24 Oct 7 Tips for Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica
Visiting the Vatican City is a must for all visitors to Rome – but it can be daunting.
And full of people. And hot. And full of people trying to sell you stuff.
So come prepared with what you want to do – and know how to handle all of it!
Chloe and I decided to attend the papal audience and see the Pope on Wednesday morning, so we chose to kill two birds with one stone and stay afterwards to check out the rest of the Vatican City. Check out our post here for tips on attending the papal audience.
We decided to climb to the top of the dome in St. Peter’s Basilica, and tour the rest of the church – it is huge and beautiful. Due to the amount of time it takes to attend the papal audience, and taking into consideration the fact that everything shuts down after the papal audience – we only had time to do one other event, which was entering St. Peter’s Basilica.
7 tips for visiting St. Peter’s Basilica:
- Dress appropriately – and take this seriously. We witnessed a few girls being denied entrance because they were wearing tank tops (however, Chloe graciously donated her sweatshirt to one of the girls so that they could get in). It’s okay to throw a scarf over your shoulders or over your shorts for the amount of time you are visiting, and there are kiosks selling scarves for that matter all around the Vatican City. Women can’t show shoulders or knees, and men can’t wear tank tops. Make sure to not wear ‘grungy’ clothes when visiting. Visit this website for more information on what to wear. NOTE: They will turn you away, not in the beginning, but after you have already waited for hours and gone through the security line, only to be denied access into the basilica.
- Get in line EARLY. We cannot stress this enough. The lines are long and relentless. On Wednesday, everything shuts down after the papal audience, and you must leave the square while they clean up. Make sure to come back to get in line early (around 12:00 or even before). If there was not an event, make sure to arrive to get in line at 8 AM.
- Beware of tour guides trying to sell you everything and anything. It’s hard to tell who actually works there, and who doesn’t. If you want a tour guide, great – but do some research ahead of time so that you aren’t getting scammed.
- Go to the top of the dome. However – if you are someone who gets claustrophobic, this is not for you. The spiral staircase actually leans inside as you travel around the dome – which is amazing, and is also a tight squeeze. NOTE: It’s one way up and another way down, too, so be weary when you begin so you aren’t that person who has to turn back and create a traffic jam – because it WILL create a traffic jam.
- Climb the steps if you are able! You’ll save a few euro, but it is also awesome to walk inside the stairs and see the walls/floor – beautiful. And hey, you get a workout as well! Note: 551 steps in total, and to get the very top everyone has to walk the last 231 steps.
- Remember – if you aren’t going to go first thing, go the next day. It’s a waste of a day to stand in line for two hours – and maybe even longer. Set those alarms early, or attend the papal audience and just hang around to get back in line. No matter what you do, expect a line – but we were SHOCKED at how long the lines were after we left St. Peter’s Basilica.
- Be respectful when visiting. Everyone there is visiting for a different reason – some may be there for religious reasons, some may not be – but just remember to act appropriately and respectfully.
the early bird gets the worm,