We arrived in Rome on the Friday and were booked on our tour on Saturday so having never been to Rome before we decided to have a walk to see where we had to meet our group in the morning so we weren't in a panic (we were booked on the 9am tour), we were glad we did because the meeting point is round the back at the entrance to the museums and not the entrance to the Vatican City at the front, this was well explained on the confirmation but we didn't realise how far away the 'back' actually was! We arrived at about 8:15 to have a coffee before we went in at the Cafe Vaticana, it was very expensive 14e for a tea and a coffee!
We headed down the steps in plenty of time to book in and were assigned to Manwella (sorry if that's spelt incorrectly), we went in through the museums, through to the Sistine Chapel and ending up at St. Peter's.
Manwella was an excellent guide, ensuring the group stayed together, checking our ear pieces were working correctly and finding the best spots for us to stand where we could see and hear her perfectly. You could tell that Manwella wasn't just reading from a script and it felt like she was very passionate about the sculptures and fesco's within the Vatican, having a guide made our visit to the Vatican City 100% better, as before we would have enjoyed seeing the Sistine chapel, actually understanding the paintings and looking at the small details Manwella pointed out to us gave it a whole new dimension.
If you're going to go the the Vatican City, go on a tour and we highly recommend Viator, skip the queue and get a great insight into what you are going to see, couldn't imagine doing it any other way.
This tour was definitely worth the cost and then some. I was somewhat skeptical of both getting up that early and the price per person, but my wife convinced me to do it. It was quick and easy to cab to the entrance for the early arrival. We had Rachel -- who was by far the best of all the tour guides we had on our 17-day trip through Italy. She was superb and even recommended other places we might visit on our final day in Rome the next day.
The breakfast was great -- "American" style which is a nice break from eating croissants every day. It is hard to explain how cool it is to be alone inside the Vatican city walls with no one but employees. We were essentially the only 15 people in the Vatican museum for our entire time there. Rachel did a wonderful job of pointing out interesting things in a huge museum that would otherwise be unbelievably overwhelming. Although there were other people present during our time in the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's, they do a great job of getting you all the info you need before hand and showing you the stuff.
Wonderful tour and we would definitely do it again.
We absolutely loved the tour, our tour guide was Dario he was fantastic I could not have asked for a better guide. Dario spoke perfect english, was very attentive and courteous to the group, amazed by his knowledgeable about the Vatican, Sistine, Basilica, Art, Statues and History. Dario brought books for props to show the group specific items in paintings to look for when we got into the Sistine Chapel. It was perfect and nice to know what you were seeing. After the tour Dario gave information visiting the tombs, walking the 537 stairs to the top of the Cupola and other sites to not to miss in Rome. What we were lucky enough to see was overwhelming and amazing, Dario brought everything into perspective and made our day perfect.
We took the Colosseum tour on Saturday and asked for Dario he was not working that tour that day, wish he was.
The Vatican is a must when visiting Rome, and I really can't recommend this 'skip the line' tour enough. We did a few of this company's tours, and they were by far the best organised tour company we dealt with, this tour being no exception. Our guide, Elizabetha, was excellent, friendly, funny and extremely knowledgeable and informative. The tour itself was kind of an 'edited highlights' tour, as you could literally spend days in the museums and barely scratch the surface! Elizabetha was very thoughtful for our comfort - she isn't allowed to speak in the Sistine Chapel, so usually explains the paintings in the courtyard, but gave us the option to stay inside as it was so hot. We braved the sun, however, and she used some illustrative boards to explain to us what we would be seeing once we got inside the Chapel.
While the Sistine Chapel was, unsurprisingly, amazing, as was the rest of the tour, the highlight for me was St. Peter's Basilica, which is where the tour ends. We were allowed to spend as much time there as we wanted (something you can't do in the Sistine Chapel due to the sheer numbers of people wishing to visit), and it literally took my breath away. I don't think I've ever been so moved by a place in my life!
We were speaking to some tourists earlier in the day who said they hadn't bothered with the Sistine Chapel as the line was so long. We didn't have to wait at all to get in, which is the beauty of the skip the line tour. I would have been gutted if I hadn't been able to see it, so I really recommend this tour if only for that reason!
Much better than I thought it was going to be! This is definitely a must see if you're in Rome for a couple days. Plan for 4-5 hours including this 3 hour walking tour. I just thought it a big church, it turns out to be a MASSIVE church.
Things to keep in Mind:
Cover up: The basilica has a dress code so make sure you follow it. If you don't you can't go into the Sistine Chapel or the Basilica. You need to cover your shoulders and you need need shorts or a dress that covers you're knees.
HIKE TO THE TOP OF THE DOME: This is a MUST if you have the energy. It's 5 euro to walk the 500+ steps to the top. 7 euro to take an elevator half way and walk the rest. Amazing views of Rome - highest point in Rome so you can see the entire city on a nice day.
READ THE FINE PRINT: I booked it not realizing that we also had to purchase tickets into the Vatican. 23 euro per person so the whole experience ended up costing about $175. I'm cheap so if I would have known before hand, I probably wouldn't have done it. I'm so glad I didn't though since the whole experience was amazing!
The tour was a full 3 hours. Enjoy!
Meeting the tour guide and group was easy and the tour guide was so pleasant and knowledgeable. She was full of information before we went into the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. Having the information up front let us anticipate and appreciate the history that much more. She was the best guide we had while in Rome and she even helped us get to our hotel after the tour. She refused to leave us until we made arrangements to get to the hotel. It was our first day in Rome after a plane trip without sleep and we were very tired. She deserves a raise, but she wouldn't take any money from us!
We are SO pleased we booked this tour. Our group of 14 people was the first in through the doors of the Vatican and we walked straight to the Sistine Chapel. Our guide told us what we were looking at on the way but we did not stop. We were the only ones in the chapel for about fifteen minutes. It was an amazing feeling and an awesome sight of course. After about 30 mins our guide left us and we wandered around for a couple of hours. When we went back through the chapel again to get to the church the chapel was completely full of people and it was not nearly as special. We needed to be back at our hotel at midday to meet our guide to go on a cruise departing from Rome so only had the morning for this tour. Even though we have done so much since that day we still remark how special it was to be the only ones in the chapel. So amazing. An absolute must when in Rome.
Skip the line is definitely recommended as when we visited (Saturday) the Vatican was very busy. The organisation of the tour was good and the guide informative but don't forget that you have to pay a separate entrance fee for the museums (23 euro) and a further fee (5 euro) to take the 550 steps to the top of St Peter's. The views from the top, however, are worth the climb - just !!!
The Sistine Chapel was impressive but, in fairness, there are equally good if not better works of art within Rome itself and my advice would be to plan sufficient time in your stay to seek these out. Top tips (apart from the usual sites) would be Santa Maria Maggiore and Basilica San Clemente.
Would certainly use Viator again when next visiting Rome.
Buying the Omnia Roma pass was well worth it. The service is brilliant and makes everything so easy. When we went to the office to pick up our passes, booked on line before we went, we were given a thorough explanation of how to use them , how to book the things we wanted to see, where to get on the hop on hop off bus etc. The Omnia pass gets you into all the Vatican sites- St Peter's, the Vatican Museum- for the Sistine Chapel, St John's basilica etc- all inclusive of the price- and best of all jumping all the queues! The busses are great- good commentary , taking you all round the city as many times as you want. The Omnia pass also includes entry into 2 other sites- your choice out of 40- again queue jumping, and discounts on all the others. Being able to jump the queues makes buying the Omnia / Roma passes worth it alone- it's an added bonus that it includes the entry prices!! We used the Roma pass to go on the underground and train to the coast, and to get around Rome- again very easy to do. We preferred to do our own thing going to the sites when we wanted to and staying as long/ short as we felt like rather than going on organised tours such as a 3 hour walking tour with a guide- and the Omnia/Roma passes were brilliant for this- you don't need to book in advance for any of the sites- you can just turn up at the office just outside St Peter's Square to get into the Vatican sites- you are given a list of visit times each day- just before the start time and you are then taken in, and off you go; for the other sites you just turn up and go through the Roma pass entrance- again bypassing all the queues. All of the sites are incredible. For places to eat- walk away from the main sites a couple of streets or so to find better and cheaper restaurants than those right next to the sites. Highly recommended- great value for money.
This tour was amazing and so was the guide. At first I wasn't sure. They didn't have my family listed on the list for that day, but they called and got it fixed. I guess it was because my family bought the tickets so long in advance. Also it had rained with thunder/lightning early in the morning and was afraid that they were not going to do the tour of the gardens. The garden tour I think was the best part. She went the backward way of the other tours so we didn't have to deal with a lot of people. It was so beautiful then and not everything was in full bloom yet. Guide led us to a spot in the Vatican with an amazing view of Rome, then she helped us skip the lines to the museums and the Sistine Chapel. I think we spend too long in the Sistine Chapel, but just enough time in the museums. I can't remember our guide's name, but she explained everything perfectly (not too much information, but enough to understand the history). She left no time for shopping, but I wouldn't want to carry anything around during the tour.
Doing what: Vatican Gardens and Vatican Museums Tour
AWESOME TOUR! We made a last minute decision to go to Rome from Florence! We wanted to visit Vatican City but we knew we didn't have a lot of time! We booked this tour the day before we arrived, took a taxi from the train station to The Vatican City location we were directed to and when we got to the area, the line up was miles long!!! YIKES! We went to the location on our voucher, met our tour guide (very fluent in English) and we literally walked right in!!! Our tour guide was amazing, she had tapestries with pictures of some of the incredible art we were about to see and she explained all the stories about them...it totally made us realize what we were about to see ( in the Sistine Chapel, no talking, no photographs allowed) if we didn't hear her stories, we would have missed out on the AWESOMENESS of what we envisioned! ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL, HEART WARMING AND VERY SPIRITUAL! This tour is worth every dollar, and when the tour is over, you can still stay in Vatican City at your leisure! THANKS VIATOR FOR MAKING OUR EUROPEAN VACATION AMAZING!!!!!
If I could give 6 stars to this tour I would. Understanding that the Vatican is one of the most traveled sites in the would, there are thousands of people around each day. With Sarah N. our guide she made us feel like we were the only ones there. With her experience she was able to navigate us through the large crowds with out any effect. There was a Papel event that the Pope was having this day making things a bit more crowded. Sarah was able to overcome the challenge. Her knowledge and experience in her field (a PHD) of Roman history gave us all the details of the time. She answered questions as well as allowed us to move about on our own through the museum keep us up with the crowd in a timely manor. If you don't get a tear in your tear in your eye in the Sistine Chapel regardless of your faith you have no heart. Amazing experience and a must see tour in Rome with Sarah N.
We had a wonderful tour of the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Our guide Simon was very knowledgable and had a good sense of humor. The crowds were large on the day we attended and it was definitely worth the extra money to skip the lines. The artwork was amazing through out the museum. The Sistine chapel was breath taking. It was appropriate just to stand in silence looking at the masterpiece all around. St. Peter's Basilica is overwhelming with the grand design and size. The Pieta with Mary and Jesus is a masterpiece worth the visit as well. I would highly recommend the Dark Rome tour company as a guide for this tour through Viator.
Five of us went on the Early Access tour. This is much better than all the Skip the line tours. I live in Rome and know. You have a full hour with just a few people to visit the Sistine Chapel and then as much time as you wish to visit the rest of the Vatican Museum. We did not realize that the guide could not explain things once in the Sistine Chapel. So it is recommended to listen closely and study her pictures before you get in the Sistine Chapel. Italians normally speak fast and in English they also speak fast making it difficult to understand if you are not used to this. Ask the guide to speak slower if you don't catch everything they say. Our guide was very good and easy to understand, at least for me, but interrupt the guide if you didn't get it. They are not offended. We were 17 in our group. Some of the Skip the line groups were immense and you pay a lot more. Early Access really means skip the line. The skip the line groups had to line up in a long line of skip the line groups. Now with Pope Francis drawing larger than normal crowds to Rome the best day to visit the Sistine Chapel and the Museum is Wednesday. That is the day of the audience and many people will want to be at the audience. If you want to be at the audience, which should be a priority if you are on a short visit to Rome, than Early Access should be your only choice for a visit to the Sistine Chapel. Enjoy the Eternal City
My sister and I just returned from Rome. Now we aren't really into art but wanted to get a snapshot overview of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St Peter's. Our tour guide was Christian, and he made the tour well worth the crowds. It was really crowded the day we went! He appeared to be really passionate about the subject matter and was able to inject humor into the tour. We felt like we got a history/art/political and religious lesson rolled into one. The tour lasts about three and a half hours so don't expect to see everything. This was our third Dark Rome tour and it lived up to the high standard set by the other tours with the company.
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