Vatican Dress Code

Vatican Dress Code | How to Dress for Your Visit to the Vatican?

The Roman Catholic Church is headquartered in Vatican City, a city-state bordered by Rome, Italy. It is the seat of the Pope as well as a treasure trove of iconic art and architecture. The Vatican Museums feature ancient Roman sculptures such as the renowned Laocoön and His Sons, along with Renaissance murals in the Raphael Rooms and the iconic Michelangelo's ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. If you’re planning to visit this magical city, you need to be aware of the Vatican dress code. Here’s a handy guide.

Why Does the Vatican Have A Dress Code?

Vatican Dress Code

The Vatican is a self-governing city-state that serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican has dress regulations throughout the city because it is a religious state.

They advocate modest clothing and skin covering as a religious institution, similar to how other religions have tenets dictating appropriate attire. The guards have the right to refuse you access into the city and its attractions if you do not follow the dress code and are dressed immodestly.

Vatican Dress Code

The Vatican dress code is pretty strict and you’ll have to abide by the following rules during your visit:

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General Dress Code

  • Your shoulders should be covered at all times during the visit
  • Clothes that expose your knees, including shorts, skirts, and dresses, are not allowed
  • Any offensive tattoo or religious symbol should not be visible
  • You’ll need to remove any hats or caps
  • Ripped jeans and t-shirts and see-through clothing is also discouraged
Vatican Dress Code

Papal Audience Dress Code

  • Casual but modest attire is acceptable for the Papal Audience; nevertheless, women should still cover their shoulders, especially if the gathering is conducted inside.
  • Because the Audience is normally conducted outside in the summer and Rome is extremely hot, pack caps, sunblock, water, and as much clothing as possible to avoid sunburn.
  • Hats are allowed to be worn by men throughout the audience.
Vatican Dress Code

Dress Code for Men

  • While shirts are preferred, you can go with a T-shirt as long as it doesn’t feature any offensive slogans or imagery
  • Since shoulders shouldn’t be exposed, vests are not allowed
  • If it’s too hot and you would like to wear shorts, ensure they are level with your knees
Vatican Dress Code, Women

Dress Code for Women

  • It is not permitted to wear sleeveless or low-cut clothing. Belly crop tops are a big no!
  • Make sure your shoulders are covered.
  • If you're wearing a skirt, dress, or pair of shorts, make sure they're at least knee-length.
Vatican Dress Code

Dress Code for Kids

  • While there’s no specific Vatican dress code for kids, the same rules as adults apply to them.
  • Shorts shouldn’t be too short and shoulders must not be visible.

What Can You Wear at the Vatican

  • Shoulder-covering blouses or shirts: When visiting Vatican City, avoid spaghetti straps and be sure to wear a shirt with sleeves. Although formal attire is not required, men should prefer to wear a linen shirt. If you're a woman wearing a dress or top with thin straps, you have two options: pack a scarf to drape across your shoulders or keep a cardigan on you.
  • Trousers or mid-length skirts: While it's inconvenient to be barred from wearing shorts in the summer heat, the Vatican is committed to keeping knees covered. Wearing a mid-length skirt or a knee-length dress is the ideal solution. This length of the skirt is also perfect for taking public transportation. Longer shorts can be worn by men on occasion, but trousers or jeans are usually a better choice. In the summer, when the museums are hot and busy, choose light cotton trousers.
  • Flat shoes: It is not expressly forbidden, but it is not recommended to visit the Vatican in flip-flops or casual sandals. Dress as if you're going to church! The Vatican Museums are enormous, with each hall stretching for eight miles. You'll be walking a lot, so take that in mind while planning your outfit.

What You Cannot Wear at the Vatican

  • Sleeveless or low-cut tops: As a religious state, the Vatican is quite strict about the dress code that visitors should follow. Both men and women need to cover their knees and upper arms. Visitors are prohibited from wearing sleeveless tops, and low-cut shirts.
  • Shorts or bottoms that end above the knee: Women, If you are wearing a skirt, dress, or pair of shorts then make sure they end below the knee at least. Men can wear shorts, as long as they level at the knee.
  • Offensive tattoos: Tattoos are allowed. However, the Vatican dress code does not allow entry to those who have tattoos that may be considered offensive to Catholic morality, the Catholic religion, or to common decency. This applies to jewelry, symbols, and slogans on your clothing, as well.
  • Hats: You will be expected to remove your hat before entering the Vatican Museums. Wearing a hat indoors is deemed to be bad manners.

What To Do If You Aren’t Dressed According to the Guidelines?

If you're wearing short shorts and a tank top to the Vatican, don't worry! You don't have to give up and go home.

You can buy a poncho or robe to wear around that covers your shoulders and knees. These ponchos and robes are easily available in different parts of the city.

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All Your Questions About Vatican Dress Code Answered

Q. How strict is the dress code at the Vatican?

A. The Vatican dress code is very strict and visitors who don’t follow the dress code are not allowed inside the chapel and museums.

Q. Why is there a dress code for the Vatican?

A. The Vatican is the seat of the Roman Catholic church and has immense religious value. To maintain the integrity of the place, there’s a strict dress code in place.

Q. Can you wear shorts in the Sistine Chapel?

A. You can wear shorts in the Sistine Chapel as long as they cover your knees.

Q. Can you wear sandals to the Vatican?

A. While there’s no rule against wearing sandals to the Vatican, it’s generally not recommended since there’s a lot of walking involved and sandals aren’t the most comfortable.

Q. Can I wear jeans to the Vatican?

A. Yes, while you can wear jeans to the Vatican, ensure they are basic and without flashy patterns or strategic ripping.

Q. Can you wear sweatpants to the Vatican?

A. No, avoid wearing sweatpants to the Vatican and instead opt for a pair of classic trousers.

Q. Are backpacks allowed in the Vatican?

A. While small bags can be carried around in the Vatican, large bags and backpacks are not.

Q. Can I wear a t-shirt while visiting the Vatican?

A. Yes, you can wear a T-shirt while visiting the Vatican but ensure that it doesn't feature any offensive slogan, symbol or imagery.

Q. Can I wear a tank top to the Vatican?

A. No, you cannot wear a tank top to the Vatican.

Q. What should I wear to the Vatican while visiting during the summer?

A. Men can wear a breeze cotton shirt and trouser while women can go for summer dresses that extend to their knees.

Q. Can I wear flip-flops to the Vatican?

A. No, avoid wearing flip-flops to the Vatican since they are deemed too casual and not respectful enough.

Q. Can I wear a hat while visiting the Vatican?

A. No, you’ll be required to remove any hat or cap you’re wearing while visiting the Vatican.