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Confused about Vatican/Sistine Chapel Tours

Confused about Vatican/Sistine Chapel Tours

Old Jan 24th, 2008, 03:55 AM
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Confused about Vatican/Sistine Chapel Tours

Hello all!
I'm putting the finishing touches for our 10 day Italian tour in March! We'll be starting in Venice, going to Florence/Pisa, and then Rome. We are very excited (we=me, my husband, 7 yr old twin sons, and 3 yr old son). On another travel-thread someone thought I was nuts for taking small kids on such a long journey, but they have been traveling since 6 mths old, to many countries, with multi-city itineraries. This trip was developed by ALL of us.

One thing that hubby would like to see is the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and Vatican museums (I have already been). I am very confused on how entry works. I've read there are long lines. I've read there are tours...you can book separately through private companies. Does the Vatican have its own tours/guides? As the kids will be coming with us, what do the experienced travellers suggest is our best option??

thank you!
anitajd is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2008, 04:09 AM
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"The Vatican", to all touristic intents and purposes, is the Vatican Museums (including the Sistine Chapel) and St. Peter's Basilica.

The Vatican Museums do offer their own tour
but they are at times when the museums are likely to be crowded and not at all comfortable for a three-year-old caught between people's knees...

The Vatican Museums have extended their hours in 2008 and now open for individual visitors at 8:30 am. If you get there then in March (except during Easter), lines are not likely to be long. It's useless and expensive to book with any agency that only offers "early entry".

There are also security lines to enter St. Peter's Basilica, but they move quickly. Or, if you are willing to forego the Vatican Library, you can use the tour group exit from the Sistine Chapel and avoid the lines.
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 04:09 AM
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I've taken my daughters to Rome several times, starting when they were seven and four, and still haven't taken them to the Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel. In my opinion, it is just too crowded for young children to enjoy, especially the three year old. If you plan to have him in a stroller all he'll see is a bunch of legs. If you are going during the two weeks before and after Easter, the Vatican will be more crowded than usual. The only way I would bring young children to the Sistine Chapel is if I went on the after hours private tour. That tour is very (250 Euro each) expensive. If you've been to the Museums before, I would stay with the children and let your husband see it alone.
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 04:10 AM
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We traveled with Go Ahead Tours and we were able to cut to the front of the line and go right in. It was a very long line! I don't know if tour companies have priority or if our guide bribed someone but we saved a lot of time by skipping the line.
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 04:19 AM
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I took a tour with Icon tours last summer. We had to wait in the line to get through security, along with everyone else. It took ~45min to get through security. Once inside we were able to bypass the line for tickets, which probably saved us about 15min wait. The tour guide purchased tickets at the group window.

There were numerous tour groups that were seeking to bypass the line with aggressive tour guides. Individual visitors did not know whether this was legit or not, and so while they grumbled they did not put up a fuss. Our tour guide, along with others in front of us and behind instructed us to stay close together and 'block' other groups from cutting is, as there was apparently no right to bypass.

I don't know the right answer, but am just stating my observations.
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 05:48 AM
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Take the kids to the museum, they'll love it. My grandkids, ages 6 & 9, went on the Vatican sponsored tour. The 6 year old said the Sistine Chapel was her favorite thing on the entire Rome trip.

Click on my name and you'll find a link to the email address for the Vatican. Don't do the fax request, do the email about 3 months in advance of your trip. You'll get an answer back very quickly, like a day or so. The cost is 23 euros pp, including admission. You completely bypass the lines.
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 05:50 AM
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When we went to Rome with our toddler my husband went to the Vatican with his sister while I stayed in our rental with my napping son. If you have been before, as I had, you might think about skipping it this time. Rome is a great place for toddlers but we found that our son preferred feeding pigeons and throwing coins in fountains than anything else. Have fun!
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 06:32 PM
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Book directly with the Vatican. We went last March and the line began near piazza san pietro, easily 2 or 3 hours long. We faxed our tour request about a month prior and when we arrived at our hotel in Rome they had received the fax from the Vatican with our confirmation. It was not much more than the normal entrance fee and we walked directly to the front door and they checked our name off the list. Once inside we waited about 20 minutes for our entire group to assemble. My previous visit I did not take a tour and didn't realize how much I missed out on. Also, our guide was great and did a great job with kids in our group.
*We're going back this summer, we had not so great weather last March and tried to make the best of it but taking cover inside the Pantheon to avoid quarter sized hail wasn't our most pleasant experience.
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Old Jan 24th, 2008, 07:07 PM
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there are some private tour companies that have been given entry by the vatican and do not have to wait on the line to buy tickets, this is the long line. Other private tour companies have made arrangements with "authorized" tour companies who buy entry for them and thus bypass the line. The vatican tours are large groups that use headsets to hear the guides; it seems to me that in your situation a private guide will be best, as he/she can adjust the tour to hold everybody's interest as much as possible ( we have older children but teenagers pose their own problems and everybody was happy). We used vatican and beyond tours and were very pleased, but there are lots of private tour companies recommended on this site and my guess is that they're all comparable. have a great trip.
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Old Jan 31st, 2008, 11:21 AM
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I was in Italy during Christmas and It was one of the most amazing vacations i have been on. We started our trip with a weekend in Rome and we used Presto Tours as our tour operator. Our guide at the Vatican and the Colosseum was by far the smartest, most experienced and most knowledgeable guide we have ever had in our many trips to Europe. His Name was Michael-about 50 yrs old i would say. Our experience with Presto was superb and i really do recommend them. A bonus with Presto was that they are connected to the Vatican and we skipped the long line which had to have been at least 1 or 2 hours long. We walked right in and didn't have to wait at all.
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Old Feb 4th, 2008, 11:42 AM
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I was thinking of taking the Vatican tour mostly to save time and avoid the lines. I have read if you get the headset that you have to go back to the museum entrance to return it. Is this true? Must you use the headset? I know there is a shortcut to get to the Sistine Chapel and do not want to have to retrace my steps.
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