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. Most everyone that visits Rome will at some point visit the Vatican museums and St. Peter`s Basilica, and we get a lot of questions regarding visiting and booking for the Vatican, on this page we hope to answer the most common ones.

Please Note: You will be required to show your passport as identification to enter Vatican City. A driver`s license is no longer sufficient proof of identification.

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. Also, no hats are allowed. 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.

What is the best month to visit?

The slowest months for tourism in Rome are the colder ones (excluding the Christmas and New Years holidays): late November to early December, mid-January to the end of February. So that means these months are the best months to visit the Vatican Museums and St. Peter`s Basilica. Unless you`ve booked a special early-bird tour, it would be impossible to view the Sistine Chapel under similar uncrowded conditions. And while you will not have the place to yourself, you will at least be able to get a wooden seat and enjoy the ceiling without too much jostling. The rest of the museums are a joy to visit during these months too as you can certainly have some private time with a statue of Augustus or a Muse.

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.

Can I bring food and beverages inside the Vatican Museums?

It is forbidden to consume food and drink inside the exhibition halls. It is also not permitted to bring alcoholic beverages inside the Vatican Museums (these must be left in the cloakroom for the duration of the visit). Visitors can however store any type of food and/or drink in their possession in the cloakroom free of charge. (This must be reclaimed before the closing time of the day of the visit; unclaimed food and beverages will be destroyed).

Along the museum itinerary several vending machines and refreshment areas with cafeteria, self service and pizzeria services are available to the public. Our suggestion is to arrive at the museums well-fed. Even if you spend the least time possible, you are likely to still be at least 2 hours without any food or drink, unless you visit one of the Vatican Museums cafeterias. You may also want to bring a few snacks with you to hold you over in between museums.

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 and/or requested to delete the video or photograph in their presence. Also, the use of Telescopic `selfie sticks` is forbidden.

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.

Can I use my mobile phone inside Vatican buildings?

To ensure the best possible experience for visitors, the Vatican Museums strongly discourage the use of mobile phones inside the exhibition spaces. Visitors are required to activate the silent function of their mobile device. The use of mobile phones is forbidden in the Sistine Chapel.

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.

What is the best way to avoid long lines? The best way to avoid waiting in line to visit Vatican Museums is to buy your tickets in advance. And the only way to do this is online. You can do it through the Vatican website, or through an online vendor.

This does not mean you won`t find crowds inside. It also does not pertain to entry into Saint Peter's Basilica, which is a different building altogether.