The truth about the Sistine Chapel

For first-time visitors there can be a lot of confusion about visiting the Sistine Chapel. Is it a stand-alone structure? Do you need a ticket to visit? Can you attend mass there? Everyone knows it’s there and everyone knows that they want to visit it they just don’t know how. So, we decided to put to rest some of the questions you’ve been asking us about visiting the Sistine Chapel.

Inside the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums

Can I visit the Sistine Chapel on its own?

No, you cannot visit the Sistine Chapel on its own. The Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museums and as such, can only be entered through the Vatican Museums.

Is there an extra cost?

No, there is no extra cost to visit the Sistine Chapel. Admission is included in your ticket price.

Someone tried to sell me a ticket to the Sistine Chapel – should I buy it?

No extra tickets are necessary to visit the Sistine Chapel. Anyone who tries to sell you one outside the Vatican Museum or St. Peter’s Basilica is a fraud. You should report them to the Vatican guards or police officers that patrol the area.

Another tour operator has offered me skip the line access.

There is no such thing as skip the line access to the Sistine Chapel. The major queues are outside the Vatican Museums. Inside at the entrance to the chapel there is often no queue at all but sometimes there is a bit of a squash to get in. This is a queue that everyone must join, regardless of whether they’re on a tour or traveling independently. There is currently no way to skip this queue.

What is the best/quietest time to visit the Sistine Chapel?

The Sistine Chapel is almost always as tightly packed as sardines in a can – over 5 million visitors come to the Vatican Museums every year and everyone wants to see the Sistine Chapel (some are here just for that!).

That said, during the Pope’s address on a Wednesday morning the museums are often a little quieter for two reasons. The first is that a lot of people are at the address. The second is that you often cannot gain access to St. Peter’s Basilica at this time, so some visitors prefer to wait until they can do both in one trip.

With that in mind, the absolute quietest time to visit is after it closes, which you can do on our Vatican Museums Night Tour, which spends 30 minutes inside the Chapel after closing time!

We also have a Vatican Sistine Express with St. Peter's, which gets you inside the Chapel before any other group, by entering the Vatican Museums ahead of opening time.

Can I attend mass in the Sistine Chapel?

Unless you are a member of the clergy, there at the invitation of the Pope or a member of the chapel’s own dedicated choir, no you can’t.

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