Visit the Sistine Chapel in Rome and Avoid the Crowds

Edited by Maria, Anonymous, Nerissa Avisado, Eng and 2 others

Visiting the Sistine Chapel in Rome is always one of the itineraries included in a traveller's Must Visit List. The Sistine Chapel is in Rome, Italy.

With the arrival of a new Pope as the head of the Catholic Church, people have seen a lot of the Vatican City on the TV screens. The sights of these historical places always ignite a desire for people to travel to these places particularly the Sistine Chapel that houses the works of Michelangelo – his controversial masterpiece, the Last Judgement – on the altar wall of the Chapel. It is a part of the Vatican Museum and thus, entrance is through the museum.

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The Sistine Chapel is always packed with visitors lining to get inside. There is a solution, though it is not cheap but proving very popular with people wanting to have a quieter, more contemplative experience and appreciation of Michelangelo's genius work. Get an up close and personal guided tour of the Vatican that starts either early in the morning or late in the evening once the crowds have left. Not cheap though for 85 euro per person for a group of 10. But there is more to the tour than just the Sistine Chapel's ceiling. Visitors can also see at the finale part of the tour, the Raphael Rooms and the Map Room with, of course, its ancient map of Italy and its incredible frescoed ceiling.

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Other than the Sistine Chapel, there's more to see. Whether you have a week or 1 day in Rome, the best choice for you is to spend it at the Ancient Rome and the Vatican City. If you are avoiding the crowd, this is unavoidable since Rome is among the top 10 tourist destinations in the world. But there are ways how to avoid the traps in crowd, feel safe and enjoy your sightseeing and appreciation of this ancient city.

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How to Avoid the Crowds Around the City

  1. 1
    Know when is the best time to travel to Rome.
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    One has to know the best time of the year to travel there and see many great sites of Western civilization. The best months to go are from April until June then late September to October when the temperatures are usually mild.
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    1. The crowds are not so intense. It picks up on the so-called summer rush beginning mid-June. By July to mid-September, the country is already flooded with visitors. Want to know the worst month? August! It gets so uncomfortably hot, muggy and crowded in August. This is also the time when it's the turn of Italians to go on a vacation starting middle of August until end of the month. Even business owners take on a holiday and close their hotels, restaurants and shops. The crowd can be found at spas, beaches and islands, and you can also find here about 70% of the Italians beating that very awkward climate.
    2. But between November and February, don't dream of seeing the beaches, because spa and beach destinations are padlocked, like ghost towns. It's much colder on these months and may even snow. Airlines report of high season routes to Rome usually extends from June to September. Take note for those who are avoiding large crowd, this is the most expensive and most crowded time to travel. Better book a flight between either in November 1 to December 14 or December 25 to March 31, the low season.
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  2. 2
    Be familiar with the transport system in getting around Rome.
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    Places of interest in Rome are clustered together. The whole of Rome is a sight to behold and full of history-filled edifices that you don't want to miss any of them. You have to walk, whether you like it or not. Anyway, Rome is ideal for walking. It is traffic-free. However, there are some parts found hazardous because of the crowds, traffic and the narrow streets and sidewalks. This is where you can feel the inconvenience of jostling with the crowd of sightseers and shoppers. It looks like you can't get away with the crowd even when riding the Metro (Subway train), by tram, bus or taxis. Here are tips how to avoid the looming dangers in this crowded stations and transports:
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    1. Be extra careful when riding Rome's overcrowded buses. Pickpockets are riding with you and waiting at the platforms too. Buses plying to the historic districts, the notorious bus link n. 64, is a favorite of visitors and thus, also a favorite of pickpockets too. It even earned the name "Pickpocket Express" and "Wallet Eater".
    2. Always mind your belongings.
    3. Avoid riding at Termini station at late nights due to its low level of security. It is also occupied by undesirables eyeing to victimize you.
    4. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings.
    5. Don't be fooled by women and children. They are gypsies pausing as needy and asking help or offering something, say a flower, and suddenly they will demand money from you.
    6. Rome is infamous for taxis that overcharged fares. Don't hail illegally unmarked taxis. They do not have a meter and you still have to negotiate about the fare. It is advised that you negotiate before entering the vehicle, else don't ride. Make sure that the cab is registered and with a meter.
    7. Avoid paying taxis with large bills. They will claim they have no change in hope to get a bigger tip. Don't fall prey to their excuse.
    8. Better ride a train, the "Leonardo Express" or a shuttle service – "Terravision"to transport you from airport to the city and vice versa. They are more economical and super convenient.
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  3. 3
    Handle and keep your money safely.
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    To feel more at ease, wear a belt bag positioned in front of you. Do not carry a large amount of money and even your credit cards.
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  4. 4
    Street dealing.
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    There are many kinds of people "on the loose" on the street. They will be all over you. Here's how to deal with this kind of nuisance crowd:  
    1. Street vendors: Who are forceful and invasive. When they become a nuisance, ignore their advances. Make it clear to them that you are not interested and keep on walking.
    2. Unofficial travel guides. They abound and are waiting for you at monumental sites, especially at the Vatican City. They offer to be a guide. You have no obligation to pay them other than tipping them. This scouting of tourists is their way to practice their knowledge and expertise being an unofficial guide or perhaps, simply earn out of moneyed travellers. Ask outright if payment is involved to avoid confusion.
    3. Costumed Gladiators: They are on standby outside the Colosseum and are truly a sight to see. And you will invite him to join in your photo taking. You didn't know there is a fee involved when a picture is taken with them to the tune of 5 Euros. Of course you are upset. Next time you move to another sites, with a loitering costumed Romans, simply ignore him or you run out of funds.
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  5. 5
    Lining up to the Museums and other sites.
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    All of Rome is worth seeing. If these ancient structures fascinate you merely by looking at the architecture from outside, what is in store for you to see inside? Of course you desire to look inside. But this is another suffering you have to endure, buying a ticket with an endless crowd. How to avoid this:  
    1. You may get and pay your tickets online even before you leave your country.
    2. Select Italy is a reservation service that offers and reserve tickets for various sites.
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  6. 6
    Know what places to explore.
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    1. Vatican City. This is the world's second smallest sovereign independent state with only a few hundred citizens and protected by its own militia, the uniformed Swiss guards. The Vatican is the site of:  
      1. St. Peter's Basilica
      2. Vatican Museum
      3. Sistine Chapel
      4. Vatican Gardens
    2. Ancient Rome top sights are:  
      1. The Colosseum.This is the elliptical bowl that remains the greatest architectural legacy of Ancient Rome, the arena of bloody fights between gladiators and beasts to the delight of sadist Romans. When the 50,000-seat Colosseo ceased to be the venue for the fights, it was destroyed by an earthquake.
      2. Arc of Constantine, Golden Arc of Nero, Roman Forum, Imperial Forums, Circus Maximus, Capitoline Museum  
        1. The Pantheon
        2. The Spanish Steps
        3. Villa Borghese
        4. The Appian Way and the Catacombs
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings

  • Expect to encounter and handle circumstances of illicit dealings to take place.
  • At the bus information booth, purchase a directory complete with maps that summarizes the bus route. This help you know where you are and where to go.
  • If you can avoid riding the trains at the same time when the Romans are going to and from work, or else you will alight like a fettuccini.

Questions and Answers

Avoid the crowds at Sistine Chapel during summer vacation?

The Sistine Chapel is one of the busiest attractions in the Vatican. With around 25,000 visitors daily, a trip to this site can be quite a challenge. However, there are ways to avoid the crowd during the summer vacation. Here are some suggestions in avoiding the huge crowd of Sistine Chapel.

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  1. 1
    Stay away from tours.
    Tours will visit the Sistine Chapel at its most crowded times. So if you really want to avoid the crowd, it's better not to join these groups. You might opt for a private tour instead. There are many companies that offer this.
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  2. 2
    Visit on your own.
    Another way you can avoid the crowd is to visit the Sistine Chapel alone. Try to find a time when there are only a few people visiting the site. Once you have done so, appreciate the attractions the chapel has to offer during these times.
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  3. 3
    Avoid the peak season.
    Schedule your trip to the Sistine Chapel during the off peak season. During this time of the year, it is likely that there will only be a few people visiting the site.
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Categories : Travel & Leisure

Recent edits by: Melvin Magadia, Eng, Nerissa Avisado

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