7 Reasons to Visit The Vatican While in Italy

Meg Cale

When you’re visiting Italy you know it’s vast and filled with amazing food, classical works of art, and historical significance. it can be tough to narrow down what exactly you’d like to do with your limited time.

I’m here to tell you that you absolutely have to visit the Vatican, even if you’re not Catholic. The Vatican is one of the most incredible areas of the world due to the church’s preservation of history and art throughout three centuries of Christianity. I know, Catholicism doesn’t exactly have a lesbian outreach team or anything, so why visit the Vatican City?

Aerial view of Vatican City.

It’s the Heart of Catholicism

The most obvious reason is that Vatican City is the heart of Catholicism. There is no greater pilgrimage for the faithful than visiting Vatican City and paying respects at the home of the Pope. Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, witnessing people so moved by their beliefs that they’d travel across the world to experience its wonders, is a very powerful experience.

You May See the Pope

I know, he’s not exactly Beyonce, but to some people, he’s their Beyonce. I mean the Beyonce comparison makes sense if you think of the Cardinals as Kelly and Michelle – whoa, I’m getting off topic here. Anyway, you can check the calendar of Papal Audiences to see when he’ll be making an appearance. Definitely get tickets in advance and make sure you’re prepared for big crowds and long waits.

I know, Catholicism doesn’t exactly have a lesbian outreach team or anything, so why visit the Vatican City?

Explore The History of Catholicism at the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are massive – I’m talking 1400 rooms MASSIVE. The museums are home to masterpieces of painting, sculpture and other works of art collected by the popes through history. The museums are a showcase of nearly 3,000 years of Roman life. The museums often have a long wait but you can skip the line and buy one ticket for the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel rather than spending more on the two seperate tickets.  

Add to Your Passport

Vatican City has been the world’s smallest independent recognised country.  The Vatican was officially recognized as its own country in 1929. Around 800 people are currently living within the city walls. It’s also home to the world’s smallest standing guard, the Swiss Guards who you’ll notice around the city in their very – uhhm – loud – striped uniforms.


Lights of the Vatican.

The Tomb of St Peter and the Necropolis

Hidden beneath St. Peter’s Basilica is an entire city of the dead. It was discovered in the 1940s and has been under excavation for several years. The Tomb of St Peter himself is even on display along with thousands of other tombs. If you’re into the curiously morbid like I am, this is definitely the tour for you. The fourth-century burial ground is only open via an approved tour operator. You’ll need to contact the Vatican directly to arrange a tour well in advance of your visit.

Marvel at the works of Michelangelo

The Sistine Chapel ceiling is one of the most famous works of art painted throughout history.  Michelangelo spent four years painting the ceiling between 1508 and 1512. It’s considered to be the cornerstone of High Renaissance art. Even if you’re not an art lover, it’s one of those things you just have to marvel at and experience in person.

The Vatican Library

I’ve got this thing for libraries and bookstores. They’re my happy place. There’s just something about that much knowledge mixed with the smell of old books. The Vatican Library is basically THE library. It’s got a crazy collection of some of the world’s oldest and most rare books and manuscripts. They also have the oldest known Bible and the first letters of Saint Peter. It’s not just dry musty old religious texts for Latin enthusiasts. They’ve also got some scandalous stuff like the original love letters between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. Ya know – before she got the ax, literally.