Visiting the Vatican with Kids

March 8, 2013 by

Travel Tips

Gelato breaks help keep kids energized during a Vatican City visit.

No visit to Rome is really complete without a trip to Vatican City, the smallest independent city-state on earth. But when the main attractions at the Vatican are its immense collection of art and artifacts and its stunning basilica, it’s easy to see how parents may need a little help to make the day more interesting for the kids. Certainly, you’ll be the best judge of how much you’ll need to tailor the day to your kids, depending on their ages and levels of patience with museums. Regardless of your kids’ temperament, however, here are some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind if you’re visiting the Vatican with kids.

Waiting is Boring

No matter how patient your kids are, if you spend hours waiting in line just to get into the Vatican Museums, you’re wasting precious energy in line that you won’t be able to reclaim once you get into the museum. The most important thing you can do for your kids (and your sanity) is make sure you don’t wait in that line. The Vatican website offers the option to buy tickets in advance, with a specific timed entry on a particular day, so that you just walk up to the museum entry rather than waiting in the line to purchase tickets. You can also book a spot on a guided tour of Vatican City that includes your entry to the museums. Keep reading to find out why the latter option is a particularly good idea if you’re traveling with kids.

Kid-Focused Tour Guides are Awesome

Just because you bypass the line doesn’t mean all that art and old stuff in the Vatican Museums are going to be remotely interesting to your kids, which is where a great tour guide comes in. Booking a family-friendly tour of Vatican City means you’ll get a guide who can put the sights in context for your kids, thereby holding their interest for longer periods of time and giving you a chance to appreciate what you’re looking at rather than constantly dealing with bored children. Plus, being on a guided tour also gives you a timed entry allowing you to skip the ticket line.

Bribery Works

You’d be smart to start your Vatican City visit first thing in the morning, when everyone’s energy is high, and to plan a seriously kid-oriented activity for the afternoon. Would your kids get a kick out of a 3-D ride about Ancient Rome? How about a night-time ghost tour of Rome? Or maybe they want to go to Roman Gladiator School? Maybe just knowing there will be several gelato stops later in the day is enough to keep your kids going!

- Jessica Spiegel

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