Things to do in Rome

Vatican City Rome: The Ultimate Guide To Explore The Ancient Realm

Last Updated On

Vatican Museums is Now Open

Reopened On

February 1, 2021

Safety Measures

🚶🏻‍♂️🚶🏻‍♂️Social Distancing

😷 Mandatory Masks

🤒 Temperature Check

🧽 Frequent Cleaning

🧼 Hand Sanitisation Station

👮‍♂️ Reduced Capacity

New Rules and Guidelines

  • It is compulsory for visitors to book tickets online before arriving to the venue.
  • Mandatory to wear masks before visiting the museum.
  • Temperature checks will be conducted before entering the museum.
  • It is necessary to maintain social distancing at all times.
  • Group tours can have of only 20 members including the guide.
  • Groups tours that have more than 10 members can avail the radio transmitter system.
  • Exit that provides one access to St. Peter’s Basilica from the Sistine Chapel will remain closed until further notice.
More Updates

Revised Opening Hours

Monday to Saturday

8:30 am - 6:30 pm

Final entry 4:30 pm

Rome , the capital city of Italy, is one of the most popular destinations in the entire world with over 7.6 million visitors every year. The city is known for its antiquity of culture, architecture, and defiant history. It is filled with much historical importance for its various landmarks and once such is the Vatican City. The city is a holy sight and is often referred to as the Holy See. If you are traveling to or are in Rome, Vatican City is a no-miss. Here we provide you with all info you need to make the best of your time and money in the holy country.

Vatican City Rome In A Nutshell

Skip the line Vatican
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Typical duration to visit the Vatican CityThe minimum time needed for visiting Vatican City is about 2.5 to 3 hours. In case you decide to enter through St Peter’s Basilica, you would need 15- 20 minutes to get to the Vatican Museum. Please note that this does not include the time to get to Vatican City.

must-see

Must-see at Vatican City

  • St Peter's Basilica
  • Vatican Museums
  • Sistine Chapel
  • St Peter’s Square
  • Gardens of Vatican City
hours

Vatican City Opening Hours

St Peter's Basilica Opening Hours
• 1 April to 30 September - 07:00 AM to 07:00 PM
•1 October to 31 March - 07:00 AM to 06:30 PM

Vatican Museum Opening Hours
• Monday - Saturday: 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM (Ticket office closes at 04:00 PM)
• Sunday - Closed
• Last Sunday of each month: 09:00 AM to 02:00 PM. (Ticket office closes at midday, 12:30 PM)

Sistine Chapel Opening Hours
• Monday - Saturday: 09:00 AM to 04:00 PM.
• All the extraordinary openings of the last Sunday of the month are suspended.


address

Address

Viale Vaticano,
00165 Rome, Italy
Get Directions

Handy Info

Language: Italian, Latin
Currency: Euro
Phone Code: +379
Electrical Outlets: Type C, F
Vatican World Heritage Sites: 2

Vatican City History


vatican city

Vatican City, the center of the catholic faith, home to the pope and interesting collections of art, is the smallest country in the world. It is fascinating how this small country is packed with so much historical relevance, power, art, and beauty. It is surrounded by the city of Rome and lies west of the Tiber River.

With a land area of only about 0.44s square kilometers, the state holds a population of only 800 individuals. Although the Vatican city was officially founded on 11th February 1929, it has long been a land of power, faith, and neoclassical charm. It is made of several famous landmarks such as St. Peter's Basilica, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican Museums, and the Gardens of Vatican City.

There are several stories about Michelangelo initially refusing to create his most famous art, The Last Judgement. What is more interesting is Michelangelo’s insertion of himself into the fresco (your tour guide would elaborate on both incidents). Today, the area is developed into a popular pilgrimage site and a commercial district. Although it is the smallest of the countries, the Vatican's GDP per capita of $21,198, which makes Vatican City the 18th wealthiest nation in the world per capita. Such strong history and present status of the Vatican City is what sets it apart from any other attraction you will ever visit.

Why should you visit Vatican City in Rome?


vatican city

The city’s art and architecture need no introduction. The monuments, landmarks, and paintings have been created by some of the best artists the world has seen. Witness the Roman, Baroque, and Gothic characteristics of design represented by many of the landmarks. The Vatican Library and the Sistine Chapel are a symbol of the Roman Renaissance. The Vatican City is also a sovereign territory of the Holy See.

The Holy See is the last absolute monarchy and the governing body of the Catholic Church which is recognized as the judicial entity under international law. Vatican City is not only home to spectacular art and architecture, but also Pope Francis I. If you are lucky enough, you can see Pope Francis I (Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio) at his general audience to the masses every Wednesday and Sunday (book your tickets in advance).

Vatican City Attractions

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Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museum Consists of over 54 galleries including the Sistine Chapel, is one of the largest in the world and has the ability to display more then 20,000 pieces in its seven kilometres of halls and corridors. This would be one of the grandest and longest halls you will ever walk. The macro and micro details will overwhelm you with awe and admiration to the various artists who have created these masterpieces of art. One thing not to forget if you are up for visiting the museums is a good pair of walking shoes, because, oh my, there’s a lot to see as well as walk.

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St Peter’s Basilica

Popularly known as the greatest of all churches of Christendom, St Peter’s Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter (Simon), the chief of Jesus's apostles and the first Bishop of Rome (Pope). The church was first constructed by Emperor Constantine I in 319 Ad. The reconstruction of the present church began on 18th April 1506 by Pope Julius II. The Basilica is the largest Catholic Church in the world and is the sovereign jurisdiction of the Vatican city.

vatican city
Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel is a marvel to look up to, literally! The first thing anyone would notice when they enter Sistine Chapel is its phenomenal ceiling. It is located in the Apostolic Palace and is the official residence of the pope. The famous frescoes, The Last Judgement, were painted by Michelangelo which has not been outdone since. The frescoes are a narration of the old testament and are divided into three scenes - the creation of the heavens and earth; the creation of Adam and Eve, and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and thirdly, the story of Noah and the great flood. The Chapel is 500 years of legacy left by Michelangelo to inspire us.

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Gregorian Etruscan and Egyptian Museum

The Gregorian Etruscan Museums is dedicated to Etruscan antiques and conserves the rare artifacts unearthed in the excavations carried out in the prominent cities of ancient Etruria as well as other works collected over centuries held in the Vatican. The Egyptian Museum on the other hand brings to light the Egyptian-influenced Rome, history of pharaonic culture, and splendid setting of Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli amongst others.

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The Spiral Staircase

This iconic staircase was designed by Bramante and later in 1932, by architect Giuseppe Momo who was inspired by the original one. It is a mesmerizing architectural marvel; shaped like a double helix with two sets of staircases designed in such a way that those guests going up do not cross paths with those descending. This makes for an excellent photo op.

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Vatican Gardens

The Gardens of Vatican City, known as the Vatican Gardens, are a series of gardens and parks which cover nearly half of Vatican City. Covering over 23 hectares, the gardens feature medieval fortifications, monuments, and buildings from the 9th century to the present day. You will get to see opulent fountains, incredible winding paths, vibrant colored flowers, and magnificent oaks. You will also get to see amazing sculptures and artificial grottoes dedicated to Madonna.

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Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo

The Vatican has owned the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo, also known as the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, since 1596 after seizing it from the Savelli family over debts to the church. Until October 2016, it was the summer residence and vacation retreat of the Pope for centuries. Pope Francis opened the palace’s doors to the general public in Spring 2014 for garden visits and in October 2016 for the Apostolic Palace. The Palace is 43.3 km Kilometers from the Vatican and takes about 45 minutes. You can board the metro: LINEA A, train: FL4, or bus: COTRAL to get there.


To experience Vatican city to the fullest and to make your visit a memorable one click here to know all about the different places you can visit with premade itineraries.

Vatican City Map

Vatican City Entrances - St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel


Document
vatican tickets
St. Peter’s Basilica Cupola
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The entrance to St Peter’s Basilica is free for all visitors. You would need to enter the St Peter’s Basilica via the St Peter’s Square, which was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini under the direction of Pope Alexander VII. The Basilica itself is the Holy grave of Saint Peter built during the 4th century.
The Cupola or the Dome of the Basilica offers an unparalleled vista of the city and requires a little more time during your visit. The entrance is located at the beginning above the visitor’s square at St.Peter’s Square, so visiting it first is always the better option.

Vatican Necropolis & Treasury
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The Vatican Necropolis is located under the basilica and is rumored to hold the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle, along with being a burial ground for ancient pagans and christians. The treasury is a paid visit and may need to purchase its tickets in advance to view it.

St. Peter’s Basilica Grotto
vatican tickets

You can book yourself a special visit to the Grotto of St. Peter’s Tomb during your visit. The entrance is located underground and requires you to be accompanied by a guide. The tour takes 1.5 hours and can be booked via the Vatican Scavi office, or through a combo ticket available online.

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Best Entrances
vatican tickets

The Vatican Museums have their entrance and provide a way to the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms. The 3.2 Kilometers brick that forts the Vatican will help you get from St Peter’s Square to the Vatican Museums. Turn right from St Peter’s Square and walk right along the colonnades which take you 15- 20 minutes by walk.
With online tickets, you can stand in the queue that starts near the yellow signboard, bypassing the never-ending ticket line. These lines are exclusive to online ticket-holders and are much shorter and move quickly. Skip the line Vatican tickets help you bypass the long ticket queues that wind down the walls. If you have opted for a guided tour, you will be required to meet your guide/group at a specific meeting point. From there, you will be ushered into the Vatican Museums via a third line that is almost always empty and efficient.

Sistine Chapel Entrance
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To visit the Sistine Chapel you first need to visit the Vatican Museums. The Sistine Chapel is inside the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. To get there, you need walk directly through the museums, past the Gallery of Maps, to enter the chapel.

Learn about the different Vatican entrances and how to Skip The Line

Before you set off to visit the Vatican Museum, here's all you need to know about the Vatican entrances.

Vatican City Tickets

Whether you are traveling on a budget or want to dive deep and wide to know the Vatican, we have you covered. Choose the best Vatican Museum Tickets from our most reasonable and time-saving choices of tickets.

Vatican tickets Vatican Tickets Vatican Tickets Vatican Tickets Vatican Tickets
Skip the Line Tickets - Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
from €19.9
Book Now
Escorted Exclusive Skip The Line Tickets to Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
from €26.5
Book Now
Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica
from €59
Book Now
Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo & Pontifical Villas Gardens
from €14.5
Book Now
Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel
from €48
Book Now
Skip The Line Access Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Areas of Access
  • Vatican Museums
  • Sistine Chapel
  • Raphael Rooms
  • Pigna Courtyard
  • Vatican Museums
  • Sistine Chapel
  • Raphael Rooms
  • Chandelier’s Gallery
  • St. Peter's Basilica
  • Vatican Museums
  • Sistine Chapel
  • Tapestries Gallery
  • Papal Palace
  • Villa Barberini Gardens
  • Villa of Domitian
  • Avenue of Nymphaea
  • Vatican Museums
  • Sistine Chapel
  • Greek Cross Room
  • Gallery of the Muses
Exclusions
  • St. Peter's Basilica
  • Vatican tour guide
  • Hotel Transfers
  • Audioguide (Chargeable)
  • Vatican tour guide
  • Hotel Transfers
  • Hotel Transfers
  • St. Peter's Basilica
  • Sistine Chapel
  • Vatican Museums
  • Vatican tour guide
  • Hotel Transfers
  • St. Peter's Basilica
  • Hotel Transfers
Audioguide Yes (Optional) No Yes Yes Yes
Entrances Vatican Museum - Cassa Online E Gruppi Vatican Museum - Priority Entrance Vatican Museum - Priority Entrance Castel Gandolfo Vatican Museum - Priority Entrance
Cancellation No Yes - 72 hours in advance for full refund No No No
Mobile Tickets Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Vatican City Facts You Probably Didn’t Know!

  • It is the only UNESCO World Heritage Country.
  • Many Popes refused to leave the Vatican for nearly 60 years during the 19th and 20th century and did not live in the Vatican until the 14th century
  • The Pope has his army from Switzerland of 135 men!
  • None of its citizens are born there and a majority of its citizens live abroad.
  • The Vatican does not have an official language.
  • It is the first carbon-neutral state in the world.

Things to do around Vatican City

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Vatican Grottoes

Check out the Vatican Grottoes, the vast underground cemetery beneath St Peter’s Basilica. Housed there, are the several Popes and Saints that found the religion of Christianity. These coffins date back to the 10th century and buried in them are 91 Popes. Grottoes are caves that are natural or manmade used for burial purposes.

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Traverse Castel Sant’Angelo

Connected to the Vatican City by an ancient passway, Castel Sant’Angelo is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, just outside of Vatican City. It also goes by the name of the Mausoleum of Hadrian. What makes this spiral building so special is that it served as a fortress for the Popes and their treasury when they were under siege, not once but twice. The passage that connects the Vatican to this building is hidden and was unknown to the public for several years. It is called Passetto di Borgo and runs 800 meters long. Make sure you get your hands on the tickets for the Traverse Castel Sant’Angelo when you visit St Peter’s Basilica in advance

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Send a Postcard from the Vatican

Write something special for your loved, dear ones or even yourself on a postcard from Vatican City and have it sent. Before messenger apps, there were letters and postcards, and they say much more. These are for old souls and the people who collect little precious things. Send them a memento to add to their collection, and to let them know you were here. The Vatican Post Office is located on the right at the exit of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Explore the Necropolis

The Vatican Necropolis is located 10 meters beneath St. Peter's Basilica, below the level of the Vatican Grottoes. The word ‘Necropolis’ in Greek means city of the dead. After thorough excavation and refurbishment, the site has been made into a museum to provide information about its history and past life. Grab your tickets from here to pay respects to the dead.

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Visit the Colosseum

The most famous and biggest (room for upto 70,000 people) amphitheatre ever built is the Colosseum. It used to host events like hosted events like gladiatorial games and was built by the Flavian emperors as a gift to the Roman people. In just a shy time of it’s 400 years of legacy, it is estimated that 400,000 people died within the walls. Visiting only the Vatican while the Colosseum is just 4.5 kilometers away is like going to Italy and not having Gelato. Make sure you make a trip to the Colosseum while visiting the Vatican and see one of the 7 wonders yourself.

Best Safety
Skip the Line Tickets - Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Skip the Line Tickets - Vatican Museums and Sistin...
from
€19.9
Best Safety
Escorted Exclusive Skip The Line Tickets to Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
Escorted Exclusive Skip The Line Tickets to Vatica...
from
€27
Best Safety
Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica
Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel...
from
€59
Best Safety
Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo & Pontifical Villas Gardens
Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo & Pontifical V...
from
€14.5
Best Safety
Skip the Line Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel
Skip the Line Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums, ...
from
€51
Best Safety
Vatican Museums & Pontifical Villas By Train
Vatican Museums & Pontifical Villas By Train
from
€65
Best Safety
Exclusive Early Access Tickets - Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
Exclusive Early Access Tickets - Vatican Museum & ...
from
€53
Best Safety
Entire Vatican City Guided Tour with St Peter's Basilica Dome Climb
Entire Vatican City Guided Tour with St Peter's Ba...
from
€94.95
Best Safety
Rome in a Day: Colosseum, Vatican & Sistine Chapel Guided Tour
Rome in a Day: Colosseum, Vatican & Sistine Chapel...
from
€101
Best Safety
Semi Private Guided Tour - Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Basilica
Semi Private Guided Tour - Vatican Museums, Sistin...
from
€87
Free Cancellation
Exclusive St. Peter's Guided Tour with Dome Climb and Papal Tombs
Exclusive St. Peter's Guided Tour with Dome Climb ...
from
€59
Free Cancellation
Dedicated Access: St. Peter's Basilica Self Guided Audio Tour
Dedicated Access: St. Peter's Basilica Self Guided...
from
€19.5

Best Time to Visit Vatican City in Rome

Every day 25,000 people walk past the walls of the Vatican landmarks. Hence, prepare in advance to see the museums, Basilica, Chapel, and gardens. If you do not like crowds and want to travel on a budget, visit the Vatican City during the colder months (excluding Christmas and New Year) which occurs from late November to early December and mid-January to the end of February. Try to avoid visiting on Sundays, since the museums are closed on all Sundays except the last Sunday of the month from 9 AM to 12:30 PM. Most people also rush to the Vatican in the mornings. So, do the opposite and plan your visit in the early afternoon. You can purchase the tickets online to skip the long waiting lines from here.

Vatican City Restaurants


Vatican City requires you to walk a lot. So, don’t forget to fill your stomachs before and after your visit. Here are some of the less touristy restaurants that both locals and visitors love.

Ristorante dei Musei

This food corner provides the best of Roman and Italian mix. The restaurant is easy on the pockets and their hospitality is exceptional. The food is served on a frying pan, such fancy!

Forno Feliziani

This cute cafe is worth your money and visit after a long day of doing touristy stuff. The chef is a Roman mother, who serves delicious Roman cuisine as prepared by the locals. Their desserts are a no-miss!

La Locanda di Pietro

If you want to dine elegantly, this fine dining restaurant offers a great ambiance along with exquisite Roman dishes. They take their time out to help you out with choosing from the menu. Make sure you reserve a table before you go.

Ristorante Arlù

A luxurious restaurant serving an amazing menu with a mix of Mediterranean, Italian and Roman cuisine. Their Pizzas and Pasta are to die for. The dining provides dine-in as well as take away services. Make sure you try their variety of seafood.

Visiting Vatican City in Rome - Timings, Getting There


Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel

vatican tickets

Timings:
Monday to Saturday - 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM
Final entry is at 4:30 PM
Guests are expected to exit the exhibition rooms by 6 PM

Metro
The Rome Metro has a station just outside the Vatican walls at Ottaviano-S. Pietro. Line A direction Battistini, Ottaviano or Cipro stations of the Metro has trains running every few minutes. It's a 5 minute walk from the Metro to both St Peter's Square and the Vatican Museums.

Bus
49, stop in the square in front of the Vatican Museums 32, 81, 982, stop at Piazza del Risorgimento 492, 990, stop in Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni

St Peter’s Basilica

vatican tickets

Timings:
April-Sept 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Oct-March 7:00 AM -6:00 PM

Where in Rome?
Vatican City is to the north of the city centre of Rome and is easily reached independently by public transport plus and even by Rome hop-on hop-off tourist buses which have a stop here.

Metro
The Rome Metro has a station just outside the Vatican at Ottaviano-S. Pietro. Line A direction Battistini, Ottaviano or Cipro stations of the Metro has trains running every few minutes. It's a 5 minute walk from the Metro to both St Peter's Square and the Vatican Museums.

Bus
49, stop in the square in front of the Vatican Museums 32, 81, 982, stop at Piazza del Risorgimento 492, 990, stop in Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni

Vatican Rules and Regulations


  • Please note that currently, due to COVID-19 regulations, you can only purchase your Vatican Museums tickets online and not in person.
  • Bags or luggage of any sorts measuring more than 40*35*15 centimetres is not allowed inside the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel. There are however cloak rooms that allow you to store your bags if you’re carrying any.
  • Use of amplified microphones and laser pointers is not allowed.
  • Dress appropriately before you enter the Vatican. Sleeveless blouses, miniskirts, shorts and hats are not permitted.
  • Use of mobile phones inside the Sistine Chapel is prohibited. Elsewhere you can use your phone, but it is preferred that you refrain from doing so if possible.
  • Absolutely refrain from touching any work of art. Alarm and surveillance systems are in place.
  • You cannot enter the Museums or the Basilica with alcoholic drinks. Any food or drink may be left at the cloakrooms.

Tips for your Vatican Visit


  1. It is preferable to take a guided tour, knowing the sheer size of collections. It is quite a difficult task to go with self help guide books if you truly want to enjoy your experience.
  2. Buying skip the line tickets is a very good idea as the museums are known for notoriously long queues.
  3. Choose an appropriate time to visit when there are chances of lesser crowds like exclusive early morning guided tours with breakfast or entering in the afternoon when the crowds have already moved in.
  4. There are certain must see parts of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel which you may miss out. Make sure that you have listed out all these must see things at these places beforehand.
  5. Keep enough time for the Sistine Chapel but in a rush to reach there don't miss out some of the amazing remarkable rooms like Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms), which are just before the Sistine Chapel.
  6. A comfortable pair of shoes go a long way in enjoying walking through the huge galleries of the museums and the connecting areas.
  7. Avoid carrying a backpack as you will have to check it in upon entering the museum.
  8. You need to dress appropriately not showing too much bare skin or else you may be turned away.
  9. Ideally, do not plan to go on a free entry Sunday as it is inordinately crowded.

Frequently Asked Questions about Vatican City Rome


What is not allowed in the Vatican?

What should I see in Vatican City?

Do you need a passport to enter the Vatican?

Where does the Pope live?

When was the Vatican Church built?

Is the Vatican wheelchair accessible?

What is the Vatican City dress code?

Why is Vatican City a country?

 Is entry to the Vatican free?

Is the Vatican free on Sundays?

 Does Vatican City have an army?

Who lives in Vatican city?

Are there free things to do in the Vatican?


Other top Experiences in Rome


While the Vatican Museums are a must-see in Italy, here are some other attractions that are now open to the public that cannot be missed! Check out more Rome attractions.

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