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

2. 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).

Tour the Vatican: Sistine Chapel, St. Peter & Raphael Rooms

3. Tour the Vatican: Sistine Chapel, St. Peter & 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.

In-depth Guided Tour of St. Peter's Basilica & Square

4. In-depth Guided Tour of St. Peter's Basilica & 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 City: Early Dome Climb with St. Peter’s Basilica

5. 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: Michelangelo v Raphael in the Vatican City

6. 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!

Other Sightseeing Options in Vatican Grottoes

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What people are saying about Vatican Grottoes

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 3,456 reviews

The guide was very knowledgeable about the basilica and shared interesting stories about the artwork, sculptures, and popes. We loved the tour of the basilica and grottoes. When it was time to go to the dome we were informed it was not via elevator as the booking information indicated, but climbing to the top through narrow pathways not recommended if claustrophobic. The line to do this was over an hour long so we skipped it. However, we were most interested in the basilica and grottoes so still loved this tour.

Great experience if you can only do one tour of the Vatican. However, if you’re doing the museums, Sistine Chapel, and Basilica tour already, this tour doesn’t add anything except a guided tour of the inside dome which you can get to one your own for $8/10. The underground is available to anyone in the Basilica. Sara was great though and I appreciated a second perspective on the Basilica and underground.

A magnificent place. So much to see having a guide is essential. Regardless of skip the queue access to the Basillica itself, you will queue to go up the Dome. Worth it though.

Fácil de encontrar el punto. Comenzó a la hora prometida en un grupo pequeño. María Consuelo es una gran guía y sabe bastante del lugar.

I loved this tour because I was able to learn so much. Definitely made it more enjoyable than if I would have gone on my own.