What is the best time of day to visit the Vatican?

Limited time at Vatican City? Well, don’t just stand there and grumble, read our top tips here to avoid the crowds and make the most of your day out! 

On your trip to the incredible country of Italy, you will see endless attractions filled with culture, history, and of course, crowds. And the Vatican City is no exception, with spectacular places swarming with tourists around every corner. Instead of wasting time waiting in lines for half your trip, find out the best times to visit each popular sight. Using our tips and tricks to get you to the front of the line, see the vast collection of art and architecture this city has to offer.

What Season to Visit the Vatican?

With the changing of seasons, comes the change in tourist traffic. There are high, low, and shoulder seasons within Italy. The period between June to August is the high season, due to visitors coming during their holiday breaks. For much of Europe this is their summer season, so think school holidays and summer breaks. High season may be more convenient and appealing, but the hours waiting in line under the hot sun can have some drawbacks. You don’t want to be getting heat stroke before you’ve even seen the basilica. Wintertime is the low season and is the quietest time to visit Vatican City. You will be able to cover a lot more ground in a shorter amount of time, as most people like to avoid the cold months and the Christmas season. If you don’t mind a bit of cool fresh air to wake up your senses, then this could be the season for you! The city is still beautiful in the winter sun and not tarnished by hoards of tourists. However, if you’re not one to brave the cold then maybe the shoulder season would be a better choice. This means the months between September – November and March – May. The shoulder seasons are essentially autumn and spring for much of Europe and include the perks of nice weather and quieter crowds. The two months that are best are March and April, which usually has warm weather and a few crowds but nothing like the high levels you see in high season.

What Day to Visit the Vatican?

Vatican Museums are open six days a week, with the exception of Sunday. Which is only open on the last Sunday of every month, when from 9 am – 12:30 pm, the entrance is free. The otherwise Sunday closures mean that Saturdays are always swarming with large crowds, so it’s best to avoid the museums during the weekend. Friday is probably the best day to go, with Tuesday and Thursday coming in at a close second. Wednesdays are quite busy due to the papal audience, where the Pope appears to address the crowds in St. Peter’s Square in the mornings.  It might therefore be best to visit the Vatican early in the week, on either a Monday or Tuesday, this ensures you miss weekend traffic and the pilgrims or tourists who are coming into the city for the papal audience on Wednesdays. Always check online beforehand to ensure you’re visit isn’t poorly timed with a public event or holiday.

What time is the best time to visit the Vatican?

Usually, people think skipping the lines means getting to the Vatican early in the morning. For Vatican City, this is not the case, as the tourist traffic is busiest during the morning hours. The crowds enjoy the start of the day pushing through the hordes of people lining the marbled halls and cobblestone streets. Right around lunchtime, it starts to slow down, troops of people heading off for a delicious lunch to tuck into and refuel. This is your chance! Simply walk right in at 3 pm and enjoy the spectacular attractions all to yourself. The ticket windows usually close around 4 pm, with the museums and building remaining open until 6 pm. If you time it well you can enjoy a 2-hour slot to yourself where you can marvel at the remarkable attractions that have made this city so famous.

Tips for Your Adventure to Vatican City?

If this all sounds like too much work and organisation for your holiday, then why not book onto a tour? A tour is a great way to take the stress out of your visit, whilst ensuring the get the most out of the day-trip. By signing onto one of our Vatican City Tours, you can skip the long queue lines and head straight for the sights, all within a small guided group. Learn more about each attraction in detail as our tour guide explains to you the sights’ particular history and place in the city. Or, if you’re not quite ready to commit to a tour yet, read our article on a 1-Day Itinerary in the Vatican, to find out what you can do there!

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