St Peter's Basilica Dome

Visiting the St. Peter’s Basilica Dome in 2021

St. Peter's Basilica is amongst the most stunning and revered landmarks of art and religion in the world. While visiting this iconic structure, don’t miss out on a fascinating part: the St. Peter's Basilica Dome; it is known worldwide as the symbol of the Church of Rome and a beacon that invites pilgrims from around the world to the heart of Christianity. Outside of its religious significance, the St. Peter's Basilica Dome is an architectural marvel that offers breathtaking views of Vatican City. The magnificent dome is best explored with a guided tour that allows you to learn more about the dome, the church and its rich history.

Why Take a St. Peter’s Basilica Dome Tour?

The St. Peter's Basilica Dome was designed by artist extraordinaire, Michelangelo. It stands as one of the tallest buildings in Vatican City from where you can expect stunning panoramic views. Not only does the exterior of this towering dome look impressive, but the interiors are spellbindingly beautiful, adorned with vibrant mosaics and sumptuous stucco ornaments.

The dome’s beauty and history can be overwhelming if you don't know where to look and which section to visit first. For this, we recommend opting for a St. Peter's Basilica Dome guided tour is recommended, especially for visitors who want to do more than just view the architecture and return. Apart from the knowledge on offer, purchasing a St. Peter's Basilica Dome ticket is also a great idea since they typically offer early morning entry, when the crowd is at its lowest. 

It’s important to note that a standard St. Peter’s Basilica tour does not include access to the Dome; you will have to purchase tickets that specifically offer a tour of the dome.

What to Expect from Your St. Peter’s Basilica Dome Tour

Typically, your St. Peter's Basilica Dome tour will start early in the morning (around 8:00 AM) with a stroll around St. Peter's Square where you'll be introduced to the Swiss Guard. Next, you'll head straight to the basilica with your pre-booked St. Peter's Basilica Dome tickets. Depending on the type of tour you pick, you will either take the stairs directly to the dome (551 steps) or take the lift to the first floor and climb the rest on foot (320 steps). If you're taking the lift, you'll get to witness the breathtaking mosaics and stucco embellishments on the first floor. Before you begin climbing the steps, your guide will give you a brief overview of what to expect at the Dome and sights to look out for.

More than 300 steps later, you'll reach the top of the Dome and see the most awe-inspiring views over St. Peter's Square. At the top of Michelangelo's Cupola, your guide will point out places of interest that are visible below. Once you're back on the ground, you'll either get to explore the rest of St. Peter's Basilica or exit the church.

St. Peter’s Basilica Dome FAQ

Is access to St Peter's Basilica free?

Yes, you do not need a ticket to enter St. Peter's Basilica. However, without a ticket, you will have to wait in long lines to enter. By opting for a guided St. Peter’s Basilica tour, you get skip-the-line access, allowing you to bypass the waiting lines.

Do I need a ticket to access St. Peter’s Basilica Dome?

Yes. You would need to book a ticket to access the St. Peter’s Basilica Dome. 

How do I get to St. Peter's Basilica Dome?

You can take the 231 steps to get to the top, or take the elevator. To go higher onto the roof, you will have to climb an additional 320 steps. 

Is visiting the St Peter's Basilica dome worth it?

Yes, St. Peter's Basilica Dome is worth visiting for the views offered from the top and for the chance to view the art and architecture from a close-up point of view.

How do I enter St. Peter's Basilica?

You can take the main entrance at St. Peter's Square to enter the basilica. The entrance through the Sistine Chapel is closed to visitors.