Situated in Rome, the Vatican is the smallest country in the world and one of the most visited. With so much to see and do in this ancient place in the heart of Italy, you’ll want to plan ahead to make the most out of your trip. Read on to learn about 5 tips for visiting the Vatican.
1. Book Your Museum Tickets Online in Advance
The Vatican Museum and Saint Peter’s Basilica are two of the most visited museums in Rome. While the Vatican is the home of the Pope and the Catholic Church, it also houses numerous art collections, including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, which sees 4 million visitors a year.
Due to the tremendous popularity of these sites, it’s best to secure your tickets online well in advance. This way, you’ll avoid the long line to purchase tickets and be certain you’ll get in that day. You can buy your tickets directly at the Vatican website.
2. Visit Early or Late in the Day
You may have skipped the long line by purchasing your tickets in advance, but you’ll still have the crowds to deal with once inside. To avoid the height of the crowds, it’s best to visit the museums either early or late in the day when there are fewer people. Keep in mind that around 25,000 people visit the Vatican museum every day.
The museum opens at 9am and closes at 6pm. The last Sunday of every month is a free day so if you want to save money, you can plan for this day – but be warned – you need to go early as there will be a very large crowd this day and you’ll find yourself waiting in line for hours otherwise.
3. Go During Tuesday – Friday
To avoid the mass crowds, it’s best to avoid the Vatican from Saturday through Monday when it receives the most visitors. Avoiding the large crowds gives you more time to explore at your own pace and relax a bit while doing it. The last thing you want is to rush through the sites while trying to peer over someone’s head the whole time.
4. Visit During the Off-Season
If you’re able, consider visiting the Vatican during the off-season when there are fewer people and travel to Italy is generally cheaper. The off-season runs from mid-January to March and from November to mid-December. The weather will be mild and comfortable for a day of sight-seeing at the Vatican.
5. Dress Appropriately
You’ll need to be dressed appropriately to be allowed into the museum and Basilica. For women, this means covering shoulders, midriffs, thighs, and your neckline. Leave the shorts and tank tops at home and go for long dresses, skirt, or pants. Pack a shawl to cover your shoulders. For men, wear a long t-shirt or nice top with long shorts or pants. You’ll also want to pack light as all purses and backpacks are inspected before entry.