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What to know before visiting the Vatican

My first visit to Rome as a teenager. went to Rome as an adult, I was not going to the Sistine Chapel because I had no idea that the Vatican Museums closed at 2pm (long before smartphones and Google for that matter.) Thankfully, the Museums are open late.

As I have settled here, I often go frequently to Saint Peter’s Basilica, Saint Peter’s Square as well as The Vatican Museums.

I also assisted thousands of guests plan their trips over the 17 years we operated our B&B.

Based on my years of direct knowledge, I am able to advise you on the right thing to do and what you should not do.

It is possible to avoid stress during a trip to the Vatican by first reading my advice!

Visit the Vatican – When should you go

There isn’t a “best” time to visit the Vatican, i.e. when there are less people. There is less crowd. Vatican is the city’s most crowded tourist destination , and it is always crowded. It is possible to consider Wednesday or Tuesday as your top options. Weekends tend to be more busy and on Wednesdays there’s (usually) The Papal Audience, which means greater crowds.

From April to October, you are able to book an excursion at the Vatican Museums on Friday or Saturday evening. It’s generally less crowded than.

In the morning, a lot of Vatican tours are in attendance and offer early access to skip the line. Additionally, many people arrive early in order to “beat the lines,” therefore you might encounter your way to the Vatican Museums much more crowded than you expected but slightly less during the daytime.

St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums tend to be particularly crowded on Saturdays and Sundays, as Rome is crowded with weekend tourists.

It is a fact that the Vatican Museums are closed Sundays with the exception of the last Sunday of each month, during which they are open. It is the busiest day that you could imagine for going to the Vatican Museums. The program has been renewed for 2022 following its suspension in 2021.

On Wednesdays (except during July during which the Pope has his break) the pope will hold an audience in St Peter’s Basilica. In the warmer months it will take place in Saint Peter’s Square. In the colder months the location will be an auditorium-type room in front of the Basilica to its left. That means that the entire space will be filled due to the large number of audience members who attend the papal audience. Many of them go to the Vatican Museums after the audience.

If you go to the Vatican on Wednesday, remember the following: St Peter’s Basilica will be closed until the papal audience ends (around 12-1 pm.)

In terms of the season the winter months are ideal if you are looking to be more relaxed and avoid crowds. This includes the majority months of the month in Christmas (except December 8 and Christmas until the Epiphany which falls on January 6) as well as the months of January, February and. You wouldn’t believe it, but it’s as busy at the Vatican between December 8 to January 6, as in summer.

Going to the Vatican – What sights to visit

The main sights to be seen during your visit to in the Vatican is Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums.

To clarify To be clear, Michelangelo’s Pieta is located inside the basilica. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is inside the Vatican Museums.

It is possible to see one but you can’t see the other.

However, doing both places in one day is quite doable.

Try to avoid planning another big trip like another museum or the Coloseum on that day, since you’ll feel exhausted.

You may spot any of the Swiss Guards at the entrance towards Vatican City. The Swiss Guard are dressed in different uniforms according to their job however, they’re all dressed in costumes that were originally made in the early 1500s.

Make sure to visit the Vatican Post Office if you would like to send postcards. It’s much easier and faster than visiting the Italian Post Office, and your mail will arrive quicker!

When you visit Vatican City Vatican on your on your own (without the aid of a tour) I would suggest visiting the museums first, as they’re the most intense portion of your visit.

If you’re looking to visit the two Vatican Museums and Saint Peter’s Basilica I strongly recommend a visit.

Aid in taking in all the information without overworking yourself. is a lot to take in and knowing a good guide can help you concentrate on the most important elements.

If you’re taking a tour or not, there’s no way to travel to St. Peter’s Basilica into the Vatican Museums.

If you just want to go to Saint Peter’s Basilica, and not the museums, you’ll be able to save time when you take a guided tour of the church, which is actually a fantastic idea.

This basilica is full of artwork and historical significance that it’s almost similar to visiting the museum. Museums that merit the opportunity to take a guided tour!

At present (summer 2022) there isn’t any early access to the Vatican Museums small-group tour with St Peters and Sistine Chapel in one.

St Peter’s Basilica

Saint Peter’s Basilica is a Renaissance-era church, and is among the largest in the world.

The Vatican is a basilica , but not a cathedral as it doesn’t possess its own Bishop.

The cathedral that is the main one that is the home of The “Bishop of Rome” or “Bishop of Rome” as the pope is referred to The cathedral of the “Bishop of Rome” is San Giovanni in Laterano, or Saint John in Lateran.

However, the pope is the head of Vatican City, where he lives.

It’s a bit confusing, isn’t it? But, imagine that the Vatican as a massive church with plenty to explore inside.

St Peter’s Dome

It’s definitely worth a visit to the dome of the basilica, but be aware that it may be a bit crowded there There are lot of steps.

The first level has 231 steps. However, there is an elevator.

The second section is a further 320 steps with no elevator options.

The dome narrows as you climb the hill, and so you’ll be climbing the entire file, with the roof tilting upwards over your head.

I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who has a relative who has vertigo: You may be advised against climbing the dome of the Vatican If you have vertigo or the fear of claustrophobia.

If none of that matters, you can do it!

The views are stunning from there as well of the church as well as of the city that surrounds it.

Michelangelo’s Pieta

My most cherished piece of artwork inside St Peter’s Basilica is Michelangelo’s Pieta.

It’s actually my absolute favorite work of art anywhere in the world.

If you’re in the Vatican Do not miss this.

It’s right on your left when you step into the basilica.

When I went to visit the museum with my mother, she broke down in tears and said “look at the expression on her face. It’s about the love a mother has for their child.”

Unfortunately, a person wielding an axe hit the structure, which is currently hidden behind glass.

You can still observe it clearly.

Take notice of the face Mary has. It’s truly special when you experience it in the flesh.

Michelangelo Tidbit:

It was Michelangelo’s earliest major works.

He achieved it while the age of 22 was just.

He was not certain that anyone would notice he had done it, so he sneaked in at midnight and wrote his initials (Michelangelo Buonarroti) on Mary’s sash.

Pieta Pieta is the sole sculpture Michelangelo never signed.
Vatican Grottoes the Tombs of Popes

While visiting the Vatican It is possible to go down one floor and look at the place where some of popes’ remains are buried.

Saint Peter is believed to be buried beneath the church.

This is the reason that some popes are also burial sites here.

It’s fascinating to go to the pope’s tombs also known as”the Vatican Grottoes – there is an abundance of history there.

It’s not gloomy or cramped.

In reality, it’s an immense open space, filled with light and plenty to look at (no photographs permitted.)

To go to the Vatican Grottoes, get up near Bernini’s Baldachin and locate the entrance near by.

The entrance fee is free. Vatican Grottoes.
Not to be mistaken for St. Peter’s tomb.

If people are talking about going to the Vatican Grottoes, they’re speaking of a place that houses the tombs of several popes (as I mentioned earlier.)

This is not identical to going to the Vatican Necropolis, where St. Peter is said to be interred.

A visit to the tomb of Saint Pius often referred to as a scavi trip is a unique and memorable experience I strongly recommend it. (“Scavi” means “excavations”.)

It’s a very delicate archeological site. They limit visitors to 250 each day on 12 person tours and you have to book early. (No photos allowed.)

The Vatican Museums

This is the part of going to the Vatican that will require the most of your energy and time.

The Vatican Museums contain the world’s largest private art collection (and you can imagine that a lot of what they have isn’t even displayed!)

Do you see what is the Sistine Chapel?

You can’t simply visit it. You must visit the Sistine Chapel.

For a visit to the Sistine Chapel, you must explore the whole Vatican Museums, which can take up to two hours if you go through it and take in the highlights.

The Sistine Chapel is at the at the very end.

However, if you’re interested in the “Express tour” to the Sistine Chapel, you can make a reservation for this tour, which does not require a line and then takes you toward Sistine Chapel. Sistine Chapel and finishes in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

This tour takes just one hour 45 mins, and is not a tour of the other Vatican Museums.

It is still necessary to go through them, however, the primary principal focus of the tour will be on the Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica.

I’m not trying to sound clich√©, but I do think that going to The Vatican museums is definitely worth it in all its entirety even if you just wanted to see Sistine Chapel. Sistine Chapel.

The other museums are absolutely wonderful too.

There are the Raphael rooms The maps hall as well as the floor-to-ceiling tapestries papal residences, Etruscan art and so many more.

When you visit The Vatican Museums, I highly recommend taking a guided tour. They will assist you in getting you tickets.

However, if you want to explore on alone without a guide then you can get an audio guide, or follow my steps here to find the best way to go to the Vatican Museums. It is also necessary to reserve your tickets by yourself.

If you’re visiting the Vatican early in the morning, it is possible to go to Saint Peter’s Basilica first, and then visit the museums later since the lines in the Vatican museums tend to be more crowded during the morning hours.

If you decide to visit the Vatican Museums first, just ensure you have enough time to go to Saint Peters when there’s still daylight so that you can bask in the sun shining through all windows.

Did you know that the Sistine Chapel is a working chapel and that special services are scheduled in it?

I was so fortunate that I was invited Vespers in The Sistine Chapel.

Watch the video above to learn more about exactly how this chapel was intended to be utilized!
Do you want exclusive VIP access to the Sistine Chapel?

By taking one of these tours you’ll have an extremely exclusive, VIP experience. You’ll also get to see The Sistine Chapel almost alone:

In this exclusive tour offered by Walks of Italy, you will enjoy privileges to visit the Vatican museums. You’ll be right there with the guard that opens all the doors to ensure that the museums set for your visit.

The Key Master will guide you along with your Vatican Museums Key Master as you wander across the galleries, switching to the lighting, including in the Sistine Chapel!

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