Vatican City
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Vatican City: Tours & Tickets

See all tours & things to do in Vatican City
See all 1053 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

Excellent tour with a lively and knowledgeable guide.

Excellent value for money. Skipped the queue and saw a very good selection of the delights contained in the Vatican museums. All of this was narrated for us by our extremely friendly and knowledgeable guide.

Guide was amazingly helpful and entertaining!

We had Alfredo as our guide and he was super friendly and helpful towards everyone. He gave us tons of information in understandable layman's terms and kept it entertaining as well. Really enjoyed the tour!

Absolute must. Don't delay, do it today!

We booked online at the last minute and got a good price, unfortunately that meant we were 10 mins late getting to the meeting point. That was no bother. The lady in the meeting point gave is our radios locked up the shop and quickly took us to meet our tour guide Stephanie at the entrance to the museum. Stephanie was great. She was very knowledgeable and informative, patient and understanding and had a way of making every thing sound interesting. All in all a great day and an absolute must do when in Rome.

Ilaria was a great guide for us. We are really grateful.

The entire tour was a pleasure. The passion of Ilaria inspired us a lot. The informations were very useful. We recommend this guided experience to anyone...

Skip the Line: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Reviewed by Valentin-Mihai, 12/01/2016

Stephanie was an amazing guide... knowledgable, factual and fun!

Thanks for a great day... well worth the it! Stephanie was great and spends time providing a wealth of knowledge along the way... thanks for a great day!

Things To Do Near Vatican City


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