Visitors hoping to see the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica have to queue for a lot longer now than they did a few months ago. The longer waits are down to the fact that many visitors now have to join two lines – one at the Vatican Museums and the other at St. Peter’s Basilica. But what has changed?

Well, Vatican authorities added a new rule to their list a few months ago. Previously visitors used to tour the Vatican Museums leaving the Sistine Chapel for last. Then after they had swooned over Michelangelo’s frescoes, they walked through a door on the right and found themselves in St. Peter’s Basilica. Now, however, it has been decided that the door on the right, which previously allowed visitors direct access from the Vatican Museums to St. Peter’s Basilica, is closed to most visitors. Instead, access to this door is only granted to groups led by Vatican guides with the specific qualifications. Those visiting the Vatican museums independently or on a tour where the guide does not hold the relevant qualification are not allowed through. Instead, they do their lap of the museums, leaving by the door they came in and walk 15 to 20 minutes to the entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica (see map below).

The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel

Better to spend your time inside the Vatican Museums

Unfortunately, the queues in the Vatican can sometimes get a little out of hand, so many visitors are required to queue for between one and three hours to get into St. Peter’s Basilica on top of whatever time they already spent waiting to get into the Vatican museums.

If you decide to cut out the queues and do the Vatican City with a tour operator, remember that not all tours are equal. Not all tour guides have access to lead their groups through the restricted access door, and only some tours can offer Vatican museums queues skip the line access into the Vatican museums, saving even more time that could be spent waiting under the blistering Rome sun. Before you book a tour then, you should ask your provider two questions:

1. Can all of your guides use the restricted entrance into St. Peter’s Basilica?
2. Do you have skip the line access?

City Wonders is happy to be able to answer positively in both cases. All of our tour guides are qualified to use the St. Peter’s Basilica access door and all of our Vatican tours have skip the line access, saving precious vacation hours that could be better spent eating gelato or admiring the Vatican collections. Take a look at our Vatican tours.