The Papal Apartments ★★

The Stanza della Segnatura in Rome's Vatican, frescoed by Raphael
Vatican's Apartments of Leo X—the "Raphael Rooms"—Stanza della Segnatura. (Photo by 0ro1)

The Vatican's Papal Apartments are amazing spaces, those of Julius II and Leo X frescoed by Raphael, and those of Alexander VI frescoed by Pinturicchio

No, you can't visit the private quarters of Pope Francis I (or of Benedict XVI, who us also living at the Vatican)—but the Papal apartments of several past popes are open to visitors.

Even a quickie tour through the Vatican Museums will dip into several past Papal apartments.

Two of the papal suites really stand out (plus one private chapel once used by a pope):

Tips & links

Details
ADDRESS

Viale Vaticano (on the north side of the Vatican City walls, between where Via Santamaura and the Via Tunisi staircase hit Viale Vaticano; about a 5–10 minute walk around the walls from St. Peter's).
tel. +39-06-6988-4676 or +39-06-6988-3145
www.museivaticani.va or www.vatican.va

OPEN

Mon–Sat 9am–6pm (last entry: 4pm)
* May 2–July 25 and Sept 5–Oct 31 also open Fridays 7–11pm with advance booking (» more)
* Open the last Sun of each month 9:30am–2pm—and it's free!... and terribly crowded
* For other closed dates, see "tips" below

ADMISSION

€16
Roma Pass: No

TRANSPORT

Bus: 49; 490, 492, 496; 23, 32, 81,Tram 19, 271, 492, 590, 982, 990
Metro: Cipro-Musei Vaticani (A)
See "Tips" for more info

TOURS
How long do the Papal Apartments take?

Planning your day: Altogether, expect the Papal Apartment part of visiting the Vatican to take about 40–60 minutes (depending on how long you spend in the choice Raphael Rooms), but expect to spend all day at the Vatican. Two days if you can swing it. Even on a tight schedule, expect to pretty much spend one full day seeing the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's together. They're worth it. Warning: The ticket office closes 2 hours before the museum, with the last entry at 4pm. » Rome itineraries

Book ahead

You can book Vatican entry tickets ahead of time to help avoid the lines, which can last for up to an hour or so in the summer. However, this adds a €4 fee to the already steep admission of €16 at www.vatican.va. Or you can do it online via one of our partners:

Reserve a Vatican tour
Admission quirks: When the Vatican is free, closed, crowded, open late, etc.

Vatican Museum free days

The Vatican Museums are free on the last Sunday of each month, when they stay open until 2pm (last entry: 12:30pm). This, however, is no secret, so they are also intensely crowded.

On any other Sunday, however, the Vatican Museum are closed—and if that final Sunday of the month happens falls on a church holiday (see below), they also remain closed.

The Vatican is also free on Sept. 27 (World Tourism Day)..

Vatican most crowded on Sun and Wed

The Vatican Museums are most crowded on Sundays (because they're free) and many Wednesdays (because in the morning St. Peter's itself is often closed for the papal audience in the piazza, so everyone who doesn't have tickets walks around the walls to kill time inside the museums, and by afternoon all the audience-goers join them).

Open late on summer Fridays

The Vatican has been experimenting with reopening the museums on Friday evenings in spring and early summer then again in fall allowing a limited number of visitors—upon advance booking only—to wander the mooonlit galleries without the crowds.

More info: www.vatican.va.

To book: Viator.com

Vatican closed on church holidays

The Vatican Museums are closed on all church holidays: Jan. 1, Jan. 6, Feb. 11, Mar. 19, Easter Sunday and Monday, May 1, June 29 (Feast of St. Peter and Paul—major Roman holiday), Aug. 14–15 (everything is closed in Rome on Aug. 15; head to Santa Maria Maggiore for mass with a "snowfall" of rose petals), Nov. 1, Dec. 25 (Merry Christmas!), and Dec. 26 (Santo Stefano—huge in Italy).

Last entry: 4pm

Note that the Vatican Museums close surprisingly early (last entry at 4pm, doors close 6pm).

So see the Museums first, then walk around the walls to visit St. Peter's.

Dress code?

Recently, the Vatican (or at least some guards) seems to have decided that you must dress "appropriately" to visit any part of Vatican City—including the museums—and not just St. Peter's, where a dress code has long applied.

Err on the side of caution and make sure you arrive with no bare shoulders, knees or midriffs.

That means: no shorts, no miniskirts, no sleeveless shirts or blouses, no tank-tops. Also, no hats.

(If it's hot and you want to wear a tank top around town that day, just bring a light shawl to cover your shoulders while inside; » more on packing the right items for an Italy trip.)

Also, you cannot bring into the museum any bag or backpack larger than 40cm x 35cm x 15cm (roughly 16" x 14" x 6")—there is a cloackroom where you can leave it.

How to get to the Vatican Museums

Cipro-Musei Vaticani is the closest Metro stop (on the A line, about 5 blocks northwest of the entrance; just follow the crowds).

Otherwise, bus 49 stops right in front of the museum entrance (you can catch it from Piazza Cavour, or anywhere along Via Cescenzio, which starts at the northwestern tip of the piazza, near Castel Sant'Angelo).

You can also take bus 490, 492, 496, N1 to Via Candia (two blocks north of the entrance), or one of many bus lines to Piazza del Risorgimento, tucked into a inside corner of the Vatican walls a short walk east of the musuems entrance: 23, 32, 81,Tram 19, 271, 492, 590, 982, 990, N11.

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Papal Apartments
★★
ADDRESS

Viale Vaticano (on the north side of the Vatican City walls, between where Via Santamaura and the Via Tunisi staircase hit Viale Vaticano; about a 5–10 minute walk around the walls from St. Peter's).
tel. +39-06-6988-4676 or 06-6988-4947
www.museivaticani.va or www.vatican.va

OPEN

Open Mon–Sat 9am–6pm (last entry: 4pm)
* May 3–July 16 and Sept 6–Oct 25 also open Fridays 7–11pm with advance booking (» more)
* Open the last Sun of each month 9:30am–2pm—and it's free!... and terribly crowded
* For other closed dates, see "tips" below

ADMISSION

€TK

Roma Pass: No/Yes (free/TK% off)

TRANSPORT

Bus: 49,23, 32, 81, 271, 492, 590, 982, 990

Metro: A-line

See tips for more info

TOURS


Useful links
SIGHTS

Tourist info: Turismoroma.it

Activities & tours: ContextTravel.com, Viator.com, SelectItaly.com, City-Discovery.com, Localguiding.com, Italy.artviva.com

Other useful sites: 060608.it, Vatican.va, Coopculture.it, Archeoroma.beniculturali.it, Museiincomuneroma.it, Comune.roma.it, Sovraintendenzaroma.it

LODGING
TRANSPORT

Public transport: Agenziamobilita.roma.it (all transit and driving/parking info); Atac.roma.it (bus & Metro/subway)

plane

Rome airports: Adr.it

Airport transfers: Trenitalia.com (express train: €14); Viator.com (private car: €14–€16.50); Terravision.eu (bus: €4), Cotralspa.it or Sitbusshuttle.com (bus: €5); Taxi: €45–€55

Airfares: Momondo.com, AutoEurope.comVayama.com, CheapOair.com, Cheapflights.comDoHop.com, CheapTickets.com, Priceline.com

train

Trains: Raileurope.com, Trenitalia.com, Seat61.com

automobile

Driving/parking: Sabait.it (Villa Borghese garage; €18/day), Atac.roma.it (outlying commuter parking lots; from €5 per day), Agenziamobilita.roma.it (more on the ZTL)

Car rentals:Autoeurope.com, Momondo.com, RentalCars.com, CheapOair.com, AutoSlash.com

ship

Cruise terminal: Port-of-rome.org (Civitavecchia)

Transport airport—cruise terminal: Viator.com (private car: 60–80 min, €29), Cotralspa.it (bus: 60–80 min, €4.30), Trenitalia.com (train, changing at a Rome station: 90–120 min. €11–€29),

Transport Rome hotels—cruise terminal: Viator.com (private car: 60–80 min, €29), Trenitalia.com (train: 60–80 min, €5–€15)

Shortcuts to popular planning sections:

Airfares, Cars, Trains, Tours, Packages, Cruises, Lodging, Itineraries, Info, Packing, Prep, Comm

Local info
National tourism authority: italia.it
Cultural patrimony: culturaitalia.it
Historic & cultural sites: beniculturali.it
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