Excellent, well-structured tour with a great guide. Of all the places I visited in Italy, the Vatican was *the* most crowded but the guide did an incredible job of making it as smooth as possible. The Basilica does not offer skip-the-line access (for any tour), so there is more time spent waiting in line than other venues, but the 5-hour time window accounts for this and the guide very expertly used our time in line productively by telling us about the Vatican and Basilica. The tour includes access to the elevator to the Basilica terrace, which is another line to stand in but honestly was a better option than climbing the 300 steps to terrace. From the terrace, you have the option to take the 200+ steps up to the cupola which is...a lot, but really worth it (...and another reason to take the elevator for the first 300 steps!). The cupola clime is between the inner and outer domes of the Basilica, so it's kind of narrow and at a weird angle, but there are some built-in spaces where you can step aside. And, when you get to the top of the cupola, there are absolutely incredible views.
From there, we went to the Vatican museum, where we did have skip-the-line access and entry was pretty straightforward. The museum was incredibly crowded. I was thankful to have a guide because they were able to highlight key things and we went through. If I were on my own, I don't think I would have been able to stop and read the descriptions as I normally would at a museum because there were just so many people there. The highlight, of course, is the Sistine Chapel at the end of the museums. Photos and talking are not permitted in the chapel, but our guide gave us a very thorough walk through before we went in so we knew what we were looking at. After the Sistine Chapel, the guide gave us each the option of going back into the museum to go through at our own pace or to go back into the Basilica to go through at our own pace (with the dome climb, we didn't have have the much time inside the Basilica itself). The guide helped us get back into our respective venues before ending the tour. Personally, I particularly appreciated having the extra time to walk around in the Basilica itself. Just an absolutely incredible monument. Overall, I really well organized tour in a difficult setting with a great knowledgeable and clever guide. Would definitely recommend this!
Also: the Vatican has its own post office where you can buy post cards and stamps -- but the stamps only work if mailed from within the Vatican, so bring a pen with you!
May 10, 2023
· United States
· Non Binary
· 35 to 44 years