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Vatican Dress Code: A What to Wear Guide

Vatican Dress Code: A What to Wear Guide

If you are heading to Rome chances are that visiting the Vatican is on your Rome Bucket List and you really can dedicate a whole day in your Rome itinerary to exploring the Vatican Museums, St Peters Basilica and the surrounding area. But is there a Vatican Dress Code? In this post we will guide you through what to wear to the Vatican and more importantly what not to wear!

Vatican Dress Code: What NOT To Wear to the Vatican 

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

There is a strict dress code for visiting the Vatican which includes if you are visiting the Vatican Museums and St Peters Basilica. 

The Vatican Dress Code means that you can’t wear:

  • Sleeveless tops, shirts and blouses
  • Low Cut and Revealing Tops 
  • Shorts 
  • Miniskirts
  • Hats  – these are fine for the queue but you will be asked to remove them when entering the buildings. 

This Vatican Dress Code is applicable to both men and women so do be sure to dress appropriately whatever part of the Vatican you are heading to otherwise you will not be granted entry even with Skip the Line Tickets.

Top Tip: We recommend buying your tickets online in advance (skip the line type) as the queues for the Vatican can get very very long especially if you are visiting Rome in the summer or even on a rainy day in Rome. Click here to buy your tickets online in advance

Although not explicitly stated anywhere it is respectful and prudent to also avoid wearing t-shirts with graphics or slogans that would be offensive to the holy place you are in. 

What to Wear in to the Vatican 

What to Wear to the Vatican - Vatican Dress Code

So now you know what not to wear to the Vatican now we turn our attention to what to wear. As I mentioned above the Vatican dress code applies to both men and women but for our what to wear I have split those down into categories for men, women and children visiting the Vatican

Vatican dress code for women

As your arms, chest and knees need to be covered one of the best things to wear that adheres to the Vatican Dress code for women is a chino and blouse combination. I recommend choosing light weight (But not see through) fabric for both of these items especially if you are visiting the Vatican in the summer time. 


Another of my favourite wardrobe go to pieces when I am travelling to Italy and the Vatican in particular is a long sleeved maxi dress or a maxi skirt paired with a long sleeved top.. Just be sure to make sure any skirt you have does not have a large split that could reveal your knee. 


If you opt for a maxi dress or top that has a strappy sleeve then you are required to cover up so remember to pack a cardigan or a pashmina to go over the top. I always try and wear long sleeves rather than scrappy top personally because I always worry that I will forget my pashmina or scarf at last minute. 


A good general tip for visiting Rome especially if you are going into to churches however is to always leave a pashmina in your bag that way you always have an option of an extra covering if required. They are also really handy as even in summer it is surprising how cool the St Peters Basilica can be. 

Vatican dress code for men

Both my husband and I are jeans and t shirt people especially when we are travelling but for some reason whenever we go to the Vatican we always seems to dress up a bit more. I don’t know why it’s not that jeans are not allowed but as always in Italy you are surrounded by well dressed people so we usually opt for something slightly fancier ourselves. 


When my husband visits the Vatican he too tends to opt for Chinos and a smart button down shirt that has the option of rolling up the sleeves. 

What to wear in the Vatican for kids

The Vatican Museum Website is not explicit about its dress code requirements for children. Last time we visited the Vatican with our little one it was in Winter so we had no concerns about adhering to the dress code. I personally always dress my little one to the adult dress code whenever we visiting religious sites. 

For more information on visiting the Vatican with kids check out this post.

What Shoes Should you Wear to the Vatican City

One of the most frequently asked questions I see about visiting the Vatican City is in relation to footwear. 

Can you wear flip flops in the Vatican?

In answer to “Can you wear flip flops in the Vatican” and the answer is unclear. It is meant to be too informal to wear flip flops to the Vatican although I haven’t seen this specifically stated by the vatican website as this tends to only deal with clothing clothing. However I would strongly advise against wearing flip flops anyway as there is a LOT of walking involved if you are visiting the Vatican Museums, Basilica and Gardens and flip flops are just not good for the amount of walking you all be doing. 

I would advise you wear sandals with good arch support and that are very comfy or a trainer or walking shoe. Whenever I am in Rome and especially at the Vatican I always carry plasters with me in case my shoes rub with all the walking especially if your feet are prone to swell in the summer heat.

What to wear to the Vatican in Summer

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

I have been lucky enough to visit Rome in Winter and summer and I can definitely say that I found it easier to stick to the Vatican dress code in the Winter as you need your layers in Rome in Winter. In summer on the other hand, especially if you are visiting Rome in August it can get unbearably hot. All you want to wear in Rome in the summer is shorts and a strappy top but this does not adhere to the Vatican Dress code. 

If you are visiting and wondering what to wear to the Vatican in the summer I advise sticking to loose clothing that are made of breathable fabrics. Stick to cottons and linens for your clothes and be sure to avoid all man made fabrics that make you sweat. 

Dresses and skirts are another good option so long as your knees and shoulders are covered. Be sure that any dress or skirt does not have a slit that reveals the knee or above. 

And although the weather in Rome in summer is very hot the Basilica of St Peter can actually can be quite cool even in the summer so be sure to pack a pashmina or cardigan as you may get chilly in there. 

Other FAQs about what to Wear Visiting the Vatican

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

Can you wear ripped jeans to Vatican?

The answer to this is that it really depends on the rips. If there are rips that expose your knees or your thighs then these are a big no no. To be on the safe side I would avoid ripped jeans. 

Can you wear skinny jeans to the Vatican?

Again the answer to can you wear skinny jeans to the Vatican is a grey area. There is nothing specific in the Vatican Dress Code that prohibits skinny jeans but I always try to err on the more conservative side when visiting religious sites anywhere in the world. 

Do you have to wear pants to the Vatican?

You do not have to wear pants to the Vatican (I mean pants in the American sense of the word! You definitely should be wearing underwear to the Vatican). So long as your knees and above are completely covered you can wear a dress or skirt instead of pants. If you do opt for a dress or skirt however be sure there are no slits that are revealing of your leg. 

How strict is the dress code at the Vatican?

The answer is strict. The Vatican Dress code is strictly enforced. But if you forget something there are lots of shops around where you can buy shawls and ponchos. It wis harder to find things to cover your legs than shoulders in this area though so I would be sure to check your outfit before you leave for the Vatican to make sure it adheres to all the Vatican Clothing rules. 

Do your knees need to be covered at the Vatican?

Ues your needs need to be covered at the Vatican at all times. Be aware any slits in skirts or dreseses or on ripped jeans which may accidentally break the Vatican dress code rules as you will be turned away. 

Do you have to cover your head in the Vatican?

There seems to be a lot of confusion over whether you have to cover your heard in the Vatican but for the regular visitor the answer is definitely no. In fact if you are wearing a hat you will have to remove these to enter any of the Vatican Buildings. 

Vatican Dress Code: What to Wear to the Vatican