Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Vatican City

When I went to Italy in 2014 we spent a (very hot) day in Vatican City. Exploring what all of the amazing art and history had to offer us. Doesn’t hurt that it is also a very inexpensive yet amazing way to spend the day. 

Vatican City is actually it’s own separate state within the city of Rome, ruled by the Bishop of Rome, in other words, the Pope. Keep reading for everything you need to know before visiting Vatican City! 

Vatican City, the Vatican, Rome, Italy

What Exactly is in Vatican City

The Vatican City has three main attractions. I unfortunately did not get the chance to go into the Sistine Chapel because the lines were WAY too long. See the “Best Times for Visiting Vatican City” below for ways to avoid that. 

The Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museums hold an immense collection of art amassed by Popes throughout history. This includes some of the most renowned classical paintings and sculptures and masterpieces from the Renaissance times. Costs roughly € 17 to get into (see below for a more accurate price breakdown).

The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is a part of the Vatican museums, therefore you just need to purchase a ticket for the Vatican museums and you will have access to the Sistine Chapel, although lines for the Chapel can be excruciatingly long. It is most famous for the painted ceiling by Michelangelo and The Last Judgement wall painting. Attached to the Vatican Museum, you will not need to buy a separate ticket.

St. Peter’s Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica is the second largest church in the world and is one of the most beautiful buildings in Rome. It has works from many famous artists such as Michelangelo and Bernini. It’s free to get into and definitely worth a visit!

Vatican City, the Vatican, Rome, Italy
Best Times for Visiting Vatican City

The “best time” will be subjective to your goals so here are two options for you.

Firstly, is going when it is the least crowded, which will be late November to the beginning of February. This is caused mainly from Italy’s cooler temperatures, averaging about 10-15 degrees Celsius. If you go during this time you are guaranteed short lines (if any), and you can actually see the Sistine Chapel. Once the weather starts getting nicer the Sistine Chapel is almost impossible to see, unless you’ve booked a special tour, or at least enjoy at your leisure.

If you love your warmer weather and can compromise some time waiting in line the best time to go would be the beginning of March to early May, or late September to end of October. If you’re choosing this option, you might want to book a private Sistine Chapel tour since the line for it can seriously get out of hand.

Prices of Vatican City
Vatican Museum
  • Free entry on the last Sunday of the month (subject to the museum’s openings/closures)
  • Full entry is € 17
  • Full entry with skip the line € 17 + € 4
  • Reduced entry € 8 – for children between 6 – 18, individual priests, seminarians and novices, employees (upon valid documentation). This reduced entry fee can be extended to one companion.
  • Reduced entry with skip the line € 8 + € 4
  • Elementary school groups € 4 or € 4 + € 2 with skip the line
  • University groups € 8 or € 8 + € 12 with skip the line
  • Individual student tickets € 8 or € 8 + € 4 with skip the line – must have a valid international student card.

For more information on ticket prices visit the Vatican site here. http://www.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/en/visita-i-musei/tariffe-e-biglietti.html

Sistine Chapel
  • Ticket included with the Vatican museums
St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Free!
Tour Options

There are so many great tours you can take. Personally, I opted to explore on my own but that’s only because I enjoy taking my time and I love looking at the art without needing to know the exact history behind everything.

I’ve heard great things about all of the tours they do though so if you would prefer a tour I would definitely check them out here!

Do you have some intel to add for others? Help them know everything they need to know about Vatican City by posting your comments below!

Heading to Italy and want to learn more? Check out this article on Pompeii!

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