The Vatican neighborhood is home to some of the world’s most revered religious sites, and stunning works of art, and has a rich cultural heritage.
Visiting Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica is free. There are tons of tours available and the primary difference is that they are operated by different companies.
The best way to choose one is by the tour reviews while considering the time of day, length of the tour, and what is included in the tour. We’ll also cover some helpful tips for visiting Vatican City.
Facts About the Vatican
- Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world.
- It is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope is its head of state.
- The Vatican Museums are home to one of the world’s largest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel.
- The library, founded in the early 15th century, holds over 75,000 manuscripts and 1.6 million books.
- Located within the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world and is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture.
- It is surrounded by walls, making it one of the few in the world.
- Vatican City has its own post office, currency (the euro), and radio and television stations.
How to Get to the Vatican City from Central Rome
There are transports available for hotel pickup. You can also take public transportation from the center of Rome. Take the Metro line A to Ottaviano/S. Pietro station.
From here, it’s less than a 10-minute walk to the Vatican museums.
What to See in the Vatican Neighborhood
The Vatican Museums
The lines at the Vatican Museums can be long, that’s because it is one of the most visited places in Italy. Purchase tickets to the Vatican museums in advance for the skip-the-line privilege. You won’t regret it.
You’ll see the Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo’s Last Judgment, famous ceiling frescos, as well as sculptures and paintings by Raphael and DaVinci.
Allow at least 3 hours for your visit. With a guided tour, you’ll learn a lot about the museum and move through the exhibits much faster.
Vatican Museum Tickets
Vatican museum hours are from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM (Monday through Saturday) with final entry at 4 PM; and from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM on the last Sunday of the month with final entry at 12:30 PM.
There is free entry on the last Sunday of the month from 9 AM to 2 PM (except Easter and select days of the year, including Christmas).3+ Hour Tours
St. Peter’s Basilica
Already regarded as the most beautiful church in the world, a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica should not be missed. Admission is free and for a few extra euros (6 € for the stairs, 8 €for the elevator), you can climb to the top of the cupola — it’s worth it!
Entrance to the Basilica is free, but there is a fee for a skip-the-line ticket (which, in our opinion, is the best way to see anything). In any event, don’t let the lines discourage you from visiting.
Allow about 2 hours to visit. Highlights of St. Peter’s include the Tomb of the Popes, the Spiral Staircase, the Rotunda Room, the Tapestry Hall, the masterpieces of Cellini and Raphael, and the Map Corridor.
On Wednesday mornings, you can see the Pope in his weekly address. The Pope reads a Biblical passage and gives reflection in Italian. Then priests translate his words into designated languages (eg. English, Spanish). Afterward, the Pope blesses the people and greets them. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you decide not to purchase a ticket, you should arrive well before 10:00 AM.
Know before you go:
- Dress appropriately: Visitors should dress modestly and cover their shoulders and legs in Roman churches. Some churches will have shawls available to rent or purchase, otherwise entrance may be denied.
- Quiet reverence: Churches are places of worship, so it’s important to maintain a quiet and respectful atmosphere.
- No photography: Taking photos and videos is usually allowed when mass is not in progress. Avoid using flash photography, if possible.
- Respect sacred objects: Visitors should avoid touching or lean on sacred objects, altars, and other items of religious significance.
It’s not possible to see the Vatican Gardens unless you are on a tour. The green spaces are filled with fountains and sculptures for contemplation and serenity.
There are about 100 fountains on the 50 acres of botanic beauty where each Pope carved his own favorite space.
The castle is about a 20-minute walk from Vatican City. At the top, you’ll find a great vantage point of Rome. Entry is free on the first Sunday of the month. There is a nice cafe where you can sit and sip while taking in the 360-degree views of the Eternal City.
Touring the inside of the castle takes about 2 hours. The arched ceilings and sculptures are an experience that feels like stepping into the Renaissance era.
Accommodations Near Vatican City
With the history of the city and all its landmarks, being so close to the ancient Vatican is truly something special. During the day you can wander around the sights and get a true feel for the city and culture, stopping to enjoy Italian cuisine along the way.
At night, there is nothing like watching the sun go down over St Peter’s Basilica and the Dome of St Peter. Being in such close proximity to all the holy sites can be awe inspiring. A vacation in Rome near the Vatican is sure to be an incredible experience full of wonder, joy, and wonderful memories.
Final Thoughts on the Vatican Neighborhood
Visiting the Vatican neighborhood is a must-do for anyone traveling to Rome. The stunning St. Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, and Vatican Museums are a wealth of history, art, and culture for you to explore.
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