How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line

How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line

You can get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and manage to skip the lines at the Vatican. In this post, I’ll explain how.

One of the most common sights in Rome is that of tourists in line to get tickets to the Sistine Chapel. I have joined those lines myself a few times, without giving it much thought – Rome is an easy trip for me and I go at least a couple of time per year, so I get to spend plenty of time in the city.

However, I can only imagine how disheartening it may be for a tourist to have to spend hours in line to get tickets to the Vatican for the chance to admire the work of Michelangelo. For as easy as it may be for me to travel to Rome, to them this may well be a once in a lifetime opportunity – they may have only a few days in the city, and if they spend hours in line at the Vatican, they may end up having to skip another attraction, like the Colosseum.

Check out my smart guide on how to get tickets to the Colosseum.

In this post, I will explain how you can get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and make the most of your time there. Before I do so, however, let me explain what’s so special about the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican and why you should not miss them on your trip to Rome.

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

A real work of art!

Why You Have To Visit The Sistine Chapel During Your Trip To Rome

If you are wondering where is the Sistine Chapel, let me clarify that the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are actually not in Rome, but in Vatican City. However, as Vatican City is at the center of Rome, you can easily visit during your trip to the Italian capital.

Together with St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel is the most famous site in Vatican City. This is where Michelangelo painted his masterpiece, The Last Judgement, more than 500 years ago. Right next to the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums display the enormous collection of art accumulated by the various popes throughout the centuries.

If you enjoy fine arts, there is no way you want to skip the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. If you are an unsuccessful backpacker like I am, chances are you may end up in line for hours to get in. But worry not! Continue reading and I will explain how you can get your tickets to the Sistine Chapel and avoid the lines.

Looking for more things to do in Rome? Check out my post “27 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome.”

Visiting The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope. Originally known as Cappella Magna, it takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who initiated restoration works in 1477 and used it for both religious purposes and for his functions as pope. Nowadays, the Sistine Chapel is the site of the Papal Conclave, the process through which a new pope is elected.

What makes the Sistine Chapel such a popular place to visit is the many incredible frescoes that adorn it. These include works of Botticelli, Pinturicchio and Ghirlandaio. Yet, it’s The Last Judgement, painted on the ceiling of the Chapel by Michelangelo between 1535 and 1541 upon request of Pope Clement VII and Paul III, that attracts thousands of visitors every day.

TIP: Unless you are an art historian, I strongly advise you to get tickets of the Sistine Chapel that include a guided tour. For as nice as it is to just raise your head and appreciate the beauty of all the frescoes, it’s great to have someone that helps you put everything in context and get a better understanding of the historical, cultural and artistic value of what you are seeing.

The Vatican Museums

Located right next to the Sistine Chapel and usually visited right after, the Vatican Museums have a formidable collection of religious and art works – from Roman sculptured to masterpieces of Renaissance art.

The Museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, have a whopping 54 galleries and not only they are among the largest museums in the world, but they also are one of the most visited.

Tickets to the Sistine Chapel usually include entry to the Vatican Museums.

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

It’s not that hard to skip the line at the Vatican

Six Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line

More than 25000 people visit the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums every day. It’s one of the most famous places to visit in the world, but unfortunately also one of the world’s 10 worst tourist attractions for lines, with a waiting time that can go up to four hours.

Yes, that’s how long it may take to get your €17 tickets to the Sistine Chapel. I have seen those lines myself a few times when I visited Rome in the last few years – they go all the way around the walls of Vatican City, with people waiting patiently in the sun and even under the rain.

TIP: The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are even more packed than usual when passengers of cruise ships are in town. If you want to avoid them, try to go between 12:00 and 2:00 pm, when most of the group tours are having lunch.

I am hardly a fan of lines myself, and I’d do anything to avoid them – as long as it is respectful to other tourists, obviously. The good news is that there are tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums that will allow you to skip the lines, and they even include a guide.

These are the most popular tours and tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums:

TIP: No matter the kind of tickets to the Sistine Chapel you get, you’re bound to stand in line for the security checks. Beware of companies that suggest you may avoid these lines.

Continue reading to find the best ways to get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and skip the line.

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

The Vatican is no doubt a must see

Way n. 1: Go on a guided tour

Buying a guided tour with tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums is the best way to skip the line (though remember, you’ll always have to line up for the security checks). The prices of tour vary, depending on whether you pick a group or a private tour.

Guided group tours

Guided group tours are a great way to visit a place, especially one where you’re likely to need a lot of information to put everything in context and better appreciate what you are seeing. A guided tour to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums also has the great advantage that you can skip the line to get the ticket.

TIP: Even with skip the line tickets, you’ll have to go through a line, though this is significantly shorter than the one to get tickets at the venue.

Guided group tours of the Sistine Chapel and The Vatican Museum start at €27 and get more pricey depending on the various add ons.

These are the best guided group tours with skip the line tickets to the Sistine Chapel:

Guided private tours

A guided private tour has the great advantage that you still get a guide, but you can go at your own pace. These tours are definitely more expensive than the group options, with prices starting at €75 per person, but worth the price if you like the idea of having a guide at your disposal.

These are the best guided private tours with skip the line tickets to the Sistine Chapel:

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

An early morning tour with tickets to the Sistine Chapel is ideal

Way n. 2: Get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums with an audio guide

If you like the idea of doing your own thing, you may want to opt for tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums that include an audio guide. This gives you the great advantage to go at your own pace, skip the parts that you are not interested in, and linger a bit longer on those that catch your attention.

Prices for tickets to the Sistine Chapel with audio guides start at €34. You can buy them here.

Way n. 3: Go very early with a guide

Believe it or not, but the good old trick of having an early start actually works. You can get in the Sistine Chapel as early as 7:30 am. However, in order to have the privilege of getting early access, you have to buy your tickets to the Sistine Chapel through a tour operator, and you will have to go with a guide. Indeed, apparently tour operators pay large sums of money to be able to use the back exit which goes directly to Saint Peter’s Basilica – which individuals can’t use.

Prices of early morning Vatican tours start at €50.

TIP: Early Wednesday mornings are good to visit the Sistine Chapel: crowds will start arriving after 11:00 am, once the Papal audience has ended.

These are the best early access tours with tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums:

Way n. 4: Go at night

This is one of the most exclusive ways of visiting the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, and it is only possible on Fridays, between the end of April and the end of October, when the Vatican Museums stay open until 11:00 pm and allow access as late as 9:30 pm. It’s definitely a bit more expensive than a regular tour, but great option if you like the idea of having the Museums and the Chapel almost completely to yourself.

Prices for night tours of the Vatican start at €36 and they include tickets to the Sistine Chapel.

TIP: If you are like the idea of visiting the Vatican at night, make sure to plan your trip around it, getting to Rome on a Thursday and leaving no earlier than a Saturday.

These are the best night time tours with tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums:

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

Tickets to the Sistine Chapel include entry to the Vatican Museums and at times even a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica

Way n. 5: Get the Rome City Pass or the Vatican Pass

The Rome City Pass and the Vatican Pass are excellent options if you want to skip the line at the Vatican Museums and get access to other attractions in Rome. There are various passes that offer considerable savings both in terms of time and money.

  • Carta Turistica di Roma – prices start at €67.50 and in this case tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum are add ons. It includes access to the Colosseum.
  • Vatican and Rome card – it only costs €55 and it includes tickets to the Sistine Chapel and entry to 2 archeological sites or museums of your choice. It’s the best option as it also gives you a 20% discount to other sites. The only disadvantage is that the site is in Italian only.
  • 72 hours Rome pass – the cheapest option, as it only costs €38.50. The audio guide to the Vatican Museum is an add on.
  • Vatican and Rome city pass – costing €113, it includes skip the line tickets to the Sistine Chapel and to the Colosseum, as well as a hop on hop off bus pass.
  • Vatican, Colosseum, Pantheon and Castel Sant’Angelo pass – the most inclusive of all the options, it costs €125.

Way n. 6: Get the official tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums online

This is the official website to get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. Online tickets cost €17 and there is a €4 reservation fee (total of €21). You can only buy these tickets up to 60 days in advance and for a maximum of 10 persons. Reduced tickets for children between 6 and 18 years of age are €8 but you’ll need a document to prove your child’s age at the venue. You will be sent a confirmation email with a PDF which you either print or show on your smartphone. These tickets are basic and do not include a guide or an audio guide.

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

There are many ways of getting tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums

Other Practical information for people visiting the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums

Opening times

The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (latest access is at 4:00 pm) from Mondays to Saturdays. They are also open every last Sunday of the month.

They remain close on 1 January, 11 February, 19 March, 22 April, 1 May, 29 June, 14 and 15 August, 1 November, 25 and 26 December.

Night Openings

From the end of April to the end of October, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are open until 11:00 pm (latest access is at 9:30 pm) on Friday nights.

Official tickets

Official tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums cost €17. Reduced tickets for children between the ages of 6 and 18 cost €8.

Dress code

Make sure to dress modestly for your visit to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. Visitors are regularly turned down for not being dressed appropriately.

Security checks

No matter what kind of ticket you have, you’ll have to go through a metal detector. To speed up the security checks, avoid bringing objects such as large umbrellas, sticks (unless walking sticks), selfie sticks and tripods – you’ll have to leave them at the cloakroom anyways.

Photography and drawing

Photos are not allowed in the Sistine Chapel. Photos of the Vatican Museum are allowed only for personal use. The use of flash is not allowed, as well as that of tripods and selfie sticks.

Drawings are allowed only after having obtained a special permission by the Directorate of the Vatican Museums, or for students enrolled at the Rome Academy of Fine Arts.

Personal belongings

You have to leave bags, backpacks or trolleys at the cloakroom. This is free of charge.

Have you ever seen the Sistine Chapel? Do you have any tips to add to get tickets to the Sistine Chapel?

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Five Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines

Five Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines

Getting tickets to the Colosseum in Rome is easier than you can imagine. Continue reading to find a way that suits you!

You have finally arrived in Rome, the Eternal City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ve had a great time till the moment you’ve laid food there. The Colosseum from a distance looks mighty, and you can’t wait to get in and explore it. But the minute you approach the entrance, you’re in for a bad surprise: the line to get tickets to the Colosseum is almost as mighty as the site itself. You are ready to give up and settle for just a photo from the outside.

Don’t give up just yet! There are ways to get into the Colosseum without waiting in line for hours, and some excellent Colosseum tours that you are guaranteed to enjoy.

In this post, I will explain how to get tickets to the Colosseum so that you don’t have to stay in line for hours. But first, let me provide some information on what you can expect when visiting the Colosseum.

Why A Trip To Rome Is Not Complete Without Visiting The Colosseum

Rome is a gorgeous city, one I enjoy visiting any time I have a chance. Apparently I am not the only one, as tourists crowd it any time of year. I don’t think a week would be enough to visit all the main attractions in Rome (read more about the various things to do and see in Rome in this post). Anyways – whether you have just a day there, or a month, you simply can’t skip visiting the Colosseum.

This is one of the symbols of Rome, heritage of the Roman Empire and usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the city, and first in the line of places people set to visit when there. Known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was where the battles between gladiators and wild animals used to take place.

Needless to say, a good traveler wouldn’t dream of going to Rome without visiting the Colosseum – save for those who make it a point to stay out of the tourist track. Don’t get me started on what I think of those obsessed with off the beaten path travel (I have often claimed I am an unsuccessful backpacker, because I am more than happy to go to all the most touristy places). Let me just say this: no sane traveler would dream of going to Rome and skip a visit to the Colosseum. It is – quite simply – a must; no matter how hard it is to get tickets to the Colosseum.

tickets to the Colosseum

Tickets to the Colosseum include also a visit to the Roman Forum

Visiting The Colosseum

I am a big fan of anything underground and / or scary and eerie. That’s why I went to Chernobyl, in Ukraine (doesn’t get more eerie than that) and to Kolmanskop, an abandoned mining town in the desert of southern Namibia. To me, the best part of visiting the Colosseum is getting to the underground. This is the best preserved part of the site.

TIP: Keep in mind that the only way to get to the Colosseum underground (as well as the arena floor and the third ring) is on a guided tour. Regular tickets to the Colosseum don’t allow visits to these parts of the site.

The underground has pretty much remained buried from the end of the Roman Empire until around 100 years ago. There are gorgeous marble coatings; some of the structures built on orders of Domitian and even traces and parts of the elevator that lifted wild animals and gladiators to the arena floor.

Even the channels that used to carry water all the way inside the Colosseum are still visible – apparently water was used to flood the arena to recreate the perfect environment for naval battles! – as well as the sewage system thanks to which various objects testifying to the way of life of the spectators have been found.

To me, this is enough to make me want to invest in tickets to the Colosseum that include a guided tour of the underground! Indeed, while the rest of the Colosseum is certainly nice to visit, it’s a bit bare as throughout the centuries it’s been plundered of its marble and all the other decorations (did you know that in medieval times it was used as a sort of quarry?).

Some very steep steps take to the third ring. Getting there isn’t the easiest thing, but that’s where you’ll get the best view of the Colosseum, as well as that of the Roman Forum and the nearby Constantin Arch. This part of the site can’t be visited with just the standard ticket: you’ll need to get tickets to the Colosseum that include a guide and access to underground, arena floor and third ring. It’s surely more pricey but trust an expert: it’s worth it!

The Roman Forum And The Palatine Hill

There’s little doubt that the Roman Forum is one of the most incredible places to visit in Rome, and it is right next to the Colosseum – so most people visit it on the same day and there are tickets to the Colosseum that also include a guided tour of the Roman Forum (more on that later!). When Rome used to be a Republic, the Roman Forum was a thriving place, with food stalls, temples, brothels and the House of the Senate. The stalls were later substituted with a proper mall and tribunals, and the Forum became a ceremonial center during the empire.

The Palatine Hill is one of the nicest places in Rome. According to legend, this is where the twins Romolo and Remo were raised by the wolf, and Romolo, having killed his twin brother, founded the village that later on became Rome. Historically, the Palatine used to be the place where the emperors and the aristocrats lived. Many online tickets to the Colosseum include a visit to the Palatine – it’s a great way to complete a tour of Imperial Rome.

tickets to the Colosseum

When visiting the Colosseum, make sure to also go to the arena floor

Five Absolutely Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines

Around 11000 people per day visit the Colosseum, a number that rises up to 30000 (yes, you read that right!) in the peak season. The lines to get inside the Colosseum can be long (and boring) and if you have limited time in Rome, or if you are visiting in the summer when it’s terribly hot, you’re probably going to hate yourself for not having found other solutions to get tickets to the Colosseum.

I am a massive fan of getting online skip the line tickets for famous tourist attractions. They usually include a guide, which in the case of the Colosseum is particularly handy as this way you will also have access to the underground, the arena floor and the third ring.

These are the most popular tours and tickets to the Colosseum

TIP: As of 30 September 2018 all tickets will have a specific entry time and they will be for individuals or group.

Read on for more tips to make the most of your time when visiting the Colosseum and, most importantly, to avoid the lines to get in!

Way N. 1: Buy your tickets to the Colosseum at the ticket office of the Roman Forum

I know, it (seemingly) makes no sense. But let me clarify this: whenever you buy tickets to the Colosseum, regardless of which one you get, you’ll get a pass for the Roman Forum. A tour of the Colosseum usually includes a visit to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. What does this mean? This means that the vice-versa is also true!

So, if you buy tickets to the Roman Forum, you’ll have tickets to the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill as well. In other words: go see the Roman Forum first, and then the Colosseum. The line to the Roman Forum is much much less, and once you are done with your visit you can proceed directly to the Colosseum with your tickets in your hands already. Smart huh?

Tickets to the Colosseum (including access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill) cost €12.

Bonus: the ticket is valid for 48 hours, which means you don’t have to visit both attractions on the same day if you don’t want to.

If in any case you decide to visit the Colosseum before the Roman Forum, make sure to get there nice and early at least 30 minutes before opening time.

Way N. 2: Buy the official Colosseum tickets online

This is the official website to get tickets to the Colosseum. Online tickets cost €14 – that’s €12 for the actual ticket, and €2 for the online handling fee. The price includes an audio-guide. You can download the PDF of the ticket, which you have to print and take with you.

Bonus: 18 year olds and younger get in for free!

Way N. 3: Buy the Rome City Pass

The Rome City Pass is a good option if you want to skip the lines to get into the Colosseum and other museums in Rome. There are 3 different city passes that offer considerable savings when visiting Rome:

  • 72 hours Roma pass: it includes tickets to the Colosseum; it’s valid for 72 hours, but the savings aren’t as great as the two other options below (which I think are actually better).
  • Vatican and Rome card: perfect if you also want to visit the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. Not only you’ll save more than €10 compared to the sum of the various tickets, but you will also save on endless hours spent in line.
  • Rome tourist card: this is the best option, if you make good use of it. It costs €67.50 and has a 20% discount to many attractions. It includes skip the line tickets to many attractions, including tickets to the Colosseum; transportation from and to the airport and several other discounts. The only issue you may find is that the site is in Italian only, but if you can get around that, it’s the best solution.
visiting the Colosseum

Skip the line tickets to the Colosseum are the best way to fully enjoy your time there

Way N. 4: Buy skip the line tickets to the Colosseum

Skip the line tickets to the Colosseum are the best way to avoid standing in line for hours. There are different kinds of skip the line tickets, depending on the kind of tour you want to opt for – group tours, private tours, etc.

Guided group tours

I am a big fan of guided tours when it comes to archaeological sites. A place like the Colosseum deserves an expert guide that is able to give you detailed information about the history and all the technicalities of it.

More than that, with a guided group tour you don’t have to worry about standing in line to get your tickets to the Colosseum. Indeed, you will enter the site through a gate reserved to groups, and security checks will be more lax and thus faster.

The issue, then, is picking the guided tour that best suits your interests and needs. I recommend picking one that gives you access to areas that are normally closed to the those who only have the basic tickets to the Colosseum – ie the underground, the arena floor and the third ring.

Guided group Colosseum tours cost an average of €45 per person depending on the tour. A guided tour of the Colosseum normally lasts around 3 hours.

These are the best guided group tours with skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:

Guided private tours

If you like the idea of visiting the Colosseum on your own pace but with an expert official guide, you may opt for a private guided tour. Much like the other option, you won’t have to wait in line, you will be able to visit the parts of the site that are closed to the public, you won’t have to move in a group and the guide will be at your disposal. Private Colosseum tours prices depend on the number of persons in a group. The starting price is usually €70.

These are the best guided private tours with skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:

tickets to the Colosseum

Get night tickets to the Colosseum for an incredible experience

Way N. 5: Buy night-time tickets to the Colosseum with underground access

If you think that the sight of the Colosseum during the day is amazing, try picturing it at night. I once saw it from the plane as I was landing in Rome and let me tell you, it was splendid! Needless to say, I wholeheartedly recommend visiting the Colosseum at night – of all the various options I have given to get tickets to the Colosseum and skip the lines, this is the one I recommend the most!

Night time Colosseum tours start at 9:30 pm and last around 2 and a half hours. At this time, the Colosseum is virtually empty so you’ll be in for a special, private experience.

The guided night tours give you access to the main areas, the first and second ring, and the arena floor. And you’ll also have access to the undergrounds.

TIP: only a handful of groups can access the Colosseum at night, so as I have said the experience is very private. The other side of the coin, however, is that places fill up quickly so if this is something you want to do, make sure to book well in advance.

Night-time tickets to the Colosseum cost around €87 per person.

These are the best night-time Colosseum tours:

Other Useful Information For Visiting The Colosseum

How to get to the Colosseum

The Colosseum is in (errr) Colosseum Square. The best way to get there is to either get subway B getting off at Colosseo, or the cablecar n. 3.

Opening times

The Colosseum is open every day from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm in the winter, and 7:15 pm in the summer. You can get in as late as one hour before closing time.

Keep in mind that the Colosseum is closed on the main Italian national holidays – 1 January, 25 December, and the morning of 2 June (it opens at 1:30 pm).

Prices for tickets to the Colosseum

Tickets to the Colosseum cost €12 and include a visit to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Tickets are valid for 48 hours after purchase, with one entry per site.

You can get in for free each first Sunday of the month – though I hardly recommend this as the line is humongous and the site terribly crowded.

Security checks

Please beware that as of April 2016 new security policies have been adopted, which means that anybody wishing to visit the Colosseum, including those who have skip the line Colosseum tickets, have to go through the metal detector. Security checks can take up to one hour, so keep this in mind when you plan to visit. Also remember that backpacks and large bags aren’t allowed.

Going to the Vatican? Find out How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line.”

Have you ever been to the Colosseum? What are your best tips to make the most of it and how did you get tickets to the Colosseum?

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