Skip to Content

Is it Worth Touring the Vatican with Kids?

Is it Worth Touring the Vatican with Kids?

Sharing is caring!

Planning a trip to Rome with kids and aren’t sure about touring the Vatican? Keep scrolling to check out my personal experiences of touring the Vatican with kids from my last two trips to Italy!
This kid-friendly guide to touring the Vatican was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Honestly, I was a bit unsure about visiting Vatican City on our latest trip to Rome. Part of my hesitation was that we actually got kicked out of the Vatican when my oldest was a toddler.

To make a long story short, a group of tourists thought my son was cute and started loudly talking to him and taking photos with him and it caused such a disturbance that we all got kicked out.

This time, I was also worried that my kids might get bored. I figured that other families might be wondering the same thing, which is why I wrote this post.

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Rome blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Rome with kids.

Popular Rome Tours/Activities

Kid-Friendly Rome Hotels

Where is the Vatican City?

The Vatican City, officially known as the Vatican City State, is located in the city of Rome, Italy.

It’s an independent city-state enclaved within Rome and is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world by both area and population.

Image of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City Italy
St. Peter’s Basilica is a main part of the Vatican City. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It’s the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, including the residence of the Pope.

The Vatican City is famous for its cultural sites such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums.

How to Get to the Vatican City

There are several ways to get to Vatican City from different parts of Rome. You can take the Metro Line A and get off at the Ottaviano-San Pietro station. From there, it’s about a 5-minute walk to Vatican City. You can also take a bus to Vatican City.

Taxis are also an option but will be more expensive. We ended up doing a taxi because there were 8 of us and it was less chaotic than navigating public transportation with little ones.

How to Find the Vatican Museums Entrance

The Vatican Museums’ entrance is located at Viale Vaticano, on the north side of Vatican City. If you’re coming from St. Peter’s Square, you will need to walk around the Vatican walls to the right for about 10 minutes.

Image of a man and son walking to the Vatican Museums entrance in Italy
We walked from the taxi drop off to the Vatican Museums entrance. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Keep in mind the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel can only be visited by entering through the Vatican Museums, and it’s advised to buy tickets in advance to avoid long lines.

How to Find the St. Peter’s Basilica Entrance

The entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica is located right in St. Peter’s Square, facing the Basilica. The lines here can be quite long due to security checks, so it’s advised to arrive early.

Please note that entrance to the Basilica is free, but there are dress code requirements to be aware of, such as no shorts, bare shoulders, or miniskirts.

What are the Vatican Museums?

Before we went, I wasn’t really sure what the Vatican Museums consisted of. I think I went when I was in high school, but I have no recollection of the Vatican Museums.

Image of a boy looking at a statue in the Vatican Museum
We learned that this statue was the inspiration for The Last Judgment by Michelangelo. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The Vatican Museums are basically a collection of art museums within Vatican City that exhibit artworks and historical artifacts accumulated by the Roman Catholic Church over the centuries.

They are among the largest and most visited museums in the world.

Image of The ceiling of the Sala Rotonda in Vatican Museum
This dome ceiling is just a tiny bit smaller than the Pantheon. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The Vatican Museums’ vast collection includes a wide range of artworks, from ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary art.

The museums house thousands of works of art in over 50 galleries, including sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and other artifacts.

Image of the Vatican Museums Map Hallway
The ceiling in the Gallery of Maps was incredible! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Notable collections include the Collection of Modern Religious Art, the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, and the Pio-Clementine Museum.

One of the most famous parts of the Vatican Museums is the Sistine Chapel, known for its frescoes, including The Last Judgment by Michelangelo.

Other significant works by artists such as Raphael, Bernini, and Caravaggio can also be seen in the museums. Get skip-the-line tickets for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

Why is the Sistine Chapel Famous?

The Sistine Chapel is most famous for the extraordinary frescoes, painted by the luminaries of the Renaissance, with Michelangelo taking the spotlight.

Imagine Michelangelo, from 1508 to 1512, meticulously painting the chapel’s ceiling to create an awe-inspiring tapestry of nine scenes from Genesis, the most iconic being the “Creation of Adam.”

Michelangelo returned later in 1536-1541 to gift the chapel another masterpiece, “The Last Judgment” – a deeply moving portrayal of Christ’s second coming and the final judgment of humanity.

The chapel is also adorned with frescoes by other brilliant Renaissance artists like Botticelli, Perugino, and Ghirlandaio.

It’s one of the most famous pieces of art in the world and it’s been referenced in all types of movies and TV shows.

But it’s not all about art. The Sistine Chapel is also the sacred site where new Popes are chosen, infusing it with profound religious significance.

This blend of magnificent artistry and deep spiritual importance has sealed the Sistine Chapel’s fame over centuries. Get skip-the-line tickets.

What are the Top Things to See at St. Peter’s Basilica?

St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is one of the world’s most iconic religious buildings. It’s not just an architectural marvel but also houses an extraordinary collection of art, sculptures, and religious relics.

Image of the inside of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican
St. Peter’s Basilica is really ornate and detailed. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

You really could spend hours here if you wanted to check out all the stuff. But, I bet your kids would be happier to just see the highlights.

Here are some of the top things to see at St. Peter’s Basilica:

The Dome (Cupola)

Designed by Michelangelo, the dome is one of the world’s largest. It’s only 1 meter smaller than the Pantheon and just as impressive.

St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro)

Before you enter the basilica, take time to admire the stunning square with its massive colonnades and the central obelisk.

Pietà by Michelangelo

One of Michelangelo’s most famous sculptures, depicts the Virgin Mary holding the body of Jesus after the Crucifixion. It’s located immediately to the right as you enter the Basilica.

The Baldachin

This large bronze canopy over the high altar is a Baroque masterpiece designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It marks the spot where St. Peter is believed to be buried.

St. Peter’s Tomb

Below the Basilica, in the Vatican Grottoes, you can visit the final resting place of St. Peter and other popes.

The Statue of St. Peter

A popular sculpture where the foot of St. Peter is worn down due to the touch of millions of pilgrims over the centuries.

The Holy Door

This door is sealed from the inside and only opened during Holy Years (Jubilees) which generally occur every 25 years. It’s a symbol of opening oneself to salvation and mercy.

The Nave and Interior

The immense interior is adorned with beautiful mosaics, sculptures, and architectural details, including markings indicating the comparative sizes of other famous churches.

The Altar of the Chair of St. Peter

Another Bernini masterpiece, this altar features a monumental bronze throne encasing what is believed to be the chair of St. Peter.

Vatican Grottoes

These are a series of chapels and tombs beneath the Basilica, housing the remains of numerous Popes and sacred relics.

Honest Review of Visiting Vatican City with Kids

So, as I said before, I was a bit hesitant to bring my kids (ages 6 years old and 9 years old). We tour a lot of museums but I wasn’t sure if visiting Vatican City would hold their interest. I mean, it’s massive.

Image of four kids holding fans while sitting beneath a sign at the Vatican
I’m so glad we had fans so that the kids could cool off a bit! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We went in the middle of summer and it was PACKED. Plus there’s really only air conditioning in the Sistine Chapel and a few other spots. The rest of the rooms can get quite warm because of the weather and the crowds.

I’m so glad that we booked a private tour for our family because our tour guide was able to find a way for us to skip a line that would have been 90 minutes long.

Plus, she was in charge of booking Vatican tickets for our whole group, which was one less thing I had to stress about.

And she knew exactly where to find shady spots to sit, where to refill water bottles, the best restrooms, and all the rules so we could make sure not to break any.

Image of two kids folding paper airplanes at the Vatican
The kids may have turned the scavenger hunt sheets into paper airplanes during the tour. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

She even brought scavenger hunt sheets so that the kids were extra engaged in finding artwork throughout the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

If we had to wait in line at any point, I think our kids would have been really cranky because of the heat and the waiting.

Image of a mom and son inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican
My 6-year-old was pretty toast by the end of the tour. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

But, at the end of the tour, I asked my 9-year-old what he thought and he told me that he was glad to visit Vatican City and see both the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Best Vatican Tours for Families

Personally, I think families should go on the shortest tour they can find. The Vatican City can be super crowded (especially during high season) and it’s a lot of walking and waiting.

Skip-the-Ticket-Line Kids Fun Sistine Chapel & Vatican Tour

We’re huge fans of tours that are geared specifically to families and this one sounds like a winner. It’s 3 hours long and hits all the top spots but also has games and prizes. Check the latest rates and availability.

Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel Tour & Basilica Entry

This includes a guided tour with skip-the-line tickets to Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Plus you’ll get skip-the-line tickets for a self-guided tour of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Check the latest rates and availability.

Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel Official Guided Tour

If you’re not interested in touring Saint Peter’s Basilica, this is a great option. You’ll get skip-the-line tickets for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel with an official guide. Check the latest rates and availability.

Tips for Visiting the Vatican with Kids

Comply with the Vatican Dress Code

The Vatican has a strict dress code. Ensure everyone in the family is wearing clothing that covers their knees and shoulders.

Image of a tour guide and kids at the Vatican
We made sure everyone’s knees and shoulders were covered. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We ended up having all the boys wear pants and I wore a dress that covered my shoulders and knees. They do sell large scarves for people who need makeshift shawls or skirts to comply.

We did see quite a few kids who skated by the dress code but I just don’t think it’s worth the risk of being denied entry.

Learn a Few Vatican Facts for Kids

Here are a few interesting facts about Vatican City that kids might find interesting.

  • The Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world, both in terms of size and population.
  • The main church of the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, is one of the biggest churches in the world. It’s so big that the Statue of Liberty could fit inside it!
  • The Vatican Library is one of the oldest libraries in the world and has over 1.1 million books, 75,000 manuscripts, and over 8,000 incunabula (books printed before 1501 AD).
  • The Vatican City has no hospitals and therefore no citizen of the Vatican City has been born there. The citizens of Vatican City include the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, and the Swiss Guards.

Take a Tour (or at least get skip-the-line tickets)

Your kids will probably be bored walking around Vatican City if they don’t know what they are looking at. I highly recommend having a tour guide who can explain things to them.

The best tours of the Vatican will keep your kids interested in learning more about Catholicism or Italian history and culture.

Image of a tour guide and family inside a sculpture room in the Vatican Museum
We found a lot of value in having a tour guide for the Vatican. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

But, if your kids have already studied the Sistine Chapel or are familiar with St. Peter’s Basilica, you might be fine just getting skip-the-line tickets and letting them explore at their own pace.

Either way, you’ll want to book these in advance. They do sell out and you definitely don’t want to be standing in a long line for hours just to enter.

Bring Snacks

There are a few places outdoors where you can pull out a snack. I recommend doing this with kids of any age. It will help keep them energized but also minimize any crankiness.

Bring a Water Bottle

There are several water fountains in the Vatican City where you can refill your water bottle. It’s a great way to stay hydrated and beat the summer heat in Rome.

Vatican City FAQs

Can you tour the Vatican on your own?

Yes, you can tour the Vatican on your own. While it can be quite crowded, especially during peak times, it’s entirely possible to explore the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the surrounding areas at your own pace.

How much time do you need at the Vatican?

The amount of time you spend at the Vatican can vary depending on your interests, but a general guideline is to allow at least half a day.

If you want to explore the Vatican Museums thoroughly, including the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica, then 4-5 hours is a reasonable time.

If you’re including the Vatican Gardens or if you’re a serious art or history enthusiast, you might want to allow a full day.

Is it worth getting a tour for the Vatican?

Taking a guided tour can be worth it for several reasons. A knowledgeable guide can provide you with historical context, point out lesser-known facts, and help you navigate the vast museums.

Also, guided tours often offer skip-the-line privileges, which can save a lot of time. And sometimes they can bypass certain areas to also save you time.

However, if you prefer to explore at your own pace or have specific interests, a self-guided visit might be more enjoyable.

Can you visit the Vatican without a tour?

Absolutely. While guided tours can provide valuable insights, you’re free to visit the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, and other Vatican sites without a tour.

Why are there armed Vatican guards?

The armed guards you see in the Vatican are known as the Swiss Guard. Their role is to protect the Pope and the Vatican City. They’ve been serving the Papal States since the 16th century.

Despite their colorful Renaissance-style uniforms, they’re a fully trained and modern security force.

How much is the Vatican entrance fee?

It’s free to enter the Vatican City. Official Vatican tickets for the museums are cheapest if you book directly through the Vatican Museum. The tickets come out 60 days in advance but they can be tricky to get. I think it’s easiest to book a tour (private or group) because they will book Vatican tickets for you.

How many Vatican Museums are there?

The term “Vatican Museums” refers to a collection of different museums within Vatican City. It’s not a singular museum but a collection that includes the Sistine Chapel, the Pio-Clementino Museum, the Raphael Rooms, the Gregorian Egyptian Museum, and many others.

Can you tour the Vatican Gardens?

Yes, you can tour the Vatican Gardens. The Vatican Gardens can be visited only by guided tours, which need to be booked in advance.

Can you get tickets to be in the papal audience?

Yes, it’s possible to get tickets for a papal audience. These are free and usually require a reservation made in advance.

What’s in St. Peter’s Square?

St. Peter’s Square is a large plaza located in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It features an Egyptian obelisk at its center and two massive colonnades designed by Bernini, creating a welcoming gesture to visitors.

The square is used for papal audiences and holds a capacity of over 300,000 people.

How far is Vatican City from the Trevi Fountain?

The distance between Vatican City and the Trevi Fountain is about 2.3 miles (3.7 km) by road, depending on the route you take.

Is Vatican City a World Heritage Site?

Yes, Vatican City is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was added to the list in 1984, recognized for its extraordinary cultural and historical significance.

What are in the Raphael Rooms?

The Raphael Rooms (Stanze di Raffaello) are a suite of four rooms that were used as the residence of the popes from Julius II to Leo X. They are famous for their frescoes painted by Raphael and his workshop.

They showcase scenes from classical mythology, the Christian doctrine, and include portraits of contemporary popes and cardinals.

Vatican City with Kids Wrap Up

If you’re wondering about the worth of visiting the Vatican with kids, it’s safe to say that the cultural, historical, and artistic wealth of Vatican City offers an enriching experience for children and adults alike.

The vast collection of historical artifacts in the Vatican Museums, along with the awe-inspiring beauty of the Sistine Chapel, can be an incredible way to immerse your kids in the rich tapestry of global art and history.

A guided tour can help make the visit more child-friendly, breaking down complex narratives into fun and interesting stories, making learning more enjoyable.

But visiting the Vatican is not just limited to museums and the Sistine Chapel. The experience of being in Vatican City itself, with its impressive architectural feats and the sense of history, can spark curiosity in young minds.

Preparing your kids beforehand about what to expect, and turning the visit into a day of exploration and discovery can make the whole experience memorable.

So, is it worth visiting the Vatican with kids? Absolutely yes, for a deeply immersive cultural adventure.

Looking for more Rome family activities? Check out my top Rome travel tips, things to do in Rome with kids, how to become a gladiator for a day, where to stay in Rome with kids, how to book a Rome family photo shoot, how to spend 3 days in Rome with kids, how to spend 10 days in Italy with kids, tips for visiting Italy with kids, Europe travel tips, how to plan a trip to Italy, and best day trips from Rome!

Unlock Your Free eBook

Our exclusive eBook, Top 10 Unforgettable Family Adventure Destinations, is your ticket to a world of wonder and excitement. Get your free copy today!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.