In March 2021, we took the train to Rome to experience the Eternal City with no international tourists. You can read more about the experience here. We pre-purchased tickets to the Vatican Museum online and were the first people to arrive at 8:30 AM.
There was no line at all – just one other person waiting to enter. We basically had the entire museum to ourselves until about 10 am. It was so empty we walked both the short and long routes through the entire museum and saw the Sistine Chapel twice. The empty museum made it possible to capture the below photos.
Reservations are currently mandatory for the Vatican Museum and you can get your tickets online. When Rome gets busy again and the lines get long, we highly recommend asking your hotel to book tickets in advance that will allow you to bypass the line and go in at a specific time. You’ll find many people outside trying to sell tickets and tours, as you will with most Roman tourist attractions and museums. We strongly recommend you not engage with any street vendors anywhere in Italy. Your hotel concierge is the safest bet.