Your Guide to Visiting Vatican City
Would you like to visit the world’s smallest country? If you are traveling to Italy, visiting Vatican City is worth taking an extra day. And make sure to read through for all the crucial information when adding this stunning stop to your itinerary.
Italy is a beautiful, fascinating country. If you have Italian heritage, you may qualify for dual citizenship. Contact the experts at Get Italian Citizenship today to learn about the benefits of pursuing Italian citizenship for yourself and your children.
When In Rome…
Vatican City is an independent country existing entirely within Italy. Specifically, it sits within the city of Rome. A 39-foot wall, originally built in the ninth century to deter pirates, surrounds the city-state.
There are no restricted borders between Rome and Vatican City. Once you have legally entered Italy, you can walk or ride into Vatican City without showing your passport.
They do have entry rules, though. All guests visiting Vatican City must abide by a dress code and pass through a metal detector. Weapons and other tools are prohibited.
The city itself is only about 110 acres. But don’t let the small size fool you. There is more here than you’ll be able to absorb in a single day.
How To Dress When Visiting Vatican City
Vatican City is under the authority of the Catholic pope and requires dress and behavior in alignment with their beliefs. Different museums have varying degrees of strictness in their dress code enforcement.
To be safe, follow these basic rules for your wardrobe when visiting Vatican City:
- Tops should not expose cleavage, shoulders, or midsections.
- Avoid graphics that are hateful or in poor taste.
- T-shirts and jeans are acceptable.
- Dresses and skirts should be at least knee-length.
- Sheer or transparent clothing is not appropriate.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Save your flip flops for the beach.
- When you wear a hat or cap, expect to remove it while inside.
If you do not dress according to Vatican guidelines, you may not be allowed to enter certain buildings or even the city itself. Fortunately, you can purchase “emergency” clothes from nearby shops or street vendors if you want to gain entrance.
Tickets to enter the Vatican Museums are available onsite but be advised. There is often a long line. You may find it worth the convenience to pre-purchase tickets on the Vatican website.
Your ticket grants you entry to the Vatican Museums. You can stay as long as you like in each spot until closing time, but there is no re-entry once you leave.
If your time for visiting Vatican City is short, participating in a tour may be the best choice. There are a variety of guided options available to help you get the most out of your visit. And numerous areas are only accessible via tour.
The Vatican Museums offer free admission on the last Sunday of each month, but be prepared for crowds and long lines.
Vatican City houses dozens of museums. There are countless antiquities, sculptures, and art pieces to admire throughout the city. And the Vatican buildings are also works of art, with soaring architecture and stunning frescoes.
You will have the opportunity to enjoy numerous displays, including the following:
- The Gregorian Egyptian Museums – Egyptian culture played a significant role in Roman history. This museum contains mummies and other impressive displays.
- The Spiral Staircase – While this is not exactly a museum, the spiral staircase is a sight in itself. The double-helix design creates a traffic pattern that means people ascending the stairs do not meet the people descending.
- The Gallery Of Maps – The Gallery of Maps is almost 400 feet in length. Visitors find wall-to-wall geographical paintings created in the 16th century.
- The Pinacoteca – This gallery of paintings is home to Rafael’s “The Transfiguration.”
The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is one of the most popular sightseeing destinations in the world and a priority when visiting Vatican City. It resides within the Vatican Museums, and visitors must wind through other areas to reach the Chapel.
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel displays Michaelangelo’s famous The Creation of Adam. The Pieta, his sculpture depicting Jesus in the arms of Mary, is also on display here.
The back wall contains the artist’s The Last Judgement. Michelangelo was in his sixties when he completed it, and experts say that it shows the depth of his character and faith at that point in his life.
Once you enter the chapel, you can stay until closing time. Photos and videos are not allowed inside the chapel.
St. Peter’s Basilica
At the center of Vatican City in St. Peter’s Square, you’ll find St. Peter’s Basilica.
With a footprint of about 33,000 square meters, St. Peter’s Basilica is the world’s largest church. At 138 meters tall, the dome dominates the Rome skyline.
The building is a sight of staggering proportions, and its completion crossed several lifespans between the 16th and 18th centuries. Capped by the world’s tallest dome, the interior contains jaw-dropping barrel vaults and arches.
Bernini’s marble statue, The Vision of Constantine, greets you as you enter. You will have the chance to take in world-renowned works of art by Michaelangelo, Rafael, Giotto, Bernini, and so many others.
If you are up for it, ascend the 231 stairs to Michaelangelo’s Cupola. This is the best place to view the mosaics that make up the dome’s design. You also get a unique view of the rest of the church from this perch.
Do You Want To See the Pope?
The Papal Audience, or General Audience, is a highlight for many when visiting Vatican City. It is not a traditional Catholic mass. Instead, it is a themed speech delivered by the Pope. The Audience includes prayers, songs, and a sermon. Translations are available in several languages for visitors.
The Audience is free of charge, but you do need a ticket. The event occurs on most Wednesdays and lasts about 90 minutes. Check the Vatican website for schedules and ticketing.
Check Ahead for COVID-19 Changes
The Vatican has been working diligently to help protect their visitors and residents from Covid-19. One of the changes is that fewer people can be in a space at one time, so you may experience longer-than-normal wait times.
Guests entering the museums and the church must wear a mask and submit to a temperature check. The museums have had to close intermittently since March of 2020 to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Be sure to check the website for updates to schedules and availability.
Are You Interested in Dual Italian Citizenship?
If you are of Italian descent or are the spouse of an Italian citizen, you may be eligible to claim dual nationality with Italy. You could live in Rome and visit Vatican City whenever you like with an Italian passport. Contact Get Italian Citizenship today for more information about the steps involved to claim Italian dual citizenship.