Traveling to the Vatican with kids is a good idea, but comes with caveats. The city-state that is just 15-minutes away from the center of Rome, Italy, and is the smallest country in the world, but can be a little crowded for kids. But it is definitely a great place to let the kids appreciate the Vatican’s religion, culture, arts, and architecture. The Vatican is kid-friendly. There are just some cautions and things to remember before you pack your things and head to the Pontiff’s country.
Before we get to where you should take the little ones, please take note of these friendly reminders first.
Plan your itinerary. Moving around the Vatican with kids can be a tasking job for parents with very young toddlers or infants, so I highly recommend properly planning your visit to this city-state. Planning means making sure that you have everything covered before you leave your home. It will be convenient for you if your kids are old enough to endure the long walks and long wait time.
Sign up for a guided tour. If you can avoid visiting during the “Free Sundays,” please do so. Save yourselves the hassle of going around places with the crowd. Free Sundays would mean free entry to some attractions;therefore, jam-packed attendance is expected. So consider getting guided tours to bypass the regular lines.
Know when to visit. Summer can be the best time to visit the Vatican, but any time of the year is still fine. There are plenty of tour companies that provide excellent service all-year-round to help you plan your itinerary with ease. Plan ahead and book the early morning or late evening tours, which maybe a bit more expensive than the usual tours, but will definitely be worth it. You can save more energy and the kids will be able to truly appreciate the place, the food, and the art more conveniently.
Dress appropriately. While you may be ready to flaunt your new travel clothes for some OOTD (Outfit of the day), make sure that you pack the appropriate clothes and that they are suitable for the places you will be visiting. Places in the Vatican follow a strict modest clothing rule. One tip from me is to wear clothes that cover your and your kids knees and shoulders. Adherence to this simple rule will make your trip hassle free.
Lastly, fill up your tummies first. Though there are a number of restaurants in the city that serve good food, do not fall into the trap of having to look for places to eat while on the road, and eventually wasting time in the process. Aside from saving energy and money, eating first before you start your tour will give you that extra energy for the expected long walks. Pack a light snack for the kids as well, in case they get hungry.
If you list those things down and keep them in mind on your vacation to the Vatican, then touring around the city should be hassle free. Now, let’s get into the real deal. To make your trip even more convenient, here is the list of the top places where you can take your kids in the city of the Pope.
1. Sistine Chapel
If there is only one thing you have to see in Vatican City with kids, that better be the world-renowned and impressively beautiful Sistine Chapel located in the Apostolic Palace, which is the official residence of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope. Aside from the chapel itself, the attractions that draw both tourists and pilgrims into Sistine are the chapel’s ceiling painted with High Renaissance frescoes by the Italian painter Michelangelo and the Last Judgment, another fresco by the same Renaissance painter.
2. St. Peter’s Basilica
Aside from Sistine Chapel, the Papal Basilica of St. Peter or most commonly known as St. Peter’s Basilica, is one of the world’s most beautiful churches, and undeniably one of a kind that you wouldn’t want to miss during your tour of the Vatican with kids. An interesting fact is that this Italian Renaissance church is built on top of the tomb of St. Peter’s, the first Pope. The church is also dotted with statues of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, and other works of art. Visiting the church will not cost you an entrance fee, but be mindful that the lines may be long.
3. St. Peter’s Square
Fronting St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most famous public squares in the world, St. Peter’s Square. The square is always filled with crowd of the faithful and tourists, so extra caution is needed when visiting with the little ones. Among the things that the kids will love in the square are the beautiful fountains, the Swiss guards who are very much recognizable by their armor and colorful Renaissance-era uniforms, and the Egyptian obelisk with its own rich history.
4. Vatican Museums
Your trip to Vatican City with kids will not be complete without a visit to the Vatican Museum, the fifth largest art museum in the world. The cluster of museums include the Christian Museum, Jewish Lapidarium, Ethnological Museum, and many more.
5. Raphael Rooms
Another attraction that the kids who have eyes for art will love is Raphael Rooms, which is located in one of Vatican Museums’ galleries. There are four rooms that make up the famous Raphael Rooms. These rooms are adorned with High Renaissance works of art by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino or simply Raphael. The painter’s frescoes, along with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel’s frescoes, are among the grand fresco sequences that can be found in Vatican City.
6. Gardens of Vatican City
Vatican Gardens are private urban gardens and parks that cover more than half of the entire city-state. If you are one of the lucky ones who will be allowed to access the gardens through guided tours, you will see 16 Marian images venerated worldwide designated by the Pope such as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of the Watch, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Our Lady of Penafrancia.
This article is part of our popular series, Place To Go With Kids!