The overall experience was acceptable and the guild's knowledge was beyond expectations but the package as falsely advertise resulting in a mediocre rating. There was quite a line to enter the attraction and by the time we arrived at the Sistine Chapel it was crowded with perhaps 600 other customers and guides. This was during peak season on a Saturday July 21st but the description of the tour does not mention any difference in experience during peak season. Lastly from observation of all the historical attractions in Rome, there is not true skip the line. There is only two types of line, one is for groups with tour guides and the other is for individuals without a group. I hope this is posted and helps others choice wisely.
This tour of the Vatican Museums was superb, because of 2 main reasons. First was getting in earlier than most and getting to see the tour mostly free from the crushing crowd. Second was the theme of the tour by a profoundly knowledgeable art historian: Michaelangelo versus Raphael. It at times was slightly over my head, but piqued my interest in the subject. Our guide was amazing.
We moved pretty fast, trying to stay ahead of the mob. Once it started getting more crowded it became more challenging to keep up and stay together. By the end we were in the soup, but he took us behind the ropes for a bit, and we had the area to ourselves.
I wouldnt see the Vatican Museums any other way! Well worth the price.
The guide, Lorenzo, was a serious art expert and extremely knowledgeable. We met at 7:30 at their office which is a block and 1/2 or so away from the entrance to the gallery. We waited outside the Vatican Museum entrance with other groups until the doors opened at 8. I had assumed that our early admission would enable us to gain access before most of the crowds, but it took quite a lot of time for us to even get into the galleries. We were in the Vatican Museum, but outside the building itself, looking at some of the views, and finally looking still outside at La Laocoön at 9:45 am which left us far less time on the tour to finally get inside for the extensive and major works. Finally I asked about getting into the Sistine Chapel before the hordes of other tourists and was told that it everyone thinks it's better to go there first, and it is better not to, as that's when it's really jammed. Well, by the time we got there, the Sistine Chapel was completely jammed with people, there was constant calls from the guards to the large crowd to be quiet. If you think you will have an advantage to gaining early and less crowded access into the museum and specifically into the Sistine Chapel, this is not the way to do it. I do wonder if the guides have arrangements with the Vatican so as to control how many people actually go to the Chapel first. I don't know if there is another way to avoid this problem, possibly the very expensive 400-500 Euro evening tour?.
Lorenzo was by far the most educated art historian we had on our tour of Italy, and I highly recommend him. With the plethora of companies offering skip the line tours, some very expensive ones, be sure you know what you are getting. Joining a tour at whatever time of day to gain you access without standing on long lines is a good idea, but the early entrance here didn't help us avoid large crowds. There are lots of skip the line tours offered for many sites around Italy, and for the most part I think you can avoid paying very high fees and plan your entrances or reserve on the official museum sites without paying exorbitant fees.
We choose this tour after finding information about it online. I have to say, it was absolutely wonderful!! Tonia was our guide and she was simply fantastic. Very knowledgeable, funny, and engaging, she showed us a great side of the Vatican. One we would never have seen on our own. I HIGHLY recommend this tour if you want to get into the Vatican early and be able to spend some quality time seeing the amazing Sistine Chapel and all of the outstanding pieces in the Vatican museum. It was more than worth the money we spent. Thanks for making this a fabulous visit, Tonia and Italy With Us!
Before I review the actual tour, let me just give kudos to this fabulous tour company! Due to one bad thing after another debit card not working, lost on way to train station, missing train by one minute happening, we were late. The paperwork for the tour says to be there at 730am sharp and it was 10 til 8 when we got off the train near the vatican. Someone from the office came and found us and ran us to the entrance and sweet talked our way in because it was after 8am and they didn't have to allow us to enter! This was definitely beyond what they had to do for us! We were so appreciative! Now for the tour itself, our guide Cesare, he was amazing! He was very easy to understand. Also they give you an earphone to hear him even when you are a ways away from him. He quickly walked us to the Sistine chapel before there were too many people there. He left us for 20 minutes or so to absorb and appreciate the beauty of the place! I didn't understand what he meant by later it will be VERY crowded but I did soon enough! So glad he took us to the chapel first! Once we left there, I could appreciate being able to have room to move in the Sistine Chapel! Cesare has a passion for art and the history of this place and knew SO MUCH and was ready for any question! This tour is a lot of walking and there are some stairs...wear your walking shoes for sure! The vatican was amazing and I feel as though I know so much more for having been on this tour! You will see Raphaels rooms, the sistine chapel, the crypt and St Peter's Basilica, you will be ready for a sit down at the end but it will have been well worth it! After the tour is over you can go into the Jubilee area at no cost and even sit in a quiet room that holds John Paul II's remains. The room was supposed to be quiet but not everyone in there respected the rules. This has nothing to do with the tour but it, even with the chatty people, was something I was glad I did! Plus you can rest your feet for a few minutes in the peace of the place!
Great experience to the Vatican!
Knowledge and helpful guide on our route through the Vatican City before the general public.
Early start to the morning and a little pricey, but the experience is totally worth it.
Tour guide Linda was awesome and highly recommend her to others wanting fun/informational experience.
Met tour guide 1-2 blocks from Vatican entrance 7:30a.
Our tour had two visits to the Sistine chapel with first 15-20 minutes before it fills up with hundreds of people. After that we toured the other top highlights of the vatican with a small lesson of the Sistine Chapel painting hidden secrets. We then returned back to Sistine chapel for another 15-20 minutes with general public viewing shoulder to shoulder to find the hidden secrets.
Tons of history, sculptures, tapestries, and paintings throughout the tour, before our guide released our group to St. Peter's. Perfect amount of information and guided tour for a half day excursion. Saves the afternoon to relax or to head to the next highlight.