Since the Vatican is technically its own city, I felt the need to separate it from Rome. I went to the Vatican early in the morning which I’ve learned if you want to see something without an enormous amount of people – the morning is the best time!
St. Peter’s Basilica
I reserved a spot to see the necropolis under St. Peters Basilica and the tomb of St. Peter several months before my trip because they only allow 250 people to see it per day. To get to the entrance of the Scavi (necropolis) tour, you need to go through security just to the left of the basilica. The tour lasted roughly 30 minutes and it was interesting to hear the history about the necropolis and see sarcophagi that was found when the necropolis was discovered. At the end of the tour, you can see St. Peters tomb and his pelvic bone and hear the story of how the Vatican found out that it is his bone. As you exit the necropolis, you walk through a small chapel COVERED in gold and you can even see St. Peters Dome through the grate in the ceiling.
St. Peters Dome was the next thing to see which you have to climb up a massive amount of stairs. (While traveling in Italy, I climbed a numerous amount of stairs and these stairs were the toughest). The stairs are not that wide and since there isn’t any airflow, it was humid and stuffy. Add that to having to wear clothes that cover you knees and shoulders and you will definitely get a workout in! Once you get to the top, it’s worth it with the wind and view rewarding your efforts.
Tip: The Vatican is not the only religious place that has a dress code. If you’re going to other churches or catacombs/crypts you need to cover you knees and shoulders as well!
I wore capri pants and a t-shirt to see the Vatican, but in a few other churches I went in I tied a scarf around my waist to act as a long skirt while I was visiting and then took it off to reveal shorts. (Sometimes it was too hot to wear capri pants!!).
The Sistine Chapel is located in the Vatican Museum which is a short walk from the Basilica. I would recommend buying the tickets ahead of time. I’m glad I did because I just walked right past the LONG line waiting to get in, traded in my online voucher for the actual ticket, and started wandering my way to the Sistine Chapel. You have to walk through the whole museum because the Sistine Chapel is the last thing you get to see before the exit, but the hallways and rooms of the museum are gorgeous. Don’t forget to look up! – my favorite part were the elaborate ceilings.
(On your way out, make sure you find the spiral stairway near the gift shop.)
If you have any favorites or awesome places that weren’t listed feel free to leave a comment, its much appreciated! ♥