While in Italy for our honeymoon, my husband Nick and I had the privilege of visiting Rome. Rome is such an amazing city, with so many historic sights, amazing food, and its impressive culture. It's such a romantic place, you feel like you are Audrey Hepburn on the set of Roman Holiday. I just kept thinking "OMG, this is real?! It's so magical!" Just outside of Rome, is the Vatican. It is actually its own country, which was news to Nick and I, we had no clue. Just like Rome, the Vatican City has a special ambience about it. The ambience can quickly be destroyed with long lines, frustration with buying tickets, and confusion on where to go and what to do. Nick is so great at planning and organizing, not to mention he watched a lot of Rick Steves before we went. Nick made our trip through Rome and The Vatican so stress free and enjoyable. He saved us from long lines and possible heat strokes. After picking his brain, and reminiscing of the magical time we had at the Vatican City, we bring to you our best tips and tricks for touring the Vatican!
Buy your Vatican City museum tickets ahead of time ( at least 24-48 hours) HERE is the website to do so. And here's why: We had never been to the Vatican City before, so we didn't exactly know how this would go. We are two Americans traveling alone and we decided (to burn off the extra pizza calories) to walk from our hotel to the Vatican City. It was about a 20 or so minute walk. When you show up there, you see St. Peters Square which is unbelievable and you also see the Vatican Museum, along with a line wrapped around this place for the poor souls who didn't buy their tickets to get in online beforehand. Rome is hot in the Sumer (we went in August) and standing in that line looked like hell. So thankfully we already had our tickets, we passed the line and basically went straight into the Vatican Museum with no hassles! I will note here that we had our hotel print off our tickets for us, I think that is a good idea because I'm not sure if they use technology at the Vatican City or not (like checking in online, or showing them a picture of your ticket on your phone) so we didn't risk it. We printed our pass out at the hotel, walked to the Vatican Museum and got straight in, skipping the lines! It was like the fast pass at Disney World.
*Sorry for the low quality photos, these were taken prior to starting my blog.
Don't get a tour guide. To some people this may sound crazy, (tip #3 is for you) let me explain. As we walked up and were wandering around St. Peters Square we got approached by a nice Italian wanting to get us into their tour group. She begins to explain to us that we must be in a tour group to 1.) skip the lines I talked about in tip 1, and 2.) that if we aren't in a tour group we will have to wait in a big line to get into the Sistine Chapel and ALSO to get into St. Peters Basilica. None of which is true (except for St. Peters Basilica, there is a line for that see tip 3.) So, my husband not trusting this woman, and not wanting to give her $80, maybe more I don't quite remember.. decides we will find out for ourselves and walk through and see if this is true or not. Turns out she was trying to use our hatred for lines to get us in her tour group! No lines to get into Vatican Museum, no lines for Sistine Chapel. AND (by our mistake) no lines for St. Peters Basilica. Which brings me to the very contradictory tip #3...
Get a tour guide (a good one). I know this sounds weird after tip #2 but here's why we might change this piece for our upcoming 2016 trip. We aren't the most art inclined people. In fact, I think as a couple we've been to the museum here in Denver ONCE together.. And the Vatican Museum is JAM PACKED FULL of wonderful, ancient and very very impressive art. And as we were walking through the museum, we could tell it was really great art, but we didn't know any of the stories or history behind any of it. Other than what we could hear other tour guides saying, we didn't know what we were looking at. And for people who aren't that into art, it can be a good thing because we just don't get our jollies from art. So walking through and just looking at everything and taking it in on our own was good.. BUT this next time, we may consider getting a tour guide so we can hear more about what we are looking at and really learn some of the great history that the Vatican Museum contains. They have so much amazing art that not having the tour guide felt overwhelming. So maybe we will book one (probably one that is recommended online, not the people there looking to sell us) and see if we like that. The other reason to have a tour guide is that you don't have to leave the Sistine Chapel and go back outside and wait in another line to get into St. Peters Basilica. They were telling us the truth about that line in the beginning. For us, we made a mistake when leaving the Sistine Chapel and we ACCIDENTALLY went with the tour group line straight into St. Peters Basilica. This could be a tip, but since we did it accidentally and it is breaking the rules I wont recommend it. So this year possibly with a tour guide we will skip that line legitimately.
I hope these tips were helpful to you in some way! I encourage you, if you have not been to Italy... GO. Do whatever you can to get there. It is so inspiring and changes you forever. Comment below with your favorite travel experience.
Overall we had a great experience at the Vatican city and I'm really gladour visit went the way that it did. If our next visit goes the same way I would be very pleased with the experience! I hope these tips help everyone, and give some insight that we didn't have before our trip there!