For a more in-depth Vatican experience than most people enjoy, tour the less-visited Vatican Gardens in addition to the art treasures of the Vatican Museums. You’ll start at the tranquil, uncrowded gardens of Vatican City to admire sights like Our Lady of Lourdes grotto. Then walk over to the Vatican Museums for a tour of its Renaissance masterpieces in rooms like the Gallery of Maps and, of course, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. This small-group tour is limited to 16 people to provide a more personalized experience.
Tour the Vatican Gardens and Vatican Museums on a walking tour
Explore the Vatican Gardens' serene sights like Our Lady of Lourdes grotto
Hear stories of the gardens’ history from an expert guide
Visit the Gallery of Tapestries, Gallery of Maps and Sistine Chapel
Gaze at Renaissance masterpieces like Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment
Walk around St Peter’s Basilica and learn about La Pietà, a famous Michelangelo sculpture
Why Travelers Choose This Tour
With this tour, visit the Vatican museums and gardens—a super rare combo.
After meeting your knowledgeable guide in Vatican City, enter the Vatican Gardens for a walking tour of this serene green space, which popes have used as a peaceful spot for prayer since the Middle Ages.
Stroll around some of its 57 acres (23 hectares) of paths, fountains, grottoes and flowers while you learn about the history of the gardens, which started as a fruit orchard in the 13th century and evolved into the lavish respite it is today by subsequent popes. During your walk, you’ll stop to check out features like Our Lady of Lourdes grotto, a favorite prayer spot of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
Then head over to the Vatican Museums for a tour of its world-renowned art collection. See the spiral Bramante Staircase, which has adorned many a Vatican photograph, and visit rooms such as the Gallery of Tapestries and the Gallery of Maps, where you can admire a fresco of 16th-century Italy. Learn about famed Renaissance artists like Raphael and Michelangelo, whose iconic ceiling frescoes The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment you’ll see in the Sistine Chapel, the pope’s private worship space.
Finally, visit St Peter’s Basilica, whose Michelangelo-designed dome towers over the city. Take a look at the artist’s La Pietà sculpture and visit a memorial to Pope John Paul before your tour ends in St Peter’s Square.
The Vatican Gardens date back to the Middle Ages, when orchards and vineyards extended north of the Papal Apostolic Palace.
At the beginning of the 16th century, Donato Bramante divided into three new courtyards: the Cortile del Belvedere, the Library and the Cortile della Pigna following the Renaissance landscape design style. In the Renaissance style a rectangular labyrinth was also created, made with shrubs and small evergreen trees, framed by pines and cedars of Lebanon. Today's Vatican Gardens have numerous fountains, sculptures and artificial caves, generally dedicated to the Virgin Mary and other saints.
The Vatican Museums are located in Viale Vaticano in Rome, within the Vatican City State. Founded by Pope Julius II in the 16th century , they occupy a large part of the vast Belvedere courtyard and are one of the largest art collections in the world, as they exhibit the enormous collection of works of art accumulated over the centuries by Papi: the Sistine Chapel and the papal apartments frescoed by Michelangelo and Raphael are part of the works that visitors can admire in their journey.
The Sistine Chapel is one of the most important treasures of the Vatican, of Rome and of the whole world. It is renowned both for its frescoes and for the fact that the Popes are elected here.
The construction of the building took place between 1473 and 1481. What most attracts attention in the Sistine Chapel is not, however, its architecture, but the frescoes that completely decorate its walls and ceiling. Renowned artists such as Botticelli, Perugino and Michelangelo contributed to the wide decoration of the Chapel.
The grandeur of the seventeenth-century façade of Carlo Maderno makes the idea of the gigantic dimensions of St. Peter's Basilica, still today one of the largest churches in the world. The dome designed by Michelangelo surprises in its size and harmony, characteristics that are appreciated in the challenging but rewarding climb that allows you to admire both the inside and the outside. Among the many masterpieces, not to be missed is the Pietà by Michelangelo, the work that has been surprising for centuries in terms of technique and emotion.
This was an excellent option to skip the lines and see much of the Vatican City. The gardens (which we hadn’t initially considered) were a highlight, and a great way to start the tour. The Vatican was EXTREMELY busy the day we went (Monday), which is apparently because a lot of other museums in Rome are closed on Mondays. Only issue was that they only run this tour on Monday and Friday at the moment
This tour was great. A bit difficult to find the meeting point, but no other issues. The addition of the gardens part was awesome and definitely worth it. Would have liked to spend a bit more time in the museum, but overall very satisfied. Group was not too big and the tour guide was knowledgable and kind/fun. Would recommend.
The tour started about an hour late. The guide was arguing with another guide at the ticket stand for a good half hour and then she was more interested in talking to other guides than she was interested in starting the tour. To make matters worse, the guide was hard to understand as her English was not very good. Obviously, with the late start, the tour was then very rushed. Are guide also kept wanting to take breaks so she could text somebody on her phone. Meanwhile, nobody on the tour needed a break.
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Erik was an outstanding tour guide! Very knowledgeable and easy to understand!!! Highly recommend him! Very difficult to find the meeting location and the blue line tours folks were not helpful in helping us locate the exact position for the meeting point. Almost missed the tour!
We very much enjoyed seeing the Vatican gardens. Honestly, it was the highlight of the tour because you weren’t swarmed with other tourists. Seeing the museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica were beautiful of course but it was very crowded which made the experience less enjoyable. Be prepared for a lot of walking and being on your feet for 4+ hours. We were very tired afterwards. But of course, you can’t go to Rome without seeing the opulence of the Vatican. No matter what tour you choose, definitely have a guide and a ticket in advance because the lines to get in without one would not have been worth the wait and feeling like cattle.
The places that we saw were amazing, but the guide is what really makes the tour enjoyable. Unfortunately our guide was 80+ years old, who needed to constantly rest. Her english was not good, and very hard to understand the little that she explained. Our other tours had more vibrant and exciting guides, which made the tour exciting. Also, we were told that going into the Vatican food, drink, and backpacks are not allowed. This is not true, everyone had food, water, etc.but us, causing us to be very thirsty for the 4 hour tour.
The tour through gardens was interesting, but our guide stopped at only a few spots and stayed for a long time talking while briskly walking through parts and didn’t even allow a moment to take in sites or take pictures. There was virtually no overview or background or “must see” discussion as we were literally herded through the Sistine Chapel and museum rooms. Guide spent almost no time with group in St. Peter’s. We talked to others we met in Italy that toured the Vatican and their experience and clearly our guide was not good.
This tour was amazing! We enjoyed starting in the gardens, especially getting away from the crowds. Our guide was wonderful. She was very knowledgeable and tireless in getting us through the crowds. Several times, she got the guards to open up special access for us, including the Bramante staircase which leads up to a marvelous view of Rome. The crowds started to build up as we moved toward the incredibly beautiful Map Room. Way too crowded... The paths leading to the Sistine Chapel were extremely crowded. The Chapel was surreal. We were able to admire it in several spots over the course of 10 to 15 minutes. Then we went to St. Peter’s Basilica and were able to see the Pieta and other works of art. We said goodbye to our guide and walked downstairs to the tombs of some of the popes. This tour is worth 5 stars however, many of us were very disappointed by the lack of detail in the instructions for meeting the tour. If you are still reading this review, I’ll try to simplify it: 100 Viale Vaticano is the number on a coffee shop across the street from the Museo Vaticano, there are steps next door to the coffee shop. Look for a person in a pink jacket that says, I “heart” Rome. As a group, they will take you across the street and through security, get you antenna sets, and place you with your guide. It’s rather unorganized, but it works.