How to visit the Sistine Chapel: all you need to know

by marta

A practical guide detailing how to visit the Sistine Chapel in 2023: passes, best tickets, dress code and practical tips for seeing Michelangelo’s masterpiece in Vatican City.

The Sistine Chapel is one of the most visited attractions in Vatican City and Rome in general.

A masterpiece by Michelangelo and a space of great religious significance for Catholics, the Sistine Chapel is a must see for art lovers and pilgrims.

It is also popular with curious visitors to Rome, attracted here by the beauty and stature of the place.

Visiting the Sistine Chapel is easy.

Sculpture at the entrance of Vatican Museum with two human figures, Papal Tiara and writing: Musei Vaticani

Many tickets and tours exist and you can choose between different options including a self guided visit, a big or small group tour or a semi-private guided visit.

Despite these many options or maybe because of them, deciding how to visit the Sistine Chapel can be overwhelming.

This guide details all you need to know to plan your visit.

In particular, we look at the best Sistine Chapel Ticket options, Sistine chapel dress code, how much time to plan in the chapel and visiting the Sistine Chapel with kids.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

How to visit the Sistine Chapel – need to know

The Sistine Chapel is part of the complex of the Vatican Museums and you access it through them.

Tickets for the Sistine Chapel are part of those for the Vatican Museum and there is no Sistine Chapel Ticket as such. The chapel is close to the museum exit and visitors usually get there after a visit to the rest of the collection.

However, it is also possible to go straight to the Sistine Chapel by following signs for it, marked with ‘Cappella Sistina percorso Breve’.

This path is perfect for people who are short on time and allow you to see part of the Vatican Museum Collection and then see the Chapel in as little as a couple of hours.

Please note: there is no discount for this path, the cost of the ticket is the same, no matter what itinerary you follow once in the museum.

Sculpture of golden sphere in the Vatican yard on the way to visit the Sistine chapel

The best time to visit the Sistine Chapel

The best time to visit the Sistine Chapel is the early morning, before the crowds come in.

This option is possible thanks to early bird tours offering early bird entrance before 8 am (see below).

In terms of seasons, the Sistine Chapel is always busy and the flux of tourism follows the high tourism season in Rome. In general, Saturday and public holidays are the busiest, the time around Christmas and Easter being the busiest of all.

How to get to the Sistine Chapel

Access to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums is from the main museum gate on Viale Vaticano.

Closes Metro Stations are Ottaviano – San Pietro or Cipro (Metro Line A)

Buses serving this area are: 32, 49, 81, 492, 982, 990, tram 19

Taxis will leave you just in front. Taxis are stationed in the square outside the museums.

If you are walking to the Sistine Chapel from Piazza San Pietro, schedule about 10-15 minutes as the entrance is on the opposite side of the complex.

Photo credit Depositphotos image id 261538460

Sistine Chapel opening hours in 2023

Monday to Saturday: 9am – 6pm (last entrance 4pm)

14-30 April 2023 – prolonged opening hours on Friday and Saturday until 10.30pm (last admission 8.30pm)

5 May – 28 October – prolonged opening hours on Fridays, until 10.30pm (last admission 8.30)

Last Sunday of the month: 9am – 2pm (last entrance 12pm) FREE ADMISSION. Except Easter, St Peter and Paul (29 June), 25, 26 and 31 December.

Days of Closure in 2023: the first three Sundays of each month, plus:

  • 1 and 6 January
  • 11 February
  • 30 March
  • 10 April
  • 1 May
  • 29 June
  • 15-16 August
  • 1 November
  • 8, 25, 26, 31 December

The best tickets for the Sistine Chapel

There are many different types of tickets available for the Sistine Chapel.

They range from cheaper ones you can get directly from the Museum Ticket website to every expensive tours offered by external providers.

The best Sistine Chapel ticket for you will depend on your interest and time available. In this table, I have collected what I believe are the best tickets to see the Sistine Chapel at different price points.

Good to know: The Sistine Chapel is one of Rome’s most visited sites. If you go without a ticket, it is likely you will encounter a long line, sometimes lasting many hours. In the past, the only way to avoid it was to invest in pricey skip-the-line tickets.

St Peter square Vatican City Rome

Since 2020, there is a cheaper way to avoid it!

The museums now operate on shifts and you must pick the time of your visit at the time of booking so you can go straight to the gate for ticket holders.

This has made the visit easier and more pleasant: while you will have to pass security, which may cause a little bit of a line, entering the museums is now pretty quick.

This also means you do not need to break the bank on skip the like tickets: all timed tickets are skip the line tickets, including the cheap ones on the official museum website!

My selection of the best Sistine Chapel tickets and Tours with links for ticket purchase (ticket prices vary even within the same tour depending on time of purchase. Click on the links for full info on each):

Name of Ticket / Tour Need to know.
Official Admission tickets – Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel Best value; Limited cancellation/ modification options. Additional audio guide for kids available at the time of booking at a small extra charge
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel Tickets *TOP PICK for ticket onlyGreat value ticket, slightly more expensive than the one above as it comes with a free cancellation option up to 24h before your visit
Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel entry ticket from Tiqets*Great value ticket, slightly more expensive than the one above as it comes with a free cancellation option up to 24h before your visit
Express Early Viewing of the Sistine Chapel (Tour) by LivTours Excellent semi private tour, at the quietest time crowd-wise, perfect for visitors who want to focus on the Chapel especially and / or are short on time. Several other tours available by the same excellent providers too, private and semi-private
Privileged Entrance Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel by The Tour Guy *TOP PICK as tour option Early morning semi-private group tour to see the Sistine Chapel before official opening hours. Also available as a private tour.. Good 24h cancellation policy.
Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel by The Tour Guy Guided tour with several starting times during the day. Includes Sistine Chapel.
Family Tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine chapel for kidsKid-centered tour of Sistine Chapel, part of the Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Basilica
Free admission tickets Available on the last Sunday of the month only.

Good to know: if your tickets come in voucher form, you will have to exchange them with your actual entry ticket at the ticket booth inside the museum. The booth is immediately after security and the process usually only takes a couple of minutes.

How much in advance to arrive at the Chapel

To limit gathering and waiting time, entrance to the museums follows a strict schedule.

On the day of the visit, you will be allowed in during a 15 minute window around the time of your visit.

So for instance, if you have a booking for 10 am, you will be able to entry between 10 and 10.15 but not earlier not later.

Top tip: If you arrive much earlier, there are cafes nearby where you can get a quick coffee but please be aware that the cost can be high. To avoid bad surprises, head to the till first, place your order and pay there: then head to the bar and consume your coffee the Italian way, standing at the bar. This is the best way to avoid surcharges for sitting at the tables.

What to wear to visit the Sistine Chapel: dress code

The Sistine Chapel is a sacred space and a strict dress code applies.

The rules are the same as the Vatican dress code and call for ‘modest’ clothing as. well as some additional requirements:

Cover knees and shoulders (this applies to men and women): no spaghetti straps or tank tops

Avoid above the knee skirts, even if wearing thick tights.

Do not expose cleavage, bare back or your stomach

Avoid see though and skin tight clothing

Sweaters with slogans may cause offence; double check that the message you are wearing doesn’t come across as offensive or violent

Cover tattoos if they convey a message Catholics may consider offensive

How strictly is the Sistine Chapel dress code applied?

You will hear different opinions about how strict the dress code for the Sistine Chapel is.

Some people will report no checks, while others report being turned away for skirts one inch over the knees.

I highly recommend you follow the rules and take a cautious approach, even if you do not share the Vatican views on what is modest.

This will avoid issues and admissions and will also avoid potentially causing offence since the dress code comes from the religious nature of the site.

What are the best shoes for the Sistine Chapel

There is no specific rule about shoes for the Sistine Chapel. However, for comfort and overall tone, it is best to avoid flips flops and shoes with noisy soles that can echo in the chapel.

Once in the Sistine Chapel: what to expect

Once you are in the Sistine Chapel, it important to know a couple of things.

Inside the chapel, you must stay in silence.

The chapel is mostly likely gong to be very full while you are there and both for respect to the place and other visitors, silence is required. Vatican Museum staff is present and they do enforce the rule.

No photographs are allowed in the chapel, to preserve the frescoes.

Please be aware that the photography rules is strictly enforced and you will be ask to delete photos form your camera and mobile phone and you may be asked to leave the chapel.

As you walk into the Sistine Chapel, you will be surrounded by its stunning frescoes on the walls and on the ceiling.

A good way to see them it to walk towards the back of teh chapel, where you usually get a bit of space and a great vantage point!

Visiting the Sistine Chapel with kids

The Sistine Chapel is unlikely to be interesting for a small child as you are forced to stay almost still, quite and not touch anything.

That said, the visit to the chapel itself doesn’t take long and you can make it interesting by preparing them beforehand.

We love showing them the frescoes on the iPad before we went in, so they could try and spot specific bits on the actual ceiling and our children enjoyed hearing about Michelangelo and how he had to paint on his back, with paint dripping in his eyes!

While you cannot bring food into the Sistine Chapel, parents usually manage to had a lollypop to help keep the children busy!

Kids looking at their list of must find items in front of a painting at the vatican
Our kids during our visit at the Vatican Museums

What to see near the Sistine Chapel

The easiest attractions to visit with the Sistine Chapel are Vatican’s City main sites, but not only.

Things you may enjoy in this area are:

The Vatican Museum

St Peter’s Basilica with Michelangelo’s Pieta’ and Bernini’s Baldaquin

St Peter’s Square and Bernini’s Colonnade

St Pete’r’s dome climb

The Vatican Gardens

Borgo, the lovely medieval neighborhood around the Vatican. Find our Guide to Borgo here.

Castel Sant’Angelo – Find our tips for visiting Castel Sant’Angelo here

Where to eat near the Sistine Chapel

The Vatican Museums have a cafe/ restaurant inside but it does get very busy.

My favorite places to eat neat the Sistine chapel are on Borgo Pio and nearby. They are:

Pastificio Barghigiana, perfect place for a lunch offering pasta and small plates

Il Sorpasso, lovely lunch place with indoor and outdoor seating

Arlu’, very nice restaurant for lunch or dinner

Mama Eat Lab, a great Gluten Free option

Trapizzino, Informal, gastropub

To end the day on a high note, you can also enjoy aperitivo or dinner at the stunning Etoile Terrace, one of the best rooftops bars in Rome.

Where to stay near the Sistine Chapel

The best place to stay near the Sistine Chapel is the lovely area of Borgo, only a few minted from Vatican City and full of charm.

You can find here >>> my guide to Borgo.

Places you may enjoy are:

Trianon Borgo Pio Aparthotel – nice Aparthotel with self catering apartments between Castel Sant’Angelo and St Peter’s square: ask for an apartment with terrace for great views over the city!

Hotel della Conciliazione – lovely 4 star hotel right on Borgo Pio, in a perfect location to visit the Vatican. Family rooms available. Ask for those that look internally for extra quiet at night.

How to visit the Sistine Chapel in Rome – pin this

You may also like