Guided tour

Vatican: Basilica, Dome, and Underground Early Bird Tour

4.5 / 5

84 reviews

Activity provider: Loving Rome
Guided tour

Vatican: Basilica, Dome, and Underground Early Bird Tour

Activity provider: Loving Rome
Likely to sell out

From US$ 42.35 per person

Likely to sell out

Discover the rich history of the Vatican City on this guided walking tour. Explore St. Peter’s Square, climb the Basilica's iconic dome and view its innermost section and the Papal Tombs.

About this activity

Free cancellation
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Covid-19 precautions
Special health and safety measures are in place. Check your activity voucher once you book for full details.
Duration 2 hours
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Skip the ticket line
Live tour guide


  • Experience the beauty of the Rome with views from the roof of the Basilica
  • Step back in time with the history behind the Vatican Grottoes and Papal Tombs
  • Get a fast-track entry to St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world
  • Admire the stunning frescoes, statues and mosaics of the Basilica and its square
  • Discover decorations painted and carved by masters like Bernini and Michelangelo
Full description

Uncover the history, art, and architecture of the Vatican City on this guided walking tour. Visit sites like St. Peter’s Square and Basilica in the morning light before the crowds arrive for the day. 

Meet your guide in Piazza della Città Leonina and dive into the ancient history of the Vatican City. Admire the statuesque columns and majestic pilasters in St. Peter’s Square. Walk through the walk close to the 1st balcony which is decorated with amazing frescoes.

Enter the Basilica with skip-the-line access and reach the summit of the Dome after 320 steps, where you are rewarded for the climb with views of the city center. Have some free time to enjoy views of monuments like the Roman Colosseum and Pantheon.

Be captivated by the Basilica's interiors which are filled with masterpieces from masters like Bernini and Michelangelo. See pieces from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Follow your guide towards the Vatican’s historic Grottoes to get a closer look of the rooms, chapels, and the papal tombs, where many Popes, royals, and other dignitaries are laid to rest.

  • Fast entry to the St. Peter’s Basilica and Square
  • Access to the St. Peter’s Dome 1st level and summit
  • Papal Tombs Tour
  • English-speaking guide
  • Headsets when needed
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off
  • Food and drinks
  • Tips
Not suitable for
  • People with claustrophobia
  • People with heart problems
  • Wheelchair users
  • People with vertigo

Select participants and date



Meeting point

The meeting point is at Piazza della Città Leonina, near the arches, where the square meets via di Porta Angelica. Go to the corner of the square, on the left-hand side, next to the kiosk. Look for a guide holding a 'Loving Rome' sign.

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Important information

What to bring

  • Comfortable shoes

Not allowed

  • Shorts
  • Weapons or sharp objects
  • Luggage or large bags
  • Short skirts
  • Sleeveless shirts

Know before you go

  • All visitors must pass through airport-style security check before entering the Basilica, during high season the waiting time may be up to 30 minutes
  • The elevator's Dome only takes you to the first balcony, to climb up to the main Dome you will have to use the stairs (320 steps) which requires and 20 extra minutes
  • The roof might not be accessible during bad weather conditions
  • The Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and Vatican Necropoli are not part of this tour
Customer reviews

Overall rating

4.5 /5

based on 84 reviews

Review summary

  • Guide
  • Transportation
  • Value for money
  • Service

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Alec was a great tour guide! We really enjoyed the information and facts he provided, and the climb to the top of St. Peter’s dome was worth the amazing view! I definitely wouldn’t recommend this excursion for someone who is severely claustrophobic, as the ascending staircase shrinks with the curvature of the dome, so the staircase becomes narrower as you ascend. If you can stand it for a few minutes however, it’s absolutely worth it!

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March 23, 2023

I can’t remember our tour guide’s name but she was amazing! She’s an art history major and has worked previously for the Vatican City library so she communicated really well and was very knowledgeable about both the overall Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica’s histories. Both the inside dome view and the outside view from St. Peter’s Basilica were beautiful – not to be missed if you’re visiting Rome. The early bird tour is definitely the way to go as by ~9am, the lines were very long, even in early November. Very glad we selected this tour and highly recommend it!

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March 23, 2023

Great guide but unfortunately I didn't catch his name. 7.30 start was a great idea as we beat the crowds. Even the weather was perfect! The dome climb is challenging but we all made it ok (I'm 66). The 360 degree view from the top was fantastic. Got a great description of the difference between Renaissance and Baroque art.

March 23, 2023

Product ID: 415708