We've added one more nation to our "List of Traveled Nations." The good news is that getting to Vatican City won't cost you money on flights, accommodation, or public transportation. The location of this nation, which is the smallest in the world, is inside of Rome, Italy. Although you are technically travelling a another country, you will actually be visiting a variety of museums, basilicas, and palaces.
Despite being a sovereign state, the Vatican City does not require a passport for entry. Rome and the Vatican have no "boundary" or "passport stamp." So let's explore visiting the Vatican City and what you should know beforehand:
Things to Know before you Go
Visa (for Indian Passport holders): For holders of Indian passports travelling to Vatican, a prior Schengen visa must be arranged. There is no border or any official stamping, you still need to get into Italy to get into Vatican
Currency: Vatican's currency is the Euros (EUR). 1 EUR ~ 80 INR
Language : English & Italian are commonly spoken. Latin is another official language of the Vatican, rarely you see them used in day to day activities.
Food: A decent cafeteria-style restaurant, a bar, and a pizza are all available at the Vatican Museums. They are all open throughout museum opening hours and for about an hour after closing. Carry some sandwiches or wraps if required. The Swiss guards wont stop you from carrying one!
Water: Tap water is safe to drink, you can also get a bottled water from the supermarkets. Carrying an empty bottle is advisable, you can refill at the water fountains found throughout the city
Dress Code: The clothing code at St. Peter's is carefully adhered to. Neither men nor women are permitted to enter while wearing outfits exposing their shoulders and shorts/skirts that end above the knee, or any other attire that might be viewed as inappropriate for a religious place. To avoid getting turned away, think about carrying a scarf or jumper to drape over your shoulders.
Safety: Petty crime, thefts, pickpockets are extremely high. Keep your wallets & passports safe. Always be mindful of your surroundings & stick to your instincts. If you feel something is not right, don't do it. Also be careful about the overpriced tour tickets at the entrance of the Vatican city. Walk past people asking if you need any guided tours. Do your research upfront.
Best time to Visit
Rome's Vatican is the city's top tourist attraction. It draws tourists from around the world at all times of the year, so if you were hoping to go when there are less people there, you're out of luck. However, most of the Vatican's attractions typically see fewer visitors on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you're on a tight schedule, it's best to avoid Wednesdays and weekends because the city tends to be a little busier on those days.
Except for the month of July, every Wednesday the Pope has an audience at St. Peter's Basilica. The meeting takes place in St. Peter's Square in the summer and in an auditorium-style room close to St. Peter's Basilica in the winter. Every third Wednesday of the month, the entire area is typically packed with thousands of people attending the Papal Audience.
The Vatican generally has lower crowds throughout the winter. Therefore, if you want to enjoy a more laid-back experience and tour the Vatican at your own pace, consider visiting Rome during the months of December and February (except for the Christmas & new year days)
It's simple to fit a vacation to Rome that includes a visit to the Vatican.
West-northwest of Rome's centro storico, or historic centre, is Vatican City. The Colosseum and Forum are on the opposite bank of the Tiber River from this iconic location.
"Pope" is in charge of the Vatican as head of the Catholic Church. The Papal Apartments is where the pope resides. The Vatican City's other inhabitants, who number slightly over 800, are made up of clergy people and members of the Swiss Guard, the pope's personal security team.
How to get to vatican city
Traveling from India, International flights arrive at Rome International Airport. You have multiple options to fly from all major cities in India
Air India, Air Italia, Qatar airlines, Emirates, Etihad and many other airlines have good connectivity flying from Chennai to Rome
By Air: You can take a cab directly to the Vatican from the Rome International Airport, albeit this may be a costly alternative. Alternatively, you can take the metro to Roma Termini and then a cab or Metro from there.
Bulk of your expenses will go towards flights & Accommodation
Lets take Qatar airlines as an example, as it is the quickest and there is no long layover. Return ticket cost us 75000 INR/person from Chennai International Airport to Rome
We stayed in an Airbnb, just outside the city centre. A private room costs us 60 Euros (INR 4800 per night), that was closer to the public transport. A medium ranged Hotel will cost you 100 Euros (8000 INR) per night , some may have complimentary breakfast
Restaurants were medium ranged as well. A proper meal cost us 20 Euros/person/meal (1600 INR). But if you are sticking to street foods, pizzas, Doner kebabs, Asian takeaways, it is half the price of what you spend in a restaurant.
This is the quickest way to reach Vatican City. There are other connecting options via Dubai/Delhi/Frankfurt/Abu Dhabi
How to Travel around Vatican City
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The Vatican's 109 acres (44 hectares) of land are readily walked across, yet the majority of this region is off-limits to tourists. The Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica are the most visited tourist destinations.
Wear supportive shoes if you're climbing Monte Mario because it's a steep climb!
The Vatican Museums, St. Peter's Square, and Basilica are the primary attractions in Vatican City. All of these may be visited in a single, full day. We advise visiting the Vatican Museums first thing in the morning. You have to wait in a long queue if you arrive late. Eventually more people in the museum and the Basilica.
After seeing the museums, you can stroll across to St. Peter's Basilica to tour the building's interior.
Here is some additional information about each of the Vatican City's attractions.
Must See Places in Vatican City
1. St. Peter’s Square
The huge Piazza San Pietro, often known as St. Peter's Square, is one of the finest public squares in all of Europe and serves as the imposing entrance to St. Peter's Basilica. Two curved, double columned porticoes surround the oval-shaped piazza and its the most photographed square
At the right, beneath the portico, a line develops to enter the basilica. You'll notice the distinctively gowned Swiss Guards while standing in line; that an unique attire
2.St. Peter’s Basilica
Prepare yourself for a jaw-dropping encounter once you enter the basilica.
The largest church in the world is decked out from floor to soaring ceiling in marble, gold, magnificent carvings, and priceless artefacts. Just as the designers intended, the space's size is overpowering.
For a stunning perspective of Rome, you can also climb to the top of St. Peter's dome or take an elevator up part of the way. It’s 5 euros ($6) for the steps or 7 euros ($8.50) for the lift (which only takes you halfway anyway). Once up the top, the views of Rome are spectacular. And you get a proper look at the famous Vatican Courtyard, St Peter’s Square
3. Sistine Chapel
Simply amazing. world-renowned, and rightfully so. This is the main attraction in the Vatican and has got some of the amazing works of Michelangelo. Unfortunately, photos are not permitted, the ones you are seeing is from the Internet. Your breath will be taken away by this place.
Entry is 16 euros ( INR 1300)
I advise not trying to view every exhibit or collection because museums can be daunting. To focus your vacation, do some study beforehand to determine what you want to see the most. Booking a tour of the Vatican Museums with a guide will also make things simpler. In order to explore the sights and make the most of your limited time while visiting Rome, our local expert can take you around.
Vatican Tours & Cost
Visit the Vatican Museums website to discover the most recent information and make your timed admission reservation if you intend to go alone. The current price for an adult museum admission is €17 (INR 1350). The museums are open from 8.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and are closed on Sundays. Your admission to the museums is covered if you hire a local tour guide (additional cost).
Personally we felt that we should have got a tour guide, we could have got more insights about the history & some best know secrets only an expert knows.
Conclusion & Our Recommendation
You can easily spend 2 hours in Vatican and consider it to be half day trip visiting Italy. Doesn't matter if you are not into History or religion, it is still a good place to visit.
If you want to meet the Pope personally, yes its next to impossible. Wednesday can be preferred as Pope addresses the Crowd, at the same time Wednesdays are expected to have a thicker Crowd.
Must Go Destination