Vatican City is one of Italy’s most popular tourist sites; home to Catholicism, the Pope, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica, the historic site attracts millions of visitors each year. Unfortunately, with this popularity comes long queues and potential overcrowding.
If you’re looking to avoid the massive queues in Vatican City, there are a number of measures you can take, and we’re going to go over each of them in the following blog. From pre-booking your tour tickets to visiting outside the high season, these tips can help you make the most of your Vatican City experience – without spending your holiday in long queues. Let’s take a look.
Buy tickets in advance
While there’s no rule preventing you from turning up at the Vatican without tickets, doing so risks the possibility of being unable to visit the historic ticketed sites, such as the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. If you turn up on the day without a pre-booked tour, there’s a good chance that the tickets could be sold out, or that you’ll end up waiting in lines for hours waiting for a space to open up. To avoid this, make sure that you pre-purchase tickets online and in advance of your visit.
Opt for ‘skip the line’ tickets
If you really don’t have the time for a long queue, you can buy Vatican Tours Skip the Line tickets and enjoy the Vatican as a VIP. With Skip the Line tickets, you won’t need to wait in the tourist queue, and you’ll be granted entry to the Vatican with your tour guide at your chosen time. Skip the Line tickets are exclusive to small, private groups, usually up to 6 at a time. The benefit of a private tour (as opposed to a group tour) is that you’ll be able to enjoy the Vatican experience in a more intimate setting; you won’t need to raise your hand to ask questions or fight to be heard in a large crowd.
Visit outside the high season
Rome is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, so it’s no surprise that the city is flowing with tourists in the summer months. The summer season is probably the worst time to visit the Vatican if you hate long queues; not only are the waiting lines longer, but you’ll also have to deal with the hot Italian sun, which can be overbearing and even dangerous to those not used to it. If you want to skip the queues and enjoy the Vatican in peace and quiet, consider visiting during the off-season (November–March) when crowds are much smaller. Visit early in the morning Another easy way to beat the long queues and waiting times is to visit the Vatican early in the morning. The Vatican site opens at 9am Monday to Saturday, so you can easily avoid the rush and get a head start on your sightseeing.
Be aware of dress codes and rules
Don’t forget that much of the time you’ll spend waiting around in queues at the Vatican will be spent going through security checks; the Vatican enforces a strict policy when it comes to both dress code and prohibited items. If you want to spend less time going through security checks, make sure that you and your group are appropriately dressed, and aren’t carrying any prohibited items.
For appropriate attire, make sure your shoulders, upper arms, and knees are covered. Avoid long, plunging necklines, and absolutely refrain from wearing any offensive or obscene symbols on your clothes. When it comes to prohibited items, note that the following items are not allowed into the Vatican:
- Weapons (guns, knives, etc)
- Food and drinks (in Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Basilica)
- Illegal substances
- Backpacks or large bags
- Pets or animals of any kind
- Selfie sticks or camera tripods
What is the best time to queue for the Vatican?
The best time to visit the Vatican is in the early morning; there will be fewer tourist groups, and you won’t have to wait as long to gain entry to the site.
What is the least busy day to visit the Vatican?
Midweek is a great time to visit the Vatican; Tuesday-Thursday tend to have fewer crowds and shorter entry lines. Saturday tends to be the busiest day for the Vatican, although this can vary season to season.
How long does it take to get through Vatican security?
The time it takes to pass through Vatican security will depend on whether or not anybody in your group is wearing inappropriate clothing or carrying prohibited items. To speed up the process, ensure that everyone in your group is appropriately dressed and not carrying any prohibited items.