The Vatican, Rome - visitors' guide

Vatican City public transport information and map


Queues: St Peter's Basilica Vatican Rome

Angel Bridge: Ponte Sant'Angelo leading to the Vatican

On this page

The Vatican Museum and St Peters in Vatican City are two star attractions for any first-time visitor to Rome; we have pages that cover both in more detail, while this page gives an overview of where the Vatican is and how to get there.


The Vatican is a country and is tiny (the smallest in the world).


The Vatican City is home to approximately 920 full-time residents and approximately 3000 people who work at the Vatican City and commute into the country from the greater Rome metropolitan area.

Visiting Vatican Museums & St Peter's Basilica

The two blockbuster attractions that most visitors come to see within the Vatican City are the Vatican Museums & St Peter's Basilica. We have dedicated pages for each going into great detail on the logistics, ticketing, opening hours at the pages linked below.


On this page we focus on the logistics of getting to and around Vatican City.

St Peter's Basilica - full visitor details

Vatican Museums - full visitor details

Where is the Vatican in relation to the City of Rome?

Vatican City is just to the north of the city centre of Rome and is easily reached independently by public transport.

Although Vatican City is a separate state to Italy and Rome there are no barriers or checks and Rome long ago has expanded all around the Vatican and far beyond. To the casual visitor Vatican City could be thought of as a district of Central Rome.


For the first time visitor, the vast majority will be making for St Peter's Square (id 4 on the map below) or the Vatican Museums (id 1).

 

The long straight avenue leading from Saint Angelo Castle (id 5) by the River Tiber up to St Peter's Square is called Via della Conciliazione. This is the main and by far the widest road into the Vatican from Central Rome and is where all the hop on, hop off open top sightseeing buses stop.


The Metro station is just to the north of the Vatican and the railway station to the south, each about 10 minutes walk from St Peter's Square.


The area to the west of St Peter's Square has no public right of way. The main area that tourists visit within the Vatican beyond the main Vatican attractions is the area to the north of Via della Conciliazion, full of restaurants and tourist shops.


Vatican Logististical Mao

Getting to the Vatican by public transport

Rome Metro

The crowded Rome Metro has a station just outside the Vatican walls at Ottaviano-S. Pietro. Line A of the Metro runs through with trains every few minutes. It's a 5 minute walk from the Metro to both St Peter's Square and the Vatican Museums.


You can use Line A of the Metro to go to the Basilica of St John Lateran on the other side of the city situated close by San Giovanni Metro Station.


The Basilica of St John Lateran (Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano) is the cathedral church of Rome and the official seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope. As such the Basilica contains the papal throne, although the pope rarely visits and lives over at the Vatican.


You can also use the Metro to quickly travel to the Colosseum changing trains to Line B at Termini Station.


On Line A between the Vatican and Termini is Spagna Metro Station, next to the Spanish Steps.

By Train

St Peter's also has a train station, St Pietro. Commuter style trains loop around Rome to Termini Station, but the station is of most practical use to those travelling from Civitavecchia, the cruise port for Rome. However, it is a 10 minute walk to St Peter's Square from the station.


Public Bus

There are many Rome city buses that pass or terminate next to the Vatican. The number 40 and 64 bus shuttle very frequently between Termini and the Vatican via the City Centre including the Piazza Venezia for the Roman Forum/Colosseum. Unfortunately there is no central bus stop or station that every bus route goes through.

40 (Limited stop express) - Termini - Piazza Venezia - Argentina - Piazza Pia (for St Peter's/Vatican)

64 - Termini - Piazza Venezia - Argentina - Vatican

62 - Repubblica - Spanish Steps - Piazza Venezia - Argentina - Vatican

81 - Vatican Museums - Piazza Imperatore (Spanish Steps) - Piazza Colonna (Trevi Fountain) - Piazza Venezia - Circo Massimo - Colosseum

19 (Tram) - Piazza Risorgimento (Vatican) - Villa Borghese


Walking

For most people, walking is the most rewarding way of sightseeing in Rome - there is so much of interest around every street corner and much of the city centre is alleys too narrow for tour buses and vehicles. Although Vatican City is just north of Rome City Centre it's only a 15-20 minute pleasant walk to Piazza Navona in the heart of the city centre.


Sightseeing Walking Map Of Rome

We have put together a series of self-guided walks of Rome connecting all the major sights of Rome, (see image above). As you can see Vatican City is at the northern extremity of these sights.

Walk 5 connects the Pantheon To The Vatican Via Piazza Navona opening up the rest of the network of walks documented.

Walk 5 - Pantheon to the Vatican via Piazza Navona - full details

Timing your visit to the Vatican

The Vatican is a must see for every visitor to Rome, so expect crowds and queues whenever you come. The queues for the Vatican Museums are legendary.


Queues at The Vatican Museums

Avoid the queues: the Vatican Museums around 9am

If you are organising the trip, book tickets in advance either from the museum direct for which there is a delivery charge or from an agent for Vatican Museums tickets.


If you turn up on the day and have to join the back of the queue for tickets you may not be popular with your travelling companions and be tempted by the many touts that will approach you.

 

If you can it's well worth setting your alarm and getting to the Vatican Museums early or leaving it until later afternoon (last entry is at 4 p.m. - you will need at the very least two hours to get round).

 

The museum is closed most Sundays, so Saturdays and Mondays are especially busy.

Again, if you can try and come off season when the crowds are less. During summer, Rome can be very, very hot too.

 

If you are really interested in the subject matter, get a good tour, if you can afford it, a private tour.

More detailed information about Vatican Museums


Queueing To Go Through Security Outside St Peter's

Security: queues to pass security outside St Peter's

There will also be long, long queues in St Peter's Square to enter St Peter's itself. These queues tend to move along relatively swiftly so don't be put off by the masses in front of you. Basically the earlier you arrive the better.

More detailed information about visiting St Peter's


If you want to see the Pope, you can either see a usual blessing from his apartment at noon on Sunday, just show up (but in the summer he gives it from his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, 25 miles from Rome) or you can go to the more formal Wednesday appearance.

 

The Pope arrives in the Pope-mobile at 10.30am to bless crowds from a balcony or platform, except in winter, when he speaks in the Aula Paola VI Auditorium next to the square. You can easily watch from a distance, or get a free ticket, which you must get on the Tuesday before.

More information about an audience with the Pope


Tours are the only way to see the Vatican Gardens, book at least a day in advance.


Popular tours & tickets in Rome

Vatican Museums Tours & Fast Track Tickets

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets   €27.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets + Audio Guide  €31.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum with Audio Guide

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets + Early Entrance    €52.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum before public opening

Vatican Museums Fast Track Access With Coach Transfers    €66.00

Tour in English plus hotel pickups

Vatican Museums Private Tours With Fast Track Access    Prices vary on numbers

Your own personal guide for your own grouo of 1 to 9 people

St Peter's Basilica Tours & Fast Track Tickets

St Peter's Basilica Fastrack with audio guide    €16.50

Fast track access to St Peter's together with audio guide in choice of languages

St Peter's Basilica guided tour    €27.00

Small group tour maximum 20 people

St Peter's Basilica guided tour with access to cupola (Dome)    €45.00

includes lift access to the dome of St Peter's with far reaching views

St Peter's & Vatican Museums Combined Tours

Vatican Museums + St Peter's (With Fast Track Access) Tour 1    From €41.00 + admissions)

Guided 3 hour walking tour with Fast Track Access + early/evening entrance options

Vatican Museums + St Peter's (With Fast Track Access) Tour 2    From €66.00

Guided 3 hour walking tour with Fast Track Access + early/evening entrance options

Early Access Vatican Museums Small-Group Tour with St Peter’s    €96.50

Entry when doors open to Vatican Museums + St Peter's Basilicas

Vatican Museums, Vatican Gardens & St Peter’s guided tour with breakfast    €139

Complete tour of the Vatican with American breakfast in the Vatican Cafeteria

Vatican Gardens Tours

Vatican Gardens Walking Tour    €41.00

Includes admission to Vatican Museums

Vatican Gardens Bus Tour    €85.00

Includes admission to Vatican Museums

Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

Colosseum & Roman Forum fast track tickets    from €18

2 Day fast track admission ticket to: Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Colosseum & Roman Forum Walking Tour   from  €49

Fast Track Admission & 3 Hour Guided Tour

Walking tours (Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi...)

Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon,Trevi    €45

3 hour walking tour with admissions. Afternoon tour

Spanish Steps, Pantheon,Trevi,Navona    €39

3 hour afternoon walking tour

Villa Borghese Gallery

Villa Borghese Fast Track Tickets     €18.50

Fast track admission ticket for a 2 hour slot

Villa Borghese Fast Track Tickets+ Guided Tour    €57

Fast track admission ticket for a 2 hour slot

Villa Borghese & Gardens    €59

2 hour tour of gallery + 1 hour gardens tour

Other popular City of Rome tours

Best of Rome by bike    €35

3 hr tour of Rome's highlights by bike

Best of Rome Coach Tour    €33/€91

Half or Full Day coach tour of main sights

Roman Gladiator Lesson     from €55

2 hour lesson in becoming a Roman Gladiator

Night Tours of Rome    €29/€51

Choice - walking or coach tour of Rome by night

Private tours of Rome

Flexible customised private tours of Rome by car   

Luxury executive vehicles (1 to 8 passengers)

Private sightseeing tour of Rome by golf cart 

A novel, fun way to see Rome (1 to 3 passengers)


Tours From Rome

Copyright © 2002-2018 Travellers Toolkits Ltd All Rights Reserved