St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)
St. Peter's Basilica is a must-see during any visit to the Vatican. There's no admission fee, so it's easy to stop in on your own, but a guided tour or audio guide will help you understand the significance of the history and art. Many travelers either choose a tour that focuses exclusively on the basilica or one that also stops at other areas in the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Either way, you can book a skip-the-line ticket or early-access tour to visit before most of the crowds arrive.
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Things to know before you go
Be prepared for security lines similar to those at airports, including metal detectors, bag scanners, and potentially long waits.
This is one of the most popular attractions in all of Italy, so crowds are nearly inevitable.
The basilica has a strict dress code—no bare shoulders, midriffs, or knees—and you won't be allowed in unless you adhere to it.
A skip-the-line tour of the Vatican that includes St. Peter’s enables you to bypass the basilica’s long entry lines; you still have to go through the security check.
Climbing into the basilica’s dome, which affords fantastic views over St. Peter’s Square, requires a ticket.
How to get there
St. Peter's Basilica is across the Tiber River from top sights such as the Colosseum and Piazza Navona. The nearest metro stops are Ottaviano–San Pietro–Musei Vaticani and Cipro on line A; there are closer tram and bus stops. If you'd like to walk, cross the Ponte Sant'Angelo toward the Castel Sant'Angelo for a picturesque view.
When to get there
The basilica is open year-round, but as a working church it closes regularly for mass and special religious services. Crowds are biggest during the summer and holidays such as Easter and Christmas, as well as during public papal addresses, given most Wednesdays in the square.
Underneath St. Peter's Basilica
The basilica’s most famous tomb is that of St. Peter, but most visitors never go below the main level of the church. (This area also closes to visitors earlier, and has more restrictions than the rest of the basilica.) You can book a small group tour of the Vatican Necropolis to explore the ancient Roman cemetery that lies underground, past the Vatican grottoes, and stand before St. Peter's tomb.
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- St. Peter's Baldachin (Baldacchino di San Pietro)
- La Pietà
- Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina)
- St. Peter's Dome (Cupola di San Pietro)
- St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro)
- Vatican Obelisk (Obelisco Vaticano)
- Vatican Grottoes (Grotte Vaticane)
- Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani)
- Raphael's Rooms (Stanze di Raffaello)
- Vatican City (Citta del Vaticano)
- Leonardo Da Vinci Experience Museum (Museo Leonardo Da Vinci Experience)
- Vatican Gardens (Giardini Vaticani)
- Paciotti Salumeria
- Via Cola di Rienzo
- Castel Sant'Angelo National Museum (Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo)