Unless you want to walk for an hour, the bus (64) is probably your best option to get into Vatican City. It will get you there from the city center in about a half an hour. Once you arrive, you will go through security check. I’ve read that the Vatican is super strict on dress code, meaning no bare knees or shoulders. But I’m not entirely sure if it’s the whole city itself, or just the church. Either way, you probably don’t want to risk it. I’m sure you would want to optimize your time and not be denied just because you were wearing a skimpy outfit.
After that, just ask someone where the museums are (if that’s your first stop). Otherwise, it’s pretty hard to find. If you bought tickets online ahead of time, not only do you get to jump ahead of the massive line, but you can also breeze past anyone trying to sell you overpriced tickets, promising you to skip the wait. (And no, the Vatican Museums are not a part of the Roma pass) It’s an extra 4 Euros to book online but that extra money was definitely worth it. It looked like a 2 hour wait. You can also use your student discount online. Just make sure you have a valid student ID the day that you pick up your tickets. Most student discounts that I’ve found in Italy only apply if you’re UNDER 26. It’s not 26 AND under. That can be confusing. But for the Vatican, as long as you look around that age and you have a valid form of identification, they’ll give you the discount. They aren’t that strict in that sense. BUT, I also think it depends on who’s working the ticket booth that day. If you happen to get a douchebag on the same day you try to pass your 30-year-old self (and no I’m nowhere near 30 yet, just for the record) off as a 19-year-old, beer chugging university student, then you might just be shit out of luck. You won’t get the discounted student ticket (12 Euros) that you have already paid for online, and then you’ll have to pay for a full priced ticket (20 Euros).
You’ll need an entire day at the Vatican Museums. Or at least a half a day. They don’t mess aroun. There are 54 galleries and they’re all included in your ticket price. It’s like a maze/treasure hunt. Every time you think you’re at a dead end, you’ll find that there’s another room for you to explore.
After roaming through endless hallways of sculptures, statues and paintings, you’ll finally find what you came to Vatican City for. The Sistine Chapel. Arguably, Michelangelo’s greatest work. The famed finger touch, or the Creation of Adam. However, you can’t take any pictures inside of the chapel. But me? I like to live life on the wild side. Break the rules. Go against the grain. (and whatever other idiom/cliche about not conforming to the norm that you can think of). Yeah…I took a picture. I took a couple of pictures of Mikey’s painting.
(and by the way, by living life on the wild side, I really meant that I took a ‘selfie’ of the ceiling while pretending to be checking my phone. Not so wild after all, I guess)
They have at least five people in each corner “policing” this. And I use the term “policing” loosely because most of the guards were not even paying attention. They were all just talking and laughing amongst themselves. You would have thought they were at a pub, just after getting into their third drink. So I guess there really was no reason for me to be such a chicken about stealing a shot.
But why can’t you take pictures? Of course, there’s that whole flash-ruins-the-artwork theory and yada, yada, yada. But I’ve read that the real reason is a copyright issue.
Do you know what else I read? That if you plan to go on a Wednesday, which is also when there is a Papal Audience, (“held on most Wednesday mornings at 10:30am either in St. Peter’s Square or in the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall (or in August at Castel Gandolfo). The audiences are not Masses, but are times set aside for pilgrims and visitors to listen to the Pope and receive his apostolic blessing.”) that you should go to the museums first and then head to San Pietro afterwards. Then, all the crowds would be in the museum while you visit the church, thus avoiding a sea full of people.
Boy was I wrong. We were about to head to St. Peter’s Basilica after the Vatican museums at about noon, and there was a crazy long line to get in. Apparently, there’s some sort of a secret side entrance that you can sneak into and avoid the line entirely. But since none of my friends nor I were that interested in waiting or seeing the church, we decided to just snap a few pictures outside and invest our time elsewhere.
Our time was invested in the Castel Sant’Angelo (probably about a 20 minute walk from San Pietro but they’re both still in the same vicinity). We didn’t go inside either but sometimes, it’s just nice to have a few photo ops outside. I guarantee that all of this will take up most of your day, so you will definitely want to set aside that time for it.