Take a detour from your trip in Italy to view the architectural and religious wonders of Vatican City. Two days should be enough to satisfy your appetite for all the jaw-dropping museums, holy highlights and epic cultural wonders crammed into the tiny country-within-a-country. Take a look at where to eat, go and stay with our 48-hour Vatican City guide!
Must-see sights in Vatican City
If you’re into art and culture – Vatican City is where it’s at. Not only is this spectacular country home to the Pope and the centre of the Roman Catholic Church, it’s where you’ll find Michelangelo’s world-famous Sistine Chapel. Explore the colossal Vatican Museums where some of the world’s greatest art collections reside. Marvel at the many priceless masterpieces and Michelangelo’s emotional Pietà at St. Peter’s Basilica. Then take the rickety lift followed by 320 steps up a winding staircase to the top of the Dome where breath-taking views over Rome await. Next, make a pilgrimage to the Piazza San Pietro on a Wednesday morning for a glimpse of the Pope himself as he gives his weekly Papal Audience.
Where to stay in Vatican City
While there aren’t any hotels within Vatican City itself, there are plenty of options just a few minutes’ walk across the border in Rome. Your best bet is to stay in the pleasant Prati neighbourhood. Located along the Tiber River, you’ll find plenty of accommodation options to suit any budget – including quaint pensions, and 3- and 4-star hotels. The neighbourhood has lots of restaurants, bars and shops, and it’s within easy walking distance of the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. There’s also plenty of public transport going to and from Vatican City. So if you want to stick to the inner city of Rome, visiting from further afield is super easy too.
What to eat in Vatican City
There are some great restaurants and eateries near the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. But beware of super touristy spots that will chew up your budget for a simple coffee and sandwich. For delicious frozen margaritas, fresh salads and juicy burritos head to Maybu. Grab a slice of authentic Italian pizza at Isola della Pizza. Il Sorpasso is perfect for wine and bubbles. Or pop into Passaguai for a cosy atmosphere and some tasty local wines, craft beers and cheese platters. For some of the best seafood in the city, swing by I Quattro Mori Hostaria or Da Benito e Gilberto. Fancy something sweet? Grab a scoop or three at the Old Bridge Gelateria.
Vatican City tips and facts
Population: There are just 1000 residents in Vatican City. But the 5-million tourists who visit the country every year more than make up for it!
Size: Vatican City might be tiny (just half a square kilometre in total) but it’s crammed with some of the most renowned attractions on the entire Italian peninsula.
Cheers: Vatican City has the highest consumption of wine per capita. The average resident drinks 54 litres a year! A lot of this is probably due to all the wine used for communion.
Money matters: The Vatican City has its very own Euro banknote featuring the Pope.
Dress code: Most of the places you’ll visit in Vatican City are religious sites. So dress with respect. No shorts, bare shoulders or tank tops allowed. Try to pack light when visiting too, as all your bags will be checked at the door.
Skip the queues: The queues at most top attractions are notoriously long. Booking online helps ensure you don’t wait for hours before getting through the door.
Early bird or night owl: If you don’t want to be crammed in with too many other tourists, try arriving first thing in the morning (the museums open at 9am) or after the lunch rush (around 3pm).
Shhh it’s a secret: There’s a secret passageway leading from the Sistine Chapel straight into the Basilica. Sneak through and you won’t have to leave the museum and walk across St. Peter’s square with all the other tourists.
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