Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Vatican Neighborhood in Rome

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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.  

Check for the best accommodations near the Vatican City with Expedia.

Facts About the Vatican

  1. Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world.
  2. It is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope is its head of state.
  3. The Vatican Museums are home to one of the world’s largest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel.
  4. The library, founded in the early 15th century, holds over 75,000 manuscripts and 1.6 million books.
  5. 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.
  6. It is surrounded by walls, making it one of the few in the world.
  7. 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.

visiting the vatican

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Quiet reverence: Churches are places of worship, so it’s important to maintain a quiet and respectful atmosphere.
  3. No photography: Taking photos and videos is usually allowed when mass is not in progress. Avoid using flash photography, if possible. 
  4. Respect sacred objects: Visitors should avoid touching or lean on sacred objects, altars, and other items of religious significance.
visiting the vatican
A Roman Church

Vatican Gardens

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.

Visiting the Vatican
Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo

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.

Check for the best accommodations near the Vatican City with Stay22.

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.

Ready, Set, Rome

silhouette of vatican city at night

Hey there! If you’re gearing up for your Rome adventure, you’ve got to check out some of our guides on navigating the city with ease. It’s filled with insider tips, hidden gems, and everything you need for a smooth Roman holiday.

Now, let’s talk food! Dive into our post on savoring Rome. These must try local foods are a delicious journey through authentic Italian cuisine. From traditional pasta dishes to mouthwatering desserts, this guide will have you eating like a local in no time.

Did you know Rome boasts a whopping 60 or more fun facts waiting to be uncovered? Check out our post for a mix of trivia that’ll add a whole new layer to your Roman experience.

For a unique way to explore the city, hop on our recommendations for the top golf cart tours. It’s a breezy and fun way to discover Rome’s charm, hitting all the must-see spots.

Before you jet off, brush up on some essential Italian words for travelers. It’s a handy list to help you connect with the locals and make your trip even more memorable.

Traveling with kids who wonder what it’s like to be a gladiator? Dive into our review of the Rome Gladiator School for a day filled with excitement and a glimpse into ancient Roman life.

For the culinary enthusiasts, our blog on an unforgettable Italian cooking class in Rome is a must-read. At this class, I learned the art of Italian cooking in a hands-on experience that’s both educational and delicious.

I loved it so much, I brought home a taste of Rome with this featured recipe for cacio e pepe the Roman way. It’s one of the dishes that I fell in love with while in the Eternal City. This classic dish transports me straight to the streets of Rome every time.

Lastly, if you find yourself in Trastevere which is very close to the Vatican City, don’t miss our guide to the best eateries in Trastevere. It’s your ticket to the hidden gems in this charming district.

Final Thoughts on the Vatican Neighborhood

Visiting the Vatican neighborhood is a must-do for anyone traveling to Rome.

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.  Hopefully, the information we provided will help you plan your trip to the Vatican City.

The stunning St. Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, and Vatican Museums are a wealth of history, art, and culture for you to explore.

Safe travels!

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