Vatican City, the smallest country in the world, is also one that welcomes millions of visitors every year. As the seat of the Catholic church and Pope, Vatican City is undeniably one of the most sacred locations in world history.
It is a religious abode for many, while for others, it is an art and cultural marvel. There are plenty of sights for both the spiritual and the art connoisseur in you. More than that, it is a place brimming with history and all the charm of Italy.
If you are visiting Italy, then the Vatican is a place you do not want to leave out of the itinerary.
It might look as if for such a small place, a spontaneous trip would do the trick. But you couldn’t be more wrong. First things first, you need to be prepared.
In case you have been planning on getting those college assignments done while traveling, let us assure you that Italy’s sights will not leave you enough time for those. You better take care of that beforehand by allocating the work to professionals, like those working with Essay Pro, who can do the research and writing for you, while you enjoy the holidays in peace.
Now, let’s talk about the Vatican.
Dedicate an Entire Day
It is in your best interest to know the date you would be visiting the city well in advance. If you are in Rome, you can catch public transportation to reach the Vatican without any prior bookings. Yet, on this stage, the luxury of spontaneity stops bearing fruits.
The tricky part would be getting into the museum and the Basilica. If you have an online booking of the museums, it will make your day a lot easier by saving a lot of time.
It is better not to plan anything else for a date in question. An entire day of walking is certainly going to make you feel fatigued and probably famished.
Get Your Tickets Online with Student Discount
The major attractions of the city are the Vatican museums along with the Sistine Chapel. One can purchase tickets from the official websites or from other travel platforms.
There are different types of discounts for students and group tickets. Make sure you carry your international student ID card to show if asked.
Also bear in mind the conditions such as time, refundability as well as extra charges for online booking. There are also possibilities of free entry, such as the last Sunday of the month or World Tourism Day, with reduced visiting hours.
Be Terribly Early or Late
Even if you buy Skip the Line tickets, chances are you would still be among thousands waiting to enter. To avoid the peak rush, the only way is to be there first thing in the morning or enter just before closing time.
The opening time is at 9 am; hence you would need to arrive there at least an hour early. As the museum closes at 6 pm, even the last entry at 3 pm will give you plenty of time to gaze at the art collection.
Consider Taking a Guided Tour
In the Vatican, travel agents canvassing for group tours are a common sight. If you have reached the city after 9 am and dread waiting for a couple of hours in line, then a group tour might be a better option. This would work in your favor, even if you have bought tickets online. Those expenses would be deducted from the price.
It is particularly useful as these agents can get you through the lines fairly easily and will also give you a guided tour of the museum. It is worth listening to, as without knowing the history, you miss out on many intriguing details and stories behind each masterpiece.
Take Your Time in the Museum
The Vatican museums are world-renowned for their collection. There are several galleries, each adorned with the architectural beauty of Renaissance and Baroque styles. The Map Hall, Raphael’s Room, and the Pinecone Courtyard are considered highlights, though each room and wall has its own significance.
If not taking the guided tour, it is highly recommended to read a little about the museums and its galleries before visiting. There are also audio guides available for 8 euros or 7 euros if booked online to assist you through the visit. It will help you understand more about the paintings, the history, and the journey of the showcased pieces.
Visiting the Sistine Chapel and the Saint Peter’s Basilica
The Sistine Chapel is among the most sensational creations of art ever created. You will reach the chapel with the painted ceilings at the end of the museum visit. There is a passageway connecting the chapel to the Basilica directly. This is not known to the public and is mostly accessed only by guided tours.
Taking this pathway will save you hours. Otherwise, you would be exiting the museums to St. Peter’s Square, only to face another long line of tourists and wait for a few more hours to enter the Basilica.
Though every day is a busy day in the Vatican, the number of tourists considerably increases over the weekend. Travelers coming to Rome also prefer Mondays as the museums in the capital are closed. Tuesday to Friday would be the better alternative to the weekend crowd.
Among the weekdays, if you want to see the Pope, make sure you come on a Wednesday and are near the Basilica at least by 10 am. If not, then it is best to discard Wednesday to avoid the crowd coming to the Vatican for the sole purpose of catching a glimpse of the Pope.
Eat Well and Dress Appropriately
The Vatican is, first and foremost, a holy area. One needs to be dressed appropriately to enter the museums and the Basilica. You need to cover the shoulder, neckline, midriffs, and thighs. If you are wearing sleeveless, carry a shawl with you to cover yourself while inside the premises.
Considering all the long-standing hours that will leave you tiresome, it is best to carry water with you.
The Basilica and the View
If you are one for panoramic views, the top of Saint Peter’s makes for the best in the Vatican. The entire plight consists of 551 steps to the top, through a narrow stairwell.
However, for a price of 7 euros, you can ride the elevator halfway up and then continue the rest on foot, still leaving you with 320 steps. With one narrow passage for those climbing up and down, the experience is better avoided by those prone to claustrophobia.
The Vatican is a place that never ceases to fascinate visitors. If you are planning a trip to this holy place, consider yourself among the lucky ones to be able to experience the sanctity and splendor of the Vatican.