Visiting the Vatican Museums is one of those experiences that you should try at least once in your life!

A long journey through over twenty centuries of art and history in an ever-accelerating sequence of emotions that will leave you speechless. The Sistine ChapelRaphael's Rooms and the Pinacoteca are the flagships of a collection that boasts artworks of inestimable values. Are you ready to start?

Describing the Vatican Museums is a real challenge! It's not easy to find the right words to describe this astonishing collection. As always, we wil try to give you some valuable tips to skip the line, to get in for free and all useful information to plan your visit.



The origin of the Vatican Museums is rather unique! It all began in 1506 with the discovery of a statue representing Laocoön, a figure in Greek mythology. The statue represents an episode from Virgil's Aeneid: since Laocoön had predicted the deception of the Trojan Horse devised by Ulysses, he and his two sons were attacked by giant snakes sent by the gods. This is one of the most famous ancient statues!

Vatican Museums  - The statue of Laocoön in the Octagon Courtyard

Vatican Museums - The statue of Laocoön in the Octagon Courtyard

When Pope Julius II found out about the discovery, he immediately sent Michelangelo Buonarroti and Giuliano da Sangallo to examine it. After receiving confirmation of its authenticity by both artists, he acquired the sculpture and placed it on public display in the "Courtyard of Statues" in the Vatican, which is the current Octagonal Courtyard.

The Octagonal Courtyard is located in the interior of the vast Pio Clementino Museum founded by Pope Clemens XIV in 1771, and it houses mainly Greek and Roman sculptures. There you can also admire the Amazon Mattei, a copy of a lost original by Phidias, made in bronze in the second half of the 5th centuty BC; and the Apoxyomenos, a Roman copy from the Claudian period of an original bronze by Lysippos from 330-320 BC..


The Vatican Museums trace their origin in this first group of statues and today are considered as one of the most important museums in the world. The different Popes have gathered and preserved over the years some of the most important art masterpieces of all times. If you visit the Museums, you can admire them all!

A spectacular panoramic view from the top of the Vatican Museums complex

A spectacular panoramic view from the top of the Vatican Museums complex


With more than 70,000 objects displayed over a 42,000 meters area, you can easily imagine that is not possible to see everything in a single visit! Of course, a lot depends on the time you can spend there, but we recommend you to choose in advance what to see to avoid leaving the museum with a feeling of confusion. Actually, you risk seeing everything but nothing!

But what to choose? How to orient yourself inside this limitless pile of artworks without feeling overwhelmed? At first, you have to know that the whole structure is formed mainly by two parts: the Museums and the many rooms and spaces located in the Palace of the Vatican. We present a general outline to help you.

The Museums:

  • Vatican Pinacoteca: includes works by painters like Giotto, Leonardo, Raffaello and Caravaggio.
  • Collection of Modern Religious Art: consists of works by artists like Francis Bacon, Carlo Carrà, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico, Felice Mina, Paul Gauguin, Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh.
  • Pio Clementino Museum (Octagonal Courtyard): Pope Clement XIV founded the Pio-Clementino Vatican Museum in 1771, and it was originally used for the collection of Ancient and Renaissance works. Then, the museum and the collection were expanded by his successor Pope Pius VI. Today the museum hosts Greek and Roman sculptures.
  • Missionary-Ethnological Museum: founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926, it hosts religious works, coming from all over the world.
  • Gregorian Egyptian Museum: founded by Pope Gregorius XVI, the museum hosts a vasta collection of Egiptian finds including papyrus, mummies, the famous Book of the Dead and the Grassi Collection.
  • Gregorian Etruscan Museum: founded by Pope Gregorius XVI in 1836, this museum is formed by eight galleries and it hosts important Etruscan finds, coming from archeological excavations. Among the finds, there are vases, sarcophagus, bronzes and the famous Guglielmi Collection.
  • Pio Cristiano Museum and Gregorian Profane Musuem.
  • The Carriages Pavilion, houses some of the vehicles used to transport the popes in the past. It is part of the Vatican Historical Museum, located in Palazzo del Laterano.
  • Philatelic and Numismatic Museum.
  • Museum of the Vatican Apostolic Library.
  • Chiaramonti Gallery: takes its name from Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti, who founded it in early nineteenth century. It is formed by:
    • the Chiaromonti Gallery, where you can find many sculptures, sarcophagis and decorations;
    • The new section called Braccio Nuovo, built by Raffaele Stern, which hosts famous statues;
    • the Lapidary Gallery, contains more than 3,000 pieces of inscriptions, epigraphs and monuments. It is the world's largest collection of this kind. Open to public only on request, it is generally visited for study purposes.

The Palace of the Vatican

  • Galleries:
    • Gallery of the Candelabra
    • Gallery of the Tapestries
    • Gallery of Geographical Maps
  • Chapels:
    • Sistine Chapel
    • Niccoline Chapel
    • Chapel of Urban VIII
  • Rooms:
    • Hall of the Chariot
    • Apartment of St. Pius V
    • Sobieski's Room
    • Room of the Immaculate
    • Raphael Rooms
    • Raphael's Loggia
    • Room of the Chiaroscuri
    • Borgia Apartment
The daily average amount of visitors to the Vatican Museums is around 30,000 people!

The daily average amount of visitors to the Vatican Museums is around 30,000 people!

As you might have already realised, the Vatican Museums are immense. Even if you have 2 full days to visit them, you would not be able to appreciate the entire collection.

We can only recommend you some rooms and collections, but the choice is up to you, according to your interests: Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance or Modern art? You are spoilt for choice!


Without claiminig to be exhaustive, but only to facilitate your visit, we want to present tyou the Best Of the Vatican Museums: 7 things that, in our opinion, you can't absolutely miss during your visit.

If you feel "lost" among the museums' artworks, rooms and galleries, then read our article 7 Things to See in the Vatican Museums. 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums


One negative aspect in the Vatican Museums is the long queue at the entrance. Even if you get there early, it is easy to find already many people: don't forget that close behind the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican Museums are absolutely the most visited in the world.

What to do then? In the box at the bottom of the article, you will find details that we invite you to read, but on the meanwhile, we reveal in advance that there is a solution called online ticket. It costs €4 extra compared to the ticket price but it is worth it! Do it and you will thank us.

If you think that the queue is not a problem and you don't want to spend this extra money, then we advice you to go to the museums on Wednesday morning around 10 am. You might be wondering why you should go at this time...

It's because of the Papal Audience, which takes place every Wednesday morning at 10.30 am in St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father welcomes pilgrims and visitors to give them the apostolic benediction. There is still a queue, but it is generally shorter than on other days! The choice is up to you.

The Court of the Pigna with the bronze pine by Arnaldo Pomodoro

The Court of the Pigna with the bronze pine by Arnaldo Pomodoro


Did you really think we had forgotten about the Sistine Chapel? We have dedicated an entire article to the great masterpiece by Michelangelo Buonarroti! Please read our article on the Sistine Chapel and find out about the history and secrets hidden behind the frescoes. You will also find information, opening hours and useful tips to make your visit memorable.

It might sound obvious, but in our opinion the Sistine Chapel ranks in the first place among the things to see in the Vatican Museums. Some prefer to see it last, others will rather visit it first, for fear of running out of time. Plan carefully your visit, according to your preferences and trying to leave enough time for Michelangelo Buonarroti's masterpiece.

And while you're thinking about it, why don't you take a look at this photografic 3D view of the Sistine Chapel?

Now read the box at the bottom of the article to read all details and also to find out how to visit the Vatican Museums for free!

Useful information

Vatican Museums
Fax: +39 06 69885100
Landline phone: +39 06 69883145 | 06 69884676 | information 06 6982


From the Port of Civitavecchia: Go to Civitavecchia Train Station and get on the first regional train bound for Rome. Get off at Roma Termini Station and from there take the underground (Line A) towards Battistini and get off at Cipro - Musei Vaticani station or, alternatively, at Ottaviano - San Pietro station.

From Leonardo da Vinci Airoport (Fiumicino)
The train Leonardo Express takes you to Termini Sation and from there you can follow the directions for the line A.

From Ciampino Airoport
The Terravision bus takes you to Termini Station and from there you can follow the directions for the subway line A. The taxi ride from both airports takes around 40 minutes.
Bus (stops)
49, in front of the entrance to the Museum
32, 81, 982, Piazza del Risorgimento (end-of-line) (5-minute walk)
492, 990, Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni (5-minute walk).
19, Piazza del Risorgimento (5-minute walk).
Monday - Saturday: entrance from 9 am to 4 pm | closing time at 6 pm (exit from rooms half an hour before closing time)
Closed: Sunday, except the last Sunday of every month (free entry from 9 am to 12.30 pm and closing at 2 pm), as long as it's not Easter Sunday; 8th, 25th and 26th of December, 1st and 6th of January, 11th of February, 19th of March, 5th and 6th of April, 1st of May, 29th of June and 15th of August.
The admission ticket to the Vatican Museums includes as well the visit to the Sistine Chapel.
Full:  € 16.00
Reduced: € 8.00
Scholastic Ticket:  € 4.00
* In order to avoid long queues we highly recommend you to buy your skip-the-line ticket online. Please do it. You will thank us!
* For further information about ticket reductions and to book online, please visit the official website.
* Entrance is free on the last Sunday of the month. It will seem obvious, but we remind you that queues increase considerably on this occasion!
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