• Vatican Tour
  • gallery of the maps vatican museums
  • st peters basilica and square
  • sistine chapel
  • sistine chapel ceiling
  • st peters square
  • vatican tour guide

    Visiting the Vatican information and Vatican tour booking service from renowned tour guide Dara McCarthy.

    vatican tour guide

    I organise private tours of the Vatican including the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums and Saint Peter's Basilica.

    I gave tours of the Vatican for almost four years. In that time, I took over 35,000 people through the site and can be considered an expert on its history, art and how to navigate it. I have a degree in History and I was an official authorized tour guide for the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.

    Having worked in the Vatican, I can give you practical information on how to navigate it correctly, ensuring that you make the most of your time there, see the things you want to see, find seats (which are scarce in the Vatican) and bathrooms with no lines, while avoiding crowds and the midday heat.


    vatican tour

    I offer a a tour guide service where you can book one of my licensed tour guides living in Rome if you wish to take a tour of the Vatican. This service is cheaper than booking through a company as I do not have their overheads, you are assured skip-the-line tickets to the site and a fluent English-speaking tour guide who has positive tour reviews and gives you breaks for bathrooms and coffee during the tour.

    I can also provide you with a private car and driver to collect you from Rome's Airport or Civitavecchia Port and bring you to your hotel or the Vatican and return you there when you leave Rome.

    The side menu lists the various parts of the Vatican so you can decide what you would like to see on your tour or visit.


    where is vatican city?

    The Vatican is a walled country about the size of a village or city suburb on the left bank of the Tiber in Rome. About half of the site is open to the public such as the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, the Raphael Rooms, the Vatican Museums, the Papal Tombs and St. Peter's Dome. The rest of the site is not open to the public or requires special permission to access.
    It is a one-way system with choices on the way. In order to see the Sistine Chapel you have to go through the Vatican Museums so all tours and all visitors start there. Once inside the Vatican Museums you can choose to see the Raphael Rooms as they are not compulsory, and you can decide to see St. Peter's Basilica, the Papal Tombs and St. Peter's Dome which are all in the same building connected to the museums.


    vatican museum Tickets

    I only use skip-the-line tickets for the Vatican. These allow us to skip the two lines: one for the Vatican Museums where the Sistine Chapel is, and the other for St. Peter's Basilica. For the Museums and Chapel in the morning, the line can be two hours long and for the Basilica it can be an hour on average, so people who don't use express tickets to skip the line can be waiting up to three hours if they are unlucky. With skip-the-line tickets you just walk straight in with the guide. You don't have to use a guide to skip the line; anyone can book express tickets for the Vatican on their website.


    vatican museum

    Once inside the Vatican Museums you have a choice as to what you want to see and how much time you want to spend in there. Thirty minutes of the Vatican Museums are compulsory in order to see the Sistine Chapel; you have to go through them. This short itinerary is only available in the mornings until 11.30/12 noon at which point it is closed off.

    After midday you have to go through 90 minutes of the museums before you can see the chapel.
    This longer tour route is difficult during the summer as the Vatican is not air conditioned, is usually crowded and Rome gets hot from 11am to 4pm. I strongly recommend going to the Vatican in the morning if you can.

    The Raphael Rooms are optional at all times and are at the end of the museums; they take about 30/40 minutes to do as you have to go through the Borgia Apartments and Modern Art Gallery before you can see the chapel.


    Visiting the Vatican

    The Vatican Museums, dating from the 1500s to 1800s, are not designed like a modern museum complex. It is not air conditioned, there is hardly anywhere to sit down and there are very few bathrooms or places to get drinks or food. Accordingly, I use guides who look after your comfort at all times, taking you to bathrooms and cafes hidden from general public view, ensuring you have water or can top up at the fountain (it's not holy water) and grab a seat when they become available.

    You should visit the Vatican in the morning on your first rested day in Rome, so the day after you arrive from a long-haul flight. It is NOT a good idea to arrive in Rome jet-lagged and take an afternoon Vatican tour on the same day. You should also make sure the Vatican is the only big cultural excursion you do that day. Many people try and do another tour in the same day which is exhausting.

    Knees and shoulders should be covered so shorts are fine so long as they cover all of your knees, and t-shirts are fine so long as all of your shoulders are covered; as a religious state it has a conservative dress code.

    You can bring water with you and it is a good idea as only three rooms in the museums are air conditioned out of fifty. Bottled drinks are fine, cans, other open items or food are not allowed.

    Photos are allowed everywhere except the Sistine Chapel where no photography, no filming is allowed at all. Flash is allowed downstairs in the Museums, which is all sculpture, but forbidden upstairs, so it's just easier to turn flash off your camera before you go in. It is bright, you won't need it anyway, the guide will remind of of the photo policy you on the day.


    My Tour reviews:

    Vatican Tour Knowledgeable and Friendly
    We had a wonderful time on our tour. Dara was knowledgeable and friendly. The Vatican trip was a highlight of our trip to Rome. Thank you.
    5.0 Stars Medina Khalil
    General Tour Excellent Sense of Humour
    Very informative and Dara has an excellent sence of humour.
    5.0 Stars Billy Kane
    General Tour Fine Job
    The tour was good and Dara did a fine job explaining everything.
    5.0 Stars Tom Johnson
    Vatican Tour Dara was Great!
    skipping the lines is a BIG DEAL! vatican has too many visitors. would reccomend this tour. Dara was great.
    5.0 Stars Nina from Dubai
    Vatican Tour Dara was an Excellent Guide
    Dara was an excellent guide. His tour was very informative without being too 'heavy' and included just the right amount of humour. I'm sure we learnt a great deal more from Dara than if we simply read the guide books. The whole tour experience was incredable and helped to make our brief holiday to Rome a great success. Well Done!!
    5.0 Stars Alison and Alan Twyford
    Italy Tour The Most Enjoyable Tour
    This was the most enjoyable tour of our entire two week vacation to Italy. Dara was quite knowledgeable and interjected fun facts and humor which made it even more engaging for our children - ages 20, 17 & 15. He was always respectful of the faith and reminded us of the rules, other tour guides must not have been as informative.
    5.0 Stars Mike Howard
    Italy Tour Wonderful Job
    Dara did a wonderful job. I wish we would have had him as our tour guide the entire time we were in Rome. He made the tour wonderfully entertaining and very educational. He placed just enough detail in the explanation to teach us but not bore us. He did an outstanding job. Thank you Dara!
    5.0 Stars Rebeka Carter
    General Tour Take the Tour
    Take the tour, even if you will do it on your own later.
    5.0 Stars Dara Fazel
    General Tour Thoroughly Pleased
    Thoroughly pleased with the entire experience.
    5.0 Stars Christy Turner
    Italy Tour Excellent Tour
    Just loved all the info that Dara gave us. Excellent tour and tour guide. Would recommend your tours to our friends visiting Rome. Thanks for your services.
    5.0 Stars Brando DeOliveira
    My Vatican Tour Details
    Skip the Line Tickets
    Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's
    Bathroom & Coffee Breaks
    English Speaking Guides
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