How To Visit Vatican City In Italy In Half A Day

If you are travelling to Rome, you can’t miss visiting Vatican City. Vatican City is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of the Pope. While it is a religious symbol for many, it is also a very amusing cultural visit for non-Catholic tourists. 

The Vatican Museums house a large range of art; from Roman sculptures to ancient paintings, and the Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling. In addition, the buildings at Vatican City are already extremely amusing by themselves!

The Vatican has A LOT to see. However, for those travelers who are on a tight schedule, we recommend spending only a full morning here and seeing the monuments that interest you the most. While some people would rather spend a whole day exploring this area, we suggest visiting the Vatican Museums first, followed by St. Peter’s Basilica, which can all be done in the same morning.

Check out the video we made of our visit to Vatican City! And continue reading to know find out all the tips to a successful and productive morning at The Vatican.

Vatican Museums

If you are keen to see the famous Sistine Chapel, you will have to pay for entry to the Vatican Museums. To visit these, you will have to wake up early to ensure that you don’t waste your morning queuing to get in. In addition, ensure to buy tickets in advance that enable you to skip the large queues! You can buy your tickets from the official Vatican website. Ignore the fact that the website looks old and dodgy! It’s the official site and the best place to get your tickets for The Vatican. 

Travel Tip: We recommend that you book the first slot available as this will be the least crowded time and it will enable you to utilize the rest of the morning to see the other spots in The Vatican.

St. Peter’s Basilica

After visiting the Vatican Museums, we headed to the beautiful Piazza San Pietro. Here, you’ll see a long queue to enter St. Peter’s basilica. Start queuing ASAP before it gets too long – The more into the day, the longer the queue gets! 

Photo of Nas & Alba in the main square in Vatican City
Piazza San Pietro at Vatican City

Travel Trip: There are lots of tourist guides in this spot trying to sell guided tours for the Basilica that allow you to skip the queue. However, we wouldn’t recommend this unless you are very interested in learning about the history of the place. This is because not only the entrance to this place is free, but also because, while the queue seems very long, it moves quite fast! We only waited for 20 minutes. I would assume that the waiting time becomes longer in the summer months though. 

Once you are inside the Basilica, we highly recommend going up inside St Peter’s dome. This is an extraordinary experience and the views from the top are fantastic!

Views from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City
Views from the top of the dome at St. Peter's Basilica

To access this part of St Peter’s Basilica you must pay for entrance. Please note that this ticket needs to be paid in-situ and they won’t accept any other tickets for it! So if you see someone selling these types of tickets outside or online, be aware that it is a scam.

The dome of St Peter’s basilica is the tallest dome in the world at 136 metres. When visiting, you’ll find that it is split into two levels: One where you can see the inside of the church from the above and the second, tallest point, from where you have a magnificent view of Vatican City from the sky. 

There are two ways of going up to the first level: Taking a lift or climbing 231 steps. It costs 8 euros to climb and 10 euros to take the lift. 

To access the top level, however, you must climb another 320 steps

 While this might seem like quite a lot, we found it just fine to climb the whole way through! It might be harder for older visitors, in which case we recommend taking the lift to the first level. 

Make sure to visit early if you are a slow climber and don’t want to feel overwhelmed by having a queue behind you on the stairs – these are very small and tight and only fit one person at a time!

By the time you finish seeing these two places it will be time to have a late-ish lunch. This gives you the whole of the afternoon to go an explore the beautiful centre of Rome! 

Make sure to check out our 3-day itinerary to Rome where you can find out how you can make the most of your visit.

Thanks for reading! Let us know in the comments if there is anything else you would like to know about Rome. If you have been, what’s been your favourite spot?