VATICAN CITY TRAVEL GUIDE

VATICAN CITY TRAVEL GUIDE

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BENVENUTI NELLA VITTÀ DEL VATICANO!

Vatican City – the smallest country in the world, consists of 100 acres within Rome’s historic center, and is home to 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the historic center of Rome and Vatican City itself. Vatican City the center of the Roman Catholic church and houses St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica – built in the 4th century and rebuilt in the 16th century– and the Vatican Museum, which includes the Sistine Chapel.

CORR TRAVEL'S LATEST FOR ITALY & VATICAN CITY TRAVEL

LANGUAGES IN VATICAN CITY

Although it used to be Latin, the official language is now Italian.

How's Your Italian?

Need any easy way to brush up on your Italian for your trip to the Vatican City?

VATICAN CITY CULTURE

Vatican City is a monarchy ruled by the Pope who holds the seat of the Roman Catholic church.  Naturally, Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Vatican City and is also its primary business. 

The government is called the “Holy See”. The City is mostly populated by males, but nuns also live in the City. The only people allowed to live in the Vatican are the clergy and the Swiss Guard, which has been guarding the pope and the Vatican since the 16th century.

POPULAR VATICAN CITY ACTIVITIES

Vatican City comprise of the pope, clergy and the Holy See overseeing the operation of the sovereign state as well as its authority over Catholics throughout the world. Vatican City is a wonderful place for site seeing, especially for its history, iconic art, architecture and gardens. If you visit St. Peter’s Basilica or The Vatican Museum, you must have your knees and shoulders covered as a sign of respect. If you fail to prepare, you purchase plastic cloaks before entering.

VATICAN CITY CURRENCY

Like Italy, Vatican City uses the Euro (€). Exchange rates are usually favorable for Europeans but could fluctuate in the other direction. Unlike Italy, Vatican City is not a member of the European Union and its Euro is issued by the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Vatican City State.

VATICAN CITY TRANSPORTATION

Vatican City (and Rome) has Uber and  Carpoolworld, and other possible regional ridesharing services and apps (research in advance if they are in the Vatican City or Rome). There are also taxis and rental cars, of course.

Access to the Vatican City can be accomplished through Rome’s regional and inter-country bus and train services, so getting around and booking transportation is easy.

TIPPING IN VATICAN CITY

Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules.  That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated. For Vatican City, refer to Italy for tipping guidelines.

What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc.  For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.

Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.

VATICAN CITY HOLIDAYS

A key activity to do in your early planning stage is to know, at minimum, the national holidays. I so suggest also looking into the local holidays.  It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and when you show up at one of your key attractions, it’s closed due to a holiday.  It’s also not fun trying to travel and have a hard time accessing travel or other essential resources when no one is around because, yes, it’s a local holiday. So, take just a few moments to look at Vatican City’s holidays.

VATICAN CITY ELECTRONIC ESSENTIALS

Besides money, required ID and your ticket, Vatican City, like Italy, voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz so bring at least one of each of Type C, F and L adapters (I recommend bringing 2), just in case, for Italian sockets and research if your electronics require a voltage converter, if not already included in the adapter; or, you can bring electronics already adapted for Italian outlets or wait to purchase them there (I recommend just bringing the adapters with converter).  

Remember, most smart phones, tablets and laptops don’t require a converter, but double-check your device(s) before you leave home. If you are going to another country on your trip in addition to Vatican City, you can check to make sure you’re prepared. I have also provided suggested adapters below for your convenience.

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Italy, Chile Travel Adapter Plug by Ceptics with Dual USA Input - Type L (3 Pack) - Ultra Compact - Safe Grounded Perfect for Cell Phones, Laptops, Camera Chargers and More (CT-12A)*
  • Designed in the USA & includes Limited Lifetime Warranty - Return it for any reason and we will replace it with a new one.
  • 2 in 1 Input: Accepts the standard N American 2 and/or 3 prong flat pin plug (including polarized) - No Messy Universal Outlet
  • Ultra Compact Size & Safe: only measures 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.75" & Max Load Rating: 10-15A/250V
Schuko, Germany France Travel Power Adapter by Ceptics, Grounded European Plug - Type E/F Outlet, Adaptor for USA to Europe EU Socket - 3 Pack - Use In Norway, Korea, Spain, Greece, Russa, Iceland
14,100 Reviews
Schuko, Germany France Travel Power Adapter by Ceptics, Grounded European Plug - Type E/F Outlet, Adaptor for USA to Europe EU Socket - 3 Pack - Use In Norway, Korea, Spain, Greece, Russa, Iceland*
  • Compact heavy duty - 3 prong grounded safe Type E/F Plug adapter - Compatible in most of European countries such as
  • Perfect for travelling and using with your iPhone charger, laptop charger, camera charger and other dual voltage chargers.
  • Accepts plugs from all countries including USA, does not accept plugs from S. Africa
European Travel Plug Adapter by Ceptics Europe Power Adaptor Charger Dual Input - Ultra Compact - Light Weight - USA to any Type C Countries such as Italy, Iceland, Austria and More (CT-9C), white
6,002 Reviews
European Travel Plug Adapter by Ceptics Europe Power Adaptor Charger Dual Input - Ultra Compact - Light Weight - USA to any Type C Countries such as Italy, Iceland, Austria and More (CT-9C), white*
  • Perfect for your travel needs: This is all you need to charge your cell phones, laptops, camera chargers, CPAP machine or anything else that is dual voltage Compatible.
  • 2 in 1 Input: Accepts the standard N American 2 and/or 3 prong flat pin Plug (including polarized) - No Messy Universal Outlet
  • Ultra Compact Size & Safe: only measures 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.75" & max load rating: 10-15A/250V, round pin thickness - 4.0 mm
Ceptics Travel Adapter with Types A-M Plugs, Travel Plug Adapter Set Compatible with Power Sockets in All Continents, Compact World Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Kit, Set of 12,GP-12PK
471 Reviews
Ceptics Travel Adapter with Types A-M Plugs, Travel Plug Adapter Set Compatible with Power Sockets in All Continents, Compact World Travel Adapter, International Plug Adaptor Kit, Set of 12,GP-12PK*
  • A Powerful Set of 12 Adapters - Our all-in-one international travel adapter set features 1 universal input socket that allows you to connect a plug from almost any country worldwide, including the 2-prong and 3-prong North American plugs.

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR VATICAN CITY

From the U.S., you will need a valid passport.  No visa is required.  Like Italy, make sure your passport expiration date is greater than 6 months from your return to the U.S. State Department (see Italy) always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to Vatican City. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.

VACCINATIONS FOR VATICAN CITY

There are normally no vaccinations required for Vatican City. The U.S. State Department (see Italy) always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to Italy.  It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave.  If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.

VATICAN CITY TRAVEL BOOKING

VATICAN CITY ECOTOURISM TIPS

There are ways to reduce your eco and carbon footprint through air travel, accommodations, tours, and activities in the Vatican City. To help avoid greenwashing businesses, here are some eco-friendly or sustainable travel (also called responsible travel) tips and resources, you can use to book your travel.

ECO-FRIENDLY AIR TRAVEL

Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2.

Purchase carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

ECO-FRIENDLY GROUND TRANSPORTATION

Try to avoid renting a car in the Vatican City and Rome area by using regional and inter-country bus and train services.

When booking a rideshare, select the Uber Green option, instead of a traditional rideshare, or use Carpoolworld, to support the use of electric cars and carpooling for cleaner transportation in the Vatican City and Rome.

Lime also has electric scooters to rent in Rome for faster and cleaner commuting. Search Lime for city availability.

ECO-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS

Look for accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:

Green Globe certifies hotels, resorts, conference centers, transportation, attractions, tour operators, and other tourism businesses globally on sustainable operations and management. Look for Vatican City, Italy and other European Green Global members.

Green Key Global is an internationally recognized environmental certification for the lodging and meetings industries, including hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and attractions in 65 countries. Search for Green Key awarded sites.

Living Building Challenge – if you want to stay in a true, sustainable building, find one certified by the Living Building Challenge. LBC’s certification directory shows all project types globally. Hopefully they will put in a filter soon to allow searching by hotels or hospitality type.

LEED Certified – the USGBC’s LEED Certified label on buildings, like many of the Marriott’s hotels, are those that have verifiably employed multiple and varying green building strategies to improve human and environmental health. Search the LEED directory for Italy / Vatican City certifications.

Green Lodging Program – Audubon International has an environmental stewardship certification through third-party verification. Search its certified members directory.

GSTC Certified – the Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, as well as international accreditation for sustainable tourism Certification Bodies. Booking sites that offer GSTC certified sustainable are bookdifferent, EcoHotels, and Transat.

Another way to find an establishments implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is through Booking.com in which you’ll need to find and review each establishment’s ‘Sustainable Initiatives’ within the booking process. Starting 2022, however, you’ll be able to filter searches for accommodations with the Travel Sustainable badge. Finally!

ECO-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

Italy and Vatican City have ecotourism ideas available to explore for your next vacation.

Search Green Global and Green Key awarded members for eco-friendly activity providers in the Vatican City. Some may also have the GSTC Certified logo.

MORE ECO-TRAVEL TIPS

There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel.  Read my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and view my suggested Eco Travel Resources to learn more.

VATICAN CITY SAFETY TIPS

HOW TO TRAVEL VATICAN CITY SAFELY

The U.S. State Department has continually placed Italy (and Vatican City) on a Level 2 alert as “terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Italy”. However, these “terrorist” activities could simply be demonstrations.  I’ve never felt unsafe traveling to Vatican City (or Italy).

Theft or pickpocketing, which could happen in most places to be honest, is typically the normal tourist concern.  Please note: when you go to the Sistine Chapel, keep your belongings on you where you know they cannot be accessed (i.e., do not keep valuables in your pockets) because pick pocketers (even young as children) love to pick your pockets while you’re looking up!  It almost happened to me. Just be careful.

Beyond that, there is nothing I can recall from Vatican City making it more of a “safety concern” than traveling in my own home country, so my standard tips for female and solo travelers are:

  • always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
  • always be “street wise”.
  • always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
  • never leave your food or drink unattended.
  • keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
  • be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
  • research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
  • if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.

VATICAN CITY BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS

BEST TIME TO VISIT VATICAN CITY

Like other countries in Europe, Vatican City’s high, tourist season, and most expensive time, is the summer (June and July).  Crowds are not as heavy in the spring (April and May) and Fall (September to October), and prices in these months are better than the summer season. 

The least expensive time to go to Vatican City would be November to March. If you want good weather and prices, try booking well in advance for Spring or Autumn, or you can try in August when most Italians take vacation and crowds tend to drop.

PERSONAL STORY

Vatican City is a big tourist draw.  I’m thankful I had already toured St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museum / Sistine Chapel years ago so I could forego them again on my most recent trip to Rome.  Lines have always been long but I think they may have gotten longer. 

With any major tourist draw, I recommend getting tickets in advance, if available, and showing up at least an hour before opening so you can have best possibility of getting through with as little people as possible and in time to go enjoy something else that day. 

That said, it is a must to see St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican Museum, including the Sistine Chapel.  Definitely go to the top of St. Peter’s Duomo for an amazing view of Rome. It’s very worth it.

VATICAN CITY PHOTOS

VATICAN CITY BLOG POSTS

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