With all eyes focused on Vatican City (and a certain seagull) for most of the day, it’s hard not to be a little curious about the world’s smallest independent state, tucked inside the cultural hub of Rome and packed with history and intrigue.
Today’s election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as Pope Francis I ushers in not only a new era in the Catholic Church but also renewed interest in travel to the always-intriguing Vatican City. This walled enclave — its own sovereign city-state since 1929 — is home to some of the world’s most famous artwork, from the Sistine Chapel to Michelangelo’s Pieta. You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the sheer splendor of Vatican City, but with so much history to take in, where can travelers begin a sightseeing journey?
Skip the lines, and check out these agencies that partner with the Vatican Museum to offer numerous tours.
Presto Tours: Vatican Tours
Another officially recognized partner of the Vatican Museums, this tour company will lead you on a journey through Vatican City. The best part? The sightseeing group is small — 16 guests or fewer are allowed on a tour.
Italy With Us
Daily tours, offered in English, begin at 8 a.m. Each tour covers the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and, when possible, Nicholas V chapel. Bring a friend or significant other — you’ll need a minimum of 2 people to book a tour.
Vatican Museums: Guided Tours
Take a 2-hour guided tour of the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel — but keep in mind the dress code: No sleeveless blouses, no miniskirts, no shorts and no hats allowed.
Vatican Guided Tour
Among the intriguing tours offered by this company is a journey through the Vatican’s catacombs. Also tour the Vatican Grottoes below the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica where many popes were laid to rest.
Fun fact: Vatican City is 1 of 3 independent city-states in the world — the other 2 are Monaco and Singapore.
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By Lisa Singh and Amanda DiGiondomenico