Tourists admiring the view at St. Peter's Basilica Dome in the Vatican
Guy taking a picture of St. Peter Basilica
Windows inside St Peter Basilica
St Peter Square

St. Peter’s Basilica Tour with Dome Climbing & Papal Crypts

(30 Reviews)
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri & Sat
Several Departure Times

  • Make the most of the vast St. Peter’s Basilica, the most significant church in Christianity, by exploring it from every possible direction.
  • Along with access to the interior first level of the dome and the top of the cupola for rarely seen views, you’ll also get direct access into the ground floor basilica when you descend.
  • With your expert English-speaking guide discover the treasures kept inside St. Peter's Basilica and visit the Popes crypts in the saintly Vatican Grottoes.

Tour Description

What's Included

  • Dome entrance ticket with access to 1st level and top of the dome
  • Direct entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica after your climb
  • Guided tour of the basilica and Vatican Grottoes to see the Crypts
  • Headsets when appropriate, so you can always hear your guide
  • Expert, English-speaking tour guide
  • Small groups of not more than 25 people
  • Gratuities

Sites Visited

  • St. Peter's Basilica
  • St Peter's Dome
  • Vatican Grottoes
  • St. Peter's Square

St. Peter’s Basilica is the most important church in the Vatican. It was constructed on the site of the 4th-century basilica where St. Peter was buried. It was finished in 1590 when the artistic period of the Renaissance was in full force. Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini were just some of the artists who worked on the project, and it is also the final resting place of most of the Christian popes.
Its religious significance is further enhanced by the relics of the true cross that are contained in its own cross on the top of the dome. For the inquisitive, the footprint of the building of the basilica and St. Peter’s Square forms the design of a key.

Climb St. Peter’s Basilica to enjoy the views over Rome

When you meet your expert English-speaking guide in St. Peter’s Square, you’ll have some of the finer details pointed out on the famous dome that dominates the Vatican skyline.

The top of this incredible structure is one of your stops, but first, you’ll be taken by an elevator to the base of the dome with your guide.

This brings you out onto a viewing platform inside the basilica. From here, you’ll see Bernini’s bronze altar cover, or the Baldacchino as it is known, directly beneath you. It might appear small, but this is the largest piece of bronze in the world at three stories high.

In the lantern above you, you will see the image of God looking down. The walls of the dome are embellished with blue and gold mosaics depicting the saints of the church. Around the base, written in letters over six-feet high, is the Latin inscription from the Bible which gives the Christian popes their right as representatives of God.

This is where your guide leaves you so you can climb to the top. A spiral staircase will take you to the top of the dome, which measures 446 feet, for a stunning 360-degree view of the city. According to an old Roman law, this is as high as buildings can go in historic Rome.

From the top of the dome, the views are incredible. Down towards the Tiber River, the wide thoroughfare of Via della Conciliazione built by Mussolini will be easy to make out. So too will the lush gardens that the popes use in the Vatican. Across the skyline of historic Rome, the Colosseum and Pantheon can be seen on a clear day. This is a view that you will remember forever so make sure that you enjoy it.

Immediate access into St. Peter’s Basilica and the Crypts

Your guide will be waiting for you inside the basilica when you return. Instead of the open sky, you will now be looking up at the vaulted arches of the basilica, with views just as incredible. Bernini’s canopy with its pure twisted bronze columns shoots upward towards the dome. Light spills in through Michelangelo’s windows or the side windows depending on the time of day.

With your guide, you’ll discover the symbolism of the different doors, the chapels and the treasures like Michelangelo’s Pietá.

There is more to discover under the ground. The Vatican Crypts are one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots in the world for Christians because they contain hundreds of tombs of the popes. Even the first pope, St. Peter, is buried here at a lower level.

Intimate groups and Vatican experts

Climbing the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica is an achievement few can boast. It is even more of an experience with our guide who is an expert on Vatican Renaissance history.

You’ll discover how the basilica acted as a major influence for the churches that came after and also acted as the template for non-religious buildings like Capitol Building in Washington.

Additionally, you’ll learn how the basilica acted as a creative exercise for some of the Renaissance greats, like Bramante and Raphael.

Important Notes

  • Please note that the dome’s elevator only takes you to the first terrace. In order to climb to the top of the dome you will have to use stairs (320 steps). Please allow yourself approximately 20 extra minutes if you wish to climb up to the dome of St Peters from there.
  • This tour is not suitable for those who suffer from claustrophobia and/or vertigo, heart or other serious medical conditions.
  • Entrance into the Basilica and Dome complex requires a strict dress code. Knees and shoulders MUST be covered for both men and women. City Wonders cannot be held responsible for refused entry due to improper dress.

Cancelation Policy

This tour is subject to a 24-hour cancelation policy. If you wish to cancel or amend your booking, you can do so without charge by contacting us up to 24 hours in advance of your expected departure time.

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A Dark Rome tour is the product of meticulous research, detailed planning, and a passion for providing customers with travel experiences they will cherish forever.

With Dark Rome it's not just facts, our passionate guides tell you the stories that bring the sights to life.

  • All of our guides are experts in their field
  • We only hire fluent English-speakers so nothing is ever lost in translation
  • We focus on the little details and anecdotes that make Dark Rome so special

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