VIP Vatican Key Master’s Tour Review – Is It Worth It?

VIP Vatican Key Master’s Tour Review – Is It Worth It?

A go to to the Vatican, particularly the Vatican Museums, is a well-liked exercise for guests to Rome, and for good motive. These museums, opened over 500 years in the past, showcase the huge assortment of treasures that the Catholic Church has gathered over the centuries. These vary from historic marble statues to Egyptian mummies to trendy artwork work, and every thing in between.

In truth, there are over 20,000 works on public show throughout 1,400 rooms of galleries, which span a powerful 9 miles. These embody some works by a number of the world’s most well-known artists. It’s additionally the place you’ll discover Michaelangelo’s unimaginable Sistine Chapel, one of many world’s most well-known artworks.

The proven fact that the Vatican Museums are a must-see exercise does after all include a draw back. They might be extraordinarily busy and crowded!

The excellent news is that there’s a strategy to solely skip the crowds, and have the place to your self. Which is what we did on a latest journey to Rome, because of Take Walks, who invited us to expertise their VIP Vatican Key Master’s Tour.

In this overview, we’re going to clarify precisely what this tour is, what it isn’t, who it is perhaps for, and whether or not or not it is best to think about taking it whenever you go to Rome. We’ll cowl the professionals and cons, our private expertise taking the tour, and what to consider when reserving it.

This gained’t be an in depth information to visiting the Vatican, as we’ll be speaking about in a separate information, however will focus particularly on this early morning VIP tour. First, let’s begin by answering some questions.

Who Are Take Walks?

Take Walks are a strolling tour firm specializing in comparatively small group (often 20 folks or much less) strolling excursions and day excursions, in locations world wide.

They initially launched as Walks of Italy; nonetheless, they’ve since expanded to supply excursions in a number of locations world wide and so turned Take Walks. In 2021 they turned part of the City Experiences group.

We have taken a number of excursions with Take Walks in cities world wide, together with in Rome, New York and Venice. We have at all times loved their strolling excursions, they’ve educated and enjoyable guides, the value is cheap, and they’re an effective way to be taught rather a lot about an attraction or vacation spot.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour


What is the VIP Vatican Key Master’s Tour?

The VIP Vatican Key Master’s Tour is, at time of writing, probably the most unique tour of the Vatican which you can take. The tour, which lasts for 2 hours, has you accompanying the official Vatican Museum’s Key Master as they stroll by way of the Vatican. As you stroll, you’ll truly assist them to unlock the doorways and switch the lights on.

The tour visits most of the highlights of the Vatican, often together with the Gallery of Maps, the Gallery of the Candelabra, and the Raphael Room, amongst different places. It culminates with a go to to the unimaginable Sistine Chapel, which you’ll unlock, and thus expertise with no-one else round.

Following the two-hour tour itself, you’ll then have breakfast within the Vatican Museums within the Pinecone courtyard, after which you might be free to discover the Vatican Museums at your leisure.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour


What Do You See on the Vatican Key Master’s Tour?

The itinerary on the Vatican Key Master’s Tour can fluctuate barely. However, typically the next places are visited:

  • Raphael Rooms (Stanze di Raffaello)
  • Belvedere Courtyard (Pinecone)
  • Octagonal Courtyard (Apollo Belvedere & Laocoön)
  • Gallery of the Candelabra
  • Gallery of Maps
  • Gallery of the Tapestries
  • Sistine Chapel

Additional places can also be visited, relying on timing. For instance, after we visited we additionally visited the unique Bramante Staircase and watched the solar rise over Rome; nonetheless, this isn’t at all times included.

Original Bramante Staircase Vatican


Our Experience Taking the VIP Vatican Key Master’s Tour with Take Walks

I’ll now undergo our expertise doing the VIP Vatican Key Master’s Tour with Take Walks, after which I’ll cowl some professionals and cons of this tour in addition to alternate options to contemplate.

The tour begins very early, so we needed to be up early. Our alarms have been set for 4:30am. Entrance time to the Vatican is at 6:00am, and we met our information exterior the principle Vatican Entrance at 5:45am.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour
There aren’t many individuals round right now of day!

Our information, Julia, launched herself as our group of 9 folks arrived and gathered. She had over a decade of guiding expertise within the Vatican Museums in addition to a level in artwork historical past, so we knew we have been in good palms. She additionally had a superb humorousness, which helped liven us up a bit given the early begin!

Someone was additionally there to take down our names and ensure our particulars for safety causes. You have to have pre-booked the tour to affix, it’s not one thing you possibly can simply flip up for.

At 6am, the doorways have been opened and we have been allowed inside. It’s vital to notice that this isn’t a tour you might be late to affix. Whilst some excursions would possibly wait round a couple of minutes should you miss the beginning time, the Key Masters have a job to do they usually don’t wait round! The tour begins promptly after which the doorway door is closed.

In truth, one particular person didn’t get up to his smartphone alarm and missed the tour. If you aren’t used to getting up early, we suggest having a few alarm strategies (e.g., telephone alarm plus resort get up name as an illustration) to make sure you get up on time.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour
Entering the Vatican Museums at 6am. Note that that is usually the door used for exiting the museum, nevertheless it’s proper by the doorway door.

We entered the Vatican and went upstairs in a nifty outdated elevator. Here we met two of the clavigeri, or Key Masters, together with the pinnacle Key Master Gianni Crea.

The particular Key Masters who might be in your tour will fluctuate. There are 10 Key Masters working within the Vatican, 5 of whom open up the museum within the morning and 5 whom shut it up at night time.

Between them they’re accountable for opening up and locking up 300 rooms each day the museums are open. They have a set of just about 3,000 keys to handle!

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour
That is a number of keys


VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour
The Clavigeri, or Key Masters of the Vatican who we accompanied

Our tour was primarily with two of the Key Master’s, together with Gianni, the pinnacle Key Master. Following introductions, we received to see and maintain a number of the large key rings that we’d be taking with us. Then, we have been off!

As we walked, the Key Master would maintain up a key and select a participant. Our group was made up of 9 folks, and we opened 20 – 30 doorways between us, so everybody received to open up a couple of doorways.

There have been additionally generally window shutters to open or lights to activate in varied areas as properly.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour
That is a giant door


We had the chance as we walked to ask our information questions, and he or she identified varied highlights of what we have been seeing as we walked.

We additionally had occasional pauses on the route, so she was capable of give us extra in-depth explanations. Photography was permitted in all places besides within the Sistine Chapel.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour

We additionally received some particular treats as we walked. For instance, within the Belvedere Courtyard we have been allowed on the terrace of the Pinecone statue, which is often off limits.

We have been additionally allowed behind probably the most well-known historic statues within the Octagonal Courtyard, Laocoön and His Sons, to see a novel angle of it that isn’t usually seen. Our information took a while right here to inform us a little bit of the historical past of this statue.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour
From the entrance….


VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour
…and from the again, an angle you don’t usually see which reveals the unique arm!

Another spotlight was the detour we took to climb the unique 1505 Bramante Staircase. This space will not be usually open to the general public, and isn’t at all times included on the tour relying on the timings and route.

So we have been very appreciative of this expertise, and likewise that we received to see the solar rising over Rome from the highest!

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour

From right here we continued on by way of iconic rooms. Perhaps one of many prime highlights of the tour was watching the lights come on within the gorgeous Gallery of Maps, considered one of my favorite rooms in the entire museum.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour

Then we entered the Raphael rooms. Our tour information Julia was an enormous fan of Raphael it turned out, and we had round quarter-hour right here whereas she gave us a fast rundown of the attractive artwork in these rooms.

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Finally, our tour culminated with us happening a considerably nondescript hall to a relatively plain-looking set of wood doorways. One of our group members was chosen to open the door itself, after a brief quiz, after which we have been inside a darkened Sistine Chapel.

Here we stood alone within the quiet darkness, earlier than the Key Master flipped the sunshine switches and Michaelangelo’s masterpiece was revealed to us. No matter what number of occasions you see this work, it nonetheless leaves you speechless.

We had round 20 minutes right here with our information, who frolicked going over the principle highlights of what we have been seeing.

And then, similar to that, the Key Master a part of the tour was largely over. We exited the Sistine Chapel and headed by way of the Vatican Museums, stopping briefly at a museum present store which opens early for the prospect to purchase some souvenirs. We additionally stated goodbye to our Key Masters at this level.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour

Our information then took us exterior to the Pinecone Courtyard and gave us some information concerning the courtyard and requested if we had any additional questions. Julia then left us round 8:00am to have our included breakfast on the courtyard restaurant. We had been contained in the Vatican Museums for nearly precisely 2 hours.

The breakfast was served household type to every desk of the group. It included chilly meats and cheeses, streaky bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, and fried potatoes, in addition to a number of pastries and breads. Note that generally the breakfast meals could also be served buffet type.

There was additionally a pancake station the place you might get freshly made pancakes. We have been additionally given a bottle of water and selection of espresso or tea.

The breakfast meals was OK, neither nice nor dangerous. It tries to cater to quite a lot of American and European tastes. If you want pancakes, I positively suggest heading to the pancake station since they’re freshly ready.

There was loads of meals and we have been definitely full up by the point we have been performed. We have been completely satisfied it had been included because it was method too early for us to try to attempt to eat earlier than the tour. It additionally gave us a pleasant probability to speak with the opposite group members and loosen up slightly after our tour.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour Vatican Breakfast VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour Vatican Breakfast VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour Vatican Breakfast

We spent about 45 minutes at breakfast, ending round 8.45. The tables are solely out there for a time period as they’ve a lot of companies, so you possibly can’t loosen up right here for too lengthy. At this level fairly a couple of different excursions have been beginning to enter the Museums and it was already beginning to get busy.

After breakfast, we had the chance to additional discover the museums if we wished. As a part of the tour, you might have entrance to the Vatican Museums and may spend so long as you want inside. Just make certain to not exit the Museums earlier than you might be completed (should you exit, you’ll need a brand new ticket to re-enter).

Having visited many occasions earlier than we determined to simply head to the present store as Jess needed to jot down and submit a postcard to her grandmother from the Vatican submit workplace. After she did this, we determined to move out, because it was already getting fairly busy and heat contained in the museum. We exited by way of the beautiful trendy Momo designed double helix staircase.

Note that the tour, like most excursions of the Vatican Museums, doesn’t embody a go to inside St. Peter’s Basilica. The well-known basilica is situated only a quick stroll from the museums and is free to go to. However, the traces can get lengthy so we suggest getting in line as quickly as you might be completed together with your time contained in the Vatican Museums if you wish to go to.

If you determine to go to St. Peter’s Basilica, you’ll need to be meet the church’s costume code pointers (shoulders and knees lined for each women and men, no low-cut tops, and so forth.) to enter the church. You will pay further to climb the well-known dome (tickets are usually on sale when you enter St. Peter’s Basilica) or go underground to the necropolis. So costume and plan accordingly!

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour


What are the Highlights of the Vatican Key Master’s Tour?

By far the most effective factor concerning the Vatican Key Master’s Tour is having the ability to expertise the Vatican with no different folks. Watching the lights come on within the Gallery of Maps and Sistine Chapel, and having a while to understand these sights with out the crowds is a exceptional expertise, and one that really feels as soon as in a lifetime.

I consider that at the least for many of our tour time, there have been no different tour teams within the Vatican. And this is identical form of expertise given to celebrities who go to, as Russell Crowe and his household had truly performed the morning earlier than our go to. Reading about his expertise (which he particulars on Twitter), it’s virtually equivalent to our personal. So if you’d like that VIP celeb expertise, that is as shut as you’ll get with out truly being one!

It additionally feels fairly superb to truly open up the doorways of the museum rooms, a few of that are tons of of years outdated. The Vatican Museums just lately celebrated their five hundredth yr, and a number of the doorways and keys really feel that outdated as you attempt to coax them open below the watchful gaze of the Key Master.

The Take Walks information who accompanies you can also be a licensed Vatican Museums professional who will be capable to offer you a run down on what you might be seeing as you go by way of, and likewise helps instill a way of marvel as you go by way of the rooms and corridors. Our information, Julia, was completely good, and helped us perceive and actually respect what we have been seeing, even within the comparatively quick period of time we had in every room or space.

If you might be visiting the Vatican in the summertime, not solely do you get to beat the crowds with this tour, however you additionally get an opportunity to beat the warmth. Rome in summer season might be depressing (it was about 104 F/40C the day we visited!) and most elements of the Vatican Museum are usually not air-conditioned. Starting your go to early like this implies you get an opportunity to go to the museum earlier than it will get scorching out (and in!).

The included breakfast and occasional on the finish was additionally a pleasant contact. It gave us an opportunity to take a break and get some power earlier than carrying on with our sightseeing that day after such an early begin to the morning.

Finally, we appreciated that following the tour we have been free to wander the museum at our leisure. So if that is your first time within the Vatican Museums, you possibly can return and discover areas you missed or need to see extra of after breakfast by yourself.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour


What is Not So Good About the Vatican Key Master’s Tour?

Whilst we do assume this tour is an unimaginable expertise, there are some things to pay attention to earlier than reserving.

The very first thing is that this tour is kind of costly. At virtually $400 per particular person, it’s probably the most costly methods to see the Vatican Museums.

Of course, it’s a very distinctive expertise and solely a handful of individuals take this tour, which is barely run a couple of occasions every week. So we really feel the value is justified. However it’s positively a premium expertise and isn’t inside a number of vacationers’ budgets.

The second factor, which is vital to grasp earlier than reserving this expertise, is that it is a bit totally different from a conventional tour. There will not be a number of time spent on particular person artworks and even particular person rooms. Some exceptions to this throughout our tour have been a while spent within the Octagonal Courtyard, the Raphael Rooms, the Map Room, and naturally the 20 minutes within the Sistine Chapel.

We have taken different excursions of the Vatican, together with the wonderful Pristine Sistine Tour additionally provided by Take Walks. That is a extra conventional tour the place you go to the principle highlights of the museums, and the information stops usually at varied highlights to clarify what you might be seeing.

The Vatican Key Master’s Tour will not be a tour like this the place you spend longer intervals of time at key highlights. Instead, it’s a chance to expertise and participate within the ceremony of opening up the Vatican Museums.

As such, you need to hold tempo with the Key Master, and while the information will level out highlights as you go, you need to transfer with the Key Master as a result of they need to get the Vatican open!

Whilst we did cease for brief intervals of time at varied places, together with some spots that are usually off limits to guests, the tour was extra concerning the marvel of wandering the Vatican Museums with no different guests in sight. We opened up darkish and quiet rooms and corridors, and had the fun of realizing that we have been experiencing one thing that solely a choose few have had the privilege of doing.

It was really a exceptional feeling, nevertheless it’s simply vital to keep in mind that that is totally different from a traditional tour.

Finally, when you’ve got by no means visited the Vatican Museums earlier than, then it is perhaps tough to completely respect how distinctive and particular this tour is. Jess and I’ve been fortunate sufficient to go to the Vatican a number of occasions, together with in the course of the day when it is vitally busy. So seeing places just like the Gallery of Maps with no-one else in sight was simply unimaginable to us.

However, should you’ve by no means visited earlier than, this thrill would possibly simply appear regular to you. So that’s one thing to remember.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour


Alternatives to the Vatican Key Master’s Tour

We very a lot loved our expertise taking the Vatican Key Master’s Tour, nonetheless it’s clearly not the one strategy to go to the Vatican. We additionally acknowledge that it’s not going to be the only option for everybody or inside everybody’s price range.

Here are another methods to go to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel that you may also think about.

  • The Pristine Sistine Tour. This is one other strolling tour of the Vatican provided by Take Walks. We have additionally taken this tour, and it’s a way more conventional tour the place you spend time visiting the highlights of the museum. It additionally consists of an early entrance, an hour earlier than common opening, so that you share the Vatican with a a lot smaller variety of folks in comparison with visiting throughout regular opening hours. This is a good possibility if you wish to see the highlights of the Vatican with fewer crowds and spend extra time studying about what you might be seeing.
  • Complete Vatican Tour. If you aren’t too bothered about tremendous early entrances, it is a good possibility for visiting the Vatican with a terrific tour information who will information you to the highlights and enable you to perceive what you might be seeing. We positively suggest taking some sort of tour when visiting the Vatican as it may be an awesome location, and it is a nice worth possibility.
  • Rome in a Day Tour. If you solely have a day in Rome and need to see all of the highlights on a guided tour, this Rome in a Day Tour is what we’d suggest. As properly because the Vatican it features a tour of the Colosseum and time visiting iconic metropolis centre sights just like the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps.
  • Standard Vatican Entry with audioguide. You can e-book tickets for the Vatican straight on the official web site, and these have the choice for an audioguide. If you don’t need to take a guided tour, then we extremely suggest reserving a ticket with an audioguide as this may assist information your go to.

Just notice that nonetheless you select to go to the Vatican, be it on a guided tour or by yourself, it would be best to prebook. This applies to each guided excursions and regular Vatican tickets.

VIP Vatican Key Masters Tour


Further Reading

That’s it for our overview of the VIP Vatican Key Master’s tour. We additionally needed to share some extra guides we’ve put collectively for Rome, based mostly on our many visits to town.

We’ve additionally visited many different elements of Italy, and we’ve included a few of these posts under as properly, in addition to another assets we predict you’ll discover helpful.

And that’s the tip of our overview of the Key Master’s Tour with Take Walks. We hope you discovered it helpful. As at all times, when you’ve got any questions or suggestions on this submit, tell us within the feedback under!

A review of the VIP Vatican Key Master's Tour, which offers exclusive early access to the Vatican Museums before the crowds.

So you already know: We have been offered complimentary tickets for the VIP Vatican Key Master’s Tour by City Experiences. Our opinions stay our personal, and we at all times adhere to our code of ethics when creating content material.


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