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Which tour operator for the Vatican?


boilermaker330
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In researching Vatican tour options, I see many tour operators with good reviews. City Wonders, Walks of Italy, Through Eternity and Italy Tours are on my short list. If you have used one of these operators, I would appreciate your feedback! I did do a search and see that many cruisecritic members recommend Italy Tours, but wondering about a Vatican tour specifically.

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Did Walks of Italy Vatican Tour last March (2019).  Just outstanding!  Don't hesitate to use them.

 

Don't know your timing.....if you are staying overnight in Rome, do the early access Vatican & St. Peter's Tour.  Wow.  Walking down the empty halls of the Vatican Museum before it opens is something I will never forget.

 

There is no line to get into the Museum (it's not open yet).  Entrance is deserted.  Then later they use a "secret door" out of the Sistine Chapel and go directly into St. Peter's from there.  Only a few groups can use that door.  Very special. 

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12 hours ago, PelicanLvr said:

Did Walks of Italy Vatican Tour last March (2019).  Just outstanding!  Don't hesitate to use them.

 

Don't know your timing.....if you are staying overnight in Rome, do the early access Vatican & St. Peter's Tour.  Wow.  Walking down the empty halls of the Vatican Museum before it opens is something I will never forget.

 

There is no line to get into the Museum (it's not open yet).  Entrance is deserted.  Then later they use a "secret door" out of the Sistine Chapel and go directly into St. Peter's from there.  Only a few groups can use that door.  Very special. 

Thank you, PelicanLvr! So helpful to hear about your experience with Walks of Italy. We will be in Rome for 4 days pre-cruise, so will book the early access tour per your recommendation. Did you happen to use Walks of Italy for any other tours while in Rome? I see several Colosseum tours on their website that look interesting.

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11 hours ago, boilermaker330 said:

Thank you, PelicanLvr! So helpful to hear about your experience with Walks of Italy. We will be in Rome for 4 days pre-cruise, so will book the early access tour per your recommendation. Did you happen to use Walks of Italy for any other tours while in Rome? I see several Colosseum tours on their website that look interesting.

Yes.  I first used Walks in Venice a few years ago and it was also an outstanding experience.  We rented an apartment in Rome last March (2019) and used Walks for both the Vatican & Colosseum.

 

For Vatican we took the "Pristine Sistine" tour.  Early meet time (7:15am) just outside the Vatican.  Museum did not open till 9am....We were actually inside by just after 8am.   There are a few other groups that also offer this early entry so you are not completely alone....but almost.  We walked down the long hall of the Map & Tapestry Galleries and it was completely empty....just our group and the guards!  Walked into the Sistine Chapel and maybe there were 20 other people there.  It was a WOW moment.  Even after the Museum opens (everyone runs to the Sistine Chapel) you are still pretty much alone to see the major works like the Raphael Rooms.   

 

After the full museum tour you exit thru a side (guarded) door of the Sistine Chapel right into St. Peter's.  No second security check (with long lines) like everyone else.  Great tour there too.

 

If this tour fits into you budget and time frame....Don't miss it!!

 

Colosseum:  We also took Walks and did the VIP Underground Tour.  Also excellent and highly recommended (but few things can rival that Vatican Tour).  At the Colosseum, the really interesting spaces are not open to the general public.  With this tour you get into the underground where the animals and gladiators were (like in the movies) and also onto the partially reconstructed (but small) arena floor...the actual level the events took place on.  That floor area is pretty new.  Both the floor and underground are closed to the general public and we were alone at both.   You also enter thru the gladiator gate (closed to public) directly onto the floor and you can feel what it must have been like.  It was only one group at a time for 20 minutes allowed on the floor so it's pretty cool.

 

Great also to have a good guide for the Forum because well....it's alot of columns, rocks & rubble that needs explanation. You go to a high point overlooking it all and the guide really helps you understand what it was...then you walk thru it.  Very well done.

 

The companies you are looking at probably all offer similar tours.  They seem to have time slots at the entrances when their group can just walk in without the line.  Our experience with Walks has been very good.  As I think you have already decided...these tours are the way to go.  You get special experiences not available otherwise.

 

Enjoy Roma!!

 

 

 

 

 

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On 2/21/2020 at 8:19 AM, PelicanLvr said:

Yes.  I first used Walks in Venice a few years ago and it was also an outstanding experience.  We rented an apartment in Rome last March (2019) and used Walks for both the Vatican & Colosseum.

 

For Vatican we took the "Pristine Sistine" tour.  Early meet time (7:15am) just outside the Vatican.  Museum did not open till 9am....We were actually inside by just after 8am.   There are a few other groups that also offer this early entry so you are not completely alone....but almost.  We walked down the long hall of the Map & Tapestry Galleries and it was completely empty....just our group and the guards!  Walked into the Sistine Chapel and maybe there were 20 other people there.  It was a WOW moment.  Even after the Museum opens (everyone runs to the Sistine Chapel) you are still pretty much alone to see the major works like the Raphael Rooms.   

 

After the full museum tour you exit thru a side (guarded) door of the Sistine Chapel right into St. Peter's.  No second security check (with long lines) like everyone else.  Great tour there too.

 

If this tour fits into you budget and time frame....Don't miss it!!

 

Colosseum:  We also took Walks and did the VIP Underground Tour.  Also excellent and highly recommended (but few things can rival that Vatican Tour).  At the Colosseum, the really interesting spaces are not open to the general public.  With this tour you get into the underground where the animals and gladiators were (like in the movies) and also onto the partially reconstructed (but small) arena floor...the actual level the events took place on.  That floor area is pretty new.  Both the floor and underground are closed to the general public and we were alone at both.   You also enter thru the gladiator gate (closed to public) directly onto the floor and you can feel what it must have been like.  It was only one group at a time for 20 minutes allowed on the floor so it's pretty cool.

 

Great also to have a good guide for the Forum because well....it's alot of columns, rocks & rubble that needs explanation. You go to a high point overlooking it all and the guide really helps you understand what it was...then you walk thru it.  Very well done.

 

The companies you are looking at probably all offer similar tours.  They seem to have time slots at the entrances when their group can just walk in without the line.  Our experience with Walks has been very good.  As I think you have already decided...these tours are the way to go.  You get special experiences not available otherwise.

 

Enjoy Roma!!

 

 

 

 

 

Your detailed reply helps paint the picture of what the tours are like and greatly appreciated. We definitely want to maximize our experience and agree that tours led by local experts are the way to go. I have reached out to Walks of Italy and will look forward to using them thanks to your input!

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11 hours ago, boilermaker330 said:

Your detailed reply helps paint the picture of what the tours are like and greatly appreciated. We definitely want to maximize our experience and agree that tours led by local experts are the way to go. I have reached out to Walks of Italy and will look forward to using them thanks to your input!

You're welcome.  Enjoy!

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Thank you boilermaker 330 for starting this thread and thanks to PelicanLvr for the insight! We are also trying to decide which Vatican Tour to do in July. The Pristine Sistine tour with Walks of Italy sounds perfect! 🙂 Safe and happy travels to all! 

 

 

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2 hours ago, BeachTunes said:

Thank you boilermaker 330 for starting this thread and thanks to PelicanLvr for the insight! We are also trying to decide which Vatican Tour to do in July. The Pristine Sistine tour with Walks of Italy sounds perfect! 🙂 Safe and happy travels to all! 

 

 

Yea...We had a really outstanding experience.  Highly recommended!

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There can be differences.  Look at what is included, early access, smaller tour groups, etc.

 

I have been looking at Roman Guy, but am now looking into Walks in Italy as well.

The Pristine Sistine does sound exclusive and amazing!  Maybe a bit earlier than Roman Guy.  (and I am NOT a morning person!!!)

It appears that Walks does not offer a smaller group full tour of the Colosseum?  The Walks website says that order to keep the cost down, this tour will have up to 24, or 25 guests.

They do have the VIP tour, with smaller group, but no access to the exclusive areas)

I would def. consider paying more for Walks in Italy if they would offer the smaller tour group!

(I am thinking, perhaps, that the Colosseum official tours take up to 30???)

 

Edited by Wishing on a star
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On 2/24/2020 at 10:54 AM, Wishing on a star said:

There can be differences.  Look at what is included, early access, smaller tour groups, etc.

 

I have been looking at Roman Guy, but am now looking into Walks in Italy as well.

The Pristine Sistine does sound exclusive and amazing!  Maybe a bit earlier than Roman Guy.  (and I am NOT a morning person!!!)

It appears that Walks does not offer a smaller group full tour of the Colosseum?  The Walks website says that order to keep the cost down, this tour will have up to 24, or 25 guests.

They do have the VIP tour, with smaller group, but no access to the exclusive areas)

I would def. consider paying more for Walks in Italy if they would offer the smaller tour group!

(I am thinking, perhaps, that the Colosseum official tours take up to 30???)

 

I think everyone here has found the "major players" in the Rome tour market.  I believe they all offer similar products.  

 

We did the Walks VIP Colosseum & underground (with floor & underground) & Walks Pristine Sistine and they were both great.  Others here have used other companies.  Just know what each offers and see who has a good departure time and has availability.  At The Vatican, get in as early as possible!  

 

Our experience at both the Vatican Museum and Colosseum was that after the group first met, you walked to the "special group entrance"....waited a few minutes for "your time slot" and the group just walked in.  The public lines are in a completely different location at the site and are long!!   Each was well worth the tour costs.

 

I don't believe you will "go wrong" with any of the major players with consistently good reviews. We just happened to use Walks several years before Rome when we were in Venice and that sold us on them.

 

You will save a tremendous amount of "waiting on line" time by using these tours.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We used Walks of Italy for "Pristine Sistine" early entrance as well as for

a tour of "Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill". We would use them again.

The guides were both excellent!

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