Visiting the Vatican is a highlight of any trip to Rome – even more so because this tiny city-state is easy to see in a half-day or so. That is, as long as you don’t plan to see the entirety of the Vatican Museums. The Vatican collections are so vast you’d need weeks inside the museums to see everything. That’s not the only admonishment to keep in mind when visiting the Vatican, however. Here is a list of some other important DON’Ts in Vatican City.
Don’t Show Too Much Skin
Perhaps the biggest example of what not to do at the Vatican is the one about what to wear. If you’re not wearing proper attire, you won’t even be allowed in the museums and basilica, so this is something to be aware of even before you leave your hotel room in the morning. The Vatican City dress code means there can be no bare shoulders, knees or midriffs on display – and that goes for men and women.
Don’t Take Photographs in the Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is still a holy place that’s in use on certain occasions, and, like in many churches, photographs are not allowed inside. Don’t try to be clever and snap a photo anyway, because that just makes you an impolite guest in someone else’s country. Buy a postcard from a shop instead, since that will be a thousand times better than anything you could get with your iPhone anyway.
Don’t Wait in Line
Some of the longest museum lines in Italy are often in front of the Vatican Museums, but you don’t have to suffer that fate. Book a reserved entry time online in advance to skip the line, or book a spot on a “Skip the Line” tour of Vatican City. With the latter, you get the benefit of a knowledgeable tour guide in addition to the ability to waltz past the seemingly never-ending queue.
Don’t Forget to Plan Ahead
It’s not just the Vatican Museums that are a more pleasant experience if you plan ahead – visits to the Vatican Gardens and Vatican Necropolis must also be booked in advance. Showing up the day of your visit and expecting to get into these popular sights without a reservation is a risk that’s not worth taking.
Don’t Be Disrespectful
This should be a maxim no matter where you go, but in particular in a place like the Vatican that’s considered holy for many millions of people around the world. Whether or not you believe the things espoused by the Pope, you’re in his house when you’re in the Vatican, and it’s only fair that you behave like a proper guest.