A skip the line tour is one of the best ways to tour the Vatican sites without spending hours melting away in the Italian heat – especially if you’re visiting in high season during the summer months!
However, don’t forget that even with a skip the line tour, you’ll still need to pass through security in order to be granted access to the site. So, how long does a security take, and does it still take as long when passing through as part of a private tour group? Let’s take a look.
What are skip the line tours?
Skip the line tours Vatican are a type of guided tour that allows those who book to bypass the long queues and make their way safely into the Vatican area without waiting for hours in the long waiting line outside. This is made possible through special arrangements with the authorities, allowing private tour groups to pass unhindered through the various checkpoints; however, they are still subject to standard security checks – and these can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes to complete.
So, while a skip the line tour does save valuable time and energy, it is important to bear in mind that security checks are still required before entry can be granted. As such, it pays to double-check your booking and arrive with plenty of time to spare – both for the security check itself, as well as for the tour itself! It’s also important to check what can and cannot be taken into the Vatican site; this will help the security check process move faster, and prevent you from having to throw away any valuable – but prohibited – items.
How long does a Vatican security check take?
When you arrive at the Vatican, you’ll be obliged to perform the following security checks:
- Walking through an advanced metal detector
- Placing certain items (such as phones) in a tray to be scanned
- Throw away any prohibited items (such as glass water bottles)
- Have your clothing and attire checked by a security guard
In general, the security check at the Vatican can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your group, and whether or not the security guards find an issue with any of your belongings, attire, or bags. It’s a bit like an airport security check; the more items you have to remove and scan, the longer it’ll take to reach the airport lounge – so keep that in mind before arriving.
If you’re arriving as part of a skip the line tour, you’ll likely be able to get through security much quicker, and be granted entry into the site within 5-10 minutes. Again, this process can be complicated if a member of your group is carrying prohibited items, wearing obscene or offensive clothing, or is wearing lots of metal items (such as watches, belts, and jewelry) that needs to be removed before the security check can be considered complete.
What not to bring to the Vatican
If you want to get through security quicker, it pays to double-check what you can and cannot bring into the site. Generally speaking, any dangerous items (such as weapons, pocket knives, or other sharp objects) are not allowed, as are large bags or suitcases. If your bag is deemed unsuitable by security guards, they may ask you to return it to your hotel, as there’s no storage space within the Vatican itself. This can be a massive waste of time and money, so never bring your luggage with you on your visit to the Vatican (or any other historic Italian site for that matter)!
What not to wear at the Vatican
While entering the Vatican, it’s important to remember that you’re entering a sacred religious site, so many staff members and guards will also be obliged to carry out outfit checks and ensure that all guests and visitors are dressed in appropriate attire.
In order to get approved entry as quickly as possible, dress in modest clothing and follow the instructions laid out by the Vatican to a T. This means that you must cover your shoulders and knees (you can wrap a shawl around your shoulders if need be), cover any décolleté, avoid all plunging necklines or overly tight clothing, and wear appropriate footwear )- while heels aren’t banned, they’re highly impractical. In addition to this, men must remove all headwear before being granted access to the site, although women are permitted to keep hats on.
You should also make sure that you don’t arrive wearing any obscene logos or graphic images on your clothing, jewelry or bags; t-shirts or jewelry items that feature nudity, obscene symbols, profanity, or any other image that could be deemed as offensive to the Catholic faith could result in you being asked to leave.
Plus, if you want to make things really quick, leave your jewelry, watches, and other metal accessories at the hotel – you’ll speed through security faster than you can say ciao!