Vatican City Travel Guide
The smallest and no doubt holiest independent state in the world is at times also the most densely populated as believers and non-believers in equal measures come here from surrounding Rome for a glimpse of St Peter’s Basilica, one of the most iconic religious buildings in the world. Any visit to the Italian capital would not be complete without a look around this architecturally impressive principality.
Given that it has no hotels, in fact, no accommodation at all, and just a few places to eat, the Vatican would appear to be completely unfit for human habitation, let alone fit for catering to millions of tourists, which it does year upon year. Those that wish to rub shoulders with the Pope usually come away disappointed, but it is possible to stay in the vicinity of the Vatican just outside in Rome, making it easy to walk here each day. Cafés and restaurants are scarce but available in and around the museum.
When to Go
The Vatican enjoys the same pleasant climate as Rome, the capital of Italy.
The weather is usually sunny and hot during the summer from May to September, remaining warm for most of the year. Temperatures in December and January are noticeably cooler although rarely plunge to near freezing.
Sightseeing: with so much to see over such a small area, the Vatican is a feast for the eyes that deserves as much time as possible to fully take in.
Shopping: trinkets including stamps and postcards provide visitors with the chance to purchase a unique souvenir and at the same time support the Vatican’s miniscule economy.
Collecting: see if you can get your hands on a unique Vatican Euro bank note, the rarest of all those distributed in the Euro zone and worth many times more than its face value.
Getting There & Away
No roads, no cars, no railway network and certainly no airport: traveling to the Vatican is only possible under your own steam from neighboring Rome. Line A on the metro system is the best way to reach the Vatican by public transport from the Italian capital; otherwise it’s a taxi ride to the entrance. Rome has international connections to major destinations throughout the world, meaning that despite the Vatican’s lack of transportation infrastructure, the smallest nation in the world is actually very well connected.
Health & Safety
News that this tiny corner of Rome is one of the most dangerous, violent nations in the world is, of course, completely unfounded—the chances of running into any trouble at the Vatican are practically non-existent. The complete lack of cars means that the probability of accidents is again significantly reduced, which makes a welcome change to the chaos on the roads in nearby Rome. Serious medical emergencies should be dealt with in the Italian capital in the absence of any medical facilities in the Vatican itself.
One day at St Peter’s Basilica and Piazza
One day at the Vatican Museums
One extra day at the Vatican Museums
St Peter’s Basilica: the iconic center of the Catholic universe and favorite work place of a string of popes including the latest, Pope Benedict XVI, elected in 2005.
St Peter’s Piazza: a colonnaded structure of pure Vatican splendor that was built centuries ago and remains as popular with visitors today as it was when it moved to its current resting place in 1586 AD.
Vatican Museums: an extensive labyrinth of legendary artifacts and artwork including the Sistine Chapel with its famous ceiling by Michelangelo. Worth more than one day in itself if you have the time.