When it comes to Rome’s best known attractions, nothing can beat the famous Vatican City with it’s museums and cathedrals. Musei Vaticano is world known for treasures, so it would be a shame to miss out on visiting and seeing them yourself.
Sadly, fierce competition outside the museum walls makes it’s really confusing for foreigners when it comes to buying tickets. Therefore we have compiled some useful Vatican Museum tips and tricks for you to skip the line and get the cheapest tickets.
Counting guides on the way
Right off the metro station “Ottaviano” you start to get approached by numerous “guides” offering organized tours, “skip the line”, “get more for less” etc. We stopped counting them at 25, but there are actually many more. They all swear you will have to stand in a huge line just to get in the museum, then walk back, join another huge security line to get in the cathedral. For just around 40-50€ you can skip all of that, get in without a queue, have a guide for 2 hours and feel like a boss. Our Vatican Museum tips say – don’t trust them!
Scamming you in every way possible
We were content to try it out for ourselves, especially since the Colosseum experience the day before was such a success. We followed the sign and before entering the last corridor were suddenly stopped by the guys in uniforms with badges. They claimed that only people with electronic tickets can pass. Oh well, we didn’t have a ticket to show. So one of them spoke politely and told us he is working for Vatican city as a volunteer helping with museum access. He also assured he doesn’t sell tickets himself, but can guide us to official (!) ticket office. Fair enough, we had zero knowledge where the actual tickets are sold. So we followed the guy, ending up at a tour company shop, where he tried to sell us 60€ tour!
Wait a second, website says 16€!
The price he offered seemed too much and for a second I started thinking we might just watch the museum from the outside. We walked back to Saint Peters square and got a chance to speak with another guide who was a bit more friendly. He assured us that nobody can prevent us from entering the museum, but unless we really want to stand the huge queue (2 hours at least), then walk 4km inside the museum, then walk another 4 km back and then join another queue for the Basilica, he can sell us a tour for 40€. Skipping all the lines. Still, it didn’t sound right.
Ignore, ignore, ignore!
By the time we approached the museum gates we already lost one hour of our holiday. At the “gate” we just walked past the “security” – they kept calling “only with ticket”, but I couldn’t care less back then. More of them tried to stop us as we progressed. Finally, a bunch of “Tour operator only” signs (also successfully ignored), and we were inside the museum. Getting through security line couldn’t have been easier and faster – no line whatsoever. Ticket office – no line! Price – 16€! Verdict: Ignore them all, walk in the museum, buy your tickets at the booth and don’t let them scam you!
Museum is spectacular
I’m not joking, it is worth every penny! We got the audio guide for 7€ and enjoyed our own little private tour. Those poor ones who paid huge money on the street had to rush after their guide, while we stood and enjoyed the work of art while listening to comprehensive and detailed information about each piece. We spent at least 30 minutes at Sistine Chapel, soaking up the beaty of Michelangelo masterpiece. I love the detailed explanation of the paintings as well as numerous details about the Vatican in general.
Security line at Saint Peters Basilica – another lie!
One of the reasons to join the tour group was easy access to Saint Peters Basilica. Reserved only for tour groups, remember how they said we would have to walk back and join the security line on Saint Peters square. Well, guess what? No line, no security checks, no waiting! Once we were outside the museum, just around the corner, we found the entrance to the famous basilica. Yes, the line was huge, but we “skipped the line”. It was our lucky day!
I’m glad I made my homework and checked beforehand how much the ticket price should be. There is no reason on Earth why anybody should pay more than the museum is actually asking. It’s your own choice if you wish to sponsor local businesses and get a tour. However, I didn’t like how aggressively they approached us and I imagine how many people fall into their traps. Our visit was in late November. Perhaps, during high season, a tour would make more sense. But as far as I can see – stay away from these tours as they will rip you off!
Have you been to Vatican museum? Did you experience any difficulty getting inside?