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Visiting the Vatican with Kids

Visiting the Vatican with Kids

Are you planning on visiting the Vatican with kids? The Vatican certainly should be on your Rome Bucket list but given the size and contents of this amazing place it can be a little challenging with kids. But don’t fear in this guide we will tell you exactly how to enjoy the Vatican City with kids from top tips for visiting and the best Vatican tour with kids.

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Should I Visit the Vatican with Kids?

Family at Vatican City - Rome itinerary with family / Visiting the Vatican with Kids

Family at Vatican City – Rome itinerary with family / Visiting the Vatican with Kids

But before we get into our tips for visiting the Vatican with kids, first we thought it is worth asking should you visit the Vatican with kids?

The Vatican City is a truly spectacular place, however the museums and buildings were not arranged with children in mind. 

Therefore, I would say that the time you decide to spend in the Vatican and the bits you decide to visit really depend on the season you are visiting, the age of your children and what you want to get out of your visit to the Vatican City. 

Also you need to prepare your family for the crowds at the Vatican City. Even when we have visited the Vatican on quiet days in Winter we have found the queues to be crazy and they will often snake from the entrance into the main square. 

Crowds at the Vatican

Crowds at the Vatican

And if you are visiting the Vatican in Summer you also need to prepare for the heat too!

Therefore we advise you to assess what you want to see and do at the Vatican with kids, and plan for making it entertaining for children where you can. 

Keep reading for more information on how to do this in the section below.

Visiting the Vatican with kids Tips and Tricks

Which Bit of the Vatican should I visit with kids?

Now when people think of the Vatican City they think of it as one large place. However there are lots of different areas at the Vatican City, and you can visit as few or as many of them as you want. 

The main areas that make up most tourists visit to the Vatican are:

  • St Peters Square
  • The Basilica
  • The Dome of the Basilica and 
  • the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. 

Now, many people want to visit each of these sections of the Vatican, however my first tip is to consider what you actually want to see and what will be fun for you as a parent and as child when you visit. 

St Peters Square

Family at the Vatican - Visiting the Vatican with Kids

Family at the Vatican – Visiting the Vatican with Kids and toddlers

St Peters Square is the easiest part of the Vatican City to visit with children for several reasons. 

This area is easiest because there is no queuing to get into this section so it is easy to visit even with toddlers. 

Also this area is one of the few large open spaces in the Vatican so the crowds don’t feel quite as oppressive here as they do in other areas of the Vatican.  

If you don’t want to head around other parts of the Vatican, I would still recommend visiting this section as it is really fun to say you have been to a different “Country” while in Italy. Kids love the fact they have easily visited another country without even having to do a proper border crossing. 

We usually walk to St Peters Square however if it is hot and you would prefer to get there by another method of transport we recommend looking for bus numbers

The buses stopping closest to St Peter square are 23, 34, 40, 46, 62, 64, 98, 881, 916, 982 or tram 19 which are all stops within walking distance to St Peters Square. The Vatican is also a stop on most of the hop on hop off buses that run around Rome. 

If you are traveling with slightly older children to the Vatican, it is worth showing them the optical illusion that Bernini created in the square. 

There are markings on the floor and if you stand on these spots you will be able to see some of the columns of St Peter disappear. 

If you are traveling to Italy with toddlers, then I personally would recommend sticking to this area only rather than attempting the climb to the top of the dome and the museums and chapels. 

The Basilica

Family at the Vatican - Visiting the Vatican with Kids and toddlers

Family at the Vatican – Visiting the Vatican with Kids and toddlers

The basilica is the main church of the Vatican City. It is also free to enter however you will queue for the privilege of going inside. 

The queue can get very long and hot if you are. visiting in Summer. If you are visiting with kids we advise heading to the Basilica first thing in the morning to try and beat the crowds and heat. 

Also please note that any visitor to the Vatican will have to pass through security and you will need to make sure you have nothing in your bags that is prohibited such as glass. Also please note that strollers are meant to be checked at security before entering the Basilica itself. 

Also remember that the Vatican has a strict dress code which needs to be adhered to.

Basilica Dome 

Vatican Dress Code: What to Wear to the Vatican for Women, Men and Children

Vatican Dress Code: What to Wear to the Vatican for Women, Men and Children

The St Peter’s Dome is something fun to do with kids in the Vatican City but only older ones. 

The Dome offers some of the best views of Rome and the Vatican City but you need to climb a lot of steps to get there as there is no elevator. 

The steps to get up to the dome are uneven and the corridor to get up really narrows so it would not be comfortable to do while babywearing.

For this reason we only really recommend for children aged 10 and above who can manage the steps to get to the top. 

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

When most people think about visiting the Vatican they think about visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. But is the Vatican kid friendly in this area? 

The museums were not designed with children in mind so there are no interactive exhibits or opportunities for hands on learning which you find in other kid friendly museums. 

The museum is adjacent to the basilica but requires a separate ticket and queue to get in. 

Also it is worth noting that a highlight for Many people is seeing the Sistine Chapel but this has some of the strictest rules in the Vatican. For instance photography is not permitted but also you should remain quiet in this area which can be hard for children. 

Overall I would say I would only attempt all of the areas of the Vatican with teenagers, and if you are visiting the Vatican with toddlers or infants I would stick o the Basilica and the square. 

So now you know what to expect from each area of the Vatican here are the rest of our tips. 

Best Time to Visit the Vatican with kids

Visiting Rome in the Winter Itinerary - Best Things to do in Rome in Winter

Basilica of Saint Peter in Vatican at winter christmas night

Now when you are looking at the best time of year to visit the Vatican, it is largely the same as the best time to visit Rome and Italy as a whole. 

Italy in the summer can get some scorching hot temperatures which can make queuing outside of the Basilica and square very uncomfortable especially for children. 

Winter is a very special time of year in the Vatican and I love seeing the Christmas tree in the main square, which makes it my favorite time to visit. 

However if you can’t visit in winter then we recommend visiting in the shoulder seasons of Fall and Spring as the temperatures are far more pleasant. 

However whatever time of year you visit we think the best time to visit the Vatican with kids is first thing on the morning. This way you can try and beat both the crowds and the heat. 

We also recommend trying to avoid Sundays.

It may be tempting to visit the Vatican Museums on one of the free Sundays but if traveling with little and you can afford to then I would recommend avoiding these days.  The crowds at the Vatican are huge at any time but on free Sundays they are so busy that it isn’t an easy place to navigate with kids!

What Ticket to Buy for the Vatican Museums with Kids

If you do decide that you want to visit the Vatican Museums with kids then I strongly recommend you buy tickets that have skip the line entry. 

Timed entrance tickets are great for reducing the time your family has to wait in the heat to get inside the museums. 

Best Vatican Tours with Kids 

However if you are visiting the Vatican with kids and can afford it I would heartily recommend that you book a private guided tour of the Vatican. 

The Vatican Museums are not very kid friendly so having a family friendly tour guide can really help bring things to life for them. 

One of the most popular companies that offers family friendly Vatican tours is LivTours. 

They do a scavenger hunt type tour of the Vatican that kids absolutely adore and is more fun that wandering around on your own. 

However there are lots of tours designed specifically for families out there. Click here for more information. 

FAQs about Visiting the Vatican with kids

Can I Visit the Vatican with toddlers?

Yes you can absolutely visit the Vatican with toddlers however I would advise choosing the area carefully. 

Due to the fact that you can’t take a stroller into the museum or use while going up the dome I would recommend sticking to the square and basilica. 

The crowds are more manageable here and the queues are not so long. Also these areas are free to visit do you aren’t worrying about wasting money if your little one gets bored. 

Also if you are visiting the Basilica then only small bags can be taken inside! So remember to pack a small kit for diaper changes for when inside the complex!

Should I use Carrier or Stroller in the Vatican?

If you are travelling with a little to Rome and the Vatican one of the first things you will want to know is whether you should bring your stroller or a carrier!

The grounds of the Vatican are extensive and given the volume of crowds a carrier might be advisable/ T

here are also lots of steps in and around the Vatican which can make manoevring a stroller difficult and in other areas strollers are not permitted i.e. Sistine Chapel and basilica. 

We took a stroller with us as last time we visited but  we didn’t go into the museums, however we had to leave the stroller in free designated stroller parking before we could enter the St Peters basilica itself!

If you are visiting the Vatican with a carrier then I would recommend buying one designed for hot weather! You can check out our guide to the best hot weather baby carriers here!  

Are kids allowed at the Vatican?

Yes kids are absolutely allowed at the Vatican however it is worth noting that the Vatican is not designed with kids in mind. 

For this reason we recommend sticking to the Basilica and Square with toddlers and doing the dome and museum with older children.

Are kids free at the Vatican?

For more information on visiting Rome with toddlers or indeed the rest of Italy with toddlers be sure to check out these posts.

What are your biggest tips for visiting Vatican with kids? 

Angharad Paull

Wednesday 10th of April 2019

Fantastic tips! This is exactly the sort of practical advice I like to know before hitting a tourist area with kiddos, thanks for sharing :) #fearlessfamtrav

Nicky@Go Live Young

Sunday 7th of April 2019

Some great tips here. Sounds like a guide is the way to go #fearlessfamtrav

Jenny - TraveLynn Family

Wednesday 3rd of April 2019

I'd never thought about getting a guide to get the early morning access. Brilliant! #fearlessfamtrav


Tuesday 2nd of April 2019

Great tips! Sounds like we should definitely hire a guide when we visit with our kids. I do remember from pre-kids how enormous the Vatican Museums are! #fearlessfamtrav

Lauren (Where the Wild Kids Wander)

Monday 1st of April 2019

Some great tips! it's good to know that a guide is worth it! #fearlessfamtrav