The Vatican City is the heart of the Roman Catholic Church and the smallest country in the world.
Encapsulated within the region of Rome, Italy is the epicenter of the Roman Catholic Church. With the Pope at the helm of the city states head, the Vatican has its own flag and anthem to the 450 people with its nationality there. Vatican citizenship is nearly impossible to attain as birth citizenship does not exist. The city of religious importance is also home to some of the most breathtaking artworks.
HOW TO GET THERE
You may have heard the saying, all roads lead to Rome, and the Vatican City is not that hard to get to from other historical landmarks in the city of Rome. You can call a taxi, use a GPS by foot or you can take the public transport that runs throughout the city. If you choose to take the metro, all you need to do is hop on line A and hop off at either Cipro or Ottaviano. If you choose to brave the Roman bus systems, lines 64, 62, 40, and 81 all lead to right outside of Vatican City.
While there aren’t places to stay within the city itself, there are many hotels and AirBnbs to stay within Rome that are just a taxi or metro away. For luxurious options, check out: Hotel de Russie, Hotel Majestic and Grand Hotel Plaza are less than 2 miles from Vatican City. Saint Peters View is more affordable and is located roughly 3,000 feet from the city entrance with views of the church. If you plan on exploring Rome in addition to the Vatican; Trastevere, Centro Storicoand Monti are safe and eventful neighborhoods for travelers to lodge.
While the Vatican City itself is roughly two square miles, there is a lot to see so you should designate a day or two to check everything off your list. St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest Church in the world and is home to stunning mosaics, La Pieta by Michaelangelo and the tomb of St. Peter. The Vatican Museum is another must-see stop where you’ll discover historic relics and phenomenal artworks.
The School of Athens by Raphael is a fresco-style painting that depicts famous artists, philosophers and scientists.
The Entombment of Christ by Carvaggio is a truly remarkable piece. Carvaggio is known for his talent in depicting light and shadows within paintings and this highly admired masterpiece shows just that.
The well-groomed Vatican Gardens make a great stop after the museum visit to stroll around. You will find yourself seeing elegant sculptures, fountains and plants throughout the entirety of the gardens.
The Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo is arguably one of the most famous pieces and it is a must-see to gain the full experience. The space also functions as a place of importance in the Roman Catholic faith as it is where cardinals decipher who the new succeeding Pope will be. The chapel itself has a chimney in which the cardinals signal when their decision has been made. Black smoke means the decision has not yet been agreed upon while white smoke signals that at least ⅔ of the group has agreed on the same candidate.
If you’re up for a 30-minute walk or quick taxi ride, the Trastevere area of Rome has some great restaurants to try. Looking for a quick bite? There are numerous cafés along the road leading up to the front of St. Peter’s Basilica. Cafeteria Centrale is a self-service café right outside of the Vatican Museum for a convenient option.
Hot Tip! Make sure to plan ahead to avoid waiting in long lines and in crowds. Purchasing tickets in advance are a great option that include guided tours of the museum, the church and the Sistine Chapel. Also, make sure to dress conservatively on Vatican property (knees and shoulders covered) and be mindful of photography rules.