Vatican City
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Vatican City: Tours & Tickets

See all tours & things to do in Vatican City
See all 1044 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

Everything was perfect. Special thanks to our guide Chiara!

We are glad we booked in advance, and fully enjoyed our visit to Vaticano! It was perfect

Skip the Line: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Reviewed by Natércia Maria, 11/29/2016

Brilliant loved it and guide and Licia the guide was great

Would highly recommend. Well organised and the guide was very knowledgeable and made the trip very interesting.

Informative, well organised and interesting

I would definitely recommend going with a tour guide otherwise you will not know what you are looking at. You can ask questions, the tour guide remains with you the whole time and when you are finished the 3 hours you can explore more of the St Peters if you want to. I wouldn't recommend this tour to anyone who cannot walk / stand for 3 hours. There is no rest period, which if fine for those who are able.

The only way to visit the major tourist attractions

The office staff were so friendly. They ensured the mobile headphones were all working and our guide Linda was fantastic. She was able to keep everyone interested for the whole duration of the tour and had many funny anecdotes to tell.

Skip the Line: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Reviewed by a GetYourGuide Customer, 11/28/2016

Magnificent experience with a perfect guide

We are very pleased from our guide -David. He was the perfect company for this tour inside the Vatican, with the right ammount of info for everything that mattered. If you can choose him do so and you will not regret. Well informed and educated, good english, funny and entertaining and you will not understand how fast time passed by! Ask him about his favorite football (soccer for US) team...He loves talking about that! :P Cheers!

Skip-the-Line Vatican Museums, Sistine & St Peters Tour Reviewed by Panagiotis, 11/27/2016

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Vatican City
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