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

Lovely tour guide with lots of knowledge

Very good tour well worth getting jump the queue tickets. Tour guide was very knowledgeable
Skip-the-Line Vatican Museums, Sistine & St Peters Tour Reviewed by a GetYourGuide Customer, 10/18/2016

Great way to see key highlights. Fantastic guide.

The Vatican Museums are always crowded but our guide picked key highlights and created a very informative tour that enabled us to navigate the crowds with ease. She taught us art history and church history, and made the most of our time in the famous Sistine Chapel. Would highly recommend this tour.
Skip-the-Line Vatican Museums, Sistine & St Peters Tour Reviewed by a GetYourGuide Customer, 10/18/2016

An absolute highlight of our three weeks in Italy!

Mercedes did a superb job of showing us St. Peters in all of its glories. She was very knowledgeable, very sensitive to the interests of her audience, and managed a pace perfectly suited to her group. Highly recommended!
St. Peter's Basilica Guided Tour Reviewed by Wayne, 10/18/2016

Great views of the Vatican area and Rome

Great views of Rome and the Vatican. Line moved fast compared to other Vatican tours. However it was a bit chaotic at the top but it was a beautiful day for photographs.

Great way to skip the lines, see the papal crypt area

We showed up to Rome, and realized it was a bad idea to go without a tour. We found out that there are only three tour groups that give access to the papal final resting place, and so we jumped to get tickets for two days later. It was pouring on the day we went, so we were very happy to move relatively quickly into the Vatican museums. The Vatican museums are expansive, and there is no way to get to see everything you want to see as a group. We focused on the sources of inspiration for the Sistine Chapel in the museum itself. The Papal tombs (NOT the crypts, this is an important distinction - we only got to tour part of the papal tombs, and fairly quickly) were very interesting, and St. Peter's Basilica was wonderful, especially being a Jubilee year. The tour is fast moving, focused on general public interest for the locations, but is a great way to get in quickly and see the main sights. We were happy for the value paid.
Skip the Line: Vatican, St. Peter's & Papal Tombs Reviewed by a GetYourGuide Customer, 10/15/2016

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Vatican City
Based on 16,471 reviews by GetYourGuide customers