Vatican City: How to make the most of your visit

views of rome from the vatican
August 26, 2014

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If you’re planning a trip to Rome, a visit to Vatican City is a must! You’ll see some of the most awe-inspiring art and religious artefacts, as well as views across Rome that just can’t be beaten.

When to visit Vatican City

The hot, Mediterranean climate means the best time to visit Vatican City is either late September / October time (where the temperatures may still reach 26 degrees) or between March – May, where you can bask in mild temperatures without the summer stickiness.

Scheduling tips for visiting the main attractions:

St Peters Square vatican

St. Peter’s Square

Get closer to the Pope

If you want to get a glimpse of the Pope and experience a really electric atmosphere at Vatican City, plan your trip for a Wednesday. For a more personal experience with a good view, I advise getting to St. Peter’s Square for 8.30am, ahead of his 10.30am Papal Audience – which is free to watch. Upon arrival, talk to the Swiss Guards (the Pope’s private army and instantly recognisable!) as they may be able to give you a free ticket to get within 15 feet of the Pope!

Visit the Museums when they’re quiet

Wednesday mornings are also a great to visit the museums – if you don’t mind missing the Papal Audience. With all eyes awaiting the Pope’s arrival there will be virtually no queues at all to get into the Vatican museums. So you’ll be able to enjoy the museums and Sistine Chapel at your own pace.

How to avoid the crowds

For an all round quieter, calmer experience, visit Vatican City on a Tuesday or Thursday – either very early, around 8.30am or even better after 2.30pm as the morning crowds die down. If you’re visiting in the afternoon, I advise heading to the museum first, before St Peter’s Basilica.

Vatican city

Generally, a pre-booked Vatican City tour can also save you queuing time – whilst educating you with all the must-know facts and inside stories at the same time.

Take advantage of the traditional Italian charm

When you’re done with the main attractions, soak up the atmosphere in the nearby side streets a few minutes away from the Vatican around Via Germanico and Via Marcantonio Colonna. You’ll find authentic Italian charm and traditional food without the hefty tourist price tag!

For a cheap bite to eat and one of the tastiest pizzas you’ll find in the area, try La Cucaracha on Via Moncenigo, just a few minutes walk from the Vatican Museum.

St Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica

If you’re looking to make a day of your visit, I highly recommend spending time in the beautiful Vatican Gardens. You can only do this by purchasing a ticket for a two hour guided tour in advance online. There is no other way you can access the gardens. Be aware that your ticket price does include admission to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel so don’t double up on your tickets!

About the author

Sophie Smith

Sophie Smith is a freelance journalist and copywriter based in the beautiful Cotswolds. When she's not writing, she loves to travel; just a few of her favourite hot spots are Florida, New York, Rome and Florence. You can see more of her work at Sophielouwrites.co.uk.