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Things to do in

Castel Gandolfo

Our most recommended things to do in Castel Gandolfo

Vatican: Museums & Sistine Chapel Entrance Ticket

1. Vatican: Museums & Sistine Chapel Entrance Ticket

Take a stirring journey through art and religious history with skip-the-ticket-line entry to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Avoid the long ticket lines and then enjoy your visit at your own pace.  Wander through the Greek Cross Gallery to see elaborately-carved sarcophagi that might just contain the earthly remains of some of antiquity's famous kings and queens. Peek at the Cabinet of the Masks, or tour the Sala degli Animali to see a virtual menagerie of fantastic beasts, real and imagined. Walk the Upper Galleries, including the Gallery of Maps, to see how cartographers depicted the world through the ages. See masterpieces by Renaissance masters in the Raphael Rooms, and rest for a while in the Borgia Apartments. Then, it’s time to marvel at Michelangelo’s exquisite Sistine Chapel, the crown jewel of the Vatican, and perhaps even of all the world’s art treasures.

Papal Palace Ticket and Gardens Minibus Tour

2. Papal Palace Ticket and Gardens Minibus Tour

Explore the Papal Palace at your own pace with a multilingual audio guide. Admire the architecture, learn its history, and discover its many collections of art, relics, and more. Extend your visit with a minibus tour of the Barberini Gardens and admire the intricate displays. Once you arrive at the Castle doors, pick up your audio guide and begin your walk through the palace. Gaze at the many treasures, from uniforms and relics to artworks and furniture. Learn the interesting history of the Pontifical Residence, commonly known as the Second Vatican. Designed by the Swiss-Italian architect Carlo Maderno for Pope Urban VIII, and it has served as a summer retreat for various popes since the 17th century. Don't forget to pay your respects to the sedan chair of Pope Pius IX, and the BMW used by Pope John Paul II, before taking the option to visit the Barberini Gardens on a 45-minute minibus tour. The gardens offer views of intricately designed shrubbery and unique fountains, the perfect finisher to the palace experience.

Castel Gandolfo: Pope's Summer Residence Tour

3. Castel Gandolfo: Pope's Summer Residence Tour

Visit the summer residence of the pope at Castel Gandolfo. Wander through its stunning gardens, browse the Apostolic Palace museum exhibition, and learn about the pope, past and present. Meet your guide at the entrance of the villas and then board a bus to visit the gardens of the pope's summer residence. As you go through the gardens, learn interesting facts and see where the library is located. Hear about the library's catalogue including works by Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. Make stops at some of the most emblematic points such as La Villa Barberini. Also see Villa Cybo, a garden full of marble statues and fountains of great artistic value. Then, visit the Apostolic Palace, also known as the Papal Palace and now serves as a museum. In the museum, see different pope-mobiles and discover the many aspects of the pope's day-to-day life. During the course of your tour hear about the popes who have passed at the residence, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's time here after his resignation, and many other stories.

From Rome: Castel Gandolfo Kayak and Swimming Lake Tour

4. From Rome: Castel Gandolfo Kayak and Swimming Lake Tour

Immerse yourself in the history and nature of this peaceful lake, located just a short distance from Rome, on a kayak tour with plenty of interesting stops and technical kayaking tips. After a quick paddling, navigation and communication lesson, you will begin your tour of the lake. Stops will include the village of the millstones, the Roman port of the Villa of Domitian, the Trampoline of the Pope, and a beautiful beach reachable only by kayak, where you can swim if the weather is right. Along the way you will see the summer residence of the Popes, atop the mountain of Castel Gandolfo and surrounded by untouched nature. You can Listen to the sound of local wildlife and the water lapping, a unique and unforgettable experience so close to Rome. Your guide will provide technical assistance throughout the tour, and offer stories and anecdotes about the lake. After arriving back at the starting point, you will have the opportunity to take a shower before heading back to the capital.

Rome: Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo Walking Tour

5. Rome: Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo Walking Tour

Travel along the dreamy Italian countryside, far away from the hustle and bustle of Rome. a true treasure trove of art and history. Visit the quaint village of Castel Gandolfo, perched atop the sapphire blue waters of Lake Albano, mushroomed around the Pope’s Summer Palace. Be accompanied by a member of the Vatican staff on a walking tour of the "green heart" of the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo. Castel Gandolfo, which served for centuries as a summer residence and vacation retreat for the pope, is spread for 55 hectares. Enjoy the walk through the botanical and architectural wonders of the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo. Its Barberini Garden produces and ships a basket of fresh produce to the Vatican. See beautifully maintained orchards, vineyards, and over 1000 olive trees around the farm. You can upgrade your walk in the Pontifical Villas with 2 wonderful options: Popes' Summer Residence Visit the Papal Apartment to delve into 500 years of history. Wander from the bedroom to the private chapel, from the library to the studio. Look at the balcony from where the Popes pronounced the Angelus every summer Sunday. Picnic in the Papal Gardens Enjoy lunch with traditional food in the garden picnic area. Savor a porchetta or vegetarian sandwich with bottled water, wine or beer, and typical wine biscuits. Immerse yourself in this treasure trove in the outskirts of Rome. Walk in the footsteps of the Popes around the 7 rooms and summer offices inside the Palace.

Rome: Papal Summer Residence Half-Day Trip

6. Rome: Papal Summer Residence Half-Day Trip

Take a tour of the Apostolic Palace, stroll through the Barberini Gardens, and walk in the footsteps of the pope himself on this thrilling half-day trip. After meeting your host near Termini Station, a train will take you to Castel Gandolfo, where you’ll transfer to a comfortable open-roofed bus. Enjoy the Barberini Gardens for an hour while the audio guide explains the interesting details of the area. You’ll be fascinated by the sense of history and grandeur as you pass through this historical must-see. Take in the breathtaking views of the picturesque Lake Albano – and be sure to take lots of photos. From there, you’ll step into the impressive Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope. Take your time to enjoy this world of pure artistic beauty. Visit the luxurious papal apartments, see the gallery of the papal portraits, the extensive Vatican Library, and much more!  An absolute must-do for any visitor to the area.

Castel Gandolfo: Kayak Food and Wine Tour

7. Castel Gandolfo: Kayak Food and Wine Tour

Your tour will begin with you being helped into all of the safety devices, such as the life jacket. You will then partake in a lesson on the ground which will run you through the techniques of paddling and on the use of the kayak. The first leg of paddling will involve your guide teaching you how to paddle, correcting the posture and the movement of your arms as you go. Your first break will then be at the village of the millstones, which consists of submerged stilt houses that you will see from your kayak. After your break, you will engage in another stretch of paddling through untouched nature where you can admire the summer residence of the Popes on the mountain of Castel Gandolfo. You will then take a second break at the Roman port of the Villa of Domitian. Next, you will pass in front of the old structure of the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, where all the kayaking and rowing competitions were fought. Your third stop will then be the Pope's Trampoline, where you will stop to admire the old structure on the lake shore with the ancient papal coat of arms. You will next be invited to continue your tour in a unique way to awaken all your sensory activities, as you paddle in perfect silence and listen exclusively to the sound of nature and the local wildlife. To stay in the theme of wild nature, you will then dock in an uncontaminated beach reachable only by kayak, where if the season allows, you will also dive and swim. Your paddling will then continue to the starting point, from where you will receive another relaxing break.

Rome: Pontifical Villa Gardens at Castel Gandolfo Minibus

8. Rome: Pontifical Villa Gardens at Castel Gandolfo Minibus

Explore the 55-hectare gardens of the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo by open minibus. Listen to the audio guide as you roam the gardens to learn all their secrets. Meet your greeter in the Palazzo before starting your tour. Climb aboard the eco-friendly minibus to discover the Castel Gandolfo gardens. See tree-lined avenues, flowers, fountains, and statues. Admire views of the sapphire blue and emerald green waters of Lake Albano. Take in the remains of Emperor Domitian's residence. Find out all there is to know about the Popes, including which pontiff installed a swimming pool and which one laid low in Castel Gandolfo for months after handing in his resignation. You can upgrade your minibus tour of the gardens. Choose from a visit to the papal apartments or lunch in the papal gardens. In the Pope's summer residence, discover five hundred years of papal history in the apartments. Wander from the bedroom to the private chapel and from the library to the studio. Gaze at the balcony from which the Popes pronounced the Angelus every summer Sunday. Or, enjoy a lunch of traditional foods in the garden picnic area. Tuck into a porchetta or vegetarian sandwich, bottled water, a wine or beer, and typical wine biscuits.

Rome: Go City Explorer Pass - Choose 2 to 7 Attractions

9. Rome: Go City Explorer Pass - Choose 2 to 7 Attractions

Explore Rome at your own pace with the Go City Rome Explorer Pass. Choose from 2 to 7 attractions and tours from a list of over 30 options including the Colosseum, a hop-on hop-off bus tour, the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and more. With a full 60 days to use your pass from your first attraction visit or tour, you'll have plenty of time to visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, join a wine tasting by the Colosseum, enjoy a classical music concert, or go bike riding among ancient Roman ruins. Avoid the hassle of having to buy individual attraction tickets each time, with the Rome Explorer Pass it's all right there on your phone! Enjoy a complimentary digital guide packed with attraction information and instructions on booking your visits. To redeem, simply display your pass on your mobile device (or print it at home) at the ticket office or gate for free admission. Choose 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 attractions from the following: (R) Reservations required. Follow the instructions on the digital guide for each attraction or tour. Cultural and Historical Sights • Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill with audio tour, hosted entry, and multimedia video (R) • Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel - reserved entrance (R) • St. Peter's Basilica Guided Tour • Borghese Gallery and City Guide app (R) • Castel Sant' Angelo with audio guide (R) • Capitolini Museum with hosted entry (R) • Altar of the Fatherland Panoramic View (R) • Pantheon Guided Tour (R) Other Tours and Experiences • Big Bus Rome Hop-on Hop-off 1-Day Classic Tour • Rome Catacombs Tour including transfer (R) • Piazza Navona Underground • Pizza Terrace Dinner in the Prati District (R) • Delicious Pasta Menu by Trevi Fountain (R) • Best of Rome at Twilight (R) • Wine tasting with a certified sommelier by the Colosseum • Colosseum Exterior VR Experience (R) • Circus Maximus Virtual Reality Game (R) • Bike rental with Caracalla Baths (R) • Ancient Via Appia Antica by Bike • The Three Tenors in Concert with Ballet - St. Paul's Church • Museo delle Cere (Wax Museum) • Welcome to Rome Show • Leonardo Da Vinci Experience • Vivaldi's Four Seasons Meets Bach's Masterpieces • Trevi District Underground: Small Aqueduct Domus (R) • Vigamus - Video Game Museum • Bike rental with Circo Massimo experience (R) • Empresses, Emperors and Courtesans Tour (R) Attractions and tours are subject to change. Check your included digital guide for an up-to-date attraction list including opening times and instructions on how to access each attraction with your pass before you go. The most popular attractions in Rome can get particularly busy, especially doing holiday periods, so booking in advance is essential to avoid disappointment.

Rome: Half-Day Trip to Pope’s Summer Residence

10. Rome: Half-Day Trip to Pope’s Summer Residence

Just 12 miles outside of Rome stands the town of Castel Gandolfo, home to the Papal Residence for over 400 years. Join an exclusive tour of the Apostolic Palace and the Barberini Gardens, and walk in the footsteps of the popes. Meet your host at the Central Station Termini in Rome to board the train towards Castel Gandolfo. Your tour guide will give you an introduction of your destination, and tell you stories about the many popes, as well as Roman emperors, who used to escape from the Roman summer heat. Once you've arrived at Castel Gandolfo, walk to the Papal residence where you'll receive an official audio guide. Then, enjoy a ride on the Vatican ecological open bus for an hour around the Barberini Gardens.

Other Sightseeing Options in Castel Gandolfo

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What people are saying about Castel Gandolfo

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 43,386 reviews

This is a MUST if visiting the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Lines for general admission are very, very long and can take hours. Skip the lines got us into the museum and on our way to exploring within 10 minutes of our arrival.

It was very easy to exchange our tickets for the official Vatican tickets. There were signs outside and at the counter that were clearly marked with the Get Your Guide sign. Highly recommend getting your tickets through them!

We are so glad we pre-booked this. We surpassed a very long line to get in on a very hot day. Getting the audio guides was a quick and easy process and we were able to enjoy the museums and Sistine chapel at our own pace.

The guided tour of the Colosseum made the experience much more complete. Without our guide, I would have gone straight through almost everything without understanding the richness of the place.

There was no queue to get in (check in was at 4-4:30 pm). The incredible works of art, a lot of history... the Sistine Chapel is a spectacle. I recommend it 100%.