Visiting the Vatican City & Top Tips
Visiting the Vatican City
I purposefully didn't do much research on the Vatican City as I really wanted to experience it first time, and not know what to expect. In my mind I imagined it to be a lot bigger than it actually was given it's title as a city, but it's actually relatively small, but with lots of grand buildings within a close area. You'll constantly be bombarded on your walk down to the Vatican by people trying to sell you queue jump tickets or offer you the 'best deals' all of which appeared to be quite shady. We arrived pretty early in the morning and the queues were already three hours long, and we didn't realise that if you want to go in St Peters you actually have to come back out of the Vatican and re-enter on the other side.
Paying for a Queue Jump
Weighing this up we decided that perhaps paying extra for a queue jump would be worth it, it was the height of summer after all and we were already dying to get inside and escape the heat! Being under 25 we were eligible for a student reduction, which seems to be quite popular across all attractions in Rome. We ended up paying £50 for a queue jump to both sides of the Vatican, and it also came with a tour guide as part of your group. Not the cheapest of entries compared to the price you'd pay if you queued up all that time, but we felt it was worth it.
Joining a Tour Group
Being part of a tour group with our guide who spoke brilliant English, we were able to really learn more about each and every part of the Vatican we may not have otherwise known; with funny anecdotes about Michael Angelo's Sistine Chapel paintings which were especially amusing. The Vatican was heaving, I can't lie, as much as I wanted to see everything - I also couldn't wait to just get out of there. The galleries especially were just full of people packed in like sardines in a can forcing their way through and having cameras shoved in front of you everywhere you turned.
The Sistine Chapel
You can't take photographs of the Sistine Chapel, which was disappointing, but regardless you had those who still tried and constantly had the peace broken by guards shouting 'no photos'. Out of all the sections of the Vatican I found St Peters to be the most impressive, everywhere paved with gold and just the height of it really took you back. You can choose to go to the top of St Peters dome and get the view that you'll always see on TV, but it's quite narrow and once you're up that's your only way down the tiny stairs so I didn't really fancy being enclosed in such a small space, though I think you can pay a fee and go up in a lift if you wanted to.
Overall our visit lasted a good six hours in the Vatican, and time really does pass you by without you even realising, it was late afternoon by the time we left and finally got some lunch down a tiny side street not far from the Vatican, oh that pasta was so good!