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Vatican: things to do and sights to see


The Vatican City is one big attraction, partially hidden by the Leonine Wall. The Vatican's possessions are a part of UNESCO's World Heritage. You should devote two days for the visit of the smallest state in the world, paying special attention to the famous museums of the Vatican.

Photo source: civitavecchia.portmobility.it.

Some people come to the Vatican for Christmas, some want to see the Pope, enter the Sistine Chapel or let the the greatness that is St. Peter's Cathedral take their breath away. Vatican museums and gardens also are welcoming for crowds of travelers and casual tourists. And many people come out of them with the same idea: to visit the Vatican again!

The Vatican Pieta. Photo source: diariodibordofotografico.altervista.org.

Interesting Sights of the Vatican

Saint Paul's Cathedral

The view of St. Peter's Square and the Papal Basilica of St. Peter has already become a symbol of the Vatican City. The cathedral is the burial place of the first-ever apostle, Pietu ("Lamentation of Christ" by Michelangelo) and many other Christian sanctuaries and masterpieces of sacral culture.

Photo source: foliamagazine.it, Franco Cosimo Panini Editore.

The Apostolic Palace

In the Apostolic Palace there are the Stanze di Raffaello and the Paolin's Chapel, where the cardinals pray before the election of the new Pope. The palace also includes museums and the Vatican Library, auditorium halls and the famous Sistine Chapel.

Photo source: panoramio.com.

The Sistine Chapel

Now the Sistine Chapel functions more like a museum. It is here that the cardinals elect a new pope. Also there are the "Last Judgment" by Michelangelo, "The Birth of Christ" by Perugino, two cycles of frescoes – "The Life of Christ" and "The Life of Moses" – and other iconographic stories of the brilliant masters of the past in the Sistine Chapel.

Photo source: storiavivaviaggi.it.

Vatican Apostolic Library

There are more than 1 600 000 of only printed manuscripts in the Apostolic Library! Among other things, there are collected valuable medieval manuscripts and manuscripts of the Renaissance. The library acts as a museum, and also it allows scientists, students, graduate students and teachers to work according to special permits. Details regarding the visit are constantly updated on the Vatican Library website.

Photo source: arte.sky.it.

Vatican Gardens

Perhaps the Vatican is the greenest state in the world, because the garden and park zone occupies more than 50% of the enclave's area. The economic importance of gardens gradually was lost in the Middle Ages. Before that, even medicinal plants were grown here. The 15th century Belvedere, located here, is also part of the museum expositions.

Photo source: umbriaroma.it.

Museums of the Vatican

If you want to be sure to get into the Vatican Museums, you should buy tickets online through the official website of Musei Vaticani. Or use the services of reliable guides. Otherwise, you run the risk of standing in the queue for hours. The prices for season tickets start from 20 euros.

Photo source: guidadiviaggio.it.

If you come by 7:00, on the last Sunday of the month, there is a chance to get to museums for free. Also, the Vatican opens doors to fans of evening visits: on Friday, if you book a ticket reservation, you can view the exhibition from 19:00 to 23:00.

Vatican Expositions

  • The Vatican Library.
  • The Vatican Pinacoteca.
  • Historical Museum.
  • The Gregorian Etruscan Museum.
  • Pio-Christian Museum.
  • Museo Chiaramonti (exposition of ancient sculptures).
  • Missionary ethnological museum (new exposition).
  • Collection of modern church art.

"The Story of St. Nicholas" by Fra Angelico in the Vatican’s Pinakothek. Photo source: chechar.wordpress.com.

Expositions and galleries of the Apostolic Palace

  • The Sistine Chapel.
  • Stanze di Raffaello.
  • Borgia’s Apartments, the palace of Nicholas V.
  • Chapel of Nikolina, tower of Innocent III.
  • Gallery of candelabra.
  • Gallery of Arazzi.
  • Gallery of geographical maps.

Spiral staircase of the Apostolic Palace. The creation of the architect D. Momo. Photo source: stpeterhome.com.

Expositions in the palace of Nicholas III

  • The Gregorian Egyptian Museum.
  • Pio Clementino Museum, Belvedere Palace (Roman and Greek art).
  • Raphael Loggia.
  • The Chiaroscuro Hall.

 In the Museum of Pio Clementino. Photo source: ourtravelpics.com.

Holidays and interesting events in the Vatican

  • All holidays of the Catholic Church (according to the Gregorian calendar). Including Christmas (December 25), Epiphany (January 10), Easter, the Triumph of the Body and Blood of Christ, St. Peter and Paul's Day (June 29), Ascension of Christ, Assumption of the Virgin (August 15), All Saints Day (November 1), Day of Prayer for the Dead (November 2), Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary (December 8).
  • Other solemn days: the election of the Pope, the anniversary of the Pope's service, the opening or closing of the Jubilee year, and so on.
  • Morning Papal audiences every Wednesday.
  • The "Angel of the Lord" prayer, which the Pope reads every Sunday at noon, by giving a short sermon and blessing the people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Where to stay in the Vatican area

On the territory of the city-state there are no open hotels for secular guests. But in Rome you can stay not far, so that the path to the Vatican does not take much time.

Roman Hotels near the Vatican

For the complete list of places where to stay in Rome, please click here.

How to get to the Vatican

You can easily get to the Vatican from the territory of Rome with the Schengen visa and appropriate clothing. From Rome to the Vatican, you can take the metro to Ottaviano-San-Pietro station (line A). If you want to use the bus, there is such an opportunity. From the train station in Rome, there are bus lines No. 40 and 64. From the Republic, Venice and Argentina Squares, or from the Spanish Steps, you can take the bus number 60.

Want to take a walk? From the station, follow the Via Nazionale, from the Piazza Venezia take Via Plebiscito, Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via della Conciliazione. But on the car you need to drive up to Piazza Navona, since it is impossible to get directly into the Vatican territory.

Photo source: flickr.com, author A H T.

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