Vatican City
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Vatican City: Tours & Tickets

See all tours & things to do in Vatican City

Top sights in Rome

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What is the Vatican City?

Vatican City – everyone’s heard about it, but what is it exactly? Is it a part of Rome, is it independent, are only priests allowed in? There are a lot of mysteries and misconceptions surrounding Vatican City, so here are 5 fascinating facts.

The Smallest Country in the World

The Smallest Country in the World

With a tiny population of 842 and an area of 110 acres (roughly an eighth of New York’s Central Park), Vatican City is the world's smallest independent nation-state.

An Economy without Trade or Taxes

An Economy without Trade or Taxes

As a completely non-commercial economy, all of Vatican City’s money comes from donations, museum admission fees and the sale of postage stamps, books and tourist souvenirs.

A Veritable Culture Treasure Trove

A Veritable Culture Treasure Trove

Featuring the world-famous Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City is a highly popular tourist destination, attracting over 4 million visitors yearly.

The Pope Has a Secret Escape Tunnel
Photo: Raja Patnaik @wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Pope Has a Secret Escape Tunnel

In 1277, a secret passageway was built between the Vatican City and the nearby fortified castle Castel Sant’Angelo, providing an escape route for the pope if the city was attacked.

Those are Not Harlequins

Those are Not Harlequins

The colorfully dressed men standing in front of the city’s entrances are the famous Swiss Guards. Former mercenaries, they are now the permanent de facto army of Vatican City.

Our insider tips

Best Time of Year to Visit

Although Vatican City is extremely popular with tourists all year around, if you’re looking for a quieter visit, your best bet is during the low season between November and February.

Give Yourself Enough Time

There is so much to see in Vatican City, make sure you’re not pressed for time. Importantly, if you want to see the Sistine Chapel, it’s essential that you enter the Vatican Museums before 3:00 PM so you can reach the chapel before it closes.

Book a Tour?

Although there is more than enough to take in as an individual visitor, those who want to learn about Vatican City’s rich history would benefit from one of the many excellent tours offered. There are public as well as private tours. Note that latter need to be booked well in advance.

See the Pope

You’re unlikely to run into the pope on your visit to Vatican City. However, every Wednesday the pope holds a public audience on St. Peter’s Square in the summer and in the Audience Hall during winter. The audience starts at 10:30 AM, but most visitors arrive earlier to secure a good seat. Security opens between 8:00 AM and 8:30 AM.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    365 days a year!
  • Is it expensive?
    Free to look at from the outside. Admission tickets vary.
  • Will I need a guide?
    Not compulsory, but recommended.
  • How to get there
    Taxi, bus, metro, tram or by foot from Rome. Look here for more detailed directions.
  • Additional information

    • Large bags are not allowed in the museums, so pack light!

    • There is often no air conditioning in the museums so make sure to dress accordingly and bring a bottle of water.

What people are saying about Vatican City

Great commentary, great guide thoroughly enjoyed.

Our guide was very knowledgeable and very friendly. We had a great tour, very informative commentary throughout. Would definitely recommend

Tour guide was amazing! So many great stories!

She told us so many amazing facts and stories we wouldn’t have known. Great tour while allowing plenty of time for photos and enjoying al the art and amazing views.

excellent. Prebooked ticket couple days before.

Booked a no line/queue entry to Vatican museum without tour. All good and on time. We went in as mentioned. We managed to take our own time to see the things we want. Got my own vatican museum book guide which was really helpful. Stayed inside for 4 hours. Tours tend to rush people but it's up to your own preference.

The tour guide (Julio) was exceptional. Whole experience very positive

I would strongly encourage people visiting the Vatican to use a tour guide. Not only it is much easier to get in but it also gives you more insights on the history of the works of art!

A very knowledgeable guide in a beautiful place

I would highly recommend seeing the Vatican and other Roman historic sites with a guide. We had 48 to squeeze in everything we wanted to see. The tour meant we missed the queues and were told the history and interesting stories, which we could never have known if we went self guided, as there is not actually much information displayed. After this experience, I'd do a guided tour every time

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