Are you planning a family trip to Rome? Rome is filled with lots of things to do with kids. For most visitors to Rome, a day in the Vatican, the smallest state in the world, is an absolute must. St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums house some of the most precious and awe-inspiring works of art in history and are appreciated throughout all the world. That’s why, visiting them in high season, coping with crowds, can be a very daunting experience for every kid.
Here you can find 5 child-friendly tips to visit the Vatican to make the most out of your experience.
1# Enter St. Peter’s Basilica and climb its Dome
St. Peter’s is the largest Basilica in Rome, the seat and symbol of Catholic worship. Once inside, you’ll be enraptured by the magnificence of its central nave, enriched with decorations by Bernini. In the first chapel on the right, you’ll admire the enchanting Pietà by Michelangelo. Continuing towards the altar, gazing at the beautiful mausoleums of the popes of the past, you’ll reach the space below the dome to admire the monumental canopy of St. Peter’s made by Bernini.
St. Peter’s Dome is huge and its historical significance overwhelms adults and children alike: it soars 130 meters in the sky with an internal diameter of about 42 meters. Among the things to do in Rome with kids, climbing the Dome is an experience you really have to do once in a lifetime. They will gaze out a magnificent view from above, that stretch across the horizon and covering St. Peter’s Square, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Tiber River. From here, the children will have an 360-degree overview of the city and the streets where they walked before, down there.
2# Book skip-the-line tickets
Standing in line before entering St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums is boring for everybody, and for children it can be a real tragedy! Probably you are already aware that visiting top-class landmarks comes with suffocating crowds and waiting times, especially on holidays when travelers from all over the world flock to Rome. For this reason, the best way to start a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum is to avoid the queues at the entrance with a priority entry ticket, called skip-the-line ticket. Another good option is to buy timed-entry tickets, which give you access to the museum at a set time. Get to the entrance with the kids, skip the line, and start your exploration!
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3# Give your children binoculars in the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel
Give your kids the opportunity to stare upwards to the ceiling, walls and discover its details: it’s an exceptional way to involve them and keep them engaged. The Sistine Chapel is the place where popes are elected, it was commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV and is world-famous for Michelangelo’s frescoes. To reach the Sistine we will walk through the upper galleries of the Vatican Museum that displays ancient Roman statues, ancient tapestries and geographical maps of Italy in the 16th century. Here, you can give your children binoculars and make them count the “putti” or other mythological figures, and whoever spots the strangest ones earns a gelato!
4# Rely on a child-friendly and thematic guided tour
It’s the most important tip that we can give you, and we promise, it’s not a marketing strategy. Everyone could advocate for it: it’s better to visit the Vatican with a guide than alone, you can save money and time! Especially with children. After having toured the Vatican over the years, we know firsthand where to bring you and what to show you. Our Vatican tours with kids are led specifically by our specialists as well as art and history experts. Museum guides are undoubtedly the best people to illustrate the importance of beautiful masterpieces such as the “Pietà” by Michelangelo, the ancient Laocoön statue group and Raphael’s rooms and make them more child-friendly!
5# A treasure hunt through the galleries
The Vatican houses 26 different art galleries hosting the most world-famous works of art: the Vatican Museums boast a wide collection that spans from ancient Rome and Egyptian artifacts, till modern art. The best ones are not to miss: usually, these are clearly indicated on the museum maps given away at the entrance, but you could also create a personalized tour with your guide. Choose a few masterpieces and organize a treasure hunt for the children: when they have found them all, let them choose a prize at the museum gift store (or why not, a good slice of pizza just outside!).