Rome is a fantastic city that is the dearest to me because I lived there for 2 years during my Master studies!
I am very happy you are going to Rome too! Be it your first or your 10th time visiting – I am sure you will find this post useful.
Now, this article is not about how wonderful the city is, we both know that already, don’t we? Rome is a popular destination and it can get REALLY crowded at times, trust me. And, because I really want you to visit Rome, I have collected all the available information about how to avoid the attraction lines below.
Some of my regular readers already know that I strongly dislike queues and I do everything possible to avoid them. I already have revealed many tricks for skipping lines in Paris and Barcelona and now it is time for the Eternal City!
Many people told me that they didn’t get a feel for the city, that it was too touristy, and this is too bad because, in my opinion, Rome is one of the most beautiful cities on Earth! But if you prepare in advance and you make sure to buy your Rome attraction tickets ahead of time, you will definitely come back home absolutely charmed by this city.
You do not want to spend precious vacation time waiting in the line under the hot sun, do you?
Here are the most popular attractions in Rome and my secret tips on skipping their lines:
1. Colosseum and Roman Forum
Even if it might seem crazy crowded, you should not miss this top attraction in all of Italy – the famous il Colosseo! It is definitely on top of my list of places to visit in Rome in a 3 days-short vacation!
The Colosseum averages around 11,000 visitors a day and this number goes muuuuuuuch higher during the busy season – to 30,000 people a day!
Don’t let the long line put you off, I have a couple of solutions for you for avoiding those lines:
Solution 1. Buy your ticket from the Roman Forum entrance
It is a bit confusing at first, so let me explain: when you buy a ticket for the Colosseum, regardless of what option you choose, you will automatically have the Roman Forum included as well. That is just how it works; it is basically one attraction.
The Roman Forum, in its tour, includes Palatine Hill and together they are the ancient ruins located right in front of the Colosseum. They definitely deserve at least a short visit!
As I said, the ticket for the Colosseum also gets you into the Forum and Palatine Hill, and vice versa.
So, what does it mean for us, smart travelers?
If you go to the Forum first and then to the Colosseum, you will wait in a much shorter line! 😉
Here is the map of the entrances to make it clear for you:
I recommend using the Foro Romano entrance (located at the end of Via Cavour, see the map above) as there is usually almost no one there. Once you finish with Foro Romano (the Roman Forum), go to the Entrance for the Colosseum and you will enter without in the line because you already have your ticket!
By the way, you can use your ticket the next day as well (it is valid for 48 hours) so no need to visit both attractions in one day if you feel tired.
As a bonus, here is a free audioguide for the Coloseum and the Roman Forum
PRICE: The ticket costs 12€ regardless of where you buy it.
Solution 2. Buy your tickets online on the official website
This is the official website, (yes, do not mind the strange web address; this is actually the official site). The price for the full ticket is 14€ (2€ higher than buying at the Colosseum because of a “reservation fee”. Get ready for these fees, they are apparently very normal in Rome). The price includes an audio guide too.
Print the pdf version and bring it to the ticket-holders-only booths just inside the Colosseum door and it will be transferred to a ticket right there.
If you (or your kids) are less than 18 years old, you will get in for free!
NOTE: You will still NOT skip the security line, but you will go directly to the reservation desk, where you will collect your ticket.
NOTE 2: I have heard that even if you buy tickets online, you might need to wait because the capacity of the place is 3,000 people and even if your ticket has a specific time, you might be asked to wait.
NOTE 3: As I said, the audio guide is included, but you might also try this amazing free audio guide here which in my opinion is more interesting.
PRICE: 14€ (12€ + 2€ online processing fee)
Solution 3. Get a guided skip the line tour
There are 2 different types of guided tours – group and private ones
1. GUIDED GROUP TOUR:
It is much more interesting to learn about something as ancient as the Colosseum with a knowledgeable guide, trust me! Having a live guide AND not having to worry about staying in line is the best option in my opinion.
Not only will you enter through a special group entrance, your security line wait will be cut down to almost 0.
There are so many Colosseum tours out there, so which tour to choose?
I recommend taking a small tour with access to restricted areas closed to the general public. Your tour guide will take you underground where the wild animals used to be kept and also all the way up to the 3rdlevel of Colosseum for an amazing view!
PRICE: around 49€ per person depending on the tour
NOTE: If you are searching for a good Vatican + Colosseum combined tour, COMBO – Colosseum AND Vatican Museum skip the line can be booked here (it is around 100€ per person depending on the date, which is actually a pretty good deal).
2. GUIDED PRIVATE TOUR:
If you would like to explore the Colosseum at your own pace with a knowledgeable guide, this exclusive private tour is for you.
Naturally, there is no waiting involved. You will be taken to all the secret spots usually unavailable to the public and there is no rush; the guide will be ready to answer all of your questions!
PRICE: from 74€ per person (It depends how many of you there are. If there are 2 of you, the tour will be 165€ per person, if you are a group of 4, it is 95 per person and so on. The bigger the group, the better!)
Solution 4. Get one of the Rome City Passes
Getting one of those Rome attraction passes might be a great solution for skipping lines to the Colosseum and numerous others important sights in Rome.
There are 4 tourist passes on the market right now, but only 3 of them actually save you money.
I have a detailed comparison with sample calculations for each of the passes here.
To save you time, here are the main ones below:
- Rome City Pass – you can get in without the line, get transportation from/to the airport and many other benefits; I explain all the advantages below. This pass is pretty cool because it is 100% mobile, so you do not need to pick it up from somewhere. The price of the pass is 67.50€ and it’s totally worth the money if you will use what it offers. Please see a sample calculation on how much you can save in this post.
- OMNIA Pass – if you are going to Vatican Museum as well, this pass will save you over 10€ per person and hours of waiting in lines.
- Roma Pass it can get you to the Colosseum, but the savings it would give you is just 1.50. I am not sure it is worth your time picking up the pass, to be honest.
PRICE: 29 to 113€ depending on the pass
Solution 5. VIP Colosseum at night tour with the Underground access
The tour starts at 9:30 pm and lasts for 2.5 hours. At this time of night, the Colosseum is virtually empty so you will have a rare experience as your guide leads you around telling you stories about Roman emperors and mighty gladiators!
NOTE: Only a handful of groups are allowed in at this time, so it is a much more personal experience. Sometimes the “pay more to see more” approach is really worth it!
I wish these tours existed when I lived in Rome as I am sure this is an unforgettable experience!
PRICE: 79€ per person. I think this is the best tour on the market at the moment, and you get to see the most popular attraction of Italy without the crowds!
BONUS: A secret spot to take great pictures in front of the Colosseum
Living in Rome for 2 years allowed me to discover some nice spots that are not so obvious for the first-time-comers. For example, do you know where to take a picture with this view?
Not many Rome tourists know about it, and meanwhile, it offers the best view of il Colosseo in my opinion!
Here is how to get there:
Go to the metro station called “Colosseo” (right in front of the Colosseum) -> there is an escalator on the left of the turnstiles (do not pass them) -> take the escalator -> the view is right in front of you and there is one more good point that is right behind you, on a pedestrian bridge.
You can also see the whole thing recorded on a video for your convenience. Just go to my Instagram page and check my “Highlights” section, there is one about Rome and there are many more tips on Rome including this one!
Oh, and don’t forget to follow me! 🙂
2. Vatican Museums
Musei Vaticani display one of the richest collections of art in the world! You will see the Sistine Chapel decorated by Michelangelo, masterpieces by Raphael, the most important art works from the Renaissance period, a gallery of maps, paintings of Caravaggio and much more!
This place can’t be missed even if you are not that much into museums, trust me!
The museums are only a 5-minute walk from the St. Peter Basilica, the place we will talk about right after, as it also has long queues.
Vatican Museum is one of the most popular museums in the world – it hosted over 6 million people just in 2017 alone! This is insane and that is why the line to enter can be as long as 4 hours so brace yourselves!
NOTE: The entry to some parts of the museum – Sistine Chapel included, is not allowed if you are wearing low cut or sleeveless clothing, shorts, miniskirts and hats. Please take a light scarf with you to cover yourself if it is too hot outside.
NOTE 2: The museums close at 6 pm, but please come before 4 pm, as this is the final allowed entry time. You will be required to leave at 5:30.
Usually the museum is closed on Sundays, except the last Sunday of each month when the entrance is free for everyone (I highly do NOT recommend going then as it will be complete madness and you won’t be able to enjoy the museum). You can find the opening times here.
While it is really worth it to see the masterpieces in the museum, I doubt you want to spend that much time in the line and spoil your well-deserved vacation.
Here are some tricks to skip the line and a pro tip on how to see the Sistine Chapel without people:
Solution 1. Buy your ticket online on the official site
The ticket to the Vatican museum is 17€ if you buy it at the museum. But I am sure you don’t want to wait in the line for 2-3 hours, so this is not even mentioned as a solution in this post.
You can buy your tickets online with a booking fee of 4€ per ticket, so, it will be 21 instead of 17. This reservation fee holds true for all the other options of skipping the line I am going to mention – it is always 4€ per person more expensive than buying at the gate, no way to escape it.
Is it worth it? I would say so, because you save your precious time (which is at least a couple of hours in the line under the hot sun).
You can buy your ticket directly from the official site. If you don’t see tickets for your desired dates on the official website (very likely if you book last minute), try GetYourGuide. This company helped me so many times to get tickets last minute! No idea how they do it! The price is even a bit lower than the official site in case you take the audio guide (and you should!).
You do not need to print the ticket this time, you can just show the electronic voucher, they will scan it directly from your smartphone.
PRO TIP: a good time to go would be early morning on Wednesday as many people will be at the Basilica for Pope’s audience and they will start flocking into the museum only after 11 a.m.
PRICE: 21€ (17 + 4 online booking fee per person) + optional audio guide 7€ (they also have a special audio guide for kids for 5€!). The price is 8€ for students up to 25 years old (you will need to present a valid student ID at the entrance).
As usual, if there are no tickets on the official site left for your dates, try here, for a couple of extra euros you will probably be able to buy your tickets!
NOTE 2: If you are visiting the Vatican museum with kids, there are baby changing stations and elevators to move your stroller between the floors.
Solution 2. Get a guided tour of the Vatican
Musei Vaticani is one of those museums that is worth visiting with a knowledgeable guide and tour groups get to go directly to the entrance and cut the line, so it is a win-win for you!
Here are some great choices I have selected for you for both guided and private tours:
1. GUIDED GROUP TOUR:
A guided group tour is 33€ for the 2 hour tour on the official site.
Attention! No one can bypass the security line (don’t trust the companies that tell you otherwise) so you might still need to wait for some time.
Groups can also use a special separate entrance to enter the Saint Peter Basilica right after the Sistine Chapel without the line if you get a combo Vatican + Basilica tours. Individuals are not allowed to do it, they will have to stay in the line all over again.
Price: 33€ for the guided tour, 50€ for a small guided tour and skip-the-line access to St. Peter’s Basilica
2. GUIDED PRIVATE TOUR:
Getting a private tour is a more exclusive albeit more expensive option. Here is a classic private tour of the Vatican that will show you all the highlights in 3 hours, get you to some closed-access zones and, of course, get you to Saint Peter’s Cathedral without the queue as well.
PRICE: around 310€ depending on how many people you are
Solution 3. Get the OMNIA pass
This city pass allows you to skip the line to ALL these 3 tourist attractions in Rome:
- Peter’s Basilica,
- the Vatican Museums,
- and the Colosseum!
The price is 113€ and along with the skip-the-lines advantage, you will also get a discounted entrance to more than 30 attractions in Rome, get a hop-on/hop-off bus pass and unlimited transportation in the city! If this sounds like a good deal, you can book your card here.
The card must be picked up from the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi Office (right across the street from Vatican Museums). When you pick it up, you can select your desired dates for your skip-the-line tickets, you cannot do it before.
More information about all the available tourist passes in Rome and a sample calculation on how much you can save is here in this post.
Solution 4. A night tour of the Vatican museum
If you are visiting Rome from April to October, you can enjoy an amazing opportunity of visiting the museum after it is officially closed to the public! On top of that, you will be able to enjoy a concert inside the Vatican.
Also, you will get access to some areas normally closed to the public and, of course, see the Sistine Chapel without the crowds – all of this for the same price as the daytime tour.
Sounds interesting, huh? Here is how to get it:
ATTENTION: this tour is only available on Friday nights from April to October and should be booked in advance.
Time – from 7 to 11 pm, final entry is at 9:30 pm.
Here are 2 options to choose from when visiting the Vatican Museum at night:
Self-organized tour: Here is more information about which sections of the museum are open after hours (quite many and the Sistine Chapel is included).
Guided tour: If you would like to get a night guided tour (I ALWAYS recommend guided tours, especially in museums like this!), you can book it here.
PRICE: 59€ per person (at least 2 people are required to book)
Solution 5. An early entry to the Vatican
Are you more of an early bird? No problem, I have a great choice for you too!
How about getting in the museum an hour before it is officially open? Visit the Sistine Chapel before the crowds arrive and enjoy skip-the-line access to the Vatican Museums, Raphael Rooms and St. Peter’s Basilica without the crowds!
By the way, an early entry also gives access to some rooms that are usually closed to the public. The guided tour lasts for 4 hours and I think it is just right to enjoy the museums’ many masterpieces.
Book the tour here or this one if you want the morning access for the Sistine Chapel only (after you finish you can go and visit the other parts of the museum as usual).
PRICE: around 50€ depending on the season and running promotions
BONUS: How to see the Sistine Chapel without people?
Now, do you want to know one more life hack? How about seeing the magnificent Sistine Chapel without other people around?
It is easy (and free):
Get the earliest ticket possible and go straight to the exit right away. Sounds strange, I know, but the Sistine Chapel is located at the end (see the official map here). You and a couple of more smart travelers like you will be able to have the place all to yourself! And after that, you can come back to the beginning and see everything else at your own pace.
Another way to do it would be to take a private after-hours tour to see the Sistine Chapel (see above).
As a bonus, here is a free audio guide for you explaining the masterpiece of the Sistine Chapel – enjoy it!
3. St. Peter’s Basilica
First things first – I know that many people confuse the Basilica and the Vatican Museums.
Even if they are located 5 minutes walking from each other, there are not the same things and they have different entrances!
The entrance to St. Peter Basilica is free of charge and the only way to get there without crowds is to go early or through skip-the-line tour that gets you into a reserved security check line with no people.
PRO TIP: Do not forget to cover your shoulders and knees (you can take a light scarf for this purpose with you if it is too hot outside)! You will not be let in by the guards if you are not dressed modestly! But you will only figure that out AFTER you stay in the long line when you are at the entrance. There are some scarf sellers near the entrance for tourists, but they are HEAVILY overpriced, (~8€ for a scarf), so be sure to take something with you!
Here are the best ways to jump the lines to the famous Basilica:
Solution 1. Get there as early as possible (7 a.m.)
Here are the opening hours of the Basilica, as you can see it is open as early as 7 a.m.
We all know that tourists on vacation usually do not wake up that early, so, chances are, there will be no line or a very short one.
If you arrive about 20 minutes before the opening, your wait time is likely to be about 20 minutes. You will see the queue 4-5 times longer when you leave the Basilica.
BONUS: download a free audio guide that covers St. Peter’s square and the masterpieces inside the Basilica here.
PRO TIP: If you do not have your heart set on meeting the Pope, I recommend avoiding the Basilica on Wednesdays and Sundays as these are the dates of the Papal appearance and you should expect large crowds. This does not affect people who hold a skip-the-line ticket of course (see solutions below).
Solution 2. Skip-the-line access with the audio guide
If you absolutely can’t make it early, there are more options, do not worry!
There is a way to get an audio-guide that will let you skip the whole line. Even if the price for the audio-guide is higher than normal, you basically pay for skipping the lines.
Or this one for 19.5€ with GetYourGuide
NOTE: Bring your own headphones please, otherwise they are available for purchase there for an extra 1€. Also, do not forget your ID; you will need it as a deposit for the audio guide.
To be honest with you, this tour does not give you much, only the priority access. The entrance to the Basilica is free anyway and the Audio guide can be downloaded inside the basilica for free. Therefore, if you want to save many hours of standing in line, I would pay a bit extra and at least get a guided tour (see the next option below). This option is only good for those who want to check out the Basilica fast and do not want to wait in the line.
PRICE: 19.50€ + 3€ booking fee = 22.50€
Solution 3. Take a skip the line guided tour
Guided tours are entered through a shorter exclusive access line< this might be helpful for those who want to get to know more information about the Basilica and who are not willing to stand in line. The tour will take about an hour and is available in many languages so check the details and read the reviews here.
Solution 4. Book a combo tour of the Basilica and the Vatican Museum
As I mentioned above, there is an option to skip the line to BOTH the Vatican Museum and the Basilica. Here is the great group tour you have been searching for.
This, to be honest, might be the best option in my opinion, as I see no reason to overpay for the simple audio guide just because it gives you access to a reserved entrance.
If you want a private tour, here is it.
PRICE: 44€ for the group tour and from 310€ for the private one (please note that the price might vary depending on the dates and promotions)
BONUS: Free tour of the Basilica (requires waiting in line though)
There is a free guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica that is organized by The Pontifical North American College. The tours are given in English on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from February to May, beginning at 2:15 PM and there is no need to reserve it in advance, just show up at your desired time outside the Visitor Information Center. The tour is in English, free of charge and it lasts approximately 2 hours depending on the waiting time in the line.
You can read more information about the tour here.
4. Borghese Gallery
Galleria Borghese, located in the famous Villa Borghese park, might be my favorite museum in Rome, I have been there twice and I would go again! I sincerely hope you will pay a visit there!
Borghese Gallery hosts a unique collection of sculptures, paintings, bas-reliefs and mosaics mostly from the 15th to the 18th century.
Even if the museum looks quite simple from the outside, don’t let that fool you – it is posh and amazing on the inside! Moreover, it was specifically designed that way by the architect so that visitors of the museum (back then, a private collection of art by a powerful Borghese family) would get shocked by the beauty of the place inside, not outside.
Borghese Gallery is also pretty much the only place where you CAN’T get in unless you have a ticket purchased in advance!
It is done this way due to the big amounts of visitors and the small size of the building. The limitation of the number of people allows visitors to truly enjoy the museum. And, believe me, there are things to get mesmerized about!
NOTE: Each ticket gives you a 2-hour time slot in the museum and you are not allowed to stay longer because the admission is strictly limited to 360 people in the building at one time.
Here are a couple of solutions on how to avoid the madness of buying the tickets to Galleria Borghese and how not to miss this amazing place:
Solution 1. Buy the tickets WELL IN ADVANCE on the official site
Here is the official website of Borghese Gallery. You have to buy tickets before you go because you will not be allowed to enter if you do not have a pre-purchased ticket.
The price of the ticket is 20€ or 26,5 for a guided tour. If you are an EU citizen aged 18-25 you can enter for 9€ and the guided tour will cost 15,5€ for you. If you are less than 18 years old, you can enter for free but you will still have to pay the 2€ booking fee for reserving your spot online; the guided tour will be 6,5€ for you.
The audio guide cannot be reserved in advance and it will be an additional 6€, but since the guided tour would be just 0,5€ more expensive, I would go for it in that case.
NOTE: Buying tickets to this attraction needs planning of AT LEAST 2 weeks in advance as the tickets get sold out with the speed of sound!
When I tried to buy my tickets only a week in advance (late April), everything was absolutely full already!
UPDATE: I was told that sometimes it is possible to get last-minute tickets over the phone (if there are any cancellations that are not reflected on the website).
PRICE: 20€ (18 + 2 reservation fee) + 6€ optional audio guide. Or 26.5€ for a guided tour.
Solution 2: Buy a guided tour from GetYourGuide
As I missed the tickets from the official website, I then checked if anything was still available on GetYourGuide and I was in luck!
I have no idea how they still have tickets available when it is completely sold out on the official website. I guess they have their own pre-reserved spots?
I don’t care and in fact, I am actually quite happy things turned out this way because my guided tour was fantastic!
If you do not wish to take a guide, here is a skip-the-line normal ticket to Galleria Borghese, but I HIGHLY recommend taking a guide. As I said, I would not have been able to appreciate the masterpieces of Bernini, Caravaggio, Raphael etc. as much as they deserve if I did not receive a proper explanation from a passionate knowledgeable guide.
PRICE: 26€ for a normal ticket and 30€ for a guided tour
Solution 3: Get in using the Roma Pass
As I have explained in this post that compares all passes in Rome, the Roma Pass offers a free skip-the-line entrance to 2 museums of your choice, plus unlimited transportation in the city for 29€ for 48 hours and 39,5€ for 72 hours. Borghese Gallery is on the list of free museums, so why not take advantage of it?
Do you also need to book in advance in this case? Yesss, you do!
There is no usual 2€ reservation fee, it is free of charge to book with your Roma pass.
How do you reserve your spot?
You may do so either by email or by calling them.
When calling by phone (+39 06 32810), please have your Roma Pass receipt close to you, they will ask for the number of the pass.
Sending them an email ([email protected]) is probably easier since you don’t need to think about the working hours and time zones. In the email, mention the date, the time (9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm or 5 pm) and the number of people that will be visiting the museum. I would include your phone number just in case too. You will receive confirmation within 3 working days.
PRICE: free with your Roma Pass. The pass is 29€ for 48 hours and 39.5€ for 72 hours.
Solution 4: Buy overpriced tickets from resellers at the location (not recommended)
If you absolutely did not have the option of buying your ticket in advance or you only realized you wanted to go to Galleria Borghese on that day, you could potentially get in even without a reservation.
You can buy your tickets from resellers at the gate, but the ticket cost will be muuuch higher than the original price.
When waiting for my guided tour to start, I saw people buying the entrance tickets from resellers, but the price is much higher for the same service, plus, there is no guarantee you will get in, so, I would not recommend this option.
BONUS: Some practical information you should know about the Borghese Gallery
I was also thinking I would share some important practical information about the museum with you. Here are some things you should know before visiting the Borghese Gallery:
- The museum is closed on Mondays. The working hours for all other days are from 9 am to 7pm. The last admission is at 5 pm. You can find the schedule on the official website
- The museums is (almost) free on the 1stSunday of the month, but booking is required! Why almost free? Because there is an additional 2€ online-booking fee (I know, it is silly, right?) which you still have to pay if you are visiting during a technically free day. There is also an additional fee of 5€ for a guided tour if you wish to take one
- Sometimes there are cultural events and special exhibitions during which the price might go slightly higher
- Even if you are less than 18 and you are supposed to enter free of charge, even if it is the first Sunday of the month – either way you need to book your ticket in advance (and thus, pay the 2€ fee)! They are very strict about the 360 people at the same time rule. The only exceptions are kids that are younger than 6. They do not need an advance reservationand they enter free of charge
- Just in case, take your ID with you. They usually do not require it at the entrance with your ticket, but they might
- No bags or backpacks are allowed inside the museum, you will need to leave them outside in a special box. You can take your camera since pictures without a flash are allowed in Borghese Gallery
- Since you cannot stay longer than 2 hours in the museum, I HIGHLY recommend arriving 30-40 minutes in advance as the time you will spend in line, leaving your bags etc. is the time that you are supposed to be in the museum being mesmerized by its artwork. Visiting the gardens is free and it is not included in the 2 hour timeframe so you can stay there as long as you wish
- If you are visiting by yourself, without a group, you can trick the system a little bit and go directly to the upper floor to see the paintings first and then go down again and see the sculptures. Why would you do that? The museum allows a maximum 90 people at a time in the painting galleries and, naturally, everyone goes there more or less at the same time, so you would have to wait for your turn. I suggest you visit “against the current” – this way you will enjoy the paintings at a leisurely pace and go down to the main floor when the majority of people will move up. You are welcome! 😉
5. St. Peter Top of the Dome
Climbing St. Peter’s dome (also known as “cupola”) is one of the highlights of Rome!
You will see the astounding beauty of the Basilica from the inside and then the famous postcard view of St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican museums from the outside.
To reach it from the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica, turn right after the security check. There will be a sign that will direct you to the tickets kiosk that is located on the far right of the portico.
You got it right – this place is also very crowded and the average waiting time is about 60-90 minutes. In fact, I only visited once during my entire time in Rome (which was 2 years) because of those crazy lines.
Here are my tips on avoiding them:
Solution 1. Get the skip the line tour
Skip-the-line access is not possible at the Dome, but I eventually found a tour that combines the skip-the-line entrance to the Basilica with a reserved access to the Dome and the Crypt.
It is an early tour so you will get to avoid the crowds. You will head to the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica to take the special elevator to the first terrace of the dome to get a close look at the mosaics and then climb the stairs to see the stunning famous view of Vatican Square. Then there will be a guided tour of the Basilica and you will end with a rare visit to the papal crypt.
PRICE: Around 49€ per person depending on the season and running promotions
Solution 2. Get there as early as possible (8 a.m.)
While the Basilica opens at 7 a.m., the entrance to the Dome opens at 8.
If you do not want to spend money on a live guide (as offered above), I would suggest getting inside the Basilica when it opens and then being one of the first ones to climb to the Dome at 8 am!
You can choose between two options to climb there – 8€ and you climb 551 steps or 10€ and you climb only 320 steps (the rest is an elevator). The Dome climb is interesting and the view inside the base of the cupola is quite spectacular! You choose for yourself which option you prefer, either way, you will have to climb a bit.
Here is the information about the price and the opening times (sorry, it is only in Italian for now).
PRICE: 10€ with the elevator, 8€ climbing the stairs.
There is no online payment option at the moment, you need to buy your ticket at the kiosk.
Pantheon is an impressive ancient building preserved spectacularly since the ancient Roman times and you can enter it free of charge!
2 000 years ago it used to be the temple of “all the Gods” (“Pan” – all, “Theos” – Gods in Greek), and now it serves as a burial place for many famous people like Rafael.
The only problem with visiting this place? Of course, it is always very crowded there!
There are no crazy long lines like with the previous 5 attractions to enter, but you will probably feel like there are way too many people there.
Solution 1 (and only). Come early in the morning
You will have the place just to yourself, I was there at about 8 am and there was literally no one there, so I could take a picture like this. You will be able to try an amazing coffee just in front of Pantheon and at 8.30 its doors are open for visitors.
You can download a free (!) audio guide to get some expert guidance around the Pantheon (there are famous tombs of composers, painters and royals located inside so you will learn much more than you would by yourself). Click here to download it to your phone.
|🚶🏽♂️How to skip the queues:||Buy tickets in advance|
|💵 How to save money:||Tourist City Pass|
|🤩 Most visited place:||Colosseum|
|🏛️ Best free attraction:||The Pantheon|
BONUS: How to see other (free) attractions in Rome without people?
There are no skipping the line, exclusive after-hours tours or secret entrances this time. If you want to see these stunning places when they are not crowded, you’ve got to wake up early!
All the very important and beautiful sights of Rome – Fontana di Trevi, Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Navona –get flooded with tourists after about 9 am. If you manage to wake up very early just once and take a tour of all these points, you will see them without people, and, trust me, it will be magical!
I did it once and I have absolutely no regrets; you will be charmed by Rome! And of course, you will get to take all those awesome pictures without hundreds of people in the background! 😉
This is what I visited and this is how many people I had in the photos(none):
We did it fast because we had a scooter, more on transportation here.
Which transportation to use in Rome (how to rent a scooter in Rome)
UPDATE: You guys asked me a lot on Instagram to share my tips on some great and off-the-beaten-path things to do in Rome.
I heard you, so here you go!
9 unusual things to do in Rome
Other useful practical tips for visiting Rome
When to go to Rome
It is almost always a good season to go to Rome but you should expect it to be crowded from April to October, and Christmas and Easter holidays get a lot of people as well.
My personal favorite times of the year in Rome are May and September – it is warm already (but not hot). There are many tourists of course (there are always many), but not too crazy yet.
This means that the line to a good local restaurant will be shorter and you won’t need to push other tourists on those narrow Roman streets.
You already know how to skip the lines to all the popular Rome points of interest from my tips above! 😉
Where to stay in Rome
Here is my selection of hand-picked awesome reviewed hotels all located in the city center sorted by budget.
Remember, they get sold out very fast, so book as much in advance as you can!
Luxury ($230 USD and above): I recommend HT6 Hotel Roma for a luxury holiday because it has amazing Art Nouveau room decorations, free WiFi, in-room spa baths, a daily buffet breakfast and more! The Pantheon is 700 m away from this hotel! Margutta 19 – Small Luxury Hotels of the World is a real 5-star accommodation situated less than a 10-minute walk from the Spanish Steps. This accommodation has elegant rooms, nice terraces and luxury services!
Middle ($110 – $230 USD): For a middle-budget traveler I recommend Eccelso Hotel. This is a 3-star hotel with super clean and stylish rooms, situated in the city center, only 400m away from the Vatican Museums. My other recommendation is Reginella Suites – yummy breakfast, clean rooms, beautiful decorations and quality services for a good price!
Budget (up to $110 USD): AppleMoon is an amazing budget accommodation right in the heart of Rome! This is an intimate guesthouse with classy rooms, private bathrooms and air conditioning! Another choice can be Residenza Cadorna – cozy rooms, free WiFi and an equipped kitchen will await you in the center of Rome!
If you are going to Paris or Barcelona next, I have some awesome tips for avoiding the lines there as well:
- How to skip the lines to attractions in Barcelona
- 6 Most crowded places in Paris and how to avoid the lines
The lines to attractions in Rome are notorious, we all know that but what can you do.
However if you plan your visit to 4-5 of the most important attractions ahead of time, you will beat the crowds and it will make your holiday much smoother, believe me!
I hope you have a wonderful time in Rome using my tips!
And remember – Don’t skip the attraction, skip the line to it! 🙂
Do you have any other questions about Rome?
I know quite a lot about it, so I will be happy to reply!
Ask me in the comments section below!
Pin it for later!
Pin it for later!
Great ideas! Friends who have visited Rome are urging us to hire private drivers there. Our friends claim that the drivers they used can pull up to the door and usher us straight into the attraction with no lines whatsoever. I wondered what magic these drivers had access to that we could not get access to on our own, and our friends believed it was some insider track–perhaps a bribe or other work-around that allowed this VIP treatment. Is this true? I think if we buy tickets in advance, we can skip the lines and I don’t believe there is any way around security lines for anyone. What do you think?
Also, if we buy a ticket for the Colosseum/Roman Forum in advance, is there any further advantage to entering at the Forum?
Thanks so much.
Knowing how things are done in Rome, I would not be surprised if there are some VIP tours that can go “under the table” – this is definitely illegal (yes, works on bribes) and you definitely would not be able to pull up in front of the door, maybe they would take you through a back door or something. The main entrance has long lines including the security line, so I am certain you would not be able to do it there.
Anyhow, if you end up going through that way, pls stop by here again and let is know how it went, I am curious! 🙂
Sorry my previous comment got a missed up a bit.
Also, can I purchase a ticket only for the Sistine Chapel but not the Vatican Museums?
Hey, that’s okay! The Sistine Chapel is included in the Vatican Museum ticket, as it’s actually part of it. But if that’s your main point of interest, you can start with it (check the map here) and then go back to visit the rest of the museum.
Hey Yulia! Great blog.
Really helped a lot for a person who is visiting for the first time.
Ill be visiting Rome End of October and hopefully it won’t be too crazy than the usual seasons.
But I did have a few questions.
When purchasing advanced tickets, can we download free audio to these attractions like for the Vatican Museums and St. Peters?
Also we are very short on time ( 3 days -Sunday, Monday, Tuesday- )
Hence on Sunday ill be covering the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon & Roman forum (great hack) first, heading to Colosseum.
Now that leaves me for my last day (and honestly I just want to explore the city on this day). I’ve thought about walking down the Trastevere area and enjoy a drink in the night by Tiber River.
if there is anything ive missed out, feel free to add to my itinerary.
really appreciate you writing this article for us.
Awaiting your response. Thanks, Yulia 🙂
And as ive read, Vatican Museum is closed on Sundays, I will be heading to the Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel on Monday as well as the Palatine hills. But I also do want to cover the Dome.
Now the question is, Will I have enough time on Monday to cover all these 4 attractions.
For free audio guides you can check out this page here!
Your itinerary sounds great! In Rome there are also many small but really beautiful churches, so if you pass by one it’s worth going in. It won’t take long and won’t make your itinerary harder to follow, but you might find some unique art in there, including works by Bernini, Michelangelo, Caravaggio etc. (not all of the works of the Great Masters in Itally are in the most famous places!).
About your Monday program – first things first, make sure you buy your skip-the-line tickets in advance for everything you want to visit! That way you save a lot of time you’d otherwise waste in line. Then, it really depends on how much time you want to spend in each place. My suggestion would be to keep in mind not to exaust yourself from the beginning. If you start with the Vatican Museum, check the map and choose where you want to spend more time and through which rooms you just want to pass by, that way you won’t find yourself already tired after you finish visiting it (and you won’t waste too much precious time inside, it’s very easy to not realise how the hours pass by when you’re there!).
Enjoy your time in Italy!
Excellent post, this is really helpful!
Thank you, glad you enjoyed it!
THANK YOU THIS WAS MOST HELPFUL! MY WIFE AND I WILL BE THERE SECOND WEEK IN JUNE.
You’re welcome, glad I could help! 🙂
Hey there, my boyfriend and I are visiting Rome in July and we have been so lucky to stumble upon this gem of a resource for all things Rome! Our main concern was queues and getting reliable tickets, and you have completely squashed those worries. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
So happy to hear that!
Enjoy your time in my fav city in the world!
This was so helpful! We’re going this summer and appreciate all of your tips!
Happy to help, enjoy Rome, it is such a fascinating city!