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Vatican City Travel Guide:

          Tourism Information

Flag of Vatican City
Tourism Rating    Travel Safety   Entry Requirements  Avoiding Petty Theft

Special Notes    Road Safety and Conditions   Medical Care



Tourism Rating   Top of Page
Four globes = Place of a lifetime

The Vatican: Travel Destination of a Lifetime (four of four globes)

Regardless of your views on religion in general or Catholicism in  particular, touring the Vatican provides insights into the history of the Western World.  In addition, the Vatican exhibits grand architecture and some of best art treasures to be found.  If you visit Rome, you should plan on visiting the Vatican.

  • Visiting the Vatican is usually part of a trip designed to experience Italy.  The state of Vatican City is the smallest sovereign state in the world.
    • The Holy See is a sovereign entity that serves as the ecclesiastical, governmental and administrative capital of the Roman Catholic Church, physically located within the State of the Vatican City inside Rome, with a unique, non-traditional economy.
    • A tiny enclave within the city of Rome, it occupies 109 acres and is almost completely surrounded by medieval walls. As a result of the Lateran Pacts of 1929, the Italian Government granted St. Peter’s Basilica and Square and the surrounding area within the Vatican walls as the Holy See’s sovereign and independent territorial base.
    •  Besides St. Peter’s, Vatican City also includes the Apostolic Palace, administrative and residential buildings, museums, archives, and libraries, a cemetery, and gardens covering almost one-third of the entire area.
    • Thirteen other buildings in Rome, as well as the Pope’s summer residence at nearby Castel Gandolfo, enjoy extraterritoriality under the terms of the Lateran Pacts.
  1. Vatican City is the spiritual and administrative heart of the Roman Catholic Church, and that, rather than trade or industry, is its “raison d’ętre.”
    • The Vatican charges admission to its museums and sells guidebooks and souvenirs.
    • A small factory in the gardens teaches the art of mosaics and maintains those in the Basilica.
    •  The Vatican also prints and distributes Holy See documents, pamphlets, and books—including some impressive liturgical and art folio.
  2. St. Peter's Cathedral and the Vatican Museums are the attractions that draw many travelers to the Vatican.  A large number of visitors practice the Roman Catholic faith and are attracted to the Vatican for religious rites, celebrations of religious holidays and for papal audiences or appearances.
  3. The Vatican is a safe destination for independent travel
  4. See the Vatican's Web site at for details of interest to travelers.
  5. ThereArePlaces recommended attractions in Vatican City can be found at Vatican City:  Places To Visit
  6. When planning your travel, be sure to review the ThereArePlaces Travel Planning Guides for insights on how  to "travel well" and "travel safe".
  7. The "tourist" Vatican closes on holidays. Local holidays include:

    January 1, Feast of Mary, Mother of God
    January 6, Epiphany
    February 11, Anniversary of the Lateran Pacts
    March 19, Feast of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church
    Good Friday (April 9, 2004)
    Easter Monday (April 12, 2004)
    May 1, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker
    Ascension Thursday (May 20, 2004)
    June 10, Feast of Corpus Christi
    June 29, Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul's
    August 14/15, Feast of the Assumption
    November 1, All Saint's Day
    December 8, Feast of the Immaculate Conception
    December 25, Christmas Day
    December 26, St. Stephen's Day

Travel Safety   Top of Page
Green light = safe travel
The Vatican is a safe travel destination for tourists

The Vatican City is an enclave of Rome and the information provided in the ThereArePlaces articles on  Italy apply to the Holy See.

Entry Requirements   Top of Page
Be sure to wear appropriate clothing when visiting the Vatican
There are no specific governmental entry requirement for Vatican City. 
  • If you want to visit the interior of any of the  buildings open to the public you must be dressed appropriately.  Shorts, tank tops are inappropriate.  Trousers, shirts, blouses, longer skirts are acceptable.
Avoiding Petty Theft   Top of Page
Crime in the Vatican City is minimal and of the pickpocket variety.
Special Note   Top of Page
  1.  Visitors to the Vatican must be appropriately dressed and the warnings can be seen on signs posted around the Vatican.  Bare legs (shorts), bare shoulders, and bare midriffs  (tank tops, sleeveless tops, sundresses) guarantee that you will be denied entrance. 

2.  Vendors (who are not allowed in the Vatican) have set up "bag" shops in St. Peter's Square, selling paper shirts, pants, and shawls to those inappropriately dressed .

3. ThereArePlaces makes every attempt to ensure that the travel information we present to you is current. Before you depart, be sure to check with official government sources to determine the status of critical information relating to a particular county.

Road Safety and Conditions   Top of Page
The Vatican does not have a public road network
Medical Care   Top of Page
See our article on Italy for information on Medical Services available to visitors (the Vatican does not have medical facilities available for tourists or other visitors).
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