Waking up super early might not be your idea of a fun vacation. But if setting an alarm and getting up means saves you a lot of stress and provides an exceptional experience, isn’t it worth it? I certainly think so. Andy and I took an early entry Sistine Chapel and Vatican tour, and it made our Sistine Chapel visit so much more enjoyable.
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One of the best decisions we made when we traveled to Rome was signing up for the Pristine Sistine early morning tour. This tour is a must if you want to actually enjoy seeing the Sistine Chapel, and our early morning Vatican tour review will explain why.
Early access Vatican tour options with Sistine Chapel visit
The tour I’m reviewing isn’t the only extra time Sistine Chapel tour available. The one we took was fantastic, but some of the other options could be even better. If you’re looking for a unique experience, check out these tours.
- Pristine Sistine Early Entrance Small Group Vatican Tour: This is the tour we took, which gets you into the Sistine Chapel before it opens.
- VIP Key Master’s Tour: Open The Sistine Chapel: If you’re looking for a truly unique and peaceful experience at the Sistine Chapel, this tour let’s you walk around with the Key Master as he unlocks the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, well before the crowds arrive.
- Vatican Museums Night Tour with Sistine Chapel: Not a morning person? Check out this after hours evening tour of the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums. (Note: Doesn’t include St. Peter’s Basilica because it is closed by this time of the day.)
Visiting the Sistine Chapel and its famous ceiling
We had to get to the meeting point by 7:15am, which was a bit painful since I’m not a morning person. But the Sistine Chapel early access tour was getting us into the Vatican museums a full hour before they opened to the public. It was like an extra special skip the line Sistine Chapel ticket because it gave us the opportunity to view the ceiling of the famous Sistine Chapel without the huge crowds.
It was just our group and a few other tour groups, so the room felt very open and calm. Well, as calm as it can be when there are guards scolding people for trying to take pictures. (No photos are allowed unfortunately.)
While we were in the Sistine Chapel, our guide told us that Michelangelo, who was actually a sculptor not a painter, was reluctant to take the job because of prior commitments. But when the Pope insists, it’s hard to say no. As a result, we can now enjoy Michelangelo’s frescoes.
Later on our tour, we had to pass back through the Sistine Chapel to get to another section of the museum, and it was so packed I could barely breathe as I squeezed passed the hordes. It definitely made me glad we were on an early access Sistine Chapel and Vatican museums ticket.
The Vatican museums
The early access Vatican tour was more than just the one amazing painting. Aside from the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican houses some amazing artwork and other historical pieces. There were countless paintings and sculptures and an impressive gallery of maps.
We also noticed lots of ornate pieces of marble, which we learned on our Underground Colosseum and Roman Forum tour were taken from the Forum before anyone thought to preserve the history there.
As you walk through the museums admiring the art, be sure to look down every once in awhile. The details on the floors were quite stunning and impressive as well. In fact, Andy actually liked the Sistine Chapel floor tiles better than the ceiling!
Along the way, our guide told us stories about the Vatican and its history. Here are a few facts about the Vatican I found interesting:
- St. Peter’s Dome is 136 meters high. No buildings in Rome are allowed to be higher than that, which means there aren’t any huge skyscrapers in the city.
- Vatican City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and receives about 30,000 visitors per day. PER DAY!
- The Vatican, or the Holy See, is actually the smallest country in Europe, and in the world!
- Vatican citizenship is difficult to get and never granted through birth. It’s also temporary.
- The Vatican is protected by Swiss guards, who are granted temporary citizenship. They must meet strict requirements – they must speak five different languages, be at or above a certain height, and be between the ages of 18-30.
What to expect on the early entry Sistine Chapel and Vatican tour
The tour group size is small, which we liked, but there are a few caveats. The Vatican has strict regulations regarding tour groups, and they only approve the early entrance for large groups.
Because of this, your group will be combined with several other groups from the same company for the beginning of the tour. However, you will still be assigned to a guide with a small group of participants.
The Sistine Chapel and Vatican is one of the most popular attractions in Rome, so it’s pretty much always crowded. Every visitor receives the same headset from the museum, which makes it tricky to keep track of your group.
Take note of what other people in your group look like and what they’re wearing at the start of the tour to make it a little easier to stick together as you deal with other tour groups in the museums.
After visiting the museums, we got to skip the line to go inside St. Peter’s Basilica, which was another bonus of being on the tour. Our tour didn’t spend much time inside, but we were welcome to stay and wander on our own once the tour was over.
Book the Pristine Sistine Chapel early entrance tour or one of the other excellent Vatican and Sistine Chapel tours offered by Take Walks here:
Visiting the Vatican means dealing with crowds, no matter what, so bring some patience. But by taking this tour, we entered the Sistine Chapel – the most popular part of the Vatican museums – ahead of the crowds and enjoy the famous ceiling without being crushed.
Extra time in the Sistine Chapel before the huge crowds got there? That alone was worth being on this tour and getting up early.
If you’re traveling to Rome, visiting the Vatican is a must. I highly recommend taking the early entry Sistine Chapel and Vatican tour in order to have a better experience and really enjoy why you came.
FAQs about the early entry Sistine Chapel and Vatican tours
Here are a few frequently asked questions about visiting the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican.
Is the Sistine Chapel worth it?
Yes! The Sistine Chapel is a stunning place with an impressive piece of art on the ceiling. It’s one of the most famous pieces of art in the world, and that alone makes it worth it to visit the Sistine Chapel. You’re seeing history here. And beyond the Sistine Chapel there are lots of other sections of the Vatican Museums with impressive art, maps, and more.
Is the Vatican worth seeing?
The Vatican itself is also worth visiting for its historical value. Even if you’re not catholic or even religious at all, this ornate and important place is worth seeing to learn about its history and the impact its had on centuries of people and history.
What country is the Sistine Chapel in?
The Vatican, or the Holy See, is technically its own country, and the Sistine Chapel is within the country boundaries of the Holy See. But also, the Holy See is entirely surrounded by Rome, Italy.
Is there a dress code in Sistine Chapel?
Yes, there is a dress code for the Sistine Chapel and Vatican, and it’s very likely they will deny you entry if you’re not dressed appropriately. For both men and women, your shoulders and knees must be covered.
Also, no shorts are allowed, even if they do cover your knees. Plan on wearing pants or a long skirt. Hats are also not allowed in the Vatican or Sistine Chapel.
Is Sistine Chapel open on Sunday
On most Sundays the Sistine Chapel is closed. It is open Monday to Saturday and every last Sunday of the month. The early Sistine Chapel tour does not show Sundays as an option, so plan on taking this tour on a different day of the week.
Is the Sistine Chapel free?
No, entry to the Sistine Chapel and the rest of the Vatican museums is not free. The only exception is the last Sunday of each month. Of course, visiting the Sistine Chapel on that day means even more people will be there, so the crowds are even worse. I recommend booking a tour for a more enjoyable experience, and the Take Walks tours are not available on the free Sunday.
What are the Sistine Chapel hours?
Most days the museum and exhibition areas are open from 9am to 6pm. Again, this is why taking an early entry tour that gets you into the Sistine Chapel by 8am or even a little earlier is such a fantastic experience.
Read more about planning a trip to Italy: