Sep
01

Vatican

posted on September 1st 2016 in Italy with 2 Comments

Vatican City; vatican city view

Is it possible to see all of the beauty of Vatican in one day? Can it be done on a budget and stress free? Absolutely! 

All it takes is some research and waking up early and then you have yourself an adventure in Vatican! We have heard the horror stories of mile long lineups and confusing information regarding passes, no line entrances and guides. Our goal was to avoid all of these pitfalls.

So where should you start?

Why, St. Peters of course!

St. Peters Basilica is one of the most recognized and iconic churches in the world. No visit to Rome is complete without a visit to the Vatican. The epicenter of Christianity, St Peter’s hold the remains of the first pope, St. Peter in the catacombs.

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Due to its popularity, the influx of tourists and pilgrims make the visit here hectic and stressful. The lineups can stretch for miles and pesky tour guides will try to entice you with unnecessary tours. So how you see and feel all this grandeur?

To get in St. Peters, you have only one option to avoid the crowds: get up early. Be there for 8am.

When you arrive at the Vatican, do not go straight ahead. There will be barriers. Walk along the barriers to the metal detectors and pass through. Then head for the main entrance! That’s it! You will be accosted by guides and wanna be guides every few meters, ignore them. They won’t be of any use to you inside because silence must be observed while in the basilica.

There will be security at the entrance of the Basilica and they basically determine who gets in. Large bags are frowned upon and you could be asked to check them in. (on the other side of Vatican)

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There will be security at the entrance of the Basilica and they basically determine who gets in. Large bags are frowned upon and you could be asked to check them in. (on the other side of Vatican)

It is very important to understand and follow the dress code rules of St.Peters. You have to have your shoulders covered ( a long sleeved shirt or a long scarf) and your knees have to be covered as well. Failure to follow these simple rules WILL get you turned away at the entrance.

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St. Peters basilica is the world’s biggest church and it is unlike anything we have seen before. The silence rule is really secondary because the moment you enter, you will be left speechless.

As you enter the church, on your right there will be the most famous sculpture in the world: The Pietà done by Michelangelo. It was commissioned by a cardinal for his funeral and it is stunning. Prepare to be disappointed that it is kept behind a bulletproof glass and is actually smaller than it looks. Good luck taking a photo after 8am, as the area will be overrun with people.

Pietà; The Pietà; Renaissance sculpture; Michelangelo Buonarroti; St. Peter's Basilica; Vatican CitySt. Peters is magnificent inside but that is not all you can see. Once you step outside, turn left and head towards a small alley. You can climb or take the elevator to the top of the dome.

The tickets cost 6 Euro for stairs and 8 Euro for elevator.

Tip: Take the elevator because you  will still have to climb a good couple hundred steps to the top. It is not for the claustrophobic though. The ceilings are low and some of the passages are quite narrow. Once you are on top, a 360 degree panoramic walkway awaits you. Totally worth the time and effort!

Once we finished exploring the church, it was on to the Vatican Museums. Seriously people, listen to our advice if you are not planning on doing any research.

From the moment you reach the vicinity of Vatican, you will be accosted and harassed by guides and those that claim they are guides. They will speak every language in the world and all will claim to have the knowledge and resources to get in without lineups.

That is not true!

3O2A6367Steps to take to avoid this small lineup that stretches for miles.

  1. Go online at Vatican Museums and buy your tickets.
  2. Order a headset as well. Get one headset and share it if you are a couple. No need to have two.
  3. Go around the whole lineup of people and head towards the exit and the sign “Groups only”.
  4. Show up at the time, listed on the ticket.
  5. Give your ticket to the guards to be scanned.
  6. Head inside without a lineup and make your way to the immediate left to validate your tickets.
  7. Go up the stairs to grab your head set.
  8. Enjoy the museum in peace.

cappella Sistina; vatican; vatican city; vaticacn museum; Sistine Chapel

That’s it. No mysterious back door entrances. No special favors from guides. No standing under the sun or rain. Prepare to be emotionally drained from the sheer amount of people. The museum is packed ALL THE TIME. Good luck snapping a good picture.
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Vatican Museum is massive and to see absolutely everything, you should dedicate a day or more. The selfie snapping crowds and massive tour groups do tire out even such crazy walkers like us.

At the very end of the museum, the Sistine chapel awaits.
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Well guess what? It is as magnificent as advertised. In order to see it though, you need to go through the whole museum and once inside, you will be crammed with THOUSANDS of people that are talking in a place where it is forbidden to speak. The guides will be of no use to you, as you are not allowed to speak or take pictures. You will only have a few minutes to see it all and then you will be herded out the door.

That’s it.

Is it worth it though? Take it from us, you will never see anything more majestic than this.

dmitry

Through our website, we want to share our stories, photographs and hopefully the information might help someone on their trip or even awaken their own wanderlust.

  • jan jayasundera

    Very interesting because everywhere I check people recommend visiting Vatican Museum first.
    I think I will go ahead and try your option. It sounds like you’re doing a small detour but I guess I will save on lineups in St Peters.
    I am new to your blog and very impressed. You guys give out so much information.

    • BeFreeandTravel

      Thanks Jan.
      Just trust us on that. Go to St Peters in the morning and don`t waste money on tours.