Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel Early Visit • Vatican By Train Vatican Full Day PLUS
Vatican By Train Vatican Full Day PLUS
The Vatican Railway is the shortest national railway system in the world at 300 metres long. Once a week, an international passenger train departs from Vatican City Railway Station in Vatican City to Roma San Pietro and Castel Gandolfo in Italy. The only way to take a ride on the world’s shortest railway, and world’s shortest international railway ride (I’ll get to it in subsequent posts), is by the once-a-week Vatican By Train tour by the Vatican Museums.
I booked my ticket the moment the Vatican By Train tour was restarted in 2022 when tourists can return to Rome again, for a date about 3 months ahead. I opted for the Vatican Full Day PLUS package as it would include the tour of the Gardens of the Pontifical Villas (Villa Barberini), and the return train would start from Albano Laziale, the end of the line, ensuring I get to ride the full route of the train ride offered.
Vatican By Train • Vatican Full Day PLUS Itinerary
Click on each timing to view the experience in each post.
8.00 am: Tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel with an audio guide
10.00am: Walking tour of the Vatican Gardens with an audio guide
11.00am: Departure from Vatican City Railway Station by electric train to Castel Gandolfo and transfer by shuttle
12.30pm: Visit to the Museum of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo with audio guide
3.30pm: Tour of the Gardens of the Pontifical Villas (Villa Barberini) by eco friendly transport with an audio guide
5.18pm: Departure from Albano Laziale Railway Station by electric train to Roma San Pietro Railway Station
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel Early Visit
As part of the Vatican By Train Vatican Full Day PLUS ticket, due to the nature of the tour schedule, Vatican By Train passengers get to enter the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel first before anyone else in order to meet the tour timing for the Vatican Gardens, and more importantly to make the train departure time.
The first “Skip the Line” admission for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel is at 9am. However, Vatican By Train passengers get to enter from 8am, making it the ultimate “Skip the Line” ticket. The 2 human queues visible in the picture are for “Skip the Line” ticket holders with pre-purchased online tickets from the Vatican Museums, and the other is for walk-in visitors to stop at the ticket counter to buy tickets first.
However, here is my line to enter the Vatican Museums immediately. Better by train.
Heading into the Vatican Museums entrance.
The walk-in line has started to file in at the ticket booths, but I could simply walk past this as this was not part of the steps to collect Vatican by Train tickets.
I headed up to the designated Vatican by Train counter to pick up my tickets.
Continuing up to collect my audio guide.
The Vatican by Train counter is on the extreme right.
Picking up more coupons.
My tickets, coupons, and brochure given to me throughout the process so far.
There is also a dedicated line for Vatican by Train passengers at the audioguide pick up.
Heading up the escalators with all other museum visitors.
The collection of maps I’ve been given for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel early visit.
There’s a lot to see in the Vatican Museums, but I have visited it before, and experience tells me to skip everything and proceed straight to the Sistine Chapel in order to meet the 10am meeting time for the Vatican Gardens walking tour. This time to meet is extremely important as the walking tour is also the walking route to the railway station, and visitors are not allowed to walk in the Vatican Gardens without a guide.
If this is your first time visiting the Vatican Museums, visit it on another day in order to not miss the train.
An itinerary is also provided as a recap to the email already sent.
My ticket for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel as part of the Vatican By Train Vatican Full Day PLUS package.
Once up, museum visitors roam around before the official opening time of 9am.
Separate audioguides can be purchased here for museum visitors.
Most visitors roamed outside at the Giardino Quadrato.
However, Vatican By Train passengers, as identified by the sticker pasted on shirts, are allowed to enter the Vatican Museums already.
It was surreal to be walking in the Vatican Museums almost alone, since it’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world.
But no time to lose as I have a train to catch.
Following the many signs pointing towards the Sistine Chapel. There is no shortcut like an IKEA, and all the smaller rooms must be walked through as well.
Continuing on as fast as I can with a brisk walk.
Regular ticket holders are still waiting for the museum to open.
Walking through the empty Gallery of Maps.
Walking along the corridor with fresh breeze from the Vatican.
The shortcut ahead to the Sistine Chapel was roped off, and I had to walk through more galleries.
Looking out to a car park in the Vatican.
And finally, the door onwards to the Sistine Chapel. But not just yet. This door will open at 9am and the walk continues.
Toilets are available here for a break first.
More Vatican by Train passengers arrived at this door closer to 9am.
At 9am, the door was opened by the security guard, and the walk continues.
Heading down the stairs.
Lots of steps to deal with here.
The queue was held up again just before the Sistine Chapel.
Once allowed for entry, it was just the Vatican by Train passengers, and I’ve never visited an almost-empty Sistine Chapel before. Thanks Vatican by Train.
Photos are not allowed in the Sistine Chapel.
I made sure not to spend so much time in the Sistine Chapel as there was another attraction for me up ahead before joining the walking tour, which many visitors may miss.
Hastily walking out of the Vatican Museums to make the train.
Closer to the end of the Vatican Museums visit, more signs lead Vatican by Train passengers to where the meeting point is.
Walking through the souvenir shop.
The Vatican Museums have official merchandise of Vatican car scale models as well, available for purchase.
Vatican Pharmacy products are also sold here.
Heading out of the museum building.
Vatican by Train Meeting Point
The Vatican by Train meeting point was here. I’m early enough, but there is 1 place I want to visit first.
Padiglione delle Carrozze (Carriage Pavilion)
Down the steps here, which many tourists may miss, is the Padiglione delle Carrozze or Carriage Pavilion.
Loosely translated, I’d like to call it the Vatican Transport Museum.
The Padiglione delle Carrozze showcases vehicles used by the country and Popes from the horse-powered era to today’s vehicles.
The collection of cars sold at the Vatican Museums is also displayed here.
Horse carriages on display according to the reign of the Popes.
Various cars are on display as well.
Perhaps the most familiar would be the Fiat Nuova Campagnola Popemobile in which Pope John Paul II was shot in during an assassination attempt.
Other cars and Popemobiles are on display as well, notably including the evolution with bullet-proof glass.
Heading out of the Padiglione delle Carrozze from the other side with the ramp. I guess this is how the vehicles got in to the underground hall.
Heading back to the Vatican by Train meeting point, the passengers have already gathered as it was approaching meeting time for the walking tour of the Vatican Gardens.
The Vatican by Train ticket offers early access into the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel which is useful to skip all lines and have a private Vatican Museums experience. However, bear in mind that there is a train to catch, and time should be kept in order to not miss the train. Don’t be too mesmerised by the Vatican Museums on this early visit though – visit it on another dedicated day to appreciate all that the Vatican Museums has to offer.