Vatican Museums

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Top 5 Things to See at the Vatican Museums

When in Rome, don’t miss out on the Vatican’s world-famous Vatican Museums. Over the centuries, popes have built up a truly astounding collection of artistic masterpieces. There are countless things to see, but make sure not to miss these 5 highlights.

  • The Sistine Chapel

    1. The Sistine Chapel

    The Sistine Chapel alone would be worth a trip to the Vatican Museums. Painted by the greatest Renaissance painters, the chapel’s famous frescoes are quite simply sublime.

  • Raphael Rooms

    2. Raphael Rooms

    The 4 dazzling Raphael Rooms form the public part of the Pope’s apartments. Raphael’s magnificent frescoes decorating the walls give those of the Sistine Chapel a run for their money.

  • The Belvedere Torso

    3. The Belvedere Torso

    This stunning sculpture of a muscly male torso was highly influential for Renaissance artists like Michelangelo (note Christ’s similar pose in the Sistine Chapel’s Last Judgement).

  • Leonardo Da Vinci’s St. Jerome in the Wilderness

    4. Leonardo Da Vinci’s St. Jerome in the Wilderness

    Despite being unfinished, this gorgeous painting is a glorious demonstration of Leonardo’s painterly prowess. Unbelievably, it was once cut up and used to cover a barber’s stool.

  • Sala Rotonda (Round Room)

    5. Sala Rotonda (Round Room)

    A masterpiece of neo-classical architecture, this majestic room is shaped like a miniature pantheon, with lavish mosaics covering the floors and ancient statues lining the walls.

Planning Your Visit

  • Best time of year to visit

    Although the Vatican Museums are extremely popular with tourists all year around, if you’re looking for a quieter visit, your best bet is during the low season between November and February.

  • Save money

    On the last Sunday of every month, entrance to the Vatican Museums is free during opening hours, from 9:00 AM until 12:30 PM. This is a great way of saving money, but be warned: these free days are also the most popular. If you’d rather avoid the large crowds, you’re better off going on a regular day.

  • Pick the right time of day

    The ticket office opens at 9:00 AM. If you want to see as much as possible, then you should arrive early, as the Vatican Museums are huge (over 9 miles!) and long lines can start forming at the entrance even before opening time. However, if you’re more interested in avoiding the queues, come around 1:00 PM. Most people will be headed for lunch at that time and it’s often possible to walk straight in without wait.

  • Don’t leave it too late

    Even if you’re intending to avoid the queues, don’t come too late. The ticket office closes at 4:00 PM and the Vatican Museums close at 6:00 PM. If you want to have time to see the Sistine Chapel, you should arrive at the Vatican Museums by 3:00 PM at the latest.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Monday-Saturday, 9:00 AM-6:00 PM
    Last Sunday of each month, 9:00 AM-2:00 PM
    Holiday hours may vary
  • Is it expensive?
    Free to look at from the outside. Admission tickets vary.
  • Will I need a guide?
    Not compulsory, but highly recommended.
  • How to get there
    Taxi, bus, metro, tram or by foot from Rome. Look here for more detailed directions.
  • Additional information

    • Large bags are not allowed in the museums, so pack light!

    • There is often no air conditioning in the museums so make sure to dress accordingly and bring a bottle of water.

Other Sightseeing Options in Vatican Museums

Want to discover all there is to do in Vatican Museums? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Vatican Museums

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 109,256 reviews

Really had a great time touring the Vatican. The crowds were very small and our guide Elaine was very knowledgeable and fantastic at pointing out the important exhibits. Everything was very well organized and prepared. Highly recommend it!

We got audio guides, we found there weren’t that many pieces of art with commentary. Maybe going with a guide is better. Loved the halls of marble busts. Enjoyable for Catholics and non-Catholics alike

It was amazing how much knowledge our tour guide Alberto shared with us! He really brought the experience to life! My husband & college age sons all appreciated it.

Tickets were very easy to get. Just follow the instructions on the ticket and you will be fine. There was some queue but it was very fast moving.

A great tour - added so much more to the experience with background on the artists involved. Really brought it to life.