The Vatican Gardens are some of the most beautiful most exclusive gardens in Rome.
To visit them, you need to plan ahead. Here's how.
If you're wondering whether you should try to fit in a visit to the Vatican Gardens, or are even wondering what they are, let me tell you - they are so worth visiting!
It's never crowded, as they only accept a few reservations every day they are open.
And be prepared for views of Saint Peter's Basilica unlike any other.
To visit the gardens at the Vatican, here's what you need to know:
On your visit to these gardens, you will see beautifully curated mini-gardens . . .
. . . fountains and sculptures . . .
. . . a harmonious balance of trees, bushes, and flowers along delightful shaded walkways . . .
. . . stunning views of St. Peter's dome from almost every angle . . .
. . . and important holy sites, such as the Grotta di Lourdes, a replica of the Lourdes Grotto in France.
The history of the Vatican stretches back thousands of years, and to know everything about this incredible micro-state would take a lifetime to learn.
With this eBook, discover the brief history of Vatican City - where it got its name, who built the basilica, where the Popes are buried and more!
Topics covered include:
What else is included in this Brief History of Vatican City e-book?
When you book your walking or bus tour of the Vatican Gardens, your ticket will allow you entry to the Vatican Museums, which includes the Sistine Chapel.
(It does not include a guided tour of the museums, though.)
This is one fantastic way to skip the line at the Vatican Museums.
You not only get exclusive entry with no waiting, but you will have seen the special gardens that most visitors never get to see.
Some very important things to note about your Vatican Gardens ticket and entry to the Vatican Museums:
If you book a tour of the Vatican Gardens through the Vatican website, you will get entrance to the Vatican Museums.
As I mentioned above, this part of the visit does NOT include a guided tour of the museums, which means that you will NOT be able to take the shortcut from the Sistine Chapel to Saint Peter's Basilica.
This shortcut is only available to people on a guided tour, when that tour includes the basilica.
You can't just take the shortcut on your own.
There is currently no tour that includes the Vatican Gardens + Saint Peter's Basilica with the shortcut.
Entry to Saint Peter's Basilica is free, but you will have to leave the Vatican Museums and go into the basilica from the front.
This means waiting in line and going through security again.
There is no "skip the line" ticket for Saint Peter's Basilica as the site is free, but everyone must go through security.
For ways to skip the line at the basilica, visit my page about St. Peter's Basilica here.
There are actually two "Vatican Gardens."
The gardens right behind St. Peter's Basilica, are the most famous and most popular.
There are also the gardens at the Papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, just half hour outside Rome.
There, you can visit the Pontifical Palace, and see the pope's private Barberini gardens, which were opened to the public only in 2014 by Pope Francis.
You can visit either of the gardens, right at the Vatican, or at Castel Gandolfo, or, you can see them both in one day.
This fantastic full-day tour takes you to the Vatican Museums + Sistine Chapel, then the Gardens in Rome, and then to Castel Gandolfo where you will enjoy a delicious lunch.*
*Please note you do not have a guide with you on the train to and from Castel Gandolfo.
The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome
Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.
In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Castel Sant'Angelo, and much more.
And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.
Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.
A visit to the Vatican Gardens can take 2-3 hours or a full day, depending on how you choose to visit:
The guided walking tour of the gardens alone will take 1.5 hours.
Then, your ticket allows entry to the Vatican Museums, where you will visit on your own.
Normally this visit takes around 2 hours.
If you book the Gardens + Museums combo guided tour, they say it takes 3 hours, which means they go at a fairly steady pace.
If you plan to visit St. Peter's Basilica, add at least an hour + the time to get to the basilica and wait in line.
The bus tour of the gardens is 45 minutes.
It does not stop and you cannot get off.
This is a shorter tour, but can be ideal for anyone with walking issues.
Then, add the option of the Vatican Museums (about 2 hours) so count on at least 3 hours.
Book your Vatican Gardens bus tour here.
You are not obliged to go through the Vatican Museums or to visit Saint Peter's Basilica.
If you have limited time, and/or have already visited those sites, you may simply leave after your garden tour.
If you choose to include a visit to the Papal Gardens at Castel Gandolfo, it is an all day visit beginning at the Vatican at 8am, and ending back at the Vatican at about 6pm.
You can also book a tour of JUST the gardens at the Pope's summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.
This makes for a fascinating and unusual day trip out of Rome.
A guided tour of the Apostolic Palace, the Barberini gardens, and lunch on the Pope's farm are all included!
When you book a visit to the Vatican Gardens, you will automatically get entry to the Vatican Museums.
So plan for at least a 3-4 hour visit.
If you want to also visit Saint Peter's Basilica on the same day, you can either go at 7 AM when it opens, or after your museums tour, probably after a short lunch break.
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If you visit the Basilica in the morning, you could then have the other half the day to do other things (although you will likely be tired as that is a lot of activity for one morning!)
If you visit the Basilica after your Vatican Museums visit, this will likely take up the rest of your day.
Visiting the basilica can take maybe an hour.
Once inside Saint Peter's Basilica, you can climb the dome (for a fee) and/or visit the grottos just below the altar where many popes are entombed (free.)
Plan for yet another hour. Just make sure to climb the dome before it closes, which is about an hour earlier than the basilica itself.
Do you want to also know how to fit in a visit to the Vatican necropolis (St. Peter's tomb), and/or the Papal Audience?
Ready to plan your trip?
The Vatican gardens are open Monday - Saturday.
They are closed Sundays and on Catholic holidays, and/or when the pope conducts mass at St. Peter's basilica, including December 8, 25 and 26, January 1 and 6, Easter Sunday, and more.
To see all closing dates for a given year, check the Vatican Museums calendar online.
Although the gardens are open the same dates as the museums, visiting hours are restricted to mid-late mornings.
Walking tours are not available on Wednesdays when there is a Papal audience. Bus tours are.
You can book a walking tour that begins at 9:30 or 11am.
You can book a bus tour that begins somewhere from 8:15 am to 12:45 pm (last departure.)
The all-day tour that includes a train visit to Castel Gandolfo must be booked for an early start at 8am.
The tours are available in different languages but the most commonly offered is in English.
If you choose another language, you may find limited availability.
You can easily book a tour of the Vatican Gardens on the official Vatican website.
Click "Vatican Gardens", which takes you to the page with all the options.
There you can select different garden tours.
Costs vary depending on the type of tour you book.
If you have trouble with the Vatican website, or don't find availability there, you might want to try booking the same ticket through the authorized vendor Tiqets.
There is a small booking fee but the ease of use makes up for it.
Also you may find more availability through Tiqets.
Whether you book a walking or bus tour of the Vatican Gardens, your ticket allows you entry into the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
When you book the Vatican Gardens, you will either have a human guide on the walking tour, or an audio-guide on the bus tour.
After that however, you will not have a guide for the Vatican Museums, just entry.
So if you would like a guide (which I highly recommend), you can book a tour that includes a guided tour of the Vatican Museums.
In my opinion it is a much better way to visit the Vatican Museums, and makes for a smoother and less tiring day.
You cannot visit the Vatican Gardens without booking a tour.
If you take the shorter bus tour, there is just an audio-guide and not a human.
However, you are not allowed to get off the bus.
Yes it's possible for those with mobility problems or who are in a wheelchair to visit these wonderful gardens.
However, there is no regularly scheduled tour.
You need to write to the Vatican and ask for a time slot and guide.
Visitors in wheelchairs may of course be accompanied on the tour by their companions and/or care-givers.
Visit the official Vatican website for more details and how to book.
Yes, there are bathrooms in more than one spot inside the Vatican Gardens.
They are quite discretely hidden, so just ask your guide where to find them.
The bathrooms inside the Vatican Gardens are not handicapped-equipped.
The Omnia Pass is a great combo pass that gives you access to the Vatican Museums, Saint Peter's basilica, San Giovanni and many Rome sites such as the Colosseum, Galleria Borghese and much more.
However, the gardens at the Vatican are not included.
If you want to visit the Vatican Gardens, I'd suggest booking them separately (which includes the Vatican Museums), and then purchasing the Roma Pass, which has nothing to do with Vatican sites.
Or try the Turbo Pass which does include the Vatican Gardens.
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