Everything You Need to Know When Visiting The Vatican City

Everything You Need to Know When Visiting The Vatican City

Visiting Rome for the first time and planning to visit The Vatican City? Then don’t be like me and visit it blindly. There is a lot you should know prior to visiting to ensure you see everything you want to see, and avoid wasting any time! For hours and times, refer to the Vatican’s Website.

Everything You Need to Know When Visiting the Vatican City

The Best Time To Visit

Most visitors go early in the morning in order to “beat the line” but actually end up causing longer lines. Instead, afternoons are usually the best time to visit the Vatican. Wednesdays are the Papal Audiences, and tons of crowds arrive to get a chance to wave to the Pope. If you can, avoid trying to visit the Vatican City on a Wednesday as the Basilica is closed and the crowds are large, unless you want to partake in a Papal Audience.

Free Sites in The Vatican City

Let’s discuss what you can see for FREE at The Vatican City, because you know, the budget traveler in me is always looking for the deals.

St Peter’s Square

This plaza is located directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, and is named after Saint Peter (surprise), an apostle of Jesus. The plaza provides the best vantage point to see the entire Basilica and allows for great people watching.

If you’re lucky you may even catch a sight of the Changing of The Guards!

Located in the center of St. Peter’s Square is a 40 m high Egyptian obelisk, which was brought to Rome in 37 B.C.

St. Peter’s Basilica

Entry into the ground floor and the underground Vatican Grottoes are completely free to visit, though silence is required when visiting the Grottoes.

When visiting the Basilica, be mindful that the line to enter the Basilica can take hours, so plan your day accordingly. While in the Basilica, take a moment to admire The Central Nave, Bernini’s Baldachin, and MichaelAngelo’s La Pieta Sculpture.

It’s probably worth mentioning, whenever visiting a holy site, be mindful of restrictions on attire. For both men and women, knees and shoulders must be covered. Hats and large backpacks are prohibited. Additionally, photography rules must be considered. Photography is allowed within St. Peter’s Basilica, however flash photography is not.

Tickets Required for Entry

St. Peter’s Cupola

You can visit St. Peter’s Dome for a fee, and tickets can be purchased online through the Vatican Website. You can climb the steps (all 551 of them) to the top, or take an elevator and climb the remaining steps (320). If you’d like too, tickets can also be purchased on site at The Basilica.

The Vatican Museum Tours

If items like the Sistine Chapel and The Bramante Staircase are must sees on your list, consider purchasing a Vatican Museum Tour. I highly recommend buying tickets online, as lines for tickets on-site are quite long. Be aware this does require a security check-point as well. If you’d like to avoid the cost of a Museum Tour, try visiting on the last Sunday of the month, when the museums are free. However, hours are shorter, and as expected crowds are larger.

A ticket grants access to all the museums that comprise The Vatican Museums, and once you exit you cannot re-enter. Guided tours vary depending on what you’d like to see, but definite look for skip-the-line tickets if possible!

FYI: Photography is prohibited of the Sistine Chapel – don’t be that person that breaks the rules. You’ll be escorted out.

The Vatican Gardens

The Vatican Gardens, considered the Pope’s personal Garden of Eden, is a great way to spend an afternoon. Wander through and enjoy the various fountains and sculptures.

Everything You Need to Know When Visiting the Vatican City

There you have it folks, everything you need to know when visiting the Vatican City. Make sure to plan what main attractions you want to see, how much time you want to spend, and plan your order of activities. Most importantly, enjoy delving into this rich history!

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