The top things to see at the Vatican should undoubtedly be on your must-visit list.
This tiny city-state is a treasure trove of art, history, and spirituality that draws millions of visitors every year.
As a local Rome enthusiast myself, I’ve curated a list of the top 11 things you can’t miss when exploring the Vatican.
From awe-inspiring basilicas to breathtaking museums, here are the best things to see in Vatican City.
Best Things to See at the Vatican
St. Peter’s Basilica
The grandest basilica in the world, St. Peter’s is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. Marvel at its colossal dome, ornate marble interiors, and iconic artworks, including Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Don’t forget to climb to the top for panoramic views of Rome!
A treasure trove of art and history, the Vatican Museums boast an impressive collection of masterpieces. Highlights include the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms, and Gallery of Maps.
Pro tip: Beat the crowds by visiting early in the morning or booking a guided tour of the Vatican Museums + Sistine Chapel.
Pro tip #2: Book your tickets way in advance to skip the lines – you’ll thank me later.
A true masterpiece of Western art, the Sistine Chapel is Michelangelo’s crowning achievement. Admire the stunning frescoes that adorn its ceiling and walls, including the iconic Creation of Adam.
Remember to keep your voice down as it is a place of worship.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a serene stroll through the Vatican Gardens. These lush, landscaped gardens are a peaceful oasis filled with fountains, sculptures, and rare plants.
As noted in my post on what’s included in Vatican tickets, this is an add-on that is not included in the regular admission.
Guided tours are available for a more in-depth experience.
St. Peter’s Square
The heart of Vatican City, St. Peter’s Square is an iconic gathering place for pilgrims and tourists alike. Take in the grandeur of Bernini’s colonnade, the obelisk, and the statues of saints.
If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the Pope!
👍 Pro tip: Best Days to Visit the Vatican
Explore the ancient burial ground beneath St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican Necropolis. Discover tombs and mausoleums dating back to Roman times, including the supposed burial place of St. Peter.
Note that access to the Necropolis is limited and requires advanced booking.
🎟️ Looking to buy? Read my post: Where to Buy Tickets for the Vatican
Art lovers won’t want to miss the Vatican Pinacoteca, a gallery showcasing a stunning collection of Renaissance paintings.
Admire masterpieces by Raphael, Caravaggio, and Leonardo da Vinci, among others, in a serene setting.
⌛ Pro tip: How Long to Visit the Vatican?
When speaking of things to see around the Vatican, I suggest you experience this unique spiritual moment by attending a Papal Audience at St. Peter’s Square.
You can join pilgrims (and photographers:P) from around the world as you receive a blessing from the Pope himself.
Remember to dress modestly and arrive early for a good spot!
👕 Pro tip: What is the Dress Code at the Vatican?
One of the oldest and most prestigious libraries in the world, the Vatican Library is a treasure trove of knowledge. It’s one of the best things to see in the Vatican, period.
Explore its vast collection of manuscripts, rare books, and ancient maps, including the famous Vaticanus and Sinaiticus Bibles.
Vatican Apostolic Palace
Get a glimpse of the papal residence by visiting the Vatican Apostolic Palace. Marvel at its opulent rooms, including the magnificent Hall of Maps and the stunning Raphael’s Rooms.
Guided tours offer insights into the history and traditions of the papacy.
📜 Pro tip: 10 Rules for Visiting the Vatican
For astronomy enthusiasts, a visit to the Vatican Observatory is a must. Discover the fascinating history of the Vatican’s astronomical research and explore its state-of-the-art telescopes.
Don’t miss the breathtaking panoramic views of Rome from the terrace!
Still Looking For Things to See in Vatican City?
A visit to the Vatican City is a truly awe-inspiring experience. From the majestic St. Peter’s Basilica to the world-renowned Vatican Museums and the serene Vatican Gardens, there are countless treasures to explore here.
With its rich cultural heritage and spiritual significance, the Vatican City offers something for everyone.
Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, a religious pilgrim, or simply a curious traveler, the Vatican City is a must-visit destination during your Rome itinerary.
So, make sure to include these 11 must-see attractions in your Vatican bucket list!