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Vatican Museums/Sistine - Private Tour vs. Vatican Website?

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Apr 5th, 2011, 02:44 PM
  #1
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Vatican Museums/Sistine - Private Tour vs. Vatican Website?

I'm coming back to Italy after four years, but bringing somebody who's never been. We'd like (of course) to see the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. We'd also like to avoid the around-the-block-several-times line without having to get up at 4 a.m. and pitch a tent to do so. The last time I went, my traveling companion made the arrangements, and we avoided the queue by booking an official tour with the Vatican. I also seem to remember this process taking a while, and involving actual letter-writing back and forth.

Four years later, I checked out the Vatican's website, and it looks like things may have changed -- there is a specific page to join an official tour of the VM/SC, and they only will only book the tours a maximum of 60 days out. The guidebooks I have read, however (which are about a year or two old), all seem to indicate that such tours need to be booked a year in advance. Are the guidebooks wrong? Has the Vatican changed its policies recently? I'm not leaving until late July--should I simply wait until 60 days before my visit to Rome, then book the tour through the Vatican website? Or, is there some super-secret year-long waiting list that I don't know about, and I've already missed my window. Any thoughts on the matter would be much appreciated. Grazie!
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Apr 5th, 2011, 03:51 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Although I have never booked online (have bought my tickets at the regular window) things have indeed changed as you and the website outline. From what I understand it works as represented. You could also buy online the entrance ticket to go in without a guided tour.
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Apr 5th, 2011, 04:52 PM
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Your guide books are out of date as most guide books are the minute they are printed. The Vatican has been changing their booking policies each year (and times). You can choose to book a tour with on the Vatican website or tickets only and yes, both only book out about 60 days in advance. Both let you bypass the ticket lines (you still have a short security check). Any outside company claiming to book a tour a year in advance is just holding your money until they can book.

The Vatican offers several different tours, but the Vatican Garden's tour doesn't operate as often as the others.
http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/z-In...zi_Visite.html

If you want to bypass lines at the Colosseum, buy a Roma Pass.
http://www.romapass.it/p.aspx?l=en&tid=2
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Apr 6th, 2011, 10:47 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 278
And depending on the time of year, day of the week, and time of day - you can avoid the long lines at the Vatican Museums! I've been into the Vatican Museums 100+ times and have only used the "skip-line-feature" three or four times. It's all about timing! This article speaks to the choice of whether you should pre-purchase: http://tinyurl.com/prebook

That said, if it's your first time in the Vatican Museums I would recommend you use a tour/guide - or at least an audioguide - as the museums are massive. But if you want to go at it on your own, these 20 tips on visiting the Vatican, complete with maps and pictures, may help you - Good Luck!
http://tinyurl.com/vatican-tips
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