Vatican tours

Best tours in the Vatican

The Vatican City is classed as a country, although it’s at the heart of Rome. There’s a variety of sights and attractions that interlink the two places, making a variety of tours possible: you can marvel at the spectacle of the Sistine Chapel and rooms of impressive art at the Vatican Museums, but it’s not all stuffy museums and lengthy guided tours: there’s also the chance to tune into audio guides, beat the crowds in the early morning or sunset, or simply sit back and soak up a musical spectacle that tells the story of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling painting as narrated by ‘Michaelangelo’ himself.

  1. Early morning visit
  2. Evening tour
  3. Angels and Demons tour
  4. The Last Judgement: A Musical and Visual Spectacle
  5. Vatican City: Leonardo Da Vinci Exhibition Ticket

If you’re checking out Rome holiday packages , there’s plenty of accommodation types to choose from in Rome, where you can easily take in the best of both worlds – the Vatican City is classed as its own country, after all!

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Early morning visit

It’s all so quiet, but it’s all so worth it. Avoid the hordes of tourists, who arrive later in the morning to join the queue, by booking onto a guided tour of the Vatican Museums which can start as early as 7.30am. While your expert guide walks you through the complex, telling you about the artistic history behind iconic masterpieces as well as a historic background of the Vatican State, you’ll have enough space to take it all in and not be rushed. After passing through the Raphael Room and serene Sistine Chapel, your tour ends at St Peter’s Basilica. See the top sights of the Museums as well as the Raphael Room, Sistine Chapel, before moving onto St Peter’s Basilica – if you reach the top, you might miss the sunrise, but you’ll certainly won’t miss the city waking up to another day in the eternal city. While your guide tells you about the art history of the works on display as well as the history of the Vatican State, you’ll have enough space to

Best for:Early birds catches the worm.

Top tip:Climb to the top of St Peter’s Basilica, where you can watch Rome waking up to another day in the eternal city.

2. Evening tour

On the other hand, ending your day with an evening tour of the Vatican Museums offers just as much peace and quiet as an early-morning tour. Plus, reserving a spot on this tour means that you get to skip the queues. If you’ve spent the whole day sightseeing, this is the crown jewel to round the day off with, as you soak up the history your expert guide tells you as they navigate you through the museums, from the Sistine Chapel to the Hall of Maps and Octagonal Courtyard in between.

Best for: Rounding off the day with an attraction to remember.

Top tip: Arrive at your meeting point ahead of time, so you can soak up the sunset glow over the complex.

3. Angels and Demons tour

Whether you’re a fan of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons book or not, this tour is filled with intrigue, mystery and lesser-known secrets of both Rome and the Vatican. Your in-the-know guide will take you through various squares (including St Peter’s), gardens, fountains and other sites of significance in the book, learning not only about the novel’s finer details but also about Roman history, too. There’s an interesting selection of sites that combine Pagan and Christian symbolism, with a focus on locations that are mentioned in the book. At the Church of Illumination, you’ll be able to take a look at the ‘secret’ passageway that links the Vatican to the Castel Sant’Angelo, which is where the tour ends. If you’re checking out Vatican holiday packages, there’s plenty of accommodation types to choose from in Rome, where you can easily take in the best of both worlds – the Vatican City is classed as its own country, after all!

Best for: Literary locations.

Top tip: The tour ends at the castle, so you’re left to your own leisure: cross the bridge and gaze across the Tiber river.

4. The Last Judgement: A Musical and Visual Spectacle

Vatican tours don’t come more unique than this. The Last Judgement: A Musical and Visual Spectacle takes place at the Auditorium della Conciliazione, and is an immersive live entertainment experience filled with special effects, projections and dazzling lights. ‘Michelangelo’ narrates the story as he creates the Renaissance masterpiece at the Sistine Chapel – with music composed by Sting. If you’ve already seen the actual Sistine Chapel then this is an entertaining way to travel back in time to experience its creation; if you haven’t or aren’t planning on seeing the real thing, then this light-hearted musical spectacle will tell you all you need to know in the most immersive way.

Best for:The Vatican meets Las Vegas.

Top tip:The musical takes place three times a day (morning, afternoon and evening).

5. Vatican City: Leonardo Da Vinci Exhibition Ticket

Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps best known for his The Last Supper masterpiece, but he was also a highly skilled engineer, inventor and scientist, too. The Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition, located close to St Peter’s Square in the Vatican City, spans five halls that detail his various work: check out the construction equipment, bicycles and other items he invented – many of which are still used today – and in the Room of Mirrors, discover how his scientific study of light led onto his contemporaries’ work into photography and projection. Science, engineering and inventions aside, there’s also the chance to see reproductions of his famous artworks, from the Virgin of the Rocks to The Last Supper. While a guided tour is not available, the multi-language audio guide means you can explore the exhibition halls independently.

Best for:Interactive experiences of legendary figures.

Top tip:Museum guides are on hand to answer any questions you may have.

You could also be interested in

Find your perfect destination