Vatican Tours in Rome Italy

Family Vacation Ideas for Italy

The Vatican Tours of Its Gardens

If you love gardens and want to see the Vatican Gardens, tours are organized by the Pilgrim Tourist Information Office, located to the left of Piazza San Pietro facing the basilica, and the tickets must be ordered at least one day in advance.

Vatican Tours for Papal Audiences

If you would like to see the Pope on your Rome Italy travel, plan ahead.


Papal audiences are usually held on Wednesdays at 10:30 am or may be earlier in summer around 10 am, when the Pope is in town.

In addition, the Pope delivers an address every Sunday at noon from his study window in St Peter’s Square to the congregation below.

The Audiences are held in the modern Nervi Hall (Sala Nervi or Audience Hall) behind the colonnade to the left of the basilica.

During the summer, the Pope resides at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. Here the Pope holds the Angelus prayers on Sundays for the pilgrims.

Every week a helicopter transports the pontiff from Castel Gandolfo to the Vatican for the Wednesday audience.

To attend a Papal Audience on your tours of Italy, either obtain a free ticket a day or two before at the Prefettura della Casa Pontificia (which means Prefecture of the Papal Household – telephone 06 69 88 30 17) beyond the bronze doors to the right of the basilica before the colonnade past the Swiss Guard.

You can also request in writing to:

Prefettura della Casa Pontificia 00120 Citta del Vaticano

In your letter, include:

  • the number of people in attendance
  • the desired Wednesday and alternate dates
  • the language spoken
  • and the address of your hotel in Rome

Remember to dress appropriately with knees and shoulders covered.

See Bernini's Collonade on Your Vatican Tours in Rome Italy
A Dramatic View of Bernini’s Collonade and the Saints on the Rooftop at St Peter’s Square

Tips for Your Vatican Tours and Its Museums

What many people don’t realize is that the entrance to the Vatican museums is located on the northern side on the Viale Vaticano (to the right of St Peter’s Square), a 10 –to 15 minute walk from St Peter’s Basilica front entrance.


  • The museum entrance at Viale Vaticano leads to the famous bronze double helix ramp that climbs up to the ticket office.
  • To avoid the long line-up, you may consider catching a bus, which takes you from in front of the Vatican Post Office located at the right hand colonnade at St Peter’s Square, through the Vatican Gardens and ends up at a small gate by the museum ticket desk.
  • To accommodate the millions of visitors on their Italy tours to the Vatican Museums, the traffic flows one-way through four coloured tours which range from 1 ½ hours to 5 hours and you cannot turn back to see something you missed. All the tours end in the Sistine Chapel but plan ahead for a long visit.

On your Rome Italy travel Plan Ahead for Your Vatican Tours
Explore the Vatican Museums on Your Rome Italy Tours

  • At the ticket office is a booth selling guide books which are well worth buying.
  • After you have entered the Museums and gone up the long escalator, turn right and walk opposite to the direction of the escalator until you see the famous circular staircase on the left.
  • Take your pictures but don’t head down the staircase which is an exit. Simply return to the top of the escalator to continue into the Museums.

Since the Museums are vast and have limited places to purchase food and beverages, bring your own food and water, and use the restrooms located at the entrance.

On Your Vatican Tours Wear Proper Attire

As in most duomos and basilicas, remember to wear appropriate clothing as the dress code is conservative and monitored by staff.

  • Do not wear short shorts, miniskirts, skimpy dresses, sleeveless blouses, shirts or t-shirts.
  • For women, bring a scarf to cover your shoulders and avoid skirts a couple inches above the knees as a staff member in a bad mood may not let you in (speaking from experience).
  • I have worn the same length skirts in other visits when I travel in Italy without problems, but the experience may vary and it’s worth coming prepared.
  • For men, you will probably be okay with safari shorts and short sleeved t-shirts.
  • Jeans and t-shirts are acceptable for both men and women.
  • Capri’s for women and long shorts for men are ideal on hot summer days.

For more information about St. Peters Basilica and the Vatican Museums click here.

The Castel Sant’ Angelo in the Nearby District of Prati

Explore the Impressive Castel Sant Angelo Castle as Part of Your Vatican Tours
Visit the Enormous Castel Sant’ Angelo on Your Rome Tours

This massive brick and stone castle was built by the Emperor Hadrian (117 – 138 AD) as a mausoleum for him and his family.

In front of Castel Sant’ Angelo is the marble Ponte Sant’ Angelo Bridge, lined with statues of angels designed by Bernini.

This edifice has served the popes as a fortress, prison and a palace. The Castel Sant’ Angelo, which is in the District of Prati, is open to the public so make sure to include a visit on your Rome Italy travel.


It was often used as a papal refuge, as it is linked to the Vatican via a covered passage known as the Passetto di Borgo.

After your Vatican Tours walk over to the Castel Sant Angelo Bridge
A Stunning View of the Tiber River and Castel Sant’ Angelo on Your Italy Tours

The Castel Sant’ Angelo fortress contains a museum of arms and artillery and offers fantastic views of Rome in addition to your Vatican Tours.

Return to Rome Part 1: Rome Vacations in the Historical Centre

Rome Vacations in the Historical Center

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