What time does the Vatican open in the morning [2024 Update]?

Planning to head to the Vatican Museums?

Are you planning a trip to the Vatican soon? Before immersing yourself in the history, art, and culture of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, there is one crucial step, booking your tickets! However, this process is not always as easy as you may hope. With recent entrance time changes in 2024, it can be a challenge to understand which ticket time to book and which tours will help you beat the crowds.

When do the Vatican Museums actually open?

Vatican Museums and dome of St. Peter's in the morning around opening time

Starting in 2024, the Vatican Museums open to the general public an hour earlier than in 2023. Now, the Vatican Museums are open to the public beginning at 8:00 AM and closing at 8:00 PM. This can cause some confusion because last year, tours that started prior to 9:00 AM were entering before the rest of the general public.

A ‘skip-the-line tour’ allows you to avoid the lines to buy tickets at the gate which is a major time saver. However, everyone who goes into the Vatican will need to wait in the necessary queue to go through security. The benefit of booking a tour is that even when you are waiting in line for security, you will be with an expert guide who can share their knowledge, kicking off your learning experience right away.

Tips for the Vatican

Interior of the Vatican Museums in the Hall of Maps in the early morning without crowds of tourists

1. Visit early in the morning or late afternoon

If you opt out of booking an early access tour, LivTours recommends you book either early in the morning or late afternoon. Lines begin to form outside the Vatican as early as an hour and a half before opening times, so make sure you allow enough time to beat the crowds or book a ‘skip-the-line’ tour. 

The other best time to head to the Vatican is right before they close. Keep in mind that even though the museum remains open until 8:00 PM, the final entry time is 6:00 PM. Finally, if you are able, we recommend that your visit takes place between Tuesday and Friday, as the weekend and Mondays are the busiest times to head to the Vatican.

Wednesdays might be the best time to visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel if you have already seen St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica is closed every Wednesday because of the Papal Audience. Since St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel are often done on the same day, the closure of the Basilica deters tourists from visiting the Vatican Museums on Wednesdays. So, if you have already seen the Basilica, Wednesday is the perfect day for you to explore the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

2. Follow the Vatican dress code

Next, remember the Vatican dress code! Especially in the summer, the dress code can be easily forgotten. Refrain from wearing any revealing clothing including short skirts, dresses, and shorts. Shoulders should be covered with sleeves or scarves. Sandals are permitted but no flip-flops or hats are allowed inside the Vatican. Complying with this code will ensure you have no trouble getting into the Vatican, allowing for a speedy entrance. 

3. Book a tour!

Finally, we recommend that you book a tour! While getting to the Vatican early will help to beat the crowds, booking an early access tour is your best shot at avoiding the crowds and longer lines. Check out some of our Vatican Musuems and Sistine Chapel Tours.

If you are looking to beat the crowds entirely, we recommend you check out our newest additions to our Vatican tour selection: Alone in the Sistine Chapel– Private; or Alone in the Sistine Chapel–Semi-Private. These tours will give you the once in a lifetime experience of visiting the Vatican Museums nearly completely alone.