One of the main reasons why you should visit the Vatican City (or Vatican State, because, as we have just learned, it is basically saying the same thing) is that it is a separate state from Italy, so once you step foot onto Vatican soil, and cross that international border, you can tick yet another country off of your family bucket list! It is so small that it is entirely surrounded by another city, Rome, the capital of Italy. Beyond its political purpose, the Vatican is also the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, the very cozy home to the very famous Pope, and one of the most magnificent museums in the world, boasting some of the planet’s most iconic pieces of art and architectural features.
Here are some “sanity-saving” tips for you to make sure that your family Vatican Museum experience is memorable and goes seamlessly.
1- If you have a choice, always opt for a guided tour!
Imagine getting to the entrance of the museum and not having to face the ticket office, the queue and the seeking of artworks in the museum alone! Imagine having a child-friendly, personable, fun art history expert standing right beside you, guiding you through it, and running the show by entertaining the little ones – just for a day! Doesn’t it sound like a dream? Also, it is easy to get lost in such enormous galleries and rooms. After a while, all the statues of pretty women and paintings of landscapes and wars start to look the same!
The Vatican museum contains some of the most awe-inspiring and precious works of Western art. It would be a pity to miss some of the most important pieces on display simply because you don’t really know where to start looking!
A tour guide will help you navigate these vast, uncharted waters and will effectively help you not waste any time Your kids will be grateful both in the short- term, because they will not have to aimlessly walk through these daunting rooms, and in the long-term, because you will have gifted them with unparalleled artistic and historical experience! Book your tour with us!
2- Get the little adventurers into hunting mode
Is there anything more fun and thrilling than a Scavenger Hunt? What is the best way to visit the Vatican with kids?
Well that is a dilemma that a lot of adventurous parents face. We have learned that one of the best ways to keep those energetic little creatures entertained and focused on a task is to transform this educational, life changing experience into a game!
One of the most loved tours is the Scavenger Hunt Tour. Whereas a normal tour usually involves an interesting explanation of art, history and fun facts regarding the Romans, a Scavenger Hunt Tour features a Hunt Guide a small booklet where the kids can scribble the answers to their wonderful discoveries!
This is even more fun when you have more than one child, and if they are of similar ages, because they will make the hunt into a little sibling competition, which will motivate them to stay engaged!
You know your kids best, so you will have to be the judge on whether this is the most suitable kids friendly Vatican tour for them, but we have seen that it worked wonders!
3- Make sure your attire is on-point
Because the Vatican is a place of religious importance, it is important that you dress in an appropriate way for the place that you are visiting.
In fact, the Vatican has a very strict dress code, and not abiding the rules could most probably mean that you will either not be let in to the museum at all, or that you will be asked to leave once one of the museum guards notices you!
Yes, crazy indeed!
All this applies to valid ticket holders, so make sure to come prepared so that you do not miss the opportunity to see all the stunning treasures that this place holds! Let’s get to the specifics of what you are required to wear! It is nothing extravagant…so you don’t need to buy anything fancy or specific, don’t worry! Ladies!
Anything see through or very low cut in the front is a big no-no! If you’re travelling in the hot summer days, then we recommend taking a thin scarf or shawl with you and throwing it over in the critical moments! For men and women alike, it is crucial that you stay as far away as you can from bottoms that are above the knees, hats and tank tops that leave the shoulders uncovered!
Also, for security, rucksacks that are too large will not be let in for security reasons, so try to pack a smaller bag!
4- Know when to go…and when not to go!
This is probably one of the best pieces of advice that you will get about the Vatican, because the worst thing about this magical place are the crowds. The first important thing to keep in mind is that, while the Vatican Museums are closed most Sundays, the last Sunday of every month entrance to the Vatican Museums is free.
This means that there will be an abnormal number of people filling up the lines to get in and the museum halls lined with treasures. On this day, it will be difficult to fight your way through the crowds to see the artworks, let alone have a good look at them and actually enjoy them!
For obvious reasons, the dead of winter is a better time than summer to take a trip to Rome in general if you have a crowd-phobia! However, because simply comes to live with the warmth of summer, it is very hard to make a clear-cut decision about the best time of the year to visit Italy.
What we can tell you is that the level of crazy business tends to dilute in the early morning or later in the evening, before closing time. It tends to be a little bit more expensive, but it is definitely worth every single penny!
If you are in Rome for more than just a few days, we recommend that you slot the Vatican in on a Tuesday or Thursday around 3:00, or even a Wednesday morning when the Pope leading the mass in Saint Peter’s Square.
5- Fuel the body and soul before entering the gates!
It is a well-known fact that little troopers have a monstrous metabolism! So, if you don’t want to wake the hungry monsters in your angelic child’s belly we suggest that you fill it up to keep the engines running smoothly! The average Vatican museum visit is about three hours long. It is extremely easy for kids and teenagers alike to get hangry after 5 miles of walking, gazing at unmoving statues and paintings.
The Vatican museum policy states that you are allowed to bring drinks as long as they are not in can or glass containers. Moreover you are not supposed to bring unwrapped foods, such as panini or pizza (yes, very sad indeed), but you are allowed to throw a few energy bars into you bag to save the day from disaster! Worst case scenario, there is a life-saving cafe onsite…although your wallet might not be so happy after a family snack at the Vatican Museums Cafe.
6- Booking ahead is the key to a worry-free Vatican experience
If you plan ahead it is more likely that you will get tickets in the first place, especially in high season! Also, what a lot of families opt for, after having had a look at options for their Vatican tour with kids, are the skip the line tickets.
If you walk by the Vatican on an average day – whether it is winter or summer – you will notice that there is a line going on for hundreds and hundreds of meters, winding along the city walls.
Now imagine being stuck in one of those terrible lines with the scorching sun or with the wind, rain and cold weather for hours!
Planning ahead to avoid these horrible waiting times seems like such a more reasonable option – doesn’t it? The skip the line tickets are not very easy to come by but, if you book a tour, you tour guide will arrange a reserved time slot.
So, we have spelled out how we at Rome4kids think you should approach a day at the Vatican Museums. At this point there is nothing left for you to do except explore and let us know what you thought of it!