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Vatican Grottoes (Grotte Vaticane) Tours

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Vatican Grottoes (Grotte Vaticane)
Popes have been interred in St. Peter’s Basilica for centuries, and while many papal tombs are inside the basilica, others are located underground in the Vatican Grottoes (Grotte Vaticane). Take the stairs down from the transept to view the final resting places of dozens of popes along with a number of royals.

The Basics
The Vatican Grottoes sit below the modern basilica but above the level of the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine’s original 4th-century basilica. The earliest pope buried in the grottoes is the 9th-century Pope Nicholas I; Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II are also interred there. In addition, the tombs of Queen Christina of Sweden, Emperor Otto II, and Queen Charlotte of Cyprus are located inside along with a number of ornately decorated chapels and a 14th-century fresco of the Madonna by Pietro Cavallini.

Due to the long lines to enter St. Peter’s Basilica and the grottoes, by far the best way to visit is to join a skip-the-line Vatican tour that includes the church and underground tombs. Most small-group tours combine the basilica with other Vatican City highlights like the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and Vatican Gardens.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Grottoes are sacred places and have a very strict dress code to enter, so be sure to wear clothing that covers shoulders and knees.
  • Entry to the basilica requires a security check in St. Peter’s Square; large bags, suitcases, pocketknives, scissors, corkscrews, umbrellas, and other prohibited items can be left in the free cloakroom. 
  • The Vatican Grottoes are not accessible to wheelchairs.

How to Get There
Entrance to the Vatican Grottoes is below the St. Andrew statue near the papal altar inside St. Peter’s Basilica, located on St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) in Vatican City. The closest metro station is Ottaviano.

When to Get There
You can visit the grottoes whenever the basilica is open. Note that the basilica closes each Wednesday morning during the weekly papal audience.

St. Peter’s Tomb
The tomb of St. Peter is not in the Vatican Grottoes, but one level below in the Scavi (archaeological dig), accessible only via a private tour that you must book months in advance through the Vatican’s Excavations Office.
Address: Piazza San Pietro, Citta del Vaticano, Vatican City, Italy
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7 Tours and Activities to Experience Vatican Grottoes (Grotte Vaticane)

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St. Peter's Basilica : Fast Entry Guided Tour with Vatican official guidesCultural Tours

St. Peter's Basilica : Fast Entry Guided Tour with Vatican official guides

star-4.5
To dig deep into the history and art of St Peter’s Basilica, explore the church on a walking tour with a Vatican guide. From St Peter’s Square, walk to the basilica, jumping past the entrance queue with your No Wait Access Ticket. Inside, listen to stories about the popes, pilgrims and Renaissance art masters who have left their marks on this iconic Catholic site, whose Michelangelo-designed dome dominates the Rome skyline.
...  More
  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
$32.50 
From  
$32.50 
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Peter's Tomb: Exclusive Visit of the Basilica & Its NecropolisCultural Tours

Peter's Tomb: Exclusive Visit of the Basilica & Its Necropolis

star-5
St. Peter’s Basilica may grab you with its grandeur, but much of its history lies in its hidden details. Head beneath the famous church and discover the Vatican necropolis, a Roman cemetery that’s said to house the relics of St. Peter the Apostle. Walk amid tombs that trace pagan Rome to the start of Christianity, then return to the basilica for a tour. Michelangelo’s ‘La Pietà’ and Bernini’s bronze baldachin are among the highlights.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
$71.01 
From  
$71.01 
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Ultimate VIP Early Entry Vatican Sistine Chapel & Afternoon Appian Catacomb TourDay Trips

Ultimate VIP Early Entry Vatican Sistine Chapel & Afternoon Appian Catacomb Tour

star-5
Beat the usual rush during this early-morning, art historian-guided tour to the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Enjoy a personalized travel experience in a small group capped at only 12 people as you get a first-hand peek at masterworks from Bernini and Michelangelo, plus the seldom-visited Vatican grottoes. Tours include audio headsets for unrestricted mobility.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
$167.30 
From  
$167.30 
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Best of Rome Sightseeing Pass: Vatican and Colosseum with Hosted EntrySightseeing Passes

Best of Rome Sightseeing Pass: Vatican and Colosseum with Hosted Entry

star-3.5
Check off the must-sees of Rome and Vatican City with this all-in-one pass that can be used over two days. Allowing you to visit the sights at your own pace, the prebooked sightseeing voucher includes skip-the-line access to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, and the papal tombs. Just make one booking, and then use your pass to visit the landmarks at your leisure.
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  • 3 days
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
$102.30 
From  
$102.30 
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  • 3 days
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Vatican City Saint Peter Basilica Private visit for your family and friendsCultural Tours

Vatican City Saint Peter Basilica Private visit for your family and friends

star-5
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the world’s great repositories of art and architecture and taking it in on your own can be overwhelming. With this private tour, visit with a guide to learn about this magnificent church’s history and treasures. Save time with priority access and admire the highlights inside at a more relaxed pace while you hear about the popes, saints, and artists who left their mark over the centuries.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
$300.89 
per group
From  
$300.89 
per group
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Early Express Sistine Chapel and Basilica semi-private tourCultural Tours

Early Express Sistine Chapel and Basilica semi-private tour

The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica are two of the UNESCO–listed Vatican’s top attractions, and the entry queues can be long. On this tour, visit them in the early morning calm, and avoid the queues that form later in the day. With headsets to hear your guide clearly, learn the secrets of the Vatican Galleries’ beautiful paintings, and marvel at Michelangelo’s world-famous artworks.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
$75.83 
From  
$75.83 
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Skip the Lines: Saint Peter Basilica & Treasury Museum in the Vatican CityAudio Guides

Skip the Lines: Saint Peter Basilica & Treasury Museum in the Vatican City

star-5
Skip the long lines and tour St. Peter’s Basilica and the Treasury Museum on your own. The experience includes an audio guide which explains the magnificent architecture and artworks inside, including the dome which was designed by Michelangelo. You can also tour the Vatican’s Treasury Museum, which holds artifacts, statues, ornaments, and other gifts from important papal visitors throughout history.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From  
$31.29 
From  
$31.29 
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures

Frequently Asked Questions

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What's the best way to experience Vatican Grottoes (Grotte Vaticane)?