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Everything you need to know about the Vatican

Updated: Jul 6

The Vatican is truly a unique place. Being the smallest country in the world it still attracts loads of tourists every day. I had a chance to visit the Vatican myself so in this article I am gathering all the information and questions I came across before and during my visit.

Here is everything you need to know about the Vatican:

  1. Do I need a passport or ID to go in?

  2. Is there a dress code to enter the Vatican?

  3. Must-See in the Vatican

  4. Can I enter the Vatican for free?

  5. How long do you need to wait to get into St. Peter's Basilica?

  6. Can I take pictures in the Vatican?

  7. Can I stay in the Vatican?

  8. Is the Vatican a city or a country?

  9. When are events happening in the Vatican?

  10. Is the Vatican worth visiting?

Do I need a passport or ID to go in?

No, you do not! Although the Vatican is a country on its own, there is no passport control. As long as you made it into Italy you can enter the Vatican without any issues.

Said that if you have pre-booked Vatican Museum tickets then to get them at the ticket counter you will need to show some sort of ID, to match the ticket information.

Is there a dress code to enter the Vatican?


Due to the entry being so free you can enter and access the main square in any type of outfit. Also, there were no restrictions for the Vatican Museum but to enter the St. Peter Basilica, you should dress appropriately. Which is, not too short skirts or shorts, covered shoulders and no flip flops. Jeans are acceptable. If you do have too much skin shown, at the entrance of the St. Peters Basilica the staff will give you a fabric to cover yourself.

Must See in the Vatican

St. Peter Basilica

The main attraction in the Vatican is the St. Peter Basilica. It is one of the world's most renowned religious and architectural landmarks. Designed by renowned artists including Michelangelo and Bernini, the basilica is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. It boasts the largest interior of any Christian church, with its iconic dome dominating Rome's skyline. You will also find a treasury museum and a souvenir shop inside. Entry to the Basilica is free but the the treasury museum will be for an extra price.

St. Peter Square.

Naturally when entering you will find yourself at St. Peters Square. It is a grand and architecturally stunning open space designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 17th century. It serves as the welcoming forecourt to St. Peter's Basilica, framed by massive Doric colonnades symbolizing the Church's embrace of its followers. At its center stands a towering Egyptian obelisk, flanked by two magnificent fountains. The square is historically significant as the site of many important events, including papal blessings, canonizations, and Easter Mass.

Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel

When in the Vatican, do not miss out on the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. I am not sure why they always are presented as 2 separate things, because really Sistine Chapel is in the Museum territory. You can't really get to it without entering and paying for the museum. And also the Sistine Chapel regarding to tickets will always come in a combination with the museum ticket. Either way, do not miss out on visiting the Sistine Chapel during your museum visit, it is truly a special place. Make sure to get a tour with a guide as you will learn a lot of new and interesting things about the Vatican. I pre-booked my tickets on the official Vatican Museum site. I recommend doing it as in advance as possible as the tickets do get sold out, and definitely pre-book because the queue outside to get the tickets on the spot was incredibly long.

Can I enter the Vatican for free?

Yes, you can enter the Vatican for free! The St. Peter Basilica is also free to enter but you will need to wait in the queue to pass the security check.

As I mentioned above, you will need to buy tickets for the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, and recommend doing it online in advance!

How long do you need to wait to get into St. Peter's Basilica?

Being able to visit St. Peter Basilica for free is great but it does come with inconveniences. The queue indeed can last up to 2 hours! But that is more during the day. The basilica opens at 7 AM so I recommend getting there before 7 AM to start to queue for the entry. The first wave goes quite quickly because there are no people before you. I did that and I waited only around 10 minutes.

Can I take pictures in the Vatican?

Yes, you can! Please. do not use the flash in St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican Museum. The only place where you are not allowed to take pictures is the Sistine Chapel. Sadly. even there I saw some tourists still taking pictures.

Can I stay in the Vatican?

Unfortunately, there are no hotels in the Vatican territory itself but you have loads of options from boutique hotels to apartments around the Vatican, 2 minutes walk away!

A wonderful hotel, highly recommended by travelers is the Le Boutique Hotel. It offers views of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica and great comfort.

If you wish to stay in Rome, make sure to check out my guide of the best places where to stay in Rome!

Is the Vatican a city or a country?

The Vatican is a country. The capital is Vatican City and they have 2 official languages: Italian and Latin. The Vatican territory is 44 hectares big and has less than 1000 citizens. It is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy, and serves as the spiritual and administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church.

When are events happening in the Vatican?

Vatican City hosts numerous significant events throughout the year, many of which are religious in nature and attract visitors and pilgrims from around the world. To see if there are any events during your stay visit Vatican News.

Is the Vatican worth visiting?

Absolutely! Visiting the Vatican is highly rewarding for its historical significance, artistic masterpieces, and spiritual experiences. As the center of the Roman Catholic Church, it houses St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, featuring works by Michelangelo and other Renaissance artists. The Vatican Museums offer extensive art collections, while St. Peter's Square is a stunning example of Baroque architecture. Visitors can attend Papal Audiences, religious ceremonies, and special exhibitions. The unique status as the world's smallest independent state enhances the experience. To make the most of your visit, plan ahead, respect the dress code, and arrive early to avoid crowds.

If you are planning a trip to Rome make sure to check out my perfect Rome 3-Day Travel Itinerary and Must See Places in Rome!


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