10. Rome: Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica Tour
Discover the best of the Vatican in a single visit. Skip the ticket line to the key attractions and see outstanding examples of art and architecture in the company of your expert guide. Enjoy an optimized itinerary designed to allow you to get the best out of your visit to the Vatican Museums in a limited time frame, taking in the remarkable Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms, and St. Peter’s basilica among other highlights in the company of one of our expert guides. Visit the Sistine Chapel, where you’ll get the chance to gaze up at Michelangelo’s ceiling as your guide explains the secrets behind Michelangelo’s masterful paintings. Close to the Sistine Chapel is the suite of private papal apartments known as the Raphael Rooms. These exquisitely decorated rooms contain some of the finest examples of Raphael’s work, including the “School of Athens," a group portrait of antiquity's most famous philosophers, many of them in the guises of Raphael’s contemporaries. Often overlooked by visitors who are in a hurry to get to the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms deserve more than a brief pitstop — your guide will ensure that you have plenty of time to admire Raphael’s works at your leisure. Your visit to the Vatican Museums is a great opportunity to discover its remarkable collections of ancient sculptures, including the legendary Laocoon and Apollo Belvedere. These classical artworks had a profound impact on the artists of the Renaissance, and their muscular anatomies and psychological intensity strongly influenced the work of Michelangelo and Raphael. Accompanied by an expert art historian, you’ll learn all about these ancient masterpieces and gain a greater appreciation of Greek and Roman art. Walk through the famous Gallery of Maps, admire the Pinecone Courtyard and visit the Belvedere Courtyard. Although it’s impossible to see the entire extent of the Vatican’s enormous collection in a few hours, on this tour, you'll see a series of unmissable highlights. After exiting the Sistine Chapel, enter St Peter’s Basilica directly, without having to wait in line. The basilica has been enriched over the centuries by the hands of countless artists and architects. During your St Peter’s Basilica tour, your guide will tell you the fascinating history of the basilica and put it in the context of Christian history, from its origins as a burial ground to its current state of splendor and international importance.