Top things to do at Vatican City

Despite its small size, you’ll find plenty of things to do in the Vatican City, from museums, galleries, gardens and more. Check out our list of top things to do to find out more…

Vatican Museums Inside

The holy grail of must-see sights in Rome, the Vatican City is an essential stop when visiting Italy. It is the smallest country in the world and is run by the Roman Catholic Church. Bursting with incredible architecture, history, and famous art pieces, you won’t get bored within the Vatican City. But how to narrow these incredible sights down? Follow our list of the top places to visit on your trip to the Vatican.

  • Vatican Museums

    No trip to Vatican City is complete without a journey to the Vatican Museums. These marvellous museums are made up of 54 galleries, put together to accommodate the popes’ large collection of over 20, 000 works. It’s not just the artwork that’s beautiful, but the galleries themselves. Glorious architecture and lavish decorations within create an outstanding atmosphere as you stroll the halls to see famous masterpieces. Largely dominated by the Renaissance period, the Museums does also feature artefacts from ancient Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

  • Raphael’s Rooms

    Raphael’s Rooms

    Within the Palace of the Vatican, lies Raphael’s Rooms (Stanze di Raffaello). Once the private apartment of Pope Julius II, the area has now been divided into four rooms which are famous for the frescoes painted by Raphael and his workshop. Painted by Raphael and several other master painters, such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, some of the highlights include the monumental School of Athens fresco and the Gallery of Maps which measures 394 feet. Definitely one to check off your bucket list as the incredible detail and beauty that’s gone into these works is breathtaking.

  • Sistine Chapel

    Sistine Chapel

    The Sistine Chapel is surely on everyone’s bucket list, we know it’s on ours! This spectacular building is one of the most well-known buildings in the entire world. With incredible beauty both inside and out, it is well worth the plane ticket to Italy. This historic chapel is most famous for its fresco’s pieces on its walls and ceiling, painted by famous artist and sculptor Michelangelo. Famous pieces such as ‘The Last Supper’ have played a significant role in past and presents artists, inspiring and motivating history’s greatest artists. Being an artistic treasure, the Chapel is usually very crowded, but you can avoid some of the crowds by going as soon as it opens or by booking a guided tour which includes skip-the-line tickets.

  • St Peter’s Basilica

    St Peter’s Basilica

    One of the largest churches in the world, St Peter’s Basilica lies on top of the Vatican Hill. Its impressive dome towers over the other city’s buildings and it has served as inspiration for many other cathedrals around the world. Construction began for the new Basilica in 1506, when the old Basilica had been torn down and wasn’t finished until 1626. One of the most impressive parts of the building is the incredible dome designed by Michelangelo and finished by Carlo Maderno in 1614. Don’t leave without climbing to the top of the dome to see the spectacular views of the surrounding city.

  • St Peter’s Square

    St Peter’s Square

    To reach St Peter’s Basilica you first have to walk through St Peter’s Square, one of the best-known squares in Italy. Built in the 17th century, the square is an architectural highlight. The grand piazza unfolds at the end of Rome’s Via della Conciliazione in front of the Basilica and is open 24 hours a day – unless it’s closed for a ceremony. It is a massive space, with detailed attractions within, including the Egyptian obelisk, the colonnade, as well as the Carlo Fontana’s fountain. On your way to St Peter’s Basilica wander around this square to see more historic highlights.

  • The Pope

    Even if you aren’t religious, seeing the pope in real life is a great experience. The Vatican City is the official home of the Pope, the head of the Roman Catholic church. If you are travelling at the right time, why not join the general audience viewing. Thousands of people attend the audience as the Pope does multiple prayers and blessings to the crowd. A great way to see the Italian culture up close and personal. Don’t worry if you’re non-christian or not religious at all, the Vatican is open to everyone!

  • Castel Sant’Angelo

    Also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, the Castel Sant’Angelo is a fortress located on the right bank of the Tiber River. Built by Rome’s Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century as a resting place for him and his family when they died, the cylindrical mausoleum was converted into a military fortress in the 14th century and now serves as a museum. Whilst technically located in Rome, Castel Sant’Angelo still gets a place on this Vatican list of top things to do for its not-so-secret passageway that leads right into the Vatican. This was so popes could escape and take refuge if they felt under attack. Today you can take a guided tour of the museum or simply take in the view at the top of this unusual building.

We hope this list of top things to do has shown you that there are a plethora of sights to see in the Vatican City! Book your tours, take your camera and head into the city’s walls to explore some of the most unique and impressive attractions in Italy. You’re welcome!

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