During your stay in the ancient city of Rome, you cannot miss Vatican City. In the smallest independent state in the world (but probably the most touristy) you can spend a few hours. Sounds fun a visit to this holy state, however it certainly comes with a whole manual. In this article I will explain you everything you need to know before you visit the Vatican City!
Tips prior to your visit
As mentioned before, it is not easy peasy lemon squeezy to visit Vatican City. There are queues that exists of hundreds of people, tourist traps and annoying Italians. For that reason, make sure to take these things into account:
Make sure to know what you want to see
Vatican City is incredibly large and full with tourists. It most certainly is not necessary to see everything to have a good impression of the state. Later in this article, I give a brief explanation of all the sights and I give my honest opinion on whether I thought it was worth the visit. If you want to make it your mission to see everything, make sure you are prepared in advance.
Book your tickets in advance
Nothing is more terrible than standing in line for hours on a sunny day. Fortunately, we had booked our tickets online in advance so we could walk past this long line. I explain the exact process of booking tickets at the bottom of the article. This is done at the end of the article because it is important that you know what you are booking for.
Wear the right clothing
The Vatican has fairly strict rules when it comes to clothing. You have to be in tip-top shape in the unlikely event that you run into the Pope. The rules are quite simple and apply to both women and men: shoulders and knees must be covered. In addition, you are not allowed to wear anything on your head. Have you been stubborn now and have you put on shorts, no worries, the Vatican is prepared for everything: at the entrance they have a beautiful plastic costume that you can sweat in in the middle of summer.
All sights in Vatican City
In total, it is possible to enter three things in the Vatican City: the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. The large square in front of the basilica is already an attraction in itself. We have only visited the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel since the queue for St. Peter’s Basilica was simply too long. Below is a detailed description per attraction.
St. Peter’s basilica
Tip: If you want to make your visit to Rome and especially the Vatican more exciting, it is nice to read Dan Brown’s book Angels and Demons (or the Bernini mystery) or just like me watch the movie. This mysterious thriller about murder, faith and history will certainly make your visit to Rome a lot more interesting.
The second popular attraction in Vatican City are the Vatican Museums. These are connected to the Sistine Chapel and it is therefore only possible to get to the chapel if you have tickets for the museum. We had booked these tickets in advance on the official website. More information about booking can be found at the bottom of the article.
Our taxi dropped us off just before the long line in front of the museum, we were on the taxi since public transport stopped on that day, still if there weren’t a strike, it is also very easy to get there by metro or bus. When we got out, it immediately became very pleasant because several Italians approached us and tried to sell us something. Don’t fall for this!
After we walked past the queue, great feeling by the way, our tickets were scanned, we went through security and we were actually inside. The museum has its own restaurant, but once you enter the corridors it takes a while before you can get food or drink. So make sure you have something to drink with you.
Tip: if you do not want to spend money on an audio tour but still learn more about the Vatican, then download the app from ‘Rick Steves Audio Europe’. Steves has made various audio tours of famous sights in Europe and there are also some from Rome in between. The app is completely free, nice American but certainly a cheap option!
All these long corridors of the museums eventually take you to the Sistine Chapel. A few small steps that are not good for you if you have claustrophobia and you arrive in the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take photos here.
I was slightly disappointed that we had not yet come across the beautiful round staircase that I had seen in the pictures on Pinterest. Fortunately this staircase was the exit.
Tickets for Vatican city
If you now think: ‘hm I really must go there once’ then I will finally give you tips for booking tickets, which surprisingly went very smoothly. You can buy the cheapest tickets for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel via Tiqets with Skip-the-line included!
Website Vatican city
You are entitled to discount if you are 6 to 18 years old, or a student up to 25 years old. You can buy your reduced tickets via the Vatican City website. Please note, you must bring a student card! If you do not have this with you, you still have to pay the full amount. You pay the extra € 4.00 because you order online, see it as a sort of skip-the-line ticket.
Are you planning to visit many other museums in Rome? Then there is also the option to purchase a tourist card. The Roma pass, for example, gives you access to a museum in 48 hours, free public transport and discounts at other museums for € 28.00. Perhaps useful if you have to pay the full price for the Vatican and also want to travel by public transport. Still, it was certainly not cheaper for us.
Hopefully I was able to help you with this manual. Would you still want to visit Vatican City?