Vatican City is a sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome. Established in 1929, it is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world as well as an ecclesiastical state, ruled by the Bishop of Rome - the Pope. The highest state officials are all Catholic clergymen of various national origins. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See and the location of the Pope's residence.
What is the dress code inside the Vatican buildings?
Both St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums are considered holy places. Men should wear slacks and women should wear slacks or skirts below the knee. Shoulders must also be covered. If you insist on wearing spaghetti straps or a tank/halter top then bring a shawl or wrap and expect to keep it around you. Shorts are not allowed even on children. These rules may seem strict, but remember, you are a guest in the Vatican.
What are the best days and times to visit the Vatican?
The best times to visit the Vatican Museums are the late afternoon, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday. That's not to say you can't go other days, but these seem to be the times when the lines are shorter and the crowds inside the museums are fewer. (The Museums are closed on Sundays).
I would like to attend the Papal audience. How do I go about arranging this?
The Pope addresses a general audience every Wednesday at 10am. You can make reservations through us on our website or by calling one of our agents at 877-267-2247. Be forewarned that the Papal address attracts a very large crowd. It is not the intimate engagement that people may expect as hundreds of pilgrims are in attendance within St. Peter's square.
Why are tours of the Vatican not recommended on Wednesdays?
Since the Papal Audience takes place every Wednesday morning, St. Peter's Basilica is closed until about 1pm. Because of this, we don't recommend visiting the Vatican on Wednesday (unless you are attending the Papal Audience). We also suggest you avoid Wednesday afternoons because so many people who attend the audience in the morning go straight to the museums, making it unusually crowded inside.
How large a bag can I take into the Vatican Museum?
The only bags you're required to check are larger backpacks, like camping or hiking bags. Ordinary backpacks for everyday use are fine. Carry - on bags are no problem, but nothing like a suitcase. Our advice is to check anything cumbersome or anything that may knock something over.
Is photography allowed inside Vatican buildings?
Photography is allowed (without flash) in all areas except for the Sistine Chapel. There is absolutely NO photography allowed in the Sistine Chapel. If you see photos others have taken, it's because they have ignored the guards and broken the rules. We do not recommend this as the Chapel is well staffed, and if officials do catch you, you will be asked to leave.
Is it possible to enter the Sistine Chapel without going through the entire museum?
While this is a popular belief, it is untrue. You must tour the entire route of the museums before entering the Sistine Chapel, which is located at the very end.
Is the Vatican wheelchair accessible? Are wheelchairs available?
You may use your own wheelchair or the Vatican can provide one for you. Please keep in mind that there are several areas of the Vatican Museums that are inaccessible with a wheelchair. There is a special route for wheelchair users, complete with elevators, allowing access to about 70% of the museum. Please note that St. Peter's Basilica is run separately from the Vatican Museums and does not provide wheelchair rental, so any wheelchair rented from the museums, must stay within that building.
Can I bring a stroller into the museums?
Lightweight, collapsible strollers can be brought into the museums and are highly recommended for small children due to the lack of seating in the Vatican.