Admission to St Peter’s church in Rome is free but skip-the-line tickets and tours give fast-track security line entry to the top sight in the Vatican City.
Admission to St Peter’s Basilica is free and does not require a ticket but lines at security are often very long and slow-moving. Skip-the-line tickets and guided tours are available, at a price, to allow for faster admission. The cheapest fast-track entry option is usually to book a self-guided audio tour with dedicated entry time but combination tours often offer better value. Seeing St Peter’s basilica directly after a tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel is a very good timesaving option.
Skip-the-Line Tickets for St Peter’s Church in Rome
The cheapest way to get fast-lane access to the security lines at St Peter’s cathedral is to buy a skip-the-line audio tour ticket. These tours go under several names such as Reserve Entrance: Saint Peter Basilica Self-Guided Tour or St Peter’s Basilica: Self Guided Tour with Dedicated Entrance.
This option is basically just fast-track admission and a downloadable audio guide – no guide will accompany you. The price is around €20 for adults and €15 for children 7 to 17, free and no ticket needed for under 7-year-olds.
For this tour, tour members meet outside the security area – usually close to the Vatican post office – where the audio guide for the basilica may be downloaded to your own phone in one of 11 languages. In some cases, regular audio guides may be rented but check in advance if that is an issue.
From here, members get fast-tracked through the security checkpoint at a dedicated line that is usually in the shade rather than in the baking sun or all weathers. Waiting depends on how much various people cause delays at the checkpoint but should be minutes rather than hours, as happens on busy days with the regular lines.
This skip-the-line option is often still available even on the day and may allow for immediate entry, so it is well worth considering if the lines outside the church may mean a three-hour wait to enter. Smartphone tickets are accepted.
When booking, select a time slot: 8:45, 10:00, 13:00 or 15:00. It is not necessary to be at the meeting point at the exact time, any time before the next timeslot starts is fine. If you are early, or late, you will usually be waved through anyway – it is after all a self-guided tour.
Fast Entry to St Peter’s Basilica on Guided Tours
Fast-track security line entrance into St Peter’s basilica is also possible if the church is seen as part of a bigger tour. As these are accompanied guided tours, it is essential to be at the meeting point on time, as it is not possible to catch up with the tour later or to use the skip-the-line option without being part of the group.
Standard St Peter’s Basilica guided tours give direct security line entry and last around an hour. After any of these tours visitors are of course free to remain within the church and line up for other sights such as the dome and crypt.
The Peter’s Basilica & Mosaic School Visit tour uses a dedicated security entrance line and includes a guided tour of the cathedral as well as a visit to the Vatican School of Mosaics that is responsible for maintaining the extensive mosaics used especially on the walls of the church.
A further option, available only a few times per month, is a guided tour of the Basilica and a visit to the Necropolis that holds graves from the first century and presumable the remains of St Peter too.
A very popular tour is to climb the dome of St Peter for magnificent views of the Vatican City and Rome. These tours usually start early morning, as skip-the-line is not available at the dome or crypt.
The Vatican City Behind the Scenes Highlights Tour takes members to parts of the Vatican City not regularly open to visitors before entering St Peter’s through a skip-the-line entrance.
See St Peter’s Basilica after Vatican Museum Tours
A great option to skip the security lines at St Peter’s basilica is to see the church after a visit to the Vatican Museum. Many tours of the Vatican Museum use a direct entrance after the Sistine Chapel to enter St Peter’s. Many of these tours do not include a tour of the basilica itself and allow free exploration of the church once out of the museum itself.
Seeing St Peter’s directly after a tour of the Vatican Museum is a very good option for skipping the huge security lines at the basilica. The only downside is that it then not possible to explore the Vatican Museum further on your own after the end of the tour.
See Visiting the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel for skip-the-line options. The museum is usually crowded, the Sistine Chapel often unpleasantly so, making it very sensible to pay bit more to see the museum early morning or in the evening.
Combine St Peter’s Basilica with Other Rome Sights
It is also possible to combine skip-the-line access to St Peter’s church with admission to other sites in Rome, or with other city passes. Read the fine print – these deals are very good at explaining what is included so assume anything not specifically mentioned is excluded. Also, note where and when skip-the-line is included (or when it must be booked). In some cases, for example, skip-the-line at the Coliseum is only possible after 14:00 – even if not buying the specific ticket take it as sound free advice that the better time to see that sight is in the afternoons.
Some tour and combination including St Peter’s Basilica are for example:
- Hop-on Hop-Off Buses with St Peter’s Audio Guide and Dedicated Entrance
- All-Access Pass to many top sights in Rome – a good savings and skip-the-line option for travelers preferring not to use guided tours
- See St Peter’s as part of an Angels and Demons tour
- See St Peter’s as part of a full-day shore excursion from Civitavecchia Port
- As part of a full day Rome Tour – small groups or private tours may be more pleasant.
- In combination with the Borghese Gallery, Castel Sant’ Angelo, Coliseum or Forum.
As admission to St Peter’s basilica is free, the cheapest option is of course to visit without buying any tour or tickets. Traveling in the off-season is the easiest way to avoid the crowds, failing that, turn up early in the morning. Paying for skip-the-line tickets for St Peter’s basilica may be irksome but it beat standing in the queues for hours rather seeing the other top sights in Rome.
More Vatican City and Rome Tour Options at GetYourGuide: