How to do the Vatican City in One day

What to see and do in the Vatican City in one day, covering our tips and tricks and all the best attractions…

Short on time? Only have one day to see some of the greatest works of art Italy has to offer? Perhaps only a morning to see some iconic buildings renown worldwide? Have no fear because we are here to tell you it’s possible! With our careful planning, you can see the Vatican’s best attractions in just one jam-packed day! Here are our tips to optimise your time in exploring the city’s vast treasure troves.

  • Set out a Schedule

    Sorting out what to see before you set off on your adventure is the best way to get organised. Doing things like researching the opening and closing times of your favourite attractions also means you won’t have any disappointing surprises. The majority of the main attractions in the Vatican open at 9 am, but St. Basilica actually opens at 7 am, letting you start your day earlier to fit more in. Also, it’s often worth organising your day around avoiding peak times so that you make the most of your day and avoid a lot of foot traffic. Usually, the busiest times are from 10 – 12 in the morning, with most tourists leaving for lunch or other attractions around midday. So, organise either going as soon as it opens or in the afternoon.

  • Work out how you will be getting around

    There is nothing worse than wasting an hour walking around desperately lost whilst trying to find your next stop. Therefore, working out which stations, bus stops, tour companies, and walking routes you’ll need to take beforehand makes hopping from one site to the next all the easier. Checking the schedule is also another way to reduce your waiting time and ensure miss out on any public transport frustration.

  • Choose the right Day

    When visiting Vatican City, most days are easy. But if you’re one free day happens to land on a Sunday, you might have some difficulty. The Vatican Museums are open every day excluding Sunday, with the exception of every last Sunday of the month. Some days can also be busier than others, with Saturdays always swarming with large crowds and long lines. With most tourists finding Friday, Tuesday, and Thursday to be the quieter days.

  • Follow the rules

    There is nothing worse than being stopped by security for wearing the wrong clothes. Vatican City has very strict rules when it comes to attire, with singlets, thongs, and shorts all being banned. Showing your respect and wearing the correct outfit will let you breeze through the front doors with no fuss, giving you an easier and smooth experience.

  • Work out what you want to see

    Although this may sound like very obvious advice, it is crucial when squeezing everything in at once. Working out what attractions you want to see most versus which ones you’d be happy to miss out on if necessary before your visit will help you during those crucial moments when you find your time trickling away and you need to make a decision.

  • Main spots to visit in Vatican City

    • St. Peter’s Basilica and Square

      The world’s largest chapel, along with its impressive square, is the central hub of the Catholic church. It is the second St. Peter’s Basilica, with the first being built in the 4th century, and this one was built in 1506. Both buildings were named after the first pope, St. Peter, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. The church is beautifully decorated and has a rich history and culture which is engraved into every aspect of it.

    • Vatican Museums

      Even if you aren’t the biggest art nerd, seeing the wonders of Vatican Museums is an unforgettable experience. With some of the most famous and recognisable artworks within, you can spend endless hours strolling through each gallery and museum section and still not see half of the artefacts contained within. The ones to note include Raphael’s Rooms, Leonardo da Vinci’s St Jerome in the Wilderness, and even the Entombment of Christ by Caravaggio. As the biggest collection of artworks in the entire world, we guarantee you’ll find at least one piece that’ll awe you.

    • Vatican Gardens

      If you are looking for a tranquil break from elbowing your way through attractions, then visiting the exclusive gardens of the Vatican is a perfect choice. With incredibly gorgeous and sophisticated scenery, the gardens will have you imagining yourself the duchess of a wealthy country in no time. Perfectly manicured gardens are home to an array of features, with stunning artwork, decorated fountains, and lush greenery and flora covering the area. As the gardens are limited to a small number of guests per day, hence the tranquil scenery, booking in advance is vital. Booking a small or private tour will let you wander the endless walking paths in wonder.

    • Sistine Chapel

      Italy’s most cherished landmark; the Sistine Chapel! Its incredible beauty comes from its massive structure, astonishing interior design, and incredible artwork hidden inside. Undoubtedly its most famous aspect is the ceiling, done by Michelangelo himself in the Renaissance period. The paintings are so detailed, you won’t believe until you see it with your own eyes. As it is the most visited attraction in Italy, booking a tour or coming to its gate early to skip the crowds will cut out any frustrating hours spent waiting in line.

  • Take a tour

    Skip the stress and join a tour! This means no organising, no lines, no ticket paying, simply purchase the tour ticket prior to your visit and sit back and relax. The guide will take you to the best attractions the Vatican has to offer, skipping you past the long lines that you’d otherwise have to wait hours in. They also have bundles of information about everything, so instead of wasting time looking up your own information or hiring an audio tour, simply ask your tour guide and they will be more than happy to tell you all they know.

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