The monumentality of St. Peter's Basilica attracts millions of visitors to Rome every year. In addition to its majestic structure and its spectacular Dome, its basement holds some rooms worth visiting: the tombs and sarcophagi of the main Popes of the Catholic Church.
The most complete option to discover St. Peter's Basilica and the papal tombs.
With an expert guide, get to know the imposing St. Peter's Basilica and the Crypts of the Popes underground. The Necropolis is not included in this tour.
Visiting the papal tombs located in St. Peter's Basilica is possible thanks to this guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica and the crypts, which will take you through a large part of the church and its catacombs. An expert guide will tell you about the historical and artistic details of this monumental basilica and the first level of the underground where the remains of some kings and popes from the 10th century are kept.
Moreover, with this complete tour you will have *included the guided visit also to the Vatican Museums skipping the queues at the entrance. What more can you ask for?
On the other hand, the Necropolis, on the 2nd level of the Vatican Grottoes and the place where St. Peter the Apostle is buried, requires a different kind of entrance ticket that you must request separately due to the limited capacity.
Recommended if... On your tour of St. Peter's Basilica you do not want to miss the caves and the archaeological remains that were excavated and are preserved under the floor of the Catholic temple. Please note that to go down another level and visit the Necropolis you will have to buy an additional ticket.
How to buy tickets to the Crypts of the Popes in the Vatican
The crypts and catacombs of the Vatican, with the tombs of the Popes, are located in the basement of St. Peter's Basilica, on the first underground level. Although entry to this first level is free, with this guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica you are guaranteed access to this area with the explanations of a guide who completes the tour of the entire temple, which will give you a global vision of the Holy See.
However, the entrance to the Necropolis, where the tomb of St. Peter is located, is not included in this tour. Access to go down to the next level of the underground is very limited and only a small number of visitors can go down each day. I will explain more in the next point.
How to get tickets for the Vatican Necropolis
The capacity for the Necropolis is so limited that you have to make a request in advance to access them on a guided tour. Here are the details:
- Contact by email the Vatican department in charge of managing them ([email protected]) or go to the Excavations Office at the south entrance (left side), outside the colonnade in St. Peter's Square. If you do it by email, enter the details of how many people you want to take the guided tour, the language and the dates and you will receive a reply with the price and directions for the tour.
- The guided tour lasts aboutan hour and a half. Children under the age of 15 are not allowed and the tour is not recommended for people with claustrophobia.
- The price of this tour is around 13 euros.
- On the day of the visit, you must be at the Excavations Office 10 minutes before the agreed time.
Prices for visits to the Grottoes of the Popes
It is important not to confuse the Grottoes of the Popes (a small underground gallery) with the Necropolis where St. Peter is buried, two floors below the Basilica, which requires advance booking to visit. This visit costs about 13 euros.
Visiting the tombs of the Popes, on the other hand, is free of charge and can be accessed from a small door inside the Basilica itself. To get the full experience and understand the value of the archaeological remains there, I recommend booking a guided tour of the Vatican and the Basilica, which includes access to these tombs with an expert guide.
The official guide will explain how the burials were carried out, the symbolism of these crypts and how they are preserved today. You will not be able to walk through the crypts on your own, you will be accompanied by the guide at all times.
Please note that you will not be able to take photos
The use of a camera is not permitted during a visit to the Necropolis, even without flash. Please note that this is a very special place whose conservation is paramount, so you will have to put your camera and mobile phone away on this occasion. However, don't worry because the lighting in the crypts will not allow you to take very good pictures either.
You will have the opportunity to immortalise your trip to Rome in many corners of the city and even in other parts of the Vatican, such as the Museums, the Basilica or St. Peter's Square.
Respect the dress code at St. Peter's Basilica
Remember that both St. Peter's Basilica and its Necropolis are a place of worship and therefore you must follow the dress code for access to the interior. Both men and women must cover their shoulders and knees, so you should avoid short trousers or skirts and tank tops.
Women should also cover their cleavage, so the most practical way to visit the Vatican (especially if you are travelling in summer) is to wear a foulard or scarf over your shoulders. These rules also apply to visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
Leave backpacks and bulky items at the hotel
The space in the crypts is quite limited and very delicate, so for their perfect preservation, you will not be able to access the underground with large backpacks or bulky luggage. It is therefore advisable to leave any bags or rucksacks you will not need during the day at the hotel so that they do not become a nuisance.
If you still have to carry a bag or rucksack that you think might cause a problem when entering the Necropolis, there are lockers or deposits where you can leave your belongings under surveillance. This service is located before entering the temple, on the right-hand side of the Basilica façade. However, bear in mind that there may be long queues, so make sure you allow plenty of time so as not to be late for your guided tour.
This visit is not permitted for children under 15 years of age
If you are travelling to Rome as a family, you will not be able to do this visit with the youngest members of the family. Not only is it not recommended, but the youngest visitors, those under 15 years of age, are not allowed to enter. Keep this in mind when organising your visit to the Crypts.
However, if you are travelling with children, don't worry because the rest of the Basilica, the grandeur of St. Peter's Square and even the visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel will leave them open-mouthed.
Complete your visit to the Crypts and the Necropolis of St. Peter with a visit to the Vatican
Skip the line to St. Peter's Basilica
As mentioned above, access to St. Peter's Basilica is free, but if I can give you a recommendation, it's that you get a guided tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica that allows you to skip the (very long) queues at the entrance of the temple.
If you are thinking of visiting the inside of the Basilica and complete the visit with a visit to the Dome or a guided tour of the Necropolis, after the long queues at the entrance you will be very tired and this will detract from the charm of your visit. Here is everything you need to know to get into St. Peter's Basilica.
Climb the Dome for the best views of the city
It's true that it's not for the faint-hearted, but the climb up to the Dome of St. Peter's guarantees you the best views of Rome, as well as a unique perspective of St. Peter's Square and the rooftops of Rome. During the climb (which you can do partly by lift but you can't avoid the narrow flight of stairs) you'll also be able to appreciate the details of Bernini's majestic dome.
Tickets to the Dome of St Peter's were not available online until recently, but now there are several guided tours that include them. You can also buy them once you enter the Basilica itself. They cost about 8 euros if you decide to walk all the way up and a little more if you prefer to use the lift. Either way, it's well worth it!
Don't miss a visit to the Sistine Chapel
Visiting the Sistine Chapel will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your trip. Its artistic perfection attracts millions of visitors every year who stop to contemplate Michelangelo's frescoes with their mouths open. You can't leave Rome without visiting it, so in this article I'll tell you how to get tickets for the Sistine Chapel.