In the morning, meet your guide and enter the Vatican Museums through a reserved entrance, ensuring you’ll skip all the lines, even the priority ones that are also often long. Once inside, begin your walking tour of this hallowed complex of art galleries and rooms, including the Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture wing, Raphael’s Rooms, the Gallery of Maps, and the Gallery of Tapestries. Then arrive at the Sistine Chapel to admire Michelangelo’s famous ceiling fresco, The Creation of Adam.
Next, follow your guide to St Peter’s Basilica, where you’ll also skip the main entrance line. As you walk around the world’s largest Catholic church, admire more art masterpieces like Michelangelo’s La Pietà sculpture and Bernini’s large Baldachin altar canopy. The first half of your tour ends here, where you have free time to continue exploring on your own or enjoy a rest before rejoining the group for the afternoon portion.
In the afternoon, you’ll travel by coach to three basilicas in Rome that sit outside the walls of Vatican City but are official papal basilicas. Start at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, known for its sculptural decoration and 5th-century mosaics. Bernini’s tomb also lies here.
Next, walk up the Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta), a set of 28 marble steps that once led to the Palace of Pontius Pilate and were climbed by Jesus Christ, according to Catholic tradition. Then enjoy your visit to the Lateran Palace and Basilica of St John Lateran, the official Cathedral of Rome and the seat of the Bishop of Rome.
Finally, arrive at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed church that’s home to the tomb of St Paul, more ancient mosaics, colorful frescoes, and the tabernacle by Arnolfo di Cambio.