The Vatican Rome - A Practical Visitors Guide

Practical Information For The Visitor To Rome Intending To Visit The Vatican

St Peter's Basilica Vatican From Saint Angelo Castle

St Peter's Basilica From Saint Angelo Castle

For any first time visitor to Rome, a visit to the Vatican is a probably a must see prerequisite.

Vatican City is just to the north of the city centre of Rome and is easily reached independently by public transport plus of course all the Rome hop on hop off tourist buses stop here too.

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.

The Vatican Museums & St Peter's Basilica Information

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


For the first time visitor, the vast majority visit St Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square and couple this with a visit to the Vatican Museums.

Looking at the picture right shot from the top of Saint Angelo Castle by the River Tiber you are looking west with your back to the ancient centre of Rome.

The long straight avenue leading up to St Peter's Basilica and St Peter's Square is called Via della Conciliazione. This is where all the hop on, hop off open top sightseeing buses stop.

The Vatican Museums are behind St Peter's Basilica to the right. To get to the Vatican Museums you have to walk around the Vatican walls from St Peter's Square, about 5 minutes. If you come by tour bus, you'll probably be dropped off by the Piazza Risorgimento mid-way along this walk from St Peter's Square to the Vatican Museums.

So, as you can see its a small area.

Getting to the Vatican

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. Its 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.

Vatican Logististical Mao

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


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 its 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

The Infamous Queues at The Vatican Museums Around 9 a.m.

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 Museum 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 its well worth setting your alarm and getting to the Vatican Museums early or leaving it until afternoon.

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

Queueing To Go Through 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 popemobile 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    €29.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets + Audio Guide    €36.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum with Audio Guide

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets + Early Entrance    €49.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum before public opening

Vatican Museums Fast Track Tickets with Guided Tour    €63.00

Fast track admission to Vatican Museum before public opening

Vatican Museums Fast Track Access With Coach Transfers    €64.00

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    €15.00

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

St Peter's Basilica & Cupola Fastrack plus guided tour    €46.00

Small group tour including visit to Cupola (Dome)

St Peter's & Vatican Museums Combined Tours

Vatican Museums + St Peter's (With Fast Track Access) Tour 1    From €38.00 (+€23.00 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 €56.70

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

The Vatican In 1 Day - Most Comprehensive Tour    €97.50

Visiting Vatican Museums, St Peter's & Basilicas inc Saint John Lateran

Other Vatican Tours

Audience With The Pope    €26.00

Attending Wednesday audience with transfers

Vatican Gardens Tour    €41.00

Includes admission to Vatican Museums

Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

Colosseum & Roman Forum Fast Track Tickets    €16

2 Day Fast Track Admission Ticket To: Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Colosseum & Roman Forum Walking Tour    €40

Fast Track Admission & 3 Hour Guided Tour

Colosseum & Roman Forum Waking Tour    €54.00 or €95 Special Access Tour

Fast Track Admission & Guided Tour (Max 25 people)

Colosseum & Roman Forum With Special Access To Underground Chambers    €95

Fast Track Admission & 3.5 Hour Guided Tour Wih Special Access

Colosseum & Roman Forum (Segway Tour)    €75.00

3 hour tour by Segway machine

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

Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon,Trevi    €50.00

3 hour walking tour. Morning or Afternoon

Spanish Steps, Pantheon,Trevi,Navona    €39.00

3 hour afternoon walking tour

Villa Borghese Gallery

Villa Borghese Fast Track Tickets    €19.00

Fast track admission ticket for a 2 hour slot

Villa Borghese & Gardens    €50.00

2 hour tour of gallery + 1 hour gardens tour

Other Popular City Of Rome Tours

Dan Brown 'Angels & Demons' Tour    €56.00

4 hr walking tour inspired by the Dan Brown novel

Best Of Rome Coach Tour    €41.00/€99.00

Half or Full Day coach tour of main sights

Roman Gladiator Lesson     From €55.00

2 hour lesson in becoming a Roman Gladiator

Night Tours Of Rome    €30.00/€45.00

Choice - walking or coach tour of Rome by night

Private Car & Driver

4 hour customised Rome tour    €210.00-€378.00

Price per Mercedes vehicle (1 to 8 passengers)

8 hour customised Rome tour    €378.00-€567.00

Price per Mercedes vehicle (1 to 8 passengers)

Tours From Rome

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