Accessibility of the Vatican Museums
Visiting the Vatican Museums is not as challenging as many wheelchair users might think. The Museums are made very accessible to everyone who wants to see Raphael’s masterpiece, The Transfiguration, and all the other must-sees up close. In this comprehensive guide, we tell you everything you need to know to have a relaxing day and admire the beauty of the treasures of the Catholic church.
How to get there?
You have several options to get to the Vatican Museums. The public busses inside the city are supposed to be wheelchair accessible, however in reality, this is not always the case. During busy hours you see that the busses are cramped and it is a challenge to get in. It is also hard to see which ones are accessible and which are not.
There is also a metro that brings you to the museums. Line A in the direction of Battistini, at the stop Ottaviano, brings you to the Vatican and is accessible for wheelchair users. The third, and possibly the most comfortable option though, is to go with an adapted taxi. You can arrange this before your visit. Your driver will be ready at the agreed-upon time and location and bring you to the Vatican Museums. After your visit, he will meet you and take you back again to your hotel or accommodation.
Wheelchair Accessible Vatican Museums
In Vatican City, there are different ways to visit the museums. There is the St. Peter’s Basilica at the end of the big square and the Vatican Museums, Raphael Rooms, and the Sistine Chapel. The first and second part are about 1 km (0.6 miles) away from each other. From the Basilica, there is a long sidewalk, that slopes gradually, to the Museums.
Getting into the Museums is by means of a ramp. Getting around inside is easy via elevators and wheelchair lifts. The floors are smooth, and there is enough space to maneuver.
The Museums allow for mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs to enter. However, due to space and weight limitations, they cannot access all the areas and are therefore advised to make use of a manual wheelchair. There are offered for free at the cloakroom, subject to availability. To receive one, it is necessary to present a valid identity document and deposit.
Accessibility Sistine Chapel
To enter the Sistine Chapel, you need to be able to walk up two flights of stairs. For people with limited mobility that are in a wheelchair, they have installed a lift. The lift holds a wheelchair of maximum the following dimensions:
- Measurements: 76 cm x 104 cm
- Weight: Max 230 kg
If the weight or the dimensions exceed the above, the museum will provide a manual wheelchair.
Want to get the most out of your visit? Hire an official licensed guide who gives you all the ins and outs about these majestic buildings during a private and fully adjustable tour. Want to know more?
There are several wheelchair accessible bathrooms along the route in the Vatican Museums. You find them by the signage throughout the buildings. Besides restrooms, you find accessible toilets at dining and refreshment points. To see where you need to be, check the map of the Vatican Museums at the bottom of this page.
In the Vatican Museums, you find one of the most significant art collections in the world. Therefore, we recommend taking about two days to get a full picture of what the museums offer. Visit St Peter’s and Castel Sant’Angelo in one day and choose to go to the Museums and the Sistine Chapel another day.
If you only have one day, it is advisable to research the things you want to see to avoid disappointments. The museums are gigantic, and it takes time to get from one building to the other. And on top of that, the museums attract on average 20.000 visitors a day in the summer. This makes it challenging to move around quickly.
St Peter’s Square and Basilica
The great St Peter’s Square is public space and is comfortable for wheelchair users. Access to the Basilica is on the right of the arcade when sitting in front of it. There are ramps and accessibility services.
Inside, the floor is smooth, and you can stroll around without any problems. Only the base is wheelchair accessible. The Necropolis and the upper part are not.
On Wednesdays, you can attend a papal audience at the St. Peter’s square. Pilgrims and visitors receive blessings from the Pope himself if he is in town. To get the best views, they reserved a private space for people in a wheelchair and their companion. To get access to this space you need to have a ‘biglietti per il Papa,’ a ticket you can get at the ticket office or online
The Vatican Gardens are only accessible for people who can walk. The slopy and steep ground makes it incredibly challenging to get around on wheels.
Upon showing your invalidity certifications, you are allowed to get free access to the Vatican Museums. Disabled people with the right document are guaranteed a skip the line entrance. So avoid the queues and get over there!