Waking Up the Vatican: VIP Small-Group Tour Before Museums Open

Vatican City, Vatican City
  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Mobile ticket
  • Offered in: English


Not many people can say they've spent time in the Sistine Chapel alone—until now. This experience grants you entry into the Vatican Museums with the clavigero (key keeper), a staff member with the privilege of opening the doors to the Vatican Museums and its galleries, before standard early access tours. You and your small group get to see the Gallery of Maps and the Raphael Rooms as the lights are switched on—something never before witnessed by the public—and enjoy a rare guided visit inside the Sistine Chapel. Breakfast in the Pinecone Courtyard is an added bonus.
  • VIP early access to the Vatican Museums with the official key keeper
  • Enter the Sistine Chapel with your guide (usually not allowed) before it's open to the public
  • Indulge with a banquet-style breakfast in the beautiful Pinecone Courtyard
  • Explore in a small group for unparalleled access to a world-famous landmark

What's Included

  • Expert, English-speaking tour guide
  • Small groups of 20 people or less
  • Guided visit in the Sistine Chapel before it has been opened to the public
  • Buffet breakfast
  • Breakfast
  • Gratuities
  • Hotel pick-up/drop-off

Meeting And Pickup

Meeting point

  • Vatican Museums
    00120, Vatican City

    Vatican Museum Entrance Meet your guide at the main entrance of the Vatican Museums, on Viale Vaticano.

Start time

End point

This activity ends back at the meeting point.

What To Expect

City Wonders (Pass By)

Vatican City (Pass By)

Sistine Chapel

30 minutesAdmission Ticket Included

Stanze di Raffaello

30 minutesAdmission Ticket Included

Vatican Museums

2 hours Admission Ticket Included

Additional Info

  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • This service ends at around 08:30AM inside the Vatican Museums.
  • Due to heightened security measures, you may experience delays in clearing security checks when entering the venue.
  • Large purses, bags, and backpacks are not allowed inside the Vatican Museums.
  • It is the responsibility of all visitors to be at the meeting point 10 minutes before departure. Guests arriving after departure cannot be accommodated & missed tours or tickets cannot be refunded.
  • This tour involves a fair amount of walking and stairs; comfortable shoes are recommended.
  • This activity is not wheelchair accessible. We are also unable to accommodate strollers or baby carriages on our group tours.
  • Entrance into the Vatican Museums requires a strict dress code. Knees and shoulders MUST be covered for both men and women.
  • Photography is permitted in certain sections of the Vatican Museums. Your guide will inform you of restricted areas.
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 20 travelers

Cancellation Policy

This experience is non-refundable and cannot be changed for any reason. If you cancel or ask for an amendment, the amount you paid will not be refunded.

      Traveler Photos

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      Traveler Tips

      It may be early and it may be pricey, but it is worth every penny and every minute of missed sleep!!!
      It is expensive and you have to get up super early to go, but it is totally worth it.
      Yes, it is pricey and yes it is early, but both are totally worth it.


      307 reviews
      Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
      Reviews by Viator travelers.
      Showing 1-10 of 307 reviews
      Tamara_G, Aug 2023
      This was the best experience we have had in Rome. To see the art without the crowds and experience the beauty in almost silence is a memory of a lifetime.
      Absolutely Fabulous
      Kelly_M, Mar 2020
      Was privileged enough to di this tour on the last day of the season 31st Oct 2019! Cannot rate it highly enough from start to finish .. the guides, the tour, the Vatican with only a handful of others WOW .. was a fabulous way to end my month in Italy ❤️
      Amazing experience!
      Nancy_K, Dec 2019
      This tour was an amazing way to see the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Our guide, Rafaella, actually took Pope Francis through the museums to discuss the art! She was wonderful and our group felt very special. We were able to take amazing photos of the Sistine Chapel which as a teacher I greatly appreciate. It is expensive but worth every penny and we will never forget seeing the beautiful empty rooms and halls.
      Vatican Must do. 2.5 hours of disbelief unlocking awakening the Vatican
      Leslie G, Nov 2019
      Hold shake and use the keys to open locks and pull back doors to the worlds best art collection with a grouping 15. No one else. Take pictures, view art from ropes removed, and discover hidden no public rooms. End with beautiful brunch.
      Been there many times but this was well worth it!
      mwsremaniak, Nov 2019
      OMG What a great way to see the Vatican! The experience was exceptional. We have been there several times with school group and waiting in line and in the narrow hallways. But not this time! Phenomenal!!
      Once in a lifetime experience
      Philip Q, Nov 2019
      We visited on 19th September and Tiffany was our guide. It was extremely surreal to enter the Vatican Museums at 6am, Rome was deserted except for the people waiting to go in. Once in, Tiffany introduced herself and the head keyholder Gianni. We then had a private tour culminating in the Sistine Chapel. Everything was as advertised – turning on lights to reveal corridors filled with statues, opening doors into rooms crammed with art, holding the literally hundreds of keys to the museum. All the time, Tiffany is telling us about the history of the pieces we’re passing and answering questions. Gianni even opened a few doors and pulled back a few ropes that weren’t mentioned on the itinerary, though I suppose this depends on how you’re doing for time. As we get to the Raphael Rooms, the excitement is palpable. These rooms are wonders in their own right and Tiffany makes sure we get all the information about them. Then it’s onto the Chapel. Gianni clips all the keys together and first one to find the key gets to open the door. (If you miss out, don’t worry, everyone gets an opportunity to do it!) Then we’re inside. Normally, there’s no talking and no photos, but since we’re a small group of less than 20, Tiffany is able to point out things we would have missed if we’d been on our own. It’s amazing to be in the room in the dark, then the lights come on and everything is there all around you. It was magnificent. You have plenty of time in the Chapel, then it’s onto breakfast. Since you’re in the museum, you can go around again, but by this time it was already 8.30 and getting very busy, which made the experience even more memorable. This was the centrepiece of our holiday in Italy and it certainly delivered.
      Amazing Waking up the Vatican!
      Stacey_M, Nov 2019
      Yes, it is more expensive than most tours, and it is very early to get up and go to the Vatican. But absolutely worth it! Our group had 16 people, led by our fabulous guide Tiffany. We saw so many areas that others on "regular" tours did not get to experience. Seeing the Sistine Chapel with such a small group, and being able to take pictures, was amazing. As was seeing the Egyptian antiquities and mummies. We are so happy with our decision to do this tour, and would do it again.
      Experience of a lifetime!
      Ange_LifestyleTradie, Oct 2019
      This is a MUST do activity while in Rome... nothing compares to being in each room of the Vatican Museum & the Sistine Chapel with a small group of 15. We went to the Vatican Museum the day before and the crowds were crazy (and we were told it was quiet)! That moment when the light switch is turned on, with not a soul within, is nothing short of incredible. This is THE ONLY WAY to capture photos in the Sistine Chapel, just of YOU..... It may be expensive but worth EVERY cent... If you're on the fence, just DO IT... book now... you'll love it!
      richard_b, Oct 2019
      Opening the museum doors and being granted access to areas normally closed to the public was a once in a lifetime experience. The Sistine Chapel alone was worth the price of admission.
      Worth every penny!
      Mina Y, Oct 2019
      This is truly an ultra-exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime experience. We were the only tour group in the entire Vatican Museums, and got to unlock doors, open windows, and turn on the lights. It is quite magical to walk through the dark rooms and hallways without another soul in sight. And nothing - NOTHING - can beat the experience of walking into the Sistine Chapel all by ourselves! I'm not sure if this is a feature of this particular tour, but we were allowed to take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel, which alone is worth the price of admission. Our tour guide, Becky, was wonderful - cheerful, and full of fun and descriptive history of the artwork inside. We were all fed a breakfast buffet at the end of the tour, and my spouse and I decided to stay and walk through the museums on our own one last time. By this point, it was open to the public, and it was a total madhouse! It made us appreciate what we got to experience so much more. I was a little concerned about the exorbitant cost of this tour, but we can both say that it was extraordinary and totally worth it. Highly recommend!
      Best Vatican Tour
      Linda_E, Oct 2019
      I thought this tour was awesome. The tour guide was excellent. We were part of the FIRST 20 people to enter the Vatican. We were each given a turn to unlock a different room and/or turn on the lights. We opened windows. We could take photos in every room without obstruction. We were not rushed. We were even allowed to take photos in the Sistine chapel. We have an incredible collection of spectacular photos to remember this tour. A tasty buffet breakfast was provided at the end of the tour. The tour does not include skip the line access to St Peter’s Basilica so we returned early the next morning to see that.
      The Best Of The Best!!!!!!
      Christina A, Oct 2019
      By far, one of the most awesome things I've ever done. I've heard of the mega lines for getting into the Vatican (and you can see them in Google Maps via satellite). This tour bypasses all of that. It's 6am when you meet outside the Museum doors. Not a soul around. There were about 15 people total on our tour. We each got turns using the many keys to open each door and turn on lights. Our tour guide was very detailed and knowledgeable of everything we were seeing. As we headed down the stairs to the Sistine Chapel I noticed the signs that said "no photography or videos". That rule did not apply to us. This tour is the only exception to that rule. We got to take as many photos and videos we wanted. It was amazing! Super exclusive access. Felt like a celebrity. We were also able to purchase a copy of the key to the Sistine Chapel. This, also, is only available to those people on this tour. We ended our tour by enjoying a beautiful breakfast in the courtyard, just as the rest of the 25,000 visitors began to file in. I would highly recommend this tour. Worth every penny!!!
      Bucket list experience!
      Katherine B, Oct 2019
      OH my!!! NOTHING can prepare you for this tour!!!! Imagine the key eeper to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chaple handing YOU the keys! and surreal like turning on the lights and lighting up priceless artifacts and art works. Opening windows to the Vatican gardens bringing in breeze and relief for the 10's of 1000's of visitors about to pass by today- this door you opened, that window you opened.... A dream! YES! An experience- unparallelled. And lindsy our dutch girl guide bought the significance alive.... Just imagine YOU being the first to walk the centuries old corridors of power and wealth and history FIRST thing before the hordes! It is an experience to fell and do. Words cannot even begin to capture the magic of Rapheal or ultimately michelangelo as you spin like a dizzy school child in the Sistine Chapel, taking in every brush stroke in private. And the joy of the the Vatican key keepers sharing this experience. All I can say is GLORIOUS. And THANK YOU for such a blessed and privlidged experience..... xoxo
      An experience of a lifetime.
      Susan N, Oct 2019
      This was fabulous. It was our first tim in Rome and our first time at the Vatican. We enjoyed every minute. The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable. An experience we will never forget. Worth the cost.
      Amazing experience you won’t forget.
      JamesJustin_G, Oct 2019
      I was concerned with the cost, for this was pretty expensive for me. However this was easily the best tour I’ve ever taken. Tiffany was a gracious, informative, and excited guide. You could tell this isn’t just “a job” for her. Somebody please give her a raise! The time spent in the Sistine Chapel alone is worth the cost. The photographs and videos you get to take are precious and only allowed on this tour. The accompanying guards were very professional and are who made this tour a possibility. Please thank them for allowing this experience to exist. I am already saving to bring my whole family on this tour!
      One of my favorite tours!
      Naj_Q, Oct 2019
      Completely worth the early wake up time to open up and see the Vatican museums before the crowds! The moment the lights come on in the Sistene Chapel completely takes your breath away. And you get a solid 15 minutes to take pictures which normally is prohibited. Simply amazing!!!!
      Most Amazing Experience Ever!
      sandra b, Sep 2019
      If you really want to see the Vatican art without crowds, this is the tour for you. Just a small group went in (19 of us) and we were able to access rooms not normally open to the public, open the doors, turn on the lights and enjoy everything without the crowds. Even were able to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel (which is normally forbidden). Truly an experience of a lifetime. I highly recommend. Our guide was amazing and very knowledgeable.
      Dave_F, Sep 2019
      Overall, excellent, excellent, excellent. A really unique experience that is worth the investment! Our guide was very nice, however, she tried to walk and turn back and talk and it was not very easy to understand/hear her unless you were in the front of the group. The keepers of the keys were awesome and very engaging. As has been mentioned in previous reviews, everyone gets to open doors and turn on lights of the Vatican Museum for the first time that day, so you are indeed Waking Up the Vatican! They give you an opportunity to buy a replica key to the Sistine Chapel and tell you only people on this tour can buy the key (which is not exactly true). It’s 10 Euro, so a nice souvenir at a reasonable price. Overall, highly recommend. Don’t miss this.
      Amazing tour!
      DIANE_H, Sep 2019
      Everything they say it is! Fantastic opportunity to enjoy the Museum and especially the Sistine Chapel with only 20 people throughout!
      Fantastic tour
      407chc, Sep 2019
      My wife and I went on our Honeymoon to Rome and selected this as one of the tours we wanted to do. It was the most expensive thing we picked to do. It is 100% worth every penny, for this incredible experience. Getting to see the Vatican with no one in it is an incredibly unique experience. We went through the museum again after our tour and it was wall to wall people. It did not have the magical feel that it did in the morning. Our guide was very knowledgeable and pointed out all of the highlights. Getting to open the doors, turn on the lights, and go into places that others are not allowed during normal hours, was the cherry on top.

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