Skip the Line Vatican Tour: Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s
Beat the queues and discover all the treasures of Vatican City, on this skip-the-line Vatican tour. See some of the greatest artwork mankind’s ever produced and learn the fascinating history of the world’s smallest state, in the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.
Join this intimate Skip the Line Vatican Tour and discover all the wonder within Vatican City.
In a small group of no more than 10, with an expert guide, you’ll experience some of the greatest artworks in the world: including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, frescoes by Raphael and sculptures by Bernini.
Your expert guide knows everything there is to know about Vatican City. With your guide leading the charge, you’ll hear the real-life tales of drama, passion and betrayal that lie behind every astonishing artwork.
Walk through the gilded halls of the Vatican Museums, pausing at Renaissance masterpieces and rare classical statuary on your way. Stand underneath Michelangelo’s spectacular frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and experience their iconic beauty. Empty the grand and vaulted space of St Peter’s Basilica to discover the grandest church in the world; Baroque Rome’s greatest achievement.
All this – and more – waits for you on this Skip the Line Vatican Tour.
Your Skip the Line Vatican Tour begins in the Vatican Museums. Follow your expert guide on a journey across the 1,200 rooms of the Vatican Museums, toward all its treasures.
The first stop on your tour is the spectacular Vatican terrace. From here, you’ll enjoy a fantastic view of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica, designed by Michelangelo himself. As you stand under the blue of Michelangelo’s dome and the blue of the sky, you’ll learn the ancient history of Vatican City. Before Vatican City was the home of the Catholic Church, it was a Chariot Racing Track, built by Emperor Nero.
Once you’ve enjoyed the spectacular views on the Vatican terrace, your real Skip the Line Vatican tour of the Museums begins. You’ll enter the Pius Clementine Museums and see the fantastic collection of classical statuary. A highlight is the deeply stirring Laocoön and His Sons – which shows a Trojan priest and his children being dragged to the depths by serpents.
You’ll continue onward, passing marvelous artifacts from the Roman world on the way (including Emperor Nero’s bathtub!) toward a beloved highlight: The Gallery of Maps. Most people don’t know the Gallery of Maps before they join a Vatican tour – but they do when they leave. Here you’ll see beautifully detailed frescoes, in green, blue and gold, of Renaissance Italy, spanning an extravagant Vatican corridor.
Onward to another two spectacular Renaissance suites: the Raphael Rooms and the Borgia Apartments. In the Borgia Apartments, you see the intricately decorated rooms of the infamously ‘sensual’ Borgia Pope, adorned in works by Pinturicchio. Look closely, and you’ll see the first depiction of Native Americans in European art.
Last stop in the Vatican Museums– but certainly not least – you’ll head to the Raphael Rooms, astonishing in their scale and beauty. Walk across this seemingly endless suite of rooms, all decorated with rich and vivid frescoes produced by Raphael. The highlight is the epic School of Athens, which depicts all the philosophers of the ancient world – with some faces contemporary to Raphael thrown in.
The Sistine Chapel
Next stop is the Sistine Chapel: which many people describe as the highlight of their Skip the Line Vatican Tour. As you step into the Sistine Chapel, you’ll first be awed by the colors: bright blue (lapis lazuli, the color of the heavens), reds, pinks, and gold seem to fall upon you.
Although there are remarkably impressive frescoes by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino decorating the Sistine Chapel’s walls (which are definitely worth a look at), the real triumph lies in the fantastic works by Michelangelo.
Michelangelo’s frescoes on the altar wall and ceiling cover a remarkable 12,000ft and were painted at very different times during the artist’s life. The ceiling, which has the eternally iconic Creation of Adam at its center, was painted when the artist was in his 20s; but a young man. Michelangelo portrays an optimistic vision of human creation and ingenuity in his work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling; his Old Testament scenes positively brim with humanistic sympathy.
However, the imposing Last Judgement was painted at a very different time in the artist’s life. On the altar wall is a terrifying vision of the end of days, where the damned and the saved are divided. Michelangelo began working on The Last Judgement in his 60s and was infinitely more pious than he had been in his youth – and it showed. Not only is it terrifying evidence of a man contemplating his own mortality, but a dire warning to any Christians who had heeded the Reformation: only the Catholic Church has the power to redeem.
St Peter’s Basilica
Once your time in the Sistine Chapel has come to an end, you’ll head down a secret passageway reserved for Vatican tour groups toward St Peter’s Basilica. St Peter’s may be the last stop on your Skip the Line Vatican tour – but it is certainly not the least; this Vatican tour goes out in a blaze of glory!
St Peter’s was the brainchild and collaborative design efforts of some of the greatest artists the world has ever seen, including Michelangelo, Bernini, Raphael, and Bramante. When you enter, the first thing you’ll notice is the immense mass of eternal space – the sheer height and breadth of St Peter’s Basilica sends many hearts aflutter.
Upon immediately entering St Peter’s, you’ll be astonished by the amount of marble used in the space; such a variety of red, white and green marbles, it’d be hard to believe, without seeing it in the flesh. Your tour guide will explain how all this marble was pillaged from Ancient Roman temples which once stood around Vatican City.
St Peter’s is resplendent in astonishing artwork, including the beautiful Pieta by Michelangelo, which depicts a grieving Mary in astounding sympathy, and Bernini’s Baldachin – probably the most impressive altar adornment of all time. You’ll stand below Michelangelo’s brilliant dome, further proof of his boundless genius, and still one of the world’s largest dome.
Finally, you’ll step out in the sunlight into St Peter’s Square. Admire the beautiful, extensive colonnade wrapping its arms around the square and see the quirkily outfitted Swiss Guards.
There’s nowhere in the world like Vatican City; and you’ll see the best of it on this Skip the Line Vatican Tour.
Why Choose this Skip the Line Vatican Tour?
Roma Experience is proud to say that the guides who run our Skip the Line Vatican Tour are leaders in their field. All of them have a great depth of passion for the marvelous artifacts of Vatican City – and want to share that passion with visitors to the world’s smallest state.
You’ll join your guide on a journey of discovery that takes you to the best bits of the Vatican’s astonishing art collection. See magnificent works which span history, including moving examples of Ancient Greek art and astonishing Renaissance portraiture. Visit the world’s most beautiful Church and connect with the deeply stirring spirituality of Vatican City, on this Skip the Line Vatican Tour.