The Vatican City (Italian: Città del Vaticano; Latin: Civitas Vaticana) is the world center of Catholicism. As a district of Rome, it encompasses the Vatican City State (Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano; Latin: Status Civitatis Vaticanae), as well as the surrounding Roman neighborhoods of Borgo and Prati.

39 things to do

All Places Vatican City

The Vatican Museum

One of the greatest art galleries in the world, the museum is most famous for its spiral staircase, the Raphael Rooms and the exquisitely decorated Sistine Chapel famous for Michelangelo's frescoes. Much of the museum is organized so you follow a one-way route leading to Raphael's rooms and the Sistine Chapel but there is much more to see as well. If you are very short of time, it will take at least an hour to visit the Sistine Chapel.<p>The Museum is usually the most hot and crowded on Saturdays, Mondays, the last Sunday of the month, rainy days, and days before or after a holiday but, basically, it is crowded every day and if you want to see the gems that it contains you will have to tolerate the crowds or sign up to very expensive private tours after the museum is closed to everyone else []. Dress code: no short shorts or bare shoulders. There are often lengthy queues from the entrance that stretch around the block in the early morning. Non-guided visitors should join the queue that is to the left as you are facing the entrance; the queue on the right is intended for guided group visitors. You can [ book online] in advance and with a booking you can skip the queue. Audio-guides are available from the top of the escalator/ramp for €7. Two people to share a single unit plugging in a standard set of earphones.

SEE   —  Viale Vaticano

St. Peter's Basilica

The centre of the Catholic world, this magnificent basilica with its Michelangelo-designed dome has an awe-inspiring interior. This place is huge, but everything is in such proportion that the scale escapes you. Construction of the basilica began in 1506 and it was not completed until the end of 1626. Thus it spans two architectural periods. The overall design by Bramante and Michelangelo is Late Renaissance but the façade designed by Maderno and the interior, which owes much to Bernini, are both Baroque in style. The interior is lavishly decorated and contains a large number of tombs of popes and others. There are also several sculptures in side chapels, including Michelangelo's Pietà.<p>To get in, you will first go through a metal detector (after all, this is an important building). Don't be put off if there is a long line in front of the detectors; the whole thing moves quickly. The line is usually shorter in the morning and during mid week. A strict dress code is enforced, so have shoulders covered, wear trousers or a not-too-short dress, and take your hats off. Women must wear scarves or something to cover their heads. You might be required to check your bags at the entrance. Photos are allowed to be taken inside, but not with a flash. Visits to the basilica are still possible while Mass is in progress.

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Palazzo di Giustizia

Wandering around the shopping and residential district of ''Prati'', close to the Vatican, you may notice rather a lot of lawyers' nameplates outside buildings. This is also Rome's legal district because of the proximity of the ''Palazzo di Giustizia'' or Palace of Justice. This massive monstrosity on the banks of the Tiber was built on alluvial soil, which necessitated a concrete platform to support the foundations. Despite this, later settlement of the building led to the need for restoration work in 1970 and it is said to be still sinking. There were many allegations of corruption during its construction, something not unknown in the Rome of today, and this, combined with its appearance, gave rise to its nickname of the ''Palazzaccio'' or Ugly Palace.

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Ponte Sant'Angelo

This is a footbridge connecting Castel Sant'Angelo with the other side of the Tiber. It is a Roman bridge completed in 134 AD by Hadrian, to give access to his newly constructed mausoleum. Pilgrims used this bridge to reach St Peter's Basilica, hence it was earlier known as the "bridge of Saint Peter". In the seventh century the castle and the bridge took on the name Sant'Angelo, when it is said that an angel appeared on the roof of the castle to announce the end of a plague. The statues of ten angels on the bridge reflect its name.

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Castel Sant'Angelo

Perhaps the most fascinating building in Rome. The core of the structure began life as the mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian, built between 135 and 139 AD. Subsequent strongholds built on top of the mausoleum were in turn incorporated into a residence and castle by medieval Popes. The building was used as a prison until 1870, but now houses a museum. Opera buffs will be exhilarated to visit the balcony from which Tosca leaps to her death. Film buffs will recognise it as a setting from "Angels and Demons".

Swiss Papal Guards

They are posted at entrances to the Vatican City to provide security and protect the Pope. They wear very colourful clothing, similar to the uniforms worn by Renaissance-era soldiers. The Pontifical Swiss Guards is also the smallest and oldest standing army in the world, founded in 1506 by Pope Julius II. The origins of the Swiss guards, however, go back much further as the popes had regularly imported Swiss mercenaries during the 1400s.

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Passetto di Borgo

Pope Nicholas III connected Castel Sant'Angelo to St. Peter's by a covered fortified corridor called the Passetto di Borgo. This proved useful for Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome (1527). You can still see much of the Passetto by walking along the Borgo Sant'Angelo, which runs parallel to, and north of, the Via della Conciliazione.

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Il Castelletto Hotel

In a villa of the early 9th century, on the famous Aurelia antica, recently rebuilt. It has a pleasant atmosphere and each room has a TV, air conditioning, telephone with direct line and internet facilities. Parking is available for guests in the garden of the hotel and there are other parking options nearby.

SLEEP   —  Map

Maison Vaticana Rome

Via Ottaviano, 42. •. Comfortable bed and breakfast with single, double, triple and quadruple guestrooms with private bathroom, wi-fi connection, satellite TV and tea and coffee facilities. Double bedrooms €85.

SLEEP   —  +39 06 39728070 —  Map

Franklin Feel The Sound Hotel

Hotel with a unique music theme. The décor is very modern and stylish. Staff was helpful friendly and polite, continental breakfast is varied and plentiful. The rooms are clean, funky and very comfortable.

SLEEP   —  +39 06 3903 0165 —  Via Rodi, 29

Hotel Colors

Seven dorms and wide selection of bedrooms with private showers, TV and a shared kitchen for this two star accommodation next to the Vatican City. Suitable for families and young travelers.

SLEEP   —  +39 06 6874030 —  Via Boezio, 31

B&B Eldorado Rome

– Via Fabio Massimo, 72. Bed and Breakfast with 5 double bedrooms. Three with private bath, two with a shared one. Breakfast included. Rates change according to the season. Double: €50/100.

SLEEP   —  +39 329 0707988 —  Map

Silla Hotel Rome

Two star hotel with single, double, triple and quadruple rooms. All with ''en suite'' private bath, shower, telephone and TV. Air-con and breakfast are available for a small supplement.

SLEEP   —  +39 06 372 1922 —  Via Silla 3

Hotel Joli Rome

Two-star accommodation located around the Vatican area with 17 bedrooms divided into single, double, triple and family. Most of the rooms have private bath. Breakfast included.

Hotel Alimandi Tunisi

Nice three-star hotel, 35 bedrooms with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi, large common area, complimentary breakfast, and terrace with panoramic view of the Roman roofs.

SLEEP   —  +39 06 3972 3941 —  Via Tunisi 8

Ralph and Malph B&B

Set in a modern apartment and just 5min walk away from the Vatican City. Single, Double, Triple rooms available. Three bathrooms and kitchen.

Residenza dei Gracchi Rome

Cosy guest house with single, double and family rooms. All with Wi-Fi, flat screen TV, private bath, shower, air-con and cleaning services.

Best Western Spring House

A small 3 star hotel with rooms that are a bit small, but comfortable and quiet. Great breakfast, wonderful service (maids and reception).

SLEEP   —  +39 06 3972-0948 —  Via Mocenigo 7

Excel St Peter Hotel

Via Catone, 34. With single, twin, double, triple and quadruple rooms. All with private bath, shower, internet access, TV and telephone.

SLEEP   —  +39 06 39735082 —  Map

Rome Armony Suites B&B B&B

Elegant bed and breakfast. Recently refurbished, has six rooms, all with private bathroom and super-equipped with every comfort.

SLEEP   —  +39 06 9784 1129 —  via Orazio 3

Leone B&B

Located one block from the entrance to Vatican City, this independent bed and breakfast is clean and cosy. Breakfast included.

Old Bridge

Located across the street from the Vatican City wall if you're following it from San Pietro to the Vatican Museum. Very cheap

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Nice Sicilian restaurant in the quiet (and somewhat boring) part of northern Prati. Try the swordfish and the lemon sorbet!

B&B Gli Artisti

Three colourful rooms are rented out in this B&B. A little less than a kilometre from the main entrance to the Vatican

Fruit Gelato Shop

Right across from the Vatican Museum entrance. Delicious fruit gelato with exotic fruit bits and ice creams.

EAT   —  Map

Rome Best BB

The entire bed & breakfast is inspired by the world of video games and in particular the 8-bit world.

SLEEP   —  +39 3894330366 —  Via Sivori 14

Insalata Ricca

Part of a Rome-based chain, offers good salads and other food to both tourists and locals.

Taverna Vegetariana

Quiet vegetarian restaurant a few blocks from the Vatican Museums. Menu only in Italian.


Sabatini is a short walk from the Vatican and one of the best camera shops in Rome.

Prati BB

A small Bed and Breakfast offering two rooms with private bathrooms and air-con.

Mocenigo Vatican Suites

Seven room guest house only 100m from the main entrance to the Vatican Museums.

Atlante Star Hotel

Four star hotel with rooftop terrace restaurant overlooking Saint Peter's.

Filomena e Francesca B&B

Bed and Breakfast. Three rooms with private bathrooms and air-con.

Best Vatican

New, modern B&B. Private bathrooms, LCD TVs with DVD players.

B&B Sistine

New B&B, rooms comes with sat TV, DVD player and free Wi-Fi

SLEEP   —  +39 335 871 4840 —  Via Duilio 6

Casa Frida

Holiday House next to the Vatican and the Metro Line A.

SLEEP   —  +39 339 2768290 —  Via Emo, 97

Papa Vista Relais

Guesthouse fairly close to the Vatican's main entrance.

SLEEP   —  +39 06 6542 0553 —  Via Tunisi 3

Amor Bed & Breakfast

A stylish bed & breakfast near the Vatican City.

About Rome/Vatican

The Vatican City is the temporal seat of the Pope, head of the worldwide Catholic Church. Situated within the city of Rome the Vatican is the world's smallest state. You may also hear the term Holy See (Italian: Santa Sede; Latin: Sancta Sedes), which is used to refer to the Diocese of Rome—that is, the ecclesiastical and administrative authority of the Pope, rather than the sovereign governmental entity that is the Vatican City State.

Source: wikivoyage