Vatican City Visitor Guide 2021: Everything you need to know
Vatican City is a unique place. The smallest independent country in the world, it’s home to only 800 people. It’s also completely surrounded by the sprawling city of Rome, Italy’s capital. And yet Vatican City has been around for centuries. As the home of the Catholic Church, Vatican City receives millions of visitors every year. It’s also home to some of the world’s most astounding buildings and an art collection that rivals any on earth.
Vatican City may be small, but there’s plenty to do in this tiny sovereign state. You’ll do lots of walking, so make things easier on yourself by dropping off any unneeded bags at a luggage storage near Vatican City. Traveling light will help you to cover more miles and also help you avoid the sometimes strict security measures in this fascinating country.
Vatican City bag policy
Vatican City itself has no border control with Rome, and so you can bring more or less anything you want with you. However, the main attractions of the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, do have strict rules around baggage.
To get into St. Peter’s Basilica you will need to cross a security checkpoint where your bags will be searched. Large bags are not permitted inside, but there are no set rules as to what constitutes a large bag. Regular backpacks are generally okay, but suitcases and rolling luggage are not. The Vatican Museums have similarly strict rules, and any large bags will have to be left behind.
Vatican City food policy
You can bring any food you like into Vatican City. However, no eating is allowed in either the Vatican Museums or in St. Peter’s Basilica. If you want to enjoy a picnic in St. Peter’s Square, you may be asked to move along by the security staff. So really, it may be better not to bring any food with you.
Luckily, Vatican City is absolutely awash with restaurants. While many are tourist traps, you can find plenty of good places to eat if you stray a little further from St. Peter’s itself. For takeaway pizza, try Alice. If you’d prefer more of a sitdown meal, Colapicchioni is a good albeit expensive choice. Let yourself wander through the ancient streets of the city and you may be surprised by what you find.
Vatican City camera policy
Cameras are allowed inside Vatican City. You can even take pictures inside St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museums, so long as they are not for commercial use. Flash photography is not allowed, and neither are tripods or selfie sticks. If you do take photos inside St. Peter’s Basilica, remember that this is a sacred site for over a billion Catholics worldwide, so try to be respectful of anyone praying.
Of course, one of the main attractions of Vatican City is the magnificent Sistine Chapel. Unlike the rest of the Vatican, photography of any kind is forbidden here, and the rules are strictly enforced. It may be easier to leave any expensive camera equipment behind at a luggage storage near Vatican City. That way, you won’t need to worry about the rules while you explore.
Vatican City rules
You’ll have to pass security checks including metal detectors and x-ray scanners to get into either St. Peter’s Basilica or the Vatican Museums.
Knives, scissors, and any sharp objects must be surrendered before entering either the Basilica or the Museums.
The dress code to enter the Basilica and the Museums is strictly enforced. Sleeveless shirts, shorts above the knee, and miniskirts are not permitted. Hats must be removed. Any clothing with offensive language or tattoos that could cause offense to Catholics will prevent you from being allowed inside, so be prepared to cover them up.
Vatican City is easy to reach from central Rome. Metro line A serves the Ottaviano-San Pietro station which is just outside the Vatican walls. You can also take a hop-on hop-off bus to bring you to the Vatican.
Vatican City lockers
For such a tiny place, Vatican City has an enormous amount of historical and cultural attractions. One of the best destinations in the world for art lovers, the Vatican has also had a completely outsized effect on world history. Plus, the unusual theocratic state is worth visiting just for its unique nature.
The tiny city-state is best explored on foot, so make things easier on yourself by dropping off any unneeded bags at a luggage storage service near Vatican City. The lighter you travel, the easier it will be to navigate the tourist crowds and avoid any run-ins with overzealous security.