Vatican City
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Vatican City: Tours & Tickets

See all tours & things to do in Vatican City

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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

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

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

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.

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

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.

Vatican City: Our 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 to visit
    365 days a year!
  • What is the price?
    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 tips

    • 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

Excellent tour - very informative with lots to see.

Our guide was Laura who was excellent and made the tour very interesting. The tour was longer than the 3 hours predicted but seemed necessary due to the amount to be seen. The only negative is the fact that there is no opportunity to take a break or rest during the tour which leads to tired limbs.

Excellent early morning guided tour, well worth the price

Our guide Manuela visibly knew (and enjoyed!) what she was doing. Using audioguides to hear her voice without disturbing others was an excellent idea. This tour was very well organised, We met at 7:30 and entered the Vatican at 8 o'clock sharp with already some useful and interesting information about the Vatican. We made the most of our three-hour tour of the Vatican museum, Sistine chapel and St Peter's Basilica, This early morning skip the line tour really exceeded our expectations.

Exclusive Early Morning Vatican Tour Reviewed by Raul, 02/11/2018

Good informative guide and a large queue avoided!!!

Our guide Lucia took us on a great tour into another country!! We successfully managed to avoid a potential 3 hour queue, and this was in low season. Using individual radios we were able to get all the information while being able to take in the magnificent sights. Highly recommend this tour, don’t waste your time queueing when you can be enjoying St. Peter’s in all its splendour!!

Skip the Line: Vatican, St. Peter's & Papal Tombs Reviewed by Teresa, 02/05/2018

Highly recommended, especially the guide Alberto

This is by far the best way to see the Vatican. Our guide was brilliant in explaining the stories behind what we were seeing - very interesting, informative and entertaining.

Christina was an Exceptional tour guide! Loved every minute!

Christina was just amazing! She went into so much depth and you can tell she is so passionate about what she does. I brought my mum to Rome as a surprise and to have Christina as a guide in the Vatican/ Basilica made it even better for her. She put me at ease as she engaged with the group, it really was one of the highlights of our trip! Thank you Christina, keep being you x

Skip the Line: Vatican, St. Peter's & Papal Tombs Reviewed by Noreen, 02/04/2018

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