Vatican City
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Vatican City: Tours & Tickets

See all tours & things to do in Vatican City
See all 1022 tickets & tours

What is 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 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 3p.m. 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 10:30am, but most visitors arrive earlier to secure a good seat. Security opens between 8am and 8:30am.

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

An absolute Gem in a city fill with so much wonder

This tour was amazing. The amount of information on hand and the fact that all the different war machines and flying machines have been made and can be used (to an extent).

Vatican City: Leonardo Da Vinci Exhibition Ticket Reviewed by Andrew, 01/10/2017

Briliant tour. Our guide was very nice and interesting

It is essential to get a guided tour as this site is so big that we would be lost in the mass of info and things to see. The guide brings to life some details and major cultural references that make all the difference.

One of the most beautiful things to do in Rome

This is a clever package to visit the Dome and the Cathedral. We did only 10min of line instead probably 3h (or more) with the regular one. The audio-guide (only for the Dome) is simple and a good choice in order to have a fast overview instead longer explanations of the guide. The view from the Dome is amazing!

Skip-the-Line St. Peter's Top of the Dome Panorama Reviewed by Francesco, 01/10/2017

Amazing tour and ask for Irene for incredible knowledge & fun!

This tour is fantastic - a must see for first time guests. Guides are knowledgeable about every nook of the Vatican and all it's many facets. This tour is the best way to see all three sites and even some extras!

Skip the Line: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Reviewed by Karen Chinalynn, 01/07/2017

Excellent tour with a very knowledgeable guide and no lines!

First off, the line to enter the Vatican Museum when we arrived at 9:40am on December 29th was at least three blocks long. So glad we chose a "skip-the-line" kind of tour. But the tour was excellent beyond that - our guide, Valentina, was very engaging and knowledgeable. An archaeologist by training, she had a great knowledge of Roman & Mediterranean history going back 3,000 years. This was a 3-hour tour, and we were concerned that our two kids (ages 11 & 7) would be miserable, but even they were enthralled, and my 11-y.o. son says it was his favorite event of our trip. I give full credit to Valentina on that front. She was also very kind - she recommended a local restaurant to us when we parted, and then tracked us down about 15 minutes later in the square to correct the name of it.

Things To Do Near Vatican City


Vatican City
4.3
Based on 16,471 reviews by GetYourGuide customers