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The best time to tour the Vatican, Sistine Chapel & Colosseum & Roman Forum; closures, holidays and crowded days in April 2019

As the high season is approaching it might be useful, to give you some “insiders” information about the best time to visit these two sites. Being the Colosseum and the Vatican, among the most visited places in the World, these tips can save you some time and some stress. Why get stressed during your holidays?

In the last couple of years, regardless to our pre booked, hour slot, purchased tickets, we have been experiencing delays at the security check at both sites. Among the reasons of these delays are increasing numbers of visitors coming to the Vatican and to the Colosseum and also more severe security checks on certain days. You might get stuck at the entrance sometimes even for an hour – whether you have bought your tickets in advance or booked a tour.

Have a look here below for the most crowded days we expect in April.

April Vatican

It’s Easter Month and anytime around Easter, from the 18th to the 22nd you might find some sections closed, very long security check line and most of the times the St Peter’s Basilica will be closed. Also, once inside, it will be so crowded that you’ll lose the whole point of visiting the Vatican and your expectations will be highly disappointed.

We would recommend to avoid 19th and 20th April this year. Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel will be closed on the 21st and 22nd April (Easter and Easter Monday).

Also, on the 9th of April the Vatican Museums will open at 11am and not at 9am as usual. Only if you have already your booked tickets you will be allowed to access the site.

From the 18th to the 30th April the Vatican Museums will extend the opening hours to 5pm (last entrance) instead the usual closing time at 4pm. During these days visitors will be allowed to stay inside the Museums until 7pm.

April Colosseum

From our years-long experience, we have noticed that Mondays are the less busy days of the week at the Colosseum.

On Sundays, Colosseum and Roman Forum are usually overcrowded by foreign tourists, “long-weekend” visitors, Italians coming from other parts of Italy and by locals. We would suggest to avoid Sundays at the Colosseum.  

From the 31st March and throughout the whole summer, the opening hours of both sites, Colosseum and Roman Forum will be extended. The last entrance to the site will be at 6.15pm (closure at 7.15pm). Take enough time to visit both (or all three) sites – at least a couple of hours.

The Colosseum and Roman Forum will be open on the Easter Day, 21st April and Easter Monday 22nd April.

In our next article we will bring you the latest news about the closures and most crowded days in May! Stay tuned…

Week of Culture in Italy. List of free Museums in Rome!

During the Week of Culture in Italy, as we mentioned in one of our previous articles, the entrance will be free of charge and if you’re in Rome between 5th and 10th of March 2019, you cannot miss this opportunity.

If you’re in Venice, Florence, Naples and any other city in Italy, keep in mind that almost all state museums will be free during the Week of Culture 2019.

In case of archaeological sites and museums that belong to the Vatican (like Vatican Museums or catacombs), the admission won’t be free and it is required to purchase or book your ticket.

Here is the list of the free museums in Rome.

Ostia Antica archaeological site

Roman forum and Palatine Hill

Colosseum

Campo di Bove

Galleria Borghese

Galleria Spada

Galleria Corsini

Palazzo BArberini

Galleria Nazionale

Cecilia Metella Mausoleum and Castrum Caetani

“Lamberto Loria” Museums

“Alessandro Vaccaro” Museum

“Giuseppe Tucci” Museum

“Luigi Pigorini” Museum

National Museum of Musical Instruments

National Museum of Palazzo Venezia

Castel Sant’Angelo

Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia

Crypta Balbi

Palazzo Altemps

Palazzo Massimo alle Terme

Baths of Diocletian

Ostiense Museum

Santa Maria Nova (Appian Way)

Villa Adriana Tivoli

Villa d’Este Tivoli

Villa dei Quintili

In case you’re lucky to be in Rome from 5th to 10th March 2019 and you would like to arrange or join a guided tour and save some money, contact us during the Week of Culture and book your private guide in Rome! Remember, your price will be much cheaper as you won’t pay for tickets!

And… don’t forget! City of Rome is an open-air museum!

Photo by Serena Repice Lentini on Unsplash
Photo by Serena Repice Lentini

Early bird, but not too early

It has been years that many tour operators, bloggers, vloggers and travel story-tellers, have been advertising a “secret” way of seeing the Vatican Museums “before the crowds” or promising that you’ll be completely alone inside the Sistine Chapel. Visiting the Sistine Chapel alone is possible but not with the so-called Early option.

The “privilege” was advertised as the so-called VIP entrance, early morning Vatican, VIP early morning Vatican before the crowds etc….. none of these things is so Vip or privileged anymore…. Everybody discovered this secret and the term “vip entrance” lately got inflated more than a Venezuelan bolivar.

We from City Lights Tours have been working in the area for the last 10 years and we have experienced the trend change in the past 5 years, at least.

Few years ago, the Early Vatican tour was some sort of Vip tour as the Vatican Museums doors would open at 8am and all the “vip” groups ready to enter, would be inside in about 10-15 minutes.

Now, that’s not the case anymore. Numbers of visitors increased over the years, making crowds ten times worse than it used to be.

If you are flexible and you are planning to spend several days in Rome, have a look which day is the best to visit the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel.

In case you are thinking of going early there is a new way that only we, who are always on the spot, can discover for you.

Go early yes, but not too early: get a tour at 8.30am

Practically what happens: all the groups/tour companies with “vip” and “early” entrance will start to queue up from 7.20am on, waiting to enter at 8am. In this case, you go early to catch the spot in the security check line. You start early but you will be outside until the 8am access is allowed, exactly at 8am. If you’re lucky you and your group will be in at around 8.15am – 8.20am. So, if you start to line up at 7.20, you’ll be in at 8am; if you get your spot in the line at 7.30/35am, you’ll be in at 8.10am and so on… If the math isn’t wrong, the time you spend outside lining up in front of the Vatican Museums is 40 – 60 mins. So, logically, there is no “vip”, “early” or even worse “skip the line”.

8am groups line at the entrance of the Vatican Museums

Our trick is to meet at 8.20am, grab a coffee-to-go and with our group(s), each up to max 10 participants, enter at 8.30am by skipping (obviously) the line of those entering at 9am and, moreover, by skipping the line of the groups queuing from 7.20am. Small groups up to 10 people are allowed to skip all the lines and enter through a privileged access from 8.30am on.

Keep in mind that there are days before and after some extraordinary closures of the Vatican Museums that the line for the 8am tours is so long and some groups enter at 8.50am!

So, you don’t have to be necessarily “vip-early”, be just “smart-early”, join the Early Vatican Tour With Privileged Access which is a real privileged access and we can promise you will feel like a real vip.

 

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