Best Way to See Vatican City

Best Way to See Vatican City

Have you ever wondered what is the best way to see Vatican city? If so, you’re in luck – there are two paths available for exploration. You may choose to join the hoards of tourists that flock to its museums each year, or you can aspire to become the pope. The former may seem like the obvious choice, but the latter offers some enviable benefits. Imagine dwelling in a palace, donning luxurious garments, and cruising around in a bullet-resistant automobile. And if that wasn’t enough, you may even rub elbows with notable figures such as Barack Obama and Beyoncé. Of course, not everyone possesses the qualifications for such a lofty position. However, fear not – I have just the solution for those who desire to experience Vatican City without having to gain the approval of a group of cardinals.

So what’s the best way to see the Vatican? Well, that depends on what you’re into. Do you want to see the museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, or all of them? How much time do you have? Do you hate crowds or don’t mind them? These are some questions you should ask yourself before you plan your visit.

7 Tips for Visiting the Vatican

You want to see the best of Vatican City: the Musei Vaticani, the Sistine Chapel, and the Basilica di San Pietro. Awesome! But before you go, here are some tips to help you enjoy your visit.

  1. Dress appropriately. The Vatican has a dress code and they’re serious about it. No shorts, tank tops, miniskirts, or anything too revealing. Cover up your arms and legs with a jacket or shawl. And don’t wear any T-shirts with offensive words or images. You don’t want to get turned away by the guards at the doors. (Also: leave your penknives at home. They’ll set off the metal detector.)
  2. Get there easily. The entrance to the Musei Vaticani is on Viale Vaticano (the exit is on the same street). You can take Bus No. 49 from Piazza Cavour and get off right in front of it. Or you can walk from Piazza del Risorgimento (Bus No. 81 or Tram No. 19) or from Via Cipro–Musei Vaticani metro station on Linea A.
  3. Choose what to see. The museums have so much to offer that you can’t see it all in one day. After admiring the frescoes in the Raphael rooms, you can skip some of the modern religious art and focus on what interests you most.
  4. Rent an audio guide. If you want to learn more about the museums, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael rooms, you can rent an audio guide in English at the entrance. It’s not very exciting but it’s informative.
  5. Respect the rules. You can’t take any photos in the Sistine Chapel. It’s a sacred place and they want to preserve it for future generations. Elsewhere, you can snap away as long as you don’t use flash, tripod, or other special equipment.
  6. Avoid long lines. The Musei Vaticani are very popular and crowded with visitors every day. To save time and hassle, book your tickets online in advance.
  7. You might also be able to exit from the Sistine Chapel into St.Peter’s instead of going back to Viale Vaticano.

What is the Vatican famous for?

If you want to see the best of Vatican City, here are some of the attractions that you should not skip.

  1. Gaze at Michelangelo’s masterpiece on the Sistine Ceiling. He spent four years painting this 10,000-square-foot fresco with scenes from the Bible. It’s breathtaking!
  2. Climb up to St. Peter’s Dome and enjoy the panoramic view of Rome. You can take an elevator to the base of the dome, but you’ll still have to walk up some stairs to reach the top. It’s worth it!
  3. Sing along with the crowds at the Papal Blessing on Wednesday morning on St. Peter’s Square. You’ll feel the joy and excitement of people from all over the world who come to see and hear the pope. (This usually happens only in spring, summer, and early fall.)
  4. Explore Musei Vaticani and admire some of the best artworks in history—from ancient statues like Apollo Belvedere to Renaissance paintings like Raphael’s Transfiguration. There’s so much to see here that you can’t do it all in one day. Pick your favorites and take your time.
  5. Be amazed by St. Peter’s Basilica, the biggest church in the world. It’s full of stunning sculptures, mosaics, and paintings by famous artists like Bernini and Michelangelo. Don’t forget to look up at the magnificent dome!

How do you get to the Vatican?

To see the best way to see Vatican City, you can take the metro or bus from various locations in Rome to the Musei Vaticani. You can reach the Musei Vaticani by metro or bus from different parts of Rome. Take the metro to Cipro or Ottaviano stations and walk for about 10 minutes to the museum entrance. Or, take Bus No. 40 Express or No. 64 from Termini station to Piazza San Pietro. You can also catch Bus No. 492 or 46 from Largo Argentina. If you prefer to walk from the historic center, cross the beautiful Ponte Sant’Angelo and enjoy the scenery for about half an hour.

Vatican Skip the line Tickets

The Sistine Chapel and the Raphael rooms are among the best attractions to see in Vatican City, and you can find them in the Musei Vaticani, right? But you don’t want to waste hours in line with thousands of other tourists. I get it. Here are some tips to help you out.

  • First, book your tickets online for an extra €4 ( This way, you can skip the long queues at the entrance. But be warned: it’s still very crowded inside, especially in high season.
  • Try to go in the afternoon when it’s less busy.
  • Avoid the free Sunday like the plague unless you have nerves of steel.
  • Check if the pope is in town and holding his General Audience on Wednesday at 9:15 am in St. Peter’s piazza or Aula Paolo VI. If he is, that’s a great time to visit the museums because many people will be watching him instead. You can find his schedule here.
  • Consider taking a guided tour of the museums and Sistine Chapel. You can book one with the Musei Vaticani directly for €34 online or with a private agency that guarantees you’ll skip the line. The tours last two hours and give you more insights into the amazing art and history of this place.

What should you see at the Vatican?

The best way to see Vatican City is to experience all the most amazing sights in there. I’m talking about two in particular. One is to check out the Basilica di San Pietro, the biggest and most beautiful church in the Renaissance style. You’ll be blown away by how huge and lavish it is. And you’ll also see some incredible artworks inside, like Michelangelo’s Pietà and Bernini’s bronze canopy over the main altar.

The other reason is to explore the Musei Vaticani, where you’ll find collections of all kinds of art and artifacts from different times and places. You can see ancient Etruscan treasures and Egyptian mummies, as well as a real piece of the Moon! And don’t miss some of the famous paintings here, like Leonardo’s St. Jerome in the Wilderness and Raphael’s Transfiguration.

The Musei Vaticani also lead you to the Sistine Chapel, where you can admire Michelangelo’s masterpiece on the ceiling. It’s one of the most stunning works of art ever created, and it shows you what the High Renaissance was all about.

St Peter’s Basilica

The best way to see Vatican City is to visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest and most beautiful church in the world. It’s built on top of the grave of St. Peter, who was the first pope of the Church. The basilica took more than 100 years to finish and five famous Italian artists worked on it until they died. They were Bramante, Raphael, Peruzzi, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, and Michelangelo. The first St. Peter’s Basilica was built by Emperor Constantine in AD 326 and lasted for over a millennium. But it started to fall apart in the 15th century and Pope Julius II decided to tear it down and build a new one that would be even more magnificent.

Some of the highlights of St. Peter’s Basilica are:

  • The Loggia delle Benedizioni (Benediction Loggia), where new popes greet the crowd
  • Michelangelo’s Pietà, a beautiful sculpture of Mary holding Jesus after his crucifixion
  • Bernini’s huge bronze baldacchino (canopy), which weighs 100,000 pounds and is probably the biggest bronze thing in the world
  • Many other amazing works by Bernini
  • The Vatican Museum and Treasure, where you can see precious relics and artworks
  • The Grotte Vaticane (Vatican Grottoes), where many popes are buried
  • The roof and dome of the basilica, where you can enjoy spectacular views

Follow my tips: You don’t have to pay anything to enter St. Peter’s Basilica, but you have to go through security first. Sometimes there are long lines for that, so try to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid them.

Sistine Chapel

Pope Julius II was a tough guy who wanted Michelangelo to paint the huge ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. (The chapel is named after Pope Sixtus IV, who built it.) Michelangelo spent four years painting it and he had to hold his head up all the time. He made the most amazing artwork of the Renaissance. You should bring binoculars or a small mirror to see it better. Later on, Pope Paul III asked Michelangelo to paint another masterpiece on the wall behind the altar. It’s called the Last Judgment and it shows what happens when people die. Michelangelo put his own face on a piece of skin that one of the saints is holding. That’s how he signed his last big painting.

My tip: You can go inside the chapel through the Vatican Museum, but you might have to wait in line for a long time. It’s better to go after 2:30 (and book ahead) or avoid free Sundays when it’s very crowded and they close early.

Vatican Museums

The Vatican is home to the pope and his helpers, but also to some of the most amazing artworks in the world. The Vatican Palace is huge and has more than 1,000 rooms. The pope lives in a small part of it and the rest is for the Vatican Library and Museums. You can see many wonderful things there, like:

  • The old statues (like the Apollo Belvedere and the Belvedere Torso) that look very realistic
  • The Raphael Rooms, where Raphael painted beautiful scenes on the walls
  • The Old Master paintings, like Leonardo da Vinci’s St. Jerome in the Wilderness (he didn’t finish it but it’s still awesome), Raphael’s masterpieces, and Caravaggio’s big Deposition in the Pinacoteca (that means “place where they keep paintings”)

If you want someone to show you around and tell you more about the artworks, you can book a guided tour online. It costs €34 and includes your tickets. You can also take a guided tour of the Vatican gardens if you like nature. Just call or check online for details.

Vatican Gardens

Behind St. Peter’s Basilica, you can find the Vatican Gardens. They are beautiful and cover a lot of land on the Vatican hill. You can see different kinds of gardens there, like Italian, French, English, and even a forest. There’s also a train station that has a museum of Vatican money and stamps inside. And there’s a tower that Pope John XXIII used to work in and now they let important guests stay there. If you want to see the gardens, you can book a tour online. You can choose to walk for two hours or ride an open bus for 45 minutes (but you can’t get off). It’s worth it!

Vatican Necropolis

You can book a tour in English to see the Vatican Necropolis under St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s a cool place where you can see how the Early Christians buried their dead and where St. Peter’s tomb is. You have to book online, by fax, or in person (look for the office on the left of the big columns) and tell them how many people you are (no kids under 15), what language you want, when you want to go, and how they can reach you in Rome. The tour lasts 1½ hours and there will be about 12 people in your group. But don’t go if you have trouble walking or if you don’t like small spaces.

St. Peter’s Square

St. Peter’s Square is where the magic happens. It’s where you can see the pope speak to the crowds and feel the spirit of the Vatican. The square is a masterpiece of architecture and art by Bernini, who created it in just 11 years. He shaped it like an ellipse and surrounded it with four rows of columns that look like giant arms reaching out to embrace you. On top of the columns, he placed 140 statues of holy people who gave their lives for their faith. The square can fit up to 100,000 people who come to celebrate and pray together. In the center of the square stands an ancient obelisk from Egypt that was brought to Rome by a crazy emperor named Caligula. It was moved to its current location by a pope who wanted to make a statement about his power and authority. If you need to send a postcard or get some information, you can find some post offices and an information office around the square.

Is it possible to meet the Pope?

Do you want to see the pope in action? Then you should go to St. Peter’s Square. It’s where he holds big events like masses, ceremonies, and speeches. He also shows up at his window every Sunday at noon when he’s in town. He talks to the people and gives them his blessing. It’s a short but sweet moment that lasts about 10 to 15 minutes.

If you want a longer encounter with the pope, you can join his general audience on Wednesday morning at around 9:15 am. He usually does it in the square, but sometimes he moves it indoors if it’s cold or rainy. You’ll need a ticket to get a seat, but they’re free and easy to get. You just have to send your request in advance and tell them your name, date, language, and where you’re staying in Rome.

You can also get tickets from the Vatican office on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. Just look for the Bronze Door at the end of the right-hand colonnade and ask for directions. Or you can book your tickets online through an American church website if that’s easier for you.

To avoid disappointment, you should know that tickets are not available in August; the best way to see Vatican City is to arrive early and take your chances.

Open chat
Need help?
Send me a Whatsapp
Ciao I'm here to help! So don't hesitate to reach out to me right now.