Vatican attractions

Travel tips you can trust


tips and insights

When to come
and not come

My advice:

Late spring and early fall are the best times to visit. The weather is pleasant and the Vatican City is not overwhelmed with tour groups.

Avoid crowds by visiting the Vatican City (and especially its Sistine Chapel) when doors first open in the morning.

Expect extra thick crowds throughout the day during the Easter and Christmas periods - and during pontifical blessings, funerals and elections.

The name "Vatican"

The Vatican partially sits on a hill that the Romans called Vaticanus. That's how it derived its name.


The Vatican City (also called the Holy See) is the ecclesiastical and administrative seat of the Roman Catholic Church. It has nearly a billion followers around the world.

Vatican City's
political status

Although it is a relatively small enclave lying inside the city limits of Rome, it is completely independent of Rome and Italy.

The Vatican City is the smallest independent nation state in the world in area and population. It is also the richest state on a per capita and per square area basis.

It issues its own postal stamps and has a newspaper.

For 455 years (1523-1978)
all the popes were Italians

That string was broken in 1978 when a Pole, John Paul II, became pope. And, his successor, Benedict XVI, is German. And, his successor, the current pope, Francis, is Argentine.

Learn More

for first Vatican Overview page

Know my other
Vatican tips and insights

Vatican Overview
Vatican Overview - Page 2
St Peter's Basilica
Sistine Chapel
Vatican Museums
Vatican Museums after hours tour
St Peters Square

Vatican Wonders - Top 4 rankings


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