When in Rome it’s hard to skip on Vatican City. With its own stamps, flag, national anthem, own security service, and real the famous “Swiss Guards” who have been protecting the Pope since the 16th century, Vatican City is its own state within Rome. It may be overwhelming for first-timers (and experienced travellers too!), but it’s quite easy to navigate around. Expect to spend a full day here!
We left our apartment around 9.00am to be on time. I have read online that the best time to go is in the early morning to beat the massive crowd and tour guides with their annoying group. We saw the two highlights we wanted to see: St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel!
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Square and the Basilica are located in the same place and easy to find. Just follow the stream of tourists. To get in you will have to go through a metal detector, like at the airport. Once through, let your senses be amazed by the massive church with even more massive interior. I have been to many churches and this one is by far the most beautiful I’ve seen. This was my second time here and still I felt like it was my first time.
The entrance to the church is free but with a small fee you can go up the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. We didn’t do that as the weather wasn’t as nice so it would not be as amazing as I experienced before.
Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
They advertise this as two separate sights while in fact the Sistine Chapel is located inside the Vatican Museum. For €16.00 pp you can spend your day in the museum, admiring nice artwork. Now I don’t know much about art or its history but it was fascinating to see the details in the sculpture or the little details hidden in the pantings. It was so overwhelming that after a few hours we were so tired… And we haven’t reach Sistine Chapel yet!
Unfortunately you aren’t allowed to take pictures in Sistine Chapel but many people did anyways. There were a few sneaky tourists filming with GoPro (I left mine at home), so I decided to give it a try and here are some of the sneaky shots.
Skip the line
When walking out of the metro station you will meet many so-called tour guides who try to sell you the fast track tickets for you to beat the line. Unless you’re going during peak season and in a weekend, don’t fall for the trap and check out the queues for yourself first! We were almost tempted to buy one of those tickets, but were happy we didn’t the line for St. Peter’s Basilica went fast, probably less than 30 minutes for us. For €25.00 pp you can buy a skip the line tickets for the Vatican Mussum, and again, don’t do it until you see the line yourself! On our way to the museum we were stopped by sellers many times and once ad arrived at the museum there was no line at all! We were so happy to save a little bit of money! If you arrive before 10.00am you won’t have to wait in line for a long time, especially during low season. So check the lines first before making a decision! It saved us money!