When you hear the words Happy Hour, we bet the Vatican is the last place you would think to go for that traditional end-of-day celebration. We know Pope Francis is not your traditional Pope, but we still have a hard time imagining him hopping behind the mic and dropping a beat. But that’s what we like about Francis; you just never know.
The Vatican After Dark
In an effort to make Vatican Museum tours more accessible, and to give repeat visitors a reason to return, extended summer hours were introduced a few years ago. This offers a few perks: Much of the complex is not air conditioned, so cooler evening hours are a good time to visit. While still crowded, many day-trippers and cruisers have departed the Eternal City by the time night tours begin. Seeing the Vatican at night, leaves your day free to explore the rest of Rome, and you get to see the glories of the Vatican in a whole new light (or lack thereof).
That’s why this experience is on our Travel To Do List. While we would gladly take more Vatican Museum tours, having a unique experience like this can make a visit extra special. As with all good things, a bit of extra preparation is involved. You have to be at the right place – Musei Vaticani – at the right time – un venerdì sera durante l’estate. (Sorry, we got a little excited there.) Extended hours are offered only on Friday nights from the middle of Aprile through the end of Ottobre (April to October). The Musei Vaticani stays open until 11pm on those evenings, but St. Peter’s Basilica closes at the normal time.
The Travel To Do List
To Do Lists. Everybody has one – or many – to keep tabs on everything from daily chores to life plans. Different than a Bucket List. There’s a verb in there, implying these are things you must do. Bucket Lists are where travel dreams gather dust, waiting for someday. To Do Lists demand action. It’s not just a list of dream destinations, it’s a list of places you’re going, things you’re doing.
Not Your Normal Vatican Museum Tours
For most of us, being at the Vatican after dark is not normal in the first place. But there are a few other differences to daytime Vatican Museum tours. Not every section or collection that you can see during the day is open at night. (In some cases, this is due to lighting.) However, many of the more popular areas are accessible, including the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms, and the Borgia Apartment. On the other hand, the Rooms of St. Pius V are only open during the evening hours. These rooms feature a collection of Medieval and Renaissance ceramics and miniature mosaics.
Since it’s a night time tour, a little night music seems in order, too. We’re pretty sure you won’t find Pope Francis behind a turntable, but yes, there will be music! Musical programs, mostly classical, are presented in various galleries and halls throughout the museums, starting at 8:30 each Friday evening. The magic combination of art, music, and moonlight at the Vatican is sure to be a unique experience and memory.
A Vatican Happy Hour
You read that right. Happy hour. At the Vatican. We told you these are not the normal Vatican Museum tours!
Now, don’t expect to be tossing back a cold one with Il Papa, but you can enjoy Happy Hour at the Vatican every Friday in July and August. Before visiting the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums, ticketed guests gather in the impressive Pinecone Courtyard for aperitifs. Starting at 7:30, a buffet allows guests to grab a bite or two as the sun goes down. A tasty start to what should be a filling evening of history, art, and entertainment.
If you’re not a night owl, you might prefer Breakfast at the Museums. There are three options for Vatican Museum tours that start with that most important of meals. Instead of staying for extra hours after the museums close, you will get in at 7am, two hours before opening time. Just like Happy Hour, a breakfast buffet is served in the Pinecone Courtyard.
Vatican Museum Tours – Ticket Info
As mentioned, extended hours and Vatican After Dark tours are only available on Fridays from the middle of April to the end of October. Additionally, Happy Hour at the Vatican is limited to July and August, so plan your visit accordingly. Night hours are 7:00pm to 11:00pm.
Tickets are available directly from the Vatican Museums, so you can skip the line. That’s a great thing, since lines for Vatican Museum tours are frequently two hours or longer. Unless you happen to be on a pilgrimage, there are two ticket prices:
- Full Ticket for adults
- Reduced Ticket for children 6 to 18, and students up to 25 years of age with an International Student Card
Some tickets are available only on-line, and there is an additional €4 per ticket online fee. You can book your Vatican Museum tours directly with Musei Vaticani online, though many tour operators also offer tickets and guided tours.
- Regular Admission: Full Ticket €16 – Reduced Ticket €8
- Admission Ticket & Happy Hour: Full Ticket €35 – Reduced Ticket €27
- Admission Ticket & Guided Tour (does not include Happy Hour): Full Ticket €32 – Reduced Ticket €24.
You might consider adding an audioguide for €7. If you’re visiting with younger children (5 to 12), the Vatican Museums offer a Family Tour package for just them. That includes a special audio guide, coloring book, and itinerary geared for adventurous young visitors. The Family Tour is an add-on at €5 per child.
What’s on Your Travel To Do List?
Happy Hour at the Vatican Museums is high on our To Do list for future travels. Does it make your list, too? What else is on your Travel To Do List? We’d love to hear about it in the comments, below!
In Rome, TravelLatte stayed at the Hotel Indigo Rome St. George, and you can too! A 5-Star boutique hotel ideally situated within walking distance to most landmarks, and less than two kilometers from Vatican City.