Pristine Sistine Early Entrance Small Group Vatican Tour

9018 reviews

4 hours

Max 15

Why take this tour?

Step inside the Sistine Chapel an hour before it opens to the public on this special access Vatican tour. Stare up at Michelangelo’s frescoes without the normal crowds, then embark on a full tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, using a restricted access door to gain direct access between the sites (skipping even more lines!)

Highlights

  • Created with Sketch.Enjoy early entrance to the Vatican Museums, an hour before the public
  • Created with Sketch.All 2021 tours include a free upgrade with breakfast on a terrace inside the Vatican Museums
  • Created with Sketch.With a full 4 hours, you'll enjoy a comprehensive tour led by an experienced art historian
  • Created with Sketch.Use a secret door in the Sistine Chapel to enter St Peter's Basilica directly, avoiding a long walk and long lines!

Health & Safety Standards

At Walks we take your health and the health of our community seriously. To accomplish this, we have set a series of standards that will be implemented across every tour;

  • Walks has been certified by SanseeShield.com
  • Walks Guides have received health & safety training, are self-monitoring temperatures daily, and trained in group social distancing practices
  • We ask our guides and guests to wash their hands regularly and carry hand sanitzier
  • Our guides and guests are required to wear masks in accordance with the local government regulations
  • If headsets are needed, they are disinfected at the beginning and end of your experience
  • All Walks tours are always small groups to give you the maximum comfort and safety

Take a walk through the empty Vatican Museums

From August 6th, all Italy sites we visit will require clients and guides alike to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test completed within 48 hours prior to entry. They will also require a legal form of ID matching the vaccination or test results. This does not apply to children under 12. You can read more about it here.

Free upgrades in 2021 In order to ensure that you get inside the Vatican Museums before opening time, we've upgraded all 2021 departures, until Oct 31st, of this tour to include an exclusive breakfast experience on a beautiful museum terrace. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this i...

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From August 6th, all Italy sites we visit will require clients and guides alike to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test completed within 48 hours prior to entry. They will also require a legal form of ID matching the vaccination or test results. This does not apply to children under 12. You can read more about it here.

Free upgrades in 2021 In order to ensure that you get inside the Vatican Museums before opening time, we've upgraded all 2021 departures, until Oct 31st, of this tour to include an exclusive breakfast experience on a beautiful museum terrace. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this is currently the only way to get inside the walls of the Vatican before general opening.

You'll spend an hour enjoying the buffet before your guide whisks you to the Sistine Chapel, ahead of the public and fully fueled for the adventure ahead.

If you would like to purchase this upgraded tour for a date past Oct 31st 2021, you can book our Pristine Sistine Tour with Breakfast.

The Pristine Sistine has been our flagship tour for over 12 years. In that time we've tweak and tested it annually to create what is definitively the best tour for any first-time visitor to the Vatican Museums. The trick is to get special entrance an hour before the public, then go directly to the Sistine Chapel.

While most Vatican tours start with the rooms at the entrance to the Museums, like the Gallery of the Maps or the Gallery of Tapestries, we breeze past. There will be time for these later. We have our eye on the prize, finding the Sistine Chapel as empty it will be all day.

Your guide will give you a full run-down of the Sistine Chapel masterpieces before you even enter the Museums, giving you a special handout to help you pick out the most wonderful details once you are inside. Speaking inside the chapel is forbidden but more than that, this is supposed to be a peaceful experience, so you'll get the most from your time if you spend it just staring at the art. Have questions about the details? No worries, you'll pass through with your guide for a second time later, so there will be plenty of time to ask.

After 20 minutes inside the chapel, just as the crowds are beginning to arrive, you'll be whisked away for a full tour of the Vatican Museums. You'll stop off at all the highlights you passed earlier and a few extras, including the Belvedere Courtyard, where you'll find classical Greek and Roman works, and the phenomenal Raphael Rooms which many of our guides prefer even to the Sistine Chapel.

Finally, you'll take a special-access passage via the Sistine Chapel to skip the entrance lines at St. Peter's Basilica and walk right into Christendom's most awe-inspiring basilica. Here your expert guide will treat you to a full tour that includes Michelangelo's emotional Pietá, Bernini's enormous baldachin altarpiece, and a vast array of stories and anecdotes, telling the nearly unbelievable tale of how this incredible structure was built.

Entering before the crowds with an expert art historian guide, our Pristine Sistine Chapel Tour (the original Walks tour) offers you the most personal and intimate experience with the Vatican Museums.

Note: As of July the corridor between St Peter's Basilica & the Sistine Chapel is still closed to the public due to Covid restrictions. Our guides will do their best to include the Basilica but circumstances on the day and the distance between the two sites without this access, may mean this is not always possible. In the case that there is no time for an interior visit, your guide will give you a full introduction to the Basilica from outside, so you know what to look for during your independent visit. Note also that if you book this tour on a Wednesday, due to the Papal Audience, a visit to St.Peter's Church won't be possible and the guide will spend more time inside the Museums

  • Sites Visited
  • Sistine Chapel
  • St. Peter’s Basilica
  • St. Peter’s Square
  • Raphael Rooms
  • Belvedere Courtyard
  • Pinecone Courtyard
  • Gallery of the Candelabra
  • Gallery of the Maps
  • Gallery of the Tapestries
  • Tour Includes
  • Skip-the-line Vatican Museum tickets
  • Skip-the-line access to St Peter's Basilica
  • Headsets
  • Expert tour guide
  • Small groups of 14 or fewer
Enter the Vatican Museums before the crowds, on your way to the Sistine Chapel.
The Gallery of Maps, as you get to the Sistine Chapel at its quietest moment.
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FAQ

Can I use a wheelchair on this tour?
Yes, but we require advance notice in order to accommodate wheelchairs on this tour. After booking, please contact us so that we can organize a private tour for you. If we cannot find a guide to lead you that day we'll offer you the same tour on the next avaialbe date or give you credit for another tour anywhere else in the world.
I'd like to climb to the top of the Dome of St. Peter's. Anything I should know?
The St. Peter's Dome climb requires separate tickets, one allows you to take the elevator up part of the way then climb a further 320 steps, while another permits you to climb the entire 551 steps. Either way the view from the top is worth it!
I want to take a selfie in the Raphael Rooms, can I bring my selfie stick?
No. Selfie sticks are strictly forbidden inside the Vatican Museums, along with flash photography. However, visitors are allowed to take non-flash photographs anywhere besides the Sistine Chapel.
I am in a wheelchair/have a mobility impairment. Can I take this tour?
The Vatican Museums are equipped with elevators for wheelchair access, but they are not located on the group tour route. If you have a mobility impairment and/or use wheelchair please contact our customer service department and we will be happy to design a private tour for you. info@walksofitaly.com. We can then work out a suitable alternative.
Why can't I take photos inside the Sistine Chapel?
When the chapel was restored in 1990 the biggest donors to the project (donating a whopping $4.2 million) were a Japanese television network. In return, they recieved exclusive rights to photograph and film inside and quickly banned any professional photographers from taking pictures. Although they didn't mind if tourists took photos, the Vatican guards decided to enforce the rule on everyone because it was impractical to differentiate between a normal visitor and who was a professional photographer. The Japanese network's exclusive contract has expired now but the rule persists. If you try to take any images in the Chapel Vatican, security is authorized to make you delete them.
I've heard the Vatican has a strict dress code. What should I wear?
It does, but it isn't anything too formal. The big rule is to make sure your shoulders and knees are covered - that applies to both men and women. Also remember that shorts of any length are not allowed at all in St. Peter's Basilica so if you are visiting both the Vatican Musuems and the Basilica, wear trousers or a long skirt. Occasionally visitors get away with wearing a bit less but it’s best not to risk it. Hats are also not allowed. Walks cannot be held responsible for guests who are refused entrance due to inappropriate dress so please remember to cover up.
IMPORTANT: Can I bring a bag into the Vatican Museums?
Yes, as long as it's within a certain size. You cannot bring any bag, backpack suitcase or container larger that 40cm x 35cm x 15cm into the Vatican Museums. In fact, size limits apply to all items; because of the sheer number of people that visit the Museums, space is at a premium. You can’t enter with medium to large umbrellas, any umbrellas with spiked tips, camera tripods, signage (apart from signs used by certified guides) or walking sticks – except those required by disabled visitors. All of these items can be left in the cloakroom, which is located at the entrance to the Museums. This means that you will need to walk 15 - 20 minutes back here after you finish your tour at St Peter's Basilica. On our afternoon tours you may need to leave the tour early to collect your bag before the cloakroom closes.
What items can I NOT take into the Vatican Museums
Knives, scissors, and other cutting tools must also be deposited in the cloakroom as a precaution against harming the artwork inside. No hammers, either, as one was once used to smash Michelangelo's Pietá. This probably goes without saying, but firearms are also strictly prohibited for visitors within the Vatican Museums and you can't check them in the cloakroom.

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