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Vatican Sightseeing-Tour with guide or on my own?

Vatican Sightseeing-Tour with guide or on my own?

Apr 14th, 2009, 05:55 AM
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Vatican Sightseeing-Tour with guide or on my own?

My wife and I will be taking our first trip to the Vatican in June and wanted to know if people prefer taking the Vatican Museum tour or going at it alone. I understand each person is a bit different, but wanted to hear opinions why or why not.
Are there other pluses to being in a group?
The tickets online for tours or non-tours both let you skip the lines (other than security). The price difference is just 12 euros so the bigger question is whether the tour is worth the time.

Thank for any and all help.

morrowd is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 10:23 AM
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Just came back from Rome and spent a full day at the Vatican seeing St. Peter's, the dome, and the Vatican Museum. We did St. Peter's and the dome on our own, but took a tour (Rome Walks) through the museum.

The guided tour (4 hours) was fabulous (great guide, excellent information, and you get emphasis on all of the "important/famous must-sees". However, a tour does not really give you the time to linger over the areas that might be of more interest to you. There were areas of the museum that we did not visit. On our next trip to Rome, we will tour the Vatican Museum again to see the areas missed on our first visit.

Rome Walks offers small group tours - there were only four individuals on our tour.
bab706 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 10:48 AM
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DH and I did the Vatican tour (through the Vatican) this past winter, and it really does depend on what you like to see. We prefer contemporary art, so the two-hour tour was fine for us. I don't think we would have gotten nearly as much from the experience without a tour of some sort.
artsbabe is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 10:50 AM
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If you don't take the tour, you can always rent their audio guide and do your own tour.
kybourbon is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 11:24 AM
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>>whether the tour is worth the time.<<

How little time do you hope to spend in the Vatican Museums?

If all you want to see is the Sistine Chapel, be aware that it is a long and time-consuming walk from the entrance.
Zerlina is offline  
Apr 15th, 2009, 07:43 AM
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Thank you for all the replies.
I didn't even think about the audioguides. We were at least thinking a couple hours in the museum side alone and yes, we definitely wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. I understand there is typically a line to get in there as well at the end of the museum. Do you bypass that line with a tour group or have to wait like everyone else.
We have all day at the Vatican but I still like to maximize our time while there. I'd rather spend a little extra money and avoid the line and spend that time sitting in a piazza later on somewhere. Thanks
morrowd is offline  
Apr 15th, 2009, 08:20 AM
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We just came back from Italy and spent a full day at the Vatican (Vatican Museum, St. Peter's, etc). We did all on our own and with help with Rick Steve's audio tours. They are free to download to your Ipod at http://www.ricksteves.com/news/trave..._downloads.htm

They were awesome and he has a map for each of his audio tours. Have a great time in Rome!
jgliu is offline  
Apr 15th, 2009, 08:23 AM
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Keep in mind that if you rent an audioguide you have to go all the way back to the entrance to return it. Otherwise you can exite the Sistine Chapel directly into St. Peters Basilica!
KarenE is offline  
Apr 16th, 2009, 06:02 AM
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I think the Rick Steves downloads may be the way to go and book advanced tickets on our own.

Couple last questions.
Once inside the Museums, are there lines to get into the Sistine Chapel? Are there large lines at other Vatican attractions? Can they be bypassed by being in a group tour vs. individual.

Thanks for the help.
morrowd is offline  
Apr 16th, 2009, 06:50 AM
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Hi morrowd,

The Sistine Chapel is part of the museum complex, at the very end. You simply walk into the chapel the same way you would into another museum gallery. There is a "forced march" through particular parts of the museums in order to get to the Sistine Chapel though. If you want to visit parts of the museums that aren't on the Sistine Chapel route, you should see them first.

I am not a tour group person, I did the Vatican Museums myself this past winter and really enjoyed them.

Other than the museums and Sistine Chapel, the other big thing to see at the Vatican is the inside of St Peter's. You can also tour the crypt underneath, with the popes' tombs. Do you know about the Scavi Tour? It's a special tour of the excavations underneath the crypt, of very early Christian tombs. You need to email the Scavi office and request a place on a tour, if there is room on a tour they send you the details.

The Scavi Tour ends up in the popes' crypt, which you can tour on your own, and then you can go up into St Peter's without having to wait in line.

If you do a search on here for Scavi Tour you'll find the info on how to make reservations. It costs 10 euro and the tour is fascinating. I highly recommend it.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Apr 16th, 2009, 06:56 AM
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I also meant to say it's definitely a good idea to book your Vatican Museum tickets ahead of time online (if you don't do a tour). When you get to the museum entrance, just push through the throngs of people and find a security guard. Show him your reservation print-out and he'll direct you inside.

There are no signs indicating where people with advanced reservations should go, and because of that when I went I was unsure and stupidly ended up standing in line even though I had already booked my ticket. Don't do that- just push through towards the doors and talk to a guard.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Apr 16th, 2009, 07:19 AM
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Thank you Apres_Londee. I was booking ahead of schedule either way, just wanted to decide whether to take the tour or not. I did also email a couple weeks ago for the Scavi Tour and have not heard anything yet. I gave them the three full days I'd be in Rome hoping they'd have room one of the days. I'm thinking their responses could be delayed in part to the earthquake making sure things are sound before they book anymore people. Thanks again for the help.
morrowd is offline  
Apr 25th, 2009, 07:21 AM
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Dear Morrowd,

Like you I requested a Scavi tour a few weeks ago. After the initial email that they had received my request there was no other response. Another poster advised me to send a second email referencing the first and that this worked for them and got responded to promptly. They got on the tour- Uunfortunately even though we got a response the tour was full. Also, check your bulk mail as that is where mine went to. Good Luck, I am told it is an awesome tour.

beachbarbie is offline  
Apr 25th, 2009, 07:41 AM
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hi morrowd,

so far as I know, it's impossible to bypass the queues to get into the Sistine chapel unless you go on an "after hours" private tour which losts an arm and a leg.

this is what happens:

once you are in and have gone through security and got past the fashion police [no bare shoulders or knees as the Vatican, though a museum, is still a church] you can rent audio guides, buy books etc. as another poster said, if you use the vatican audio guide you have to return it to where you rented it, which means not only that you can't use the "groups only" exit at the back of the Sistine chapel, but you have to walk all the way back to where you started AND all the way back round the wall of the Vatican to get back to St. Peter's AND go through security to get into St. Peter's if that's what you want to do.

you then have a choice of whether to start exploring e hmuseum proper or seeing the Pinoteca [art gallery]. if you think that you'll be going straight into st. Peter's from the sistine chapel, it makes sense to see that now, because you won't be coming back this way.

thereafter you can start to work your way around the museum proper. if it's like when we went, you will see signs to the sistine chapel, which are very misleading, as they point the way round ALL the museum - there are really no short-cuts. occasionally there are optional extras - the sculpture gallery, the room with the bits of genitalia that got lopped off, the gold jewelry, the egyptian mummies, but generally, everyone follows the same route, whether they have a guide or not. by the time you get to the map room, you will need a sit down!

there is a restaurant and a cafe, and a pizzeria - all pretty good.

once into the Sistine chapel, normally you can exit by the little door at the back [on your right with your back to the room] which takes you down some steps, then down a stone staircase, and the entrance to st. Peter's is on your right - you have bypassed the queue and the security for the Basilica. hooray.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jul 7th, 2009, 11:11 PM
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I found this older topic which was very useful since I'm debating whether to go on my own or to do a guided tour. I have a follow-up question.

If I do book the official Vatican guided tour of the Museum and Sistine Chapel, would I be able to go back after the tour and revisit some of the places we rushed through in the Museum?

It seems from the description that once you are in the Sistine Chapel, it's impossible to go back.

blakejared is offline  
Jul 8th, 2009, 06:19 AM
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Yes, you can stay in the museum after the tour. Tours usually end at the entrance to the Sistine Chapel after somewhat of a set path through the museum to get there. Some guides collect headsets to turn in at that point. Many guides have their groups exit through the back of the chapel which takes you to St. Peter's and is supposed to be a tour group only exit. You do not have to exit there. There is another exit to a courtyard and you can continue touring the museums on your own. There are also lots of people not on tours that have rented audio guides that they must return to the entrance after the Sistine Chapel so they are not exiting either. Just don't go out the group exit to St. Peter's because you won't be able to reenter.

If you need a break, there is a big cafeteria in the museum and the food is actually ok.
kybourbon is offline  
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