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

Reportedly the linhes have bween better this summer with fewer visitors becasue of the economic Downturn.

The line for security to get inot St Peter's Piazza haqs been nominal when I have been ther in Feb, March, and Dec.

Only once did I see a line to get inot St Peter's Basilica: Dec 9, 2006.

In Feb 2005, and March 2006 trhe lines in the morning to get inot the Vatcian Museums inm the morning were so long that we didn not feel that we had a cahnce since at that time last admission at a 1 pm.

In Dec 2006 the line was the shortest that I had ever seen. We waited an hour and 40 min in the line and we got inside about 10:30. We toured the vatcian Musuems and Sistine Chapel until 5 pm when they closed the place.

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9. Re: Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

To attend a papal Mass or the Wednesday general audience, visitors need to have tickets, which are free. Visitors should remember that there is a strictly enforced dress code for entering St. Peter’s Basilica -- shoulders must be covered, shorts are not allowed and skirts should reach the knees.

There are two main sources of tickets:

1) The U.S. bishops’ conference and the North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome, run an efficient and friendly service for securing tickets to papal events. Tips are also offered on how to turn a visit into a pilgrimage.

The tickets should be requested at least 10 days in advance of the Wednesday general audience or the Mass the visitor would like to attend.

Letters accompanied by a bishop’s or priest’s recommendation often result in a ticket for a seating section closer to the pope but -- whatever type of ticket the visitor ends up with -- the best guarantee for a good position is to arrive early and get a seat near one of the aisles where the pope may pass.

Ticket requests may be sent by e-mail -- nacvisoffrome@pnac.org-- to the Bishops’ Office for United States Visitors to the Vatican. They also may be faxed to (39-06) 679-1448. The office telephone number is: (39-06) 690-011.

The office is located near the Trevi Fountain on Via dell’Umilta 30. Tickets for the Wednesday audiences are distributed at the office Tuesday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The office will advise visitors about the pickup date for tickets to papal Masses.

2) Visitors also can write directly to the Vatican for tickets. Letters should be addressed to: Archbishop James Harvey, Prefect of the Pontifical Household, Vatican City 00120, Europe. The requests also may be faxed to the archbishop’s office: (39-06) 6988-5863.

After the request is made, the tickets can be picked up the afternoon before the audience between 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. or on the morning of the audience from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Bronze Doors under the colonnade in St. Peter’s Square.

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10. Re: Whats up with the long lines at the Vatican

we're british, queueing is all part of the fun ;-)

going in december, cant wait.