In a city renowned for its churches, St. Peter’s Basilica is its crowning jewel. One of the best ways to explore this blockbuster is sight is on tour.
Consecrated in 1626 after 120 years of construction, St Peter’s Basilica is Italy’s largest and most spectacular church. It encompasses a staggering 3.7 acres and houses masterpieces by some of the world’s greatest artists, including Michelangelo, Bernini and Maderno. It’s free to enter the church, but it’s worth paying to join a tour to fully understand the history and features of the sight. Tours range from budget-friendly audio-guide tours to lengthy private tours with art historians and may include everything from skip-the-line tickets to access to other areas in the Vatican. With so many tours to choose from, we’ve rounded up five of the best St Peter’s Basilica Tours, taking into consideration price, features and customer reviews.
Saint Peter’s Basilica Digital Audioguide
This cheap and cheerful tour is an excellent option for travellers looking for additional context, without forking out too much on a private guide. Available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Mandarin, the digital tour provides an entertaining and informative commentary on the Basilica’s most magnificent works of art and architecture, from Michelangelo’s Pieta to Bernini’s Baldacchino. Ticket prices include a digital audio guide but do not include earphones, entrance to the Vatican Museums or an entry ticket to St. Peter’s Dome. Access to the Basilica is free. From £5.23 per person.
St Peter’s Treasure Hunts for Kids and Families
Sightseeing with little ones can be tiresome for both parties, but this 90-minute tour will keep the whole family entertained. Led by a lively licensed guide, the tour takes the shape of a treasure hunt packed with quizzes, trivia and riddles, alongside commentary on the most iconic sights and artworks in the church. Guests compete against other participants to gain points and even win a prize at the end. Tour prices do not include admission to St Peter’s Dome, but include a licensed guide, access to the Basilica and prizes for the winners. From £16.57 per person.
St. Peter’s Basilica Dome to Underground Grottoes Tour
Available as a private or small group tour, this nearly-two hour experience combines a live tour guide with admission to two popular Vatican attractions: St Peter’s Dome and the Grottoes. Tours begin in St. Peter’s Square, wind through the Basilica and up to the dome, which took over 150 years to build. After a thorough introduction to renowned works by Renaissance and Neoclassical artists on show here, it’s onwards to the historic grottoes and St. Peter’s Tomb. Ticket prices include a professional tour guide, entrance fees to the Dome and Grottoes and headsets to help you hear your guide better. You’ll need to purchase a separate ticket for the Vatican Museums if you wish to visit the Sistine Chapel. From £42.73 per person.
This two-hour tour is ideal for travellers who prefer to avoid tour groups but feel they could benefit from some expert insights into the historic landmark. Tours are led by a knowledgeable art historian and wind around the Basilica and up the stairs to the top of St Peter’s Dome. Here, participants get the chance to marvel at the mosaics up close and soak in the spectacular views of the eternal city from a height of 136 metres. Ticket prices include a private guided tour and entrance fees to St. Peter’s Dome. From £43.50 per person.
Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and Basilica Tour
This brilliant value ticket combines fast-track access to the Vatican’s top attractions with an insightful and entertaining tour. Tour groups are limited to 15 participants to ensure a more intimate experience and take roughly three hours. The tour begins in the Pine Courtyard and ticks off the Belvedere Courtyard, Gallery of Maps, Candelabra Gallery, Pio Clementino’s Rooms, the Tapestry Gallery, Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel, before finishing up in St Peter’s Basilica. Ticket prices include a tour guide, headsets and skip-the-line access to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. From £60.96 per person.