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I’m not a Catholic or even a Christian, but visiting the Vatican City is an absolute must when going to Rome. It’s such an impressive place with so much history in a tiny space. While I do find visiting Vatican City quite stressful because of the sheer amount of people, I could never imagine skipping it while in Rome. The first time I went there was in 2000. It was the year of the Great Jubilee and the Vatican City was packed with tourists and pilgrims. It almost felt like a huge festival. When I went back after Christmas 2016 it was still busy. This time there was no big event, but tourism has grown so much that certain places are always packed with visitors. So let me give you some tips for visiting Vatican City.
Vatican City Tips
- Although Vatican City is not a member of the EU its currency is the Euro. The Vatican Euro coins are the rarest so don’t spend them!
- Vatican City is also not an official Schengen member, but there are no border controls between Italy and Vatican City. This means that you will not need an additional visa to enter Vatican City.
- Most of the food in Vatican City is expensive and a lot of it isn’t that good. Try to bring snacks and then eat elsewhere in Rome. I don’t know of any vegan options in Vatican City. If you know of a place please let me know in the comments.
- The smallest country in the world is perfect for exploring on foot. Most of it isn’t even accessible to tourists, however.
- There is no accommodation for tourists! Only official guests can stay in Vatican City. So if you want to stay very close check out the surrounding Vaticano neighborhood of Rome. Though, to be honest, I don’t think it’s necessary to stay that close to Vatican City. You will likely want to explore the rest of Rome as well. Cheaper accommodation anywhere in the center of Rome will be the best option. Note that you have to pay the Rome City Tax. The price depends on the type of accommodation (between €3 and €7 per night).
- Whether you should join a guided tour or not is completely up to you, of course. The advantage is that a knowledgeable person will explain all you need to know. However, guided tours tend to skip a lot of things to be able to move quickly.
- Always take care of your belongings! Vatican City is one of the most crowded places you may encounter. This attracts pickpockets. Don’t assume because this is a religious site people will not steal from you. It happens all the time. So be vigilant!
- If you want to see the Pope between fall and spring go to St. Peter’s Square on a Sunday at 12 pm. On Wednesday mornings, there is a more formal papal audience for which you will need a free ticket. Of course, there are also big masses for the major Christian holidays, Easter and Christmas. In the summer, the Pope stays at his residence in Castel Gandolfo, outside of Rome. If seeing the Pope is of major importance to you make sure to check in advance if he’s going abroad for a visit.
So are you visiting the Vatican City anytime soon?