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Vatican Grottoes

Vatican Grottoes: Our most recommended tours and activities

Rome: St. Peter's Basilica Dome to Underground Grottoes Tour

1. Rome: St. Peter's Basilica Dome to Underground Grottoes Tour

Explore iconic sights in Rome on this guided walking tour. Stroll through St. Peter's square and take in the views of the city from the top of St. Peter's Basilica. Admire artwork like Michelangelo's emotive 'Pietà' statue and go below the Basilica to uncover St. Peter's final resting place. Meet your guide in St. Peter’s Square then start the tour by climbing your way to the top of the Basilica’s dome. Enjoy an exclusive look at the Dome’s impressive mosaics then head further up to the top balcony. From here, marvel at panoramic views across the city, spot the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and other iconic landmarks. Descend into the Basilica and admire its impressive interior and discover why it took 150 years to build. Gaze at the colorful marble, golden ceilings, and intricate mosaics that surround you. Learn about the renowned works of Renaissance and Neoclassic artists that are housed here.  Next, head underground to the Basilica’s historic grottoes and visit St. Peter’s Tomb. Touch the ancient walls of the original 4th-century Basilica and admire its beautiful frescoes. Finish the tour in St. Peter’s Square and soak up its majestic architecture. 

Rome: Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Tour incl. Papal Tombs

2. Rome: Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Tour incl. Papal Tombs

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vatican City on a guided tour of all of its most important treasures. Discover the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica, and the Papal Tombs all included with fast-track access to make the most of your day. Begin your experience by discovering masterpieces of art in the Vatican Museums by some of the world’s most distinguished artists. Follow a guide in your chosen language to the most important areas of the museum, including the Gallery of Maps and Gallery of Tapestries. Enter the Sistine Chapel to contemplate the glory of Michelangelo’s acclaimed masterpiece, “The Last Judgment”, one of the most famous pieces of art ever made. Then, experience the magnificent interior of St. Peter’s Basilica with fast-track entrance. Be awed by one of the holiest sites in the world and admire Michelangelo’s stunning “La Pieta”. Complete your visit of Vatican City in the Papal Tombs to see the resting place of many popes and royals. Appreciate the religious importance of this burial site as you observe the sarcophagi, frescoes, and tombs near the grounds of St Peter's burial.

Vatican: Basilica, Dome, and Underground Early Bird Tour

3. Vatican: Basilica, Dome, and Underground Early Bird Tour

Uncover the history, art, and architecture of the Vatican City on this guided walking tour. Visit sites like St. Peter’s Square and Basilica in the morning light before the crowds arrive for the day.  Meet your guide in Piazza della Città Leonina and dive into the ancient history of the Vatican City. Admire the statuesque columns and majestic pilasters in St. Peter’s Square. Walk through the walk close to the 1st balcony which is decorated with amazing frescoes. Enter the Basilica with skip-the-line access and reach the summit of the Dome after 320 steps, where you are rewarded for the climb with views of the city center. Have some free time to enjoy views of monuments like the Roman Colosseum and Pantheon. Be captivated by the Basilica's interiors which are filled with masterpieces from masters like Bernini and Michelangelo. See pieces from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Follow your guide towards the Vatican’s historic Grottoes to get a closer look of the rooms, chapels, and the papal tombs, where many Popes, royals, and other dignitaries are laid to rest.

Rome: St. Peter's Basilica, Square and Grottoes Guided Tour

4. Rome: St. Peter's Basilica, Square and Grottoes Guided Tour

Embark on a guided tour of Rome to discover the history and the secrets of St. Peter's Basilica, the largest Basilica in the world. Admire the stunning architecture, famous artworks, and the Papal Grottoes. Choose to add on an entry ticket to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. After meeting your guide, explore the wonders that fill the Basilica. Follow your guide as you discover the past of St. Peter’s Basilica and marvel at its grand interior, covered in gold and breathtaking colors. See the artworks created by Michelangelo, Bernini, and Bramante, a focal point for religion and a representative of the beauty of the Renaissance and Baroque eras. After visiting the Basilica, head to the Papal Grottoes, where the previous pontiffs were buried. Get indications to visit the St. Peter’s Dome on request at the end of the tour. To enjoy Vatican City fully, add the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel to your experience after your guided tour. With a skip-the-line entry ticket and the help of a local host, you can discover these places at your own pace without waiting in long entry lines (this portion is not guided).

Rome: Guided Tour of St. Peter's Basilica, Grottoes & Square

5. Rome: Guided Tour of St. Peter's Basilica, Grottoes & Square

Start your tour in St. Peter's Square and be fascinated by its architectural secrets. Discover the optical illusions as were thought by its designer, Bernini. Enter the Basilica and be amazed by its magnificence. Marvel at the mosaics all around you and see why it took 150 years to rebuild. Walk past renowned masterpieces of Renaissance and Neoclassical art with your expert guide. Stand in front of the harmonious 98.5-foot high canopy, and appreciate the expressive power and delicate beauty of Michelangelo's "Pietà". Conclude your tour by descending to the underground grottoes to see St. Peter's tomb. Touch the ancient walls of the original 4th-century Basilica while you admire the work of the beautiful frescoes within.

Vatican: The Wonders of St. Peter's Basilica Guided Tour

6. Vatican: The Wonders of St. Peter's Basilica Guided Tour

Discover the wonders of the most famous church in the word: St. Peter’s Basilica. Learn about the many curiosities of the Basilica’s square, like the presence of a 2000 years old Egyptian obelisk and the secrets of Bernini’s colonnade. Follow your private guide inside the Basilica, enter its enchanting atmosphere and start your journey through the century-old history of this Renaissance masterpiece. Wander around and admire the preciousness of St. Peter’s decorations, statues and architectural elements. Stare at Bernini’s works, like the Canopy, a splendid altar just above Saint Peter’s tomb, and marvel at Michelangelo’s Pietà. Explore the world beneath the church and walk through the Grottoes of the Basilica to visit the tomb of Pope John Paul II and the other hundreds of graves of Popes, Saints and historical figures. It is possible, for those who wants, to stay a little longer and assist to the mass inside the Basilica, a unique experience you will want to live at least once in your lifetime. You can also continue the visit on your own and purchase the tickets to climb up to the magnificent Basilica's dome and enjoy a beautiful view of the Eternal City.

Vatican City: Early Dome Climb with St. Peter’s Basilica

7. Vatican City: Early Dome Climb with St. Peter’s Basilica

Your tour will start early in the morning in Vatican City, the smallest nation in the world. Meet your licensed, English-speaking guide at the Fountain of the Tiare (Fontana delle Tiare), where you will be accompanied to witness the St. Peter’s Basilica Dome, the tallest Dome in the world. Start the climb to the Dome while listening to the fascinating facts and stories narrated by your guide. Avoid the 231 steps and take the elevator to the first level of the Dome, where the doors will open to the wonder that is Michelangelo’s Dome. From here you will get to admire the views of the interiors of the Basilica from above. Gaze upon the incredible mosaics, the amazing Latin Scripts up close and explore the roof of the basilica. Start you climb up 320 steps on this beautifully crafted and narrow spiral staircase to the very top of the Dome. This quite tiresome climb up will surely be worthwhile the energy spent to reach the top. You will get to admire the view from the highest place within the Vatican. This breathtakingly beautiful panoramic view of the Vatican City, its gorgeous gardens and ancient Rome that includes the Colosseum and the Pantheon will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. After having admired this splendid panoramic view from what will seem to be and feel as the “top of the world”, you will be able to descend to the St. Peter’s Basilica floors completely avoiding the long and tiresome lines outside. Let your guide accompany you through the beauty that is this marvelous architectural piece admired and revered by the entire world. The Basilica is the largest church in the world and the heart of Christianity, a place of pilgrimage in which millions of people gather every year. Prepare to be enchanted by this baroque masterpiece designed by Bernini and Bramante and to admire breathtaking art works like Michelangelo’s Pietà sculpture.This magnificent creation of Michelangelo is said to have been the perfect sculpture that helped launch his career unlike any previous work he had done. The scene of the Pieta shows the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ after his crucifixion, death, and removal from the cross, but before he was placed in the tomb. This is one of the key events from the life of the Virgin, known as the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which were the subject of Catholic devotional prayers, it is also said to be the only piece Michelangelo ever signed. Having soaked up the splendor that is this wonderful basilica, make your way down to the Vatican Grottoes also known as the Papal Tombs. Located inside the Grottoes are the tombs of over 90 Popes, a few monarchs and other church dignitaries, which dates to the 10th century. The Vatican Grottoes is considered to be the most visited place in Vatican City and is an absolute must -see of this glorious nation.

Vatican: Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's and The Raphael Rooms

8. Vatican: Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's and The Raphael Rooms

Discover some of the most popular attractions in Rome on a guided walking tour of Vatican City. Visit the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica with your guide, and admire the ornate interiors and the famed artworks housed within. Meet your guide near the entrance to the Vatican Museums and set out to explore the stunning galleries. Admire the ornate ceilings, the ancient statues, frescoes, and tapestries that adorn the walls. as you visit the Rotunda, the Gallery of Tapestries, and the Gallery of Maps. Then, enter the Sistine Chapel and marvel at Michelangelo's intricate frescos that covers the entire ceiling and walls and depict scenes from the Creation of Adam to the Last Judgement. Discover why the Sistine Chapel represents a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art. After, head to St. Peter's Basilica for the final leg of your tour. Explore the interior of this magnificent structure with your guide and discover the masterpieces of Renaissance and Baroque art that fill the cathedral including Pietà by Michelangelo and St. Peter's Baldachin by Bernini. Finally, head underground to the Basilica’s historic grottoes and visit St. Peter’s Tomb. Touch the ancient walls of the original 4th-century Basilica and admire its beautiful frescoes. Finish the tour in St. Peter’s Square and soak up its majestic architecture.

Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's and Papal Tombs

9. Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's and Papal Tombs

Begin the tour by meeting your expert private guide and skipping the line to enter the Vatican Museums. Explore one of the largest and most admired art collections in the world, containing a spectacular range of works from antique statues to Renaissance masterpieces. Discover some of Raphael’s most impressive frescoes in the Raphael Rooms, with your private guide on hand to provide context and historical information behind the works on display. Make your way through the numerous galleries before arriving at the Sistine Chapel, the most famous room in the Vatican Museums. Renowned for Michelangelo’s stunning ceiling and wall frescoes, admire "The Creation of Adam" and "The Last Judgment." Learn about the challenge and controversy surrounding Michelangelo’s iconic scenes. Next, continue to St. Peter’s Basilica, the church at the heart of western Catholicism. Discover the key contributions of Bernini to the captivating decoration of the Basilica. Admire Michelangelo’s "Pietà" and learn more about the construction of the Basilica. Complete your Vatican experience as you descend to the Papal Tombs. This is a unique addition to the standard tour, giving you the opportunity to discover the final resting place of many European popes and royals. Take a moment to contemplate the Vatican’s long-lasting significance as your private tour draws to an end.

Vatican: Michelangelo v Raphael in the Vatican City

10. Vatican: Michelangelo v Raphael in the Vatican City

On this theme tour of the Vatican, your guide will regale you with stories of the rivalry between Michelangelo and Raphael.  Your tour will begin with skip the line entrance to the Vatican Museums. This theme tour will focus on the artworks of Michelangelo and Raphael, but will also refer to some of the attractions along the way to help you to gain an understanding and appreciation of the period to which they belonged. The Raphael Rooms were once the papal apartments of Pope Julius II, who liked to stoke the rivalry of the geniuses under his patronage, to get the most out of them! While he had Michelangelo decorating the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he had his greatest rival decorating the walls of the grand rooms of his apartments! Your guide will explain the commission Raphael was given when painting these walls, and the messages and themes he was asked to portray through his art, for the benefit of ambassadors and visiting dignatories to the Holy See. Your guide will also point out Raphael's portraits of some of his famous contemporaries in his frescoes here, including the Pope, Michelangelo and himself! The Sistine Chapel was built by the uncle of Julius II, when he was Pope Sixtus IV. It was therefore very dear to his heart, so he hired the greatest artist of the day to take on the almost impossible task of painting the entire ceiling. Michelangelo displayed an obsession bordering on madness to complete this great undertaking, taking 4 years to complete the work, and today you can still gaze upward in awe at his greatest masterpiece. Your guide will explain to you the challenges he faced, his encounters and arguments with the Pope, the theme and purpose of the scenes he painted, as well as his own unique portaits and messages, hidden cheekily in small details that would have been very difficult for viewers to see from the ground! St Peter's Basilica contains mosaic copies of some of Raphael's great paintings, the originals of which you will see in the Pinacoteca, and also Michelangelo's famous and very moving statue of Mary with the body of Jesus on her lap - the Pietà. There are also wonderful stories of the time both artists spent in the Basilica - both served time as the maestro, or chief architect, during the course of the 120-year project to complete the rebuilding of the ancient structure. You will stand beneath the dome which stands over the altar of St. Peter, while your guide explains how Michelangelo solved the problem of how to cover the vast transept with a dome that would not collapse on itself - a problem his predecessors were unable to solve, leading to a period of 18 years in which the Basilica was in use but could not keep the rain out!  With treasures in the Pinacoteca, Raphael Rooms, Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica, by two of the most naturally gifted - yet very different characters - artists of their own, or any, generation, you will never be bored on this fascinating study of art and history in the Vatican!

  • Guided tours
  • Private tours
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What people are saying about Vatican Grottoes

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 8,636 reviews

Mi experiencia fue maravillosa con nuestra guía de nombre “Claudia” Ella es una persona conocedora de los lugares que visitamos en el Vaticano y su manera de explicarlo fue amena y fluida, no fue aburrido su tour y contestó amablemente a todas nuestras preguntas. Recomiendo este tour en español!!!

The lady guide was an archeologist (forgot the name) and was very knowledgable about Rome and Vatican’s history. She was keeping us busy and explaining the history of the place and connecting dots all throughout the waiting period and inside the cathedral. I completely enjoyed the guided tour.

Irina was our guide and she managed to arouse in us a great admiration and interest in everything about the Vatican, it shows that she knows a lot and that she enjoys what she does. We went as a couple and from us the most sincere congratulations and thank you very much for everything Irina

Sara our tour guide was fantastic. We learned so much. She did not rush us. Unfortunately it did take 1 hour to get through security but she was describing and showing us so much during that time. Would recommend this tour. I would love to use this tour guide again as well.

We easily found the contact person who gave us the first indications and waited with us for the guide. The guide queued up with us for the security check recommend history and anecdotes about the Piazza and Rome so the queue was very pleasant too