Everything you need to know about exploring Vatican City

Vatican City, one of the most sacred place to visit for Roman Catholics. Actually, religious or not, it surely is worth the visit when you find yourself in Rome due to its beautiful architecture, museum, and history. It also inscribed as a UNESCO site in 1984 and the only one that consist of an entire state.

So, what do you get to see when you visit Vatican City?

First on the list is the St. Peter’s Square or Piazza San Pietro (in Italian). You can’t miss this as it’s what will be welcoming you once you enter the gates of Vatican City. This large plaza located directly in front of the St. Peter’s Basilica. This is one of the picturistique places in Vatican where most tourists take their #instagrammable photos.

You wouldn’t want to miss seeing what’s inside your backdrop when you took that photo at St. Peter’s Square don’t you?! St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest holiest sites of Christianity and Catholic Tradition. Traditionally, it is the burual site of its titular, St. Peter, the head of the twelve Apostles of Jesus. Aside from St. Peter, the Basilica is also where 91 popes are buried.

Ceilings of St. Peter’s Basilica

It is also the world’s largest church where you’ll be amazed to see impressive works of art and gigantic dome, pillars, and statues. Even my 8-year old was impressed and whispered to me while we’re wandering inside, “Mommy, this is the most beautiful church we’ve ever been”. A big contrary to what she said when we’re in Athens and visited the Acropolis where she said, “We came here to see rocks?!” Kids clearly don’t know how to filter their words yet.🤪

Oh! And did I mention, going in the St. Peter’s Basilica is for FREE. There’s a fee though if you’d like to climb up the dome on foot (that’s 551 steps up) or you have an option to ride the lift. You just need to queue and have your bags check. Don’t be intimidated by the long queue you see as the lines move really fast. Once you’re cleared from the initial checks, you can enter either the St. Peter’s Basilica or the Vatican Museum.

Which leads us to the next place you can see inside Vatican City, the Vatican Museum. We didn’t get a chance to visit the museum as we started our day very late and the queue to the museum was quite long that time. That’s also the reason why we chose to just go inside the basilica instead.

behind us is the St. Peter’s Square

The Vatican Museum holds an immense collection of the of art amassed by the Roman Catholic and papacy throughout the centuries.The museums contain roughly 70,000 works of art though only 20,000 of them are on display. These artworks are the most renowned Roman sculptures and the most important masterpieces of the Renaissance art in the world.

That being said, it’s no wonder one of the most visited museums in the world (garner about 1 million people annually) and with 24 galleries with the Sistine Chapel, notably being the last room visited within the Museum, you’ll surely need a whole day to splurge looking into these artworks beauty. I’d surely want to visit this the next time we go to Rome and would make sure to plan our day early so we can make our money worth of those tickets. haha..

Lastly is the Sistine Chapel. Aside from the fact that this is the official residence of the Pope, this room is a truly special one. Why? Because not only one, but two of one of the most notable artists in the Renaissance have their artworks inside this room. I’m talking about Michelangelo who painted the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel between 1508 and 1512 and covered the wall altar of his world known, “The Last Judgement” artwork.

Here’s how to get there:

TRAVEL BY METRO: The quickest way is to take the Metro. Rome is quite easy to navigate especially if you’re going to start your journey from their main terminal, Roma Termini. You’ll need to buy a ticket on their Metro and ride the orange line to Ottaviano on line A. Note that finding this platform can be a bit tricky (despite all the signs) so if it’s your first time here, it’s better you ask one of their kind and helpful train staff to avoid riding the wrong train.

photo from web and edited myself

It’s a short walk from the Metro to the walls of Vatican City (about 5 mins walk). You can just follow fellow tourists as you can’t miss to see the walls of Vatican where you just need to walk around to the entrance.

TRAVEL BY BUS: Alternatively, you can take bus #64 (takes around 20 minutes), from Termini train station where you need to get out at the last stop of the route – Piazza Stazione S. Pietro. From there, you’ll need to walk 15-20 minutes to reach the Vatican City.

What to wear:

Remember that Vatican City may be considered as a tourist destination but its still a Holy place so avoid wearing revealing clothes, like short skirts, dresses, and shorts. However, if you happen to visit during summer and the weather seems too hot, it is advisable to bring a scarf to cover-up. As for the footwear, wearing sandals is okay, but please try to skip those flip flops. And like any Holy place, hats should be removed upon entering the buildings in the Vatican. Lastly, food (you can as long as you don’t eat it inside) and metal tools ( scissors and knives) are not allowed.

Best time to visit:

It’s best to allot a whole day to be able to let yourself immerse on the beauty of each part of the Vatican City. As per our experience, we arrived around 12nn and all were able to do is take photos at St. Peter’s Square and go inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Our original plan includes the Sistine Chapel but it was too late already when we reached there (it closes at 4pm) so it is really recommended to plan your time wisely if you want to make the most from your trip.

Budget:

Here’s what you’ll get for FREE: entrance to the Vatican City, St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’ Basilica, Tombs of Popes (under St. Peter’s Basilica)

What you need to buy a ticket: Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel (located inside the Vatican Museum, guided tours, St. Peter’s Cupola (dome) or if you have that extra $$$ and would want to have the privilege to skip the line, all of those you can buy from here.

So there you have it! I hope you find the information on this blog post valuable. We’ve visited Greece(Athens), the Netherlands(Papendrecht, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam), travelled via EuRail to France (Paris), then took the EuRail again to Italy(Rome). Let me know in the comments below which one do want me to make a blog post next.

If you have kids and feel daunted by the thought of travelling with them while they are young, I hope you get to read my other article about the Reasons why you should travel with your kids.

Top 5 to reasons why travelling with young children is the best

If you have told me last March that we would be having a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower soon, I’d probably laugh at you. Unlike most families we get to watch on YouTube who go travel the world for a living (oh well, maybe if you support our YouTube Channel😁), our family of four does what most families do (have normal jobs), live in Singapore, and relying on a single income, I’m a SAHM. So the chances of us doing this is quite slim given the high cost of living here. Yet, life is truly full of surprises and incredibly unpredictable, you just have to hold your breathe at times, be grateful, and to pinch yourself into reality!

Us having a picnic with this beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower

I grew up with my parents working abroad. They made sure though to make up with quality time every school vacation. So you can imagine our anticipation whenever March comes nearer (school year in the Philippines starts June and ends in March) so we can go fly to Japan to visit our parents. Let’s just say, I got that love for travel because of my parents. Riding our mini-van, we would do convoy trips with my aunts and uncle who are on their own mini-vans as well with our cousins around the mountains of Japan. Those memories are really memorable ones that I wouldn’t forget and a topic we could talk about the whole day laughing without fail.

Being a parent myself now, I for sure would love to have those kind of memories with our children as well. So equipped with a grateful heart for any opportunity that may came our way, hard work from the hubs, and a watchful eye on our finances, we didn’t have any second thoughts when the chance for our family to go on a Europe trip arise.

Taking one hiccup at a time that came our way, we managed to pull off the most epic trip our family have gone to to-date! I guess I’ll make another blog post on all the hiccups we’ve managed to find a solution with. For now, here’s the details of our Europe travel:

  1. Flew from Singapore to Greece via Scoot Airline
  2. Flew from Greece to Netherlands via Aegean Airline
  3. Travelled by train from Netherlands to France passing through Belgium via Eurail
  4. Travelled by train from France to Italy passing through Switzerlands via Eurail
  5. Flew from Italy to Singapore passing through Finland via FinnAir
Eurail route we’ve travelled

All in all, that’s a staggering 30hrs 90mins on air(on a plane) and 1 day 17hrs on a train in a total of 18 days. Isn’t that amazing!!! That may be a long time but since did stayed most of those days in Greece and Netherlands and only started our train travel on the last 8 days our trip, I must say, we’re all happy to be back home in Singapore to have a good rest by the end of our trip. haha…

Data from our Eurail app on how far and long we’ve travelled

So why would I still encourage parents to go on an epic adventure travelling with their kids? Here’s the reasons why:

  1. You want it. If you love travelling like me, that love for travelling isn’t removed from your identity no matter how many kids you have nor no matter what age your children may be at the time being. If you have the means (time and money) to do so, do it!
  2. You need it. Being a parent comes with tons of responsibilities. We are all humans and needed a break once in a while. A change in scenery, gaining new experiences, and adding up some family memories can’t be exchanged with any material thing.
  3. You get to save. Being both from the field of Finance, we can’t deny how much conscious we are when it comes to our expenses when we travel. That’s why, one thing we love about travelling with our kids is we get to save from fare. From either travelling for FREE or HALF-PRICE on airfare to totally FREE on trains such as SHINKANSEN (when we travelled in Japan back in 2019) or EURAIL (when we travelled now in 2022).
  4. You’ll remember it. One phrase parents always get from others when they travel with their young is this, “Travel when your kids are older so they’ll remember it too“. Well, I’ve got only 3 things to say to them, “I’ll surely remember the trip and would document it with tons of photos so my kids would get to see it when they’re older” , We’ll go back again when they are older if it’s worth visiting again, and lastly, “Appreciate your opinion but we think we’re doing great with out parenting, thank you, you can go ahead and mind your own business.” haha…okay, that last ones can be pretty harsh and personally I haven’t used that but given in our society today where everyone seems to know too well of everything on everything, you have my blessing to use it if the need arises.😉
  5. You only get to do it now. Life is short. Yesterday has already gone and we can’t be sure of tomorrow. Our only guarantee is today, so always make the most of it. Once your kids have gone bigger, you might not have the time or resources (money) to go on a trip, or your kids may rather go on trips on their own. Now is the time you get to spend with them, so go ahead and do it!

Okay, I know this blog post can be too optimistic and blindsided by the cons of travelling with kids, so let me do another blog post on that just so you can get to prepare from all of them as well. One thing’s for sure though, it may be difficult, hard, and tiring but with a few tips and tricks on how your trip can be made easier for you and your child, I guarantee you, IT WOULD BE ALL WORTH IT!

Are you going on a family trip soon? I’d love to hear where you’re heading or where you’ve been to!Let’s share ideas, tips, places to travel, etc. and do what moms do best at…SUPPORTING EACH OTHER!

Cheers to EPIC FAMILY TRIPS!