Vatican City is known for its grand historical attractions, religious landmarks and stunning artwork. But how safe is Vatican City for travel? While violent crime is incredibly rare in the area, the site has become a hotspot for thieves and pickpockets in recent years; with so many tourists visiting the site in large crowds every day, it’s a prime target for petty criminals.
In this blog, we’re going to go over how you can stay safe in Vatican City, and what to look out for when touring the historic site. Let’s take a look!
Is Vatican City safe?
In general, Vatican City is an incredibly safe spot for both locals and tourists alike. Violent crime is almost non-existent, with just one homicide reported in the Vatican’s 93-year-long history. However, petty crime – such as theft, pickpocketing, and the selling of counterfeit tickets – does exist, so it’s important to take precautions to ensure you’re not targeted.
How to stay safe in Vatican City
If you want to enjoy your trip to the Vatican without running into trouble or losing your belongings, here’s what we recommend:
Leave your valuables at home
Or in your hotel! While you might think that you’re always careful with your valuable jewelry or other items, all it takes is a split second of distraction that a thief can take advantage of. Plus, you don’t want to spend your whole trip worrying about your ring or your watch, unable to fully immerse yourself in the historic experience. Leave your valuables at home, and make sure any necessary valuables (such as your phone) are kept in closed pockets, firmly shut with a zip or buttons.
Stay aware of your environment
When visiting any crowded tourist site, it’s always important to be mindful of your surroundings and keep an eye out for any suspicious behaviour around you. We understand that touring the Vatican isn’t an everyday experience, and more often than not you’ll find yourself awestruck at the beauty and grandeur of the site – but that’s exactly why you need to stay extra vigilant.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash around, and if you must take a bag with you, never leave it unattended or open. In fact, it might be a good idea to invest in a bumbag where you can store all your valuables – they’re affordable, convenient, and a much more difficult target than a large backpack or handbag.
Don’t buy discount tour tickets
In recent years, theft and pickpocketing has been usurped by the popularity of ticket fraud, whereby pseudo-tour guides will try to sell you counterfeit tickets or tours at discounted prices. In recent years, these scammers have even started wearing fake badges and uniforms to try and appear authentic! While it’s tempting to save a few euros, the tickets or tours won’t be genuine, and you could end up missing out on the full Vatican experience – while also losing your money to criminals! Stick to official and private Vatican tours and ticket sellers, and avoid any vendors that approach you or pursue you aggressively.
Stick with your tour guide
As already mentioned above, the Vatican is known for its large crowds, making it an ideal spot for pickpockets and thieves to operate. Thieves rarely work alone, and often use decoys or distraction tactics to snatch away your valuables. To prevent this, we recommend sticking with your tour guide at all times – a group of people is much harder to target than an individual!
Are crime rates high in Vatican City?
Vatican City actually has the highest crime rate per capita in Europe, making it the fourth-most criminal city in the world. However, it’s fair to say that this figure is hugely inflated due to the Vatican’s small population, combined with the large numbers of tourists and pilgrims who visit the city each year. Taking this into account, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of crime in Vatican City is petty offences – such as pickpocketing or ticket fraud – rather than violent crimes.
Are there police in Vatican City?
Vatican City is protected by the Swiss Guard, a highly-trained security force which has been guarding the city since the 15th century. If you notice any strange behaviour or experience any harassment within Vatican City, you can also report it to the police station located at St. Peter’s Square. However, do note that petty crimes in the Vatican are most often perpetrated by other tourists, making it highly unlikely you’ll get your valuables back if you lose them.
The bottom line
Overall, Vatican City is safe for travel – you simply need to protect yourself against the most common crime in the area: theft. By following the tips listed above, you can make sure that your visit to the Vatican is an unforgettable and enjoyable experience, and you’ll head home with all the valuables you came with!