Plan Your Visit


Taking A Guided Tour of St. Peter’s Basilica

A guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica will take you through all the major highlights of the church, including access to paid parts like the St. Peter’s cupola and St. Peter’s Treasury. Guided tours also have the added advantage of giving you priority access to the Basilica, allowing you to skip the average 1 hour long entrance line and head straight inside the church.

Holders with online skip the line tickets / guided tour tickets have access to a special security line, which can save time when the general admission line stands snaking around St. Peter’s Square.

Best time to visit St. Peter’s Basilica

The best time to visit St. Peter’s Basilica is either early in the morning, before 09:00 AM or in the afternoon, after 4:00 PM. Mornings are slow as the guided tours mostly start early afternoon. About an hour before the closing time, you will most likely never see a waiting line, even in high season.

Times to Avoid visiting St. Peter’s Basilica

Papal Appearances

On Wednesdays, with the exception of late July and August, the Pope holds an audience at St Peter's Square, right outside the Basilica. If you don’t have your heart set on seeing the Pope, we recommend avoiding St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Mass

Mass is typically held at least a few days per month, and St. Peter’s Basilica becomes highly crowded on these dates. If you’re not interested in attending the Mass, you may want to avoid visiting the Basilica on these days. You can check the mass timings on the official website.

Holy Days

On days of biblical importance, mass and other special events are held, hence pulling massive crowds. Needless to say, you probably shouldn’t attempt to see St. Peter’s Basilica on Christmas day as it sees the maximum audience.

Sundays

On Sundays the Vatican Museums are closed, but the Basilica is open. Many tourists arrive over the weekend without knowing that the museums are closed , and head to the Basilica. This leads to massive crowds, so schedule your visit for a weekday as much as possible.

Dress Code at St. Peter’s Basilica

A very strict dress code policy is exercised at the St. Peter’s Basilica. Visitors who are not dressed in the appropriate attire will be denied entry into the basilica. You don’t want to reach the front of the queue only to not be allowed in. Refrain from wearing shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless shirts when you're visiting Saint Peter's and/or bring a shawl or other cover-up. Those rules go for all visitors, male and female.

St. Peter’s Basilica Opening Hours

April – September
  • St Peter’s Basilica: 7:00 AM - 7:00pm
  • The Cupola (Dome): 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • The Vatican Grottoes 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM
October – March
  • St Peter’s Basilica: 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • The Cupola (Dome): 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • The Vatican Grottoes 7:00 AM -5:00 PM
Mass Timings
  • Mass takes place Monday through Saturday at 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 or 17:00. Mass is held within one of the chapels inside St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • On Sundays, Mass is held at 9:00, 10:30, 11:30, 12:10, 13:00, 16:00 and 17:30.
Getting to St. Peter’s Basilica
By Metro

The closest station to the St. Peter’s Basilica is the Ottaviano-S. Pietro station. Line A of the Rome Metro stops at this station every few minutes. Both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are a 5-minute walk from this metro station.

By Train

The Vatican also has a train station, St Pietro. Commuter style trains stop here as well. However, both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica are a 10-minute walk from this train station. This train stop is perfect for those coming from Civitavecchia, the cruise port for Rome.

By Bus

Buses 40 and 64 frequently stop at the Vatican. Buses 62 and 81 also stop at the Vatican, albeit a little less frequently.

Attending The Papal Masses

If you’re interested in attending a Papal Mass, you can purchase tickets for the mass for free. However, the schedule for Papal Masses varies every month, hence we recommend looking up the schedule and purchasing tickets well ahead of time. While Papal Masses are held on regular days, there are Holiday Masses for which tickets are harder to secure. It’s best to purchase tickets at least 6 months in advance for these special holiday masses.

Wednesday Papal Audience

A Papal Audience is held every Wednesday, giving visitors a chance to attend an address by the Pope. You can purchase your tickets for free by filling out a form and making a request. This form will need to be faxed back in order to receive tickets. The Wednesday Papal Audiences starts at 10:00 AM and lasts for between 60-90 minutes on average. It is recommended to arrive at least 2 hours early in order to get a good seat.

Traveler Tip : For 34 Euros you can purchase the Papal Audience instant tickets online includes a live tour guide on the morning of the event , headphones (to hear the pope clearly) and a reserved good spot.

Sunday Angelus

Unlike the Wednesday Papal Audience, you do not need a ticket for the Sunday Angelus. At noon on Sundays, the Pope will appear from the window of an apartment at St. Peter’s Square. During this short 20-minute experience, he will provide a short speech followed by the Angelus and an Apostolic Blessing.

Security at St. Peter’s Basilica

There is an airport-style security check at the northwest section of the colonnaded area of St. Peter’s Square. Here’s a list of prohibited items inside St. Peter’s Basilica :

  • Umbrellas
  • Sticks
  • Stands
  • Tripods
  • Video Cameras
  • Luggage
  • Suitcases
  • Large Bags
  • Knives
  • Scissors
  • Metal Tools
Security at St. Peter’s Basilica

There is an airport-style security check at the northwest section of the colonnaded area of St. Peter’s Square. Here’s a list of prohibited items inside St. Peter’s Basilica :

  • Umbrellas
  • Sticks
  • Stands
  • Tripods
  • Video Cameras
  • Luggage
  • Suitcases
  • Large Bags
  • Knives
  • Scissors
  • Metal Tools
Visitor Tips & Hacks
  • Entry to the Basilica is free. However, purchasing Skip the Line tickets is highly recommended as the queues outside the Basilica can take anything from 1 to 2 hours.
  • Climbing to the top of the Dome incurs an extra cost - Lift to the terrace plus 320 steps will cost you 8€ and climbing 551 steps by foot will cost you 6€. If you’re purchasing tickets on the spot, know that only cash will be accepted. Card payments are not allowed.
  • Be very careful with your belongings. There are lots of pickpockets around Vatican City, preying on distracted tourists. Bus number 64 has seen a lot of pickpocket cases as it is mainly used by tourists.
  • If you’re interested in taking an audio guided tour of St. Peter’s basilica, you can find the rental desk to the right of the door, as soon as you enter. It is available in 11 odd languages and cost a nominal amount.
  • If you have a fear of heights, are claustrophobic or have a heart condition skip climbing to the top of the cupola.
  • As mentioned earlier, make sure you are wearing appropriate clothing. You don’t want to reach the front of the queue only to not be allowed in. If it is too hot you could always take a scarf with you to drape over your shoulders.
  • The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are a ten-minute walk from St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • Contrary to popular notion, the queue for St Peter’s Basilica does not grant access to the Sistine Chapel. Entry to the Sistine Chapel is only through the Vatican Museums. Free entry is granted to the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel on the last Sunday of each month and on world tourism day (September 27th).
  • There is a free left luggage area at the foot of the steps to the basilica.
  • Know that flash photography and laser pointers are not allowed inside the Basilica.
  • Food and drinks are not allowed either.
  • Mobile phones are required to be on silent at all points inside the Basilica.