Things To Do In Vatican City | Detailed Guide to Unique & Budget Experiences at the Vatican
The Vatican is officially the smallest sovereign state in the world with 44 hectares.
It may only have 1,000 residents within its walls, but thousands of visitors pass through its gates every day – which should be a clue that there's plenty to do and see inside! Home to some of the most monumental works of art in the world, as well as the St. Peter’s Basilica, it's no wonder that for so many people a visit to the Vatican is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
So from bigger sites to hidden treasures, here is your ultimate list of the best things to do in the Vatican.
Top Things to Do in the Vatican City
See the Vatican Mosaic Studio
In the late 16th century, Pope Gregory XIII brought Venetian mosaic artists to Vatican City so that they could teach their trade to Roman craftsmen. These artists decorated parts of St. Peter’s Basilica. In 1727, the Vatican Mosaic Studio) was formally established in an unassuming building in Vatican City and talented artists and craftsmen have since been working towards restoring the 10,ooo square meters of mosaics in Saint Peter’s Basilica, while also creating original mosaic masterpieces.
The studio also produces mosaic pieces by commission, which are sold and often given as gifts to visiting heads of state. There is a shop on site, where you can purchase mosaics to take back home, but these don’t come cheap.
Location: Few doors down from the pope’s private residence.
Tip: The area where Vatican Mosaic Studio is located is off-limits to the general public, so you’ll need to visit with an official tour guide.
Stroll Along the St. Peter’s Square
Saint Peter's Square is one of the largest and most beautiful squares in the world. It is located in the Vatican, at the foot of St. Peter's Basilica. The square is an important historical and architectural landmark, that is 320 meters long and 240 meters wide, making it big enough to fit more than 300,000 people for liturgies and more significant events.
Admire the Doric colonnades, the 140 beautiful statues, the tall Egyptian obelisk that stands at its center, and other exquisite structures that make it one of the most incredible squares in the world.
Hours: Open 24 hours
Location: In front of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City
Tip: St. Peter's Square is the main landmark of the Vatican, which means there will be large crowds throughout the year. To avoid this, the best time to visit is either early in the morning between 7 AM and 9 AM or in the evening around 6 PM or 7 PM.
Unique Things to Do in Vatican City on a Budget
Here are some special things that you can do in the Vatican city within your budget and enjoy your trip.
Meet the Pope
On your next visit to Rome, plan ahead to take advantage of a visit to the Vatican at a time when you can meet the Pope. When the pope is in town, he makes weekly 90-minute appearances, usually on a Wednesday, to offer blessings, prayers and a religious talk. The event is free, but you must have a ticket.
Take a Photo with a Swiss Guard
If you have a good zoom – go ahead and take a photo of the Swiss Guards in their colorful uniforms. Those usually make for great shots. You could also go up to a guard and take a photo with then,. The Swiss Guard is the de facto military of the city that has been guarding the city since 1506.
Top Things to Do in Vatican City at Night
Take a Stroll
Enjoy a nice walk along the Vatican City. Start off at Ponte Sant'Angelo, and make your way to the Square. Enjoy the night sky and exteriors of the attractions sans the crowds. Take in the grandeur of the St. Peter’s Square. With so much to see and many photo opportunities, walking around the Vatican at night is a pleasant experience.
Food and Drink Experiences in the Vatican
Here are some dining options for you around the Vatican City
- Café-style eatery or the pizzeria: These are the only options inside the Vatican and they are only open during museum hours.
- Papa Rex (600 m): Enjoy Roman and Italian cuisine and a live performance for your dinner.
- Tre Pupazzi (1.2 km): Enjoy typical Italian and Roman dishes along with some Portuguese wines.
- La Soffitta Renovatio (1.3 km): Located near St Peter’s Square, you can enjoy modern Abruzzese food at this restaurant owned by the Di Michele family since the early 1900s.
- Il Sorpasso (1.4 km): Head to this classic casual restaurant with outdoor seating for some high-quality Italian food.
- L'Isola Della Pizza (1.6 km): This restaurant, pizzeria, and steakhouse founded in 1985 is an absolute must-visit for pizza lovers.
- Hostaria Dino e Tony (1.8 km): Looking to just stretch your legs in a relaxed setting? Then this Roman trattoria isthe place for you.
- Angrypig Birretta e Porchetta (1.9 km): Try Porchetta, a roast pork that is generally served in a bread roll with vegetables of your choosing and chase down some delicious beers.
- Panificio Bonci (2 km): A short hike away from the Vatican, you can taste one of the best pizzas of your life here.
- Al Giardino Del Gatto E La Volpe Srl (2.1 km): If you are in the mood for some seafood, head to this innovative Italian restaurant just walking distance from the Vatican.
Frequently Asked Questions About What To Do in Vatican City
A. Some of the popular things to do in Vatican city are you can hang around Saint Peter’s Square, visiting the Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Necropolis, meeting with the Pope, and of course, exploring the Vatican Museums.
A. Meeting the pope, climbing the St. Peter’s Basilica Dome, and sending a postcard from the Vatican Post Office are some of the unique experiences you can have at the Vatican.
A. There are a few things you can do at the Vatican for free, such as taking a photo with the Swiss Guard, or strolling along the St. Peter’s Square.
A. Since most attractions are closed during the night, the best thing to do would be to take an exclusive night tour of the Vatican Museums or to take a stroll along the St. Peter’s Square.
A. Yes, a visit to the smallest state in the world is absolutely worth it. There is a lot to see at the Vatican, such as the St Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Gardens, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Whether you are an art enthusiast, or history buff, or someone who is taken by great architecture, this city is for you.
A. Walking through the crowded Vatican streets means that people will see more tourists than locals. The country receives around 5 million visitors a year, and 20,000 on a single summer day. In addition, almost 2,500 Italians enter the city every day to work in museums and travel agencies. Make sure you plan your visit ahead of time to make the best of your trip.
A. October and November are great months to visit the Vatican. Temperatures are cool and hotel prices are lower than in the summer months. Crowds are less dense during this period.
A. Vatican is located within Rome, towards the West bank of River Tiber atCittà del Vaticano, 00120 Vatican City.