A Day Trip to the Vatican City
Few months ago, I went to St. Peter’s Basilica with my father. Since we come from a very strict Catholic family, this obligation is duly renewed once in a while as it is the holiest site of Catholicism. Something different went on this time: we reached the Basilica at 1 pm and there were plenty of people queueing everywhere. There were more than 6 long lines long down the street.
There was a main queue and 5 branches. We unconsciously took the main one but later I realized that it had been a bad idea because it went on absorbing the side-lines as well. Since there was nobody to guide the public, the queues were springing up everywhere. This is the reason why the main one went so slowly and the people who came after us found themselves ahead of us. Let’s not even mention the ones who plugged into the line like everything was ok.
How long is a queue for Vatican City
It took more than 2 hours for us to reach the front side of the Basilica but since we had no other plans, it wasn’t a big deal for us. The whole queuing experience lasted 2 hours and 20 minutes and honestly, for me it wasn’t that bad. I spent most of our time taking photos as we (my father) moved along the queue.
My father and I were talking about how the situation has changed since his first visit to St. Peter’s Basilica. Almost 30 years ago, just a few people were visiting the Basilica. Now, due to some changes regarding travelers and travelings, plenty of tourists are coming to the Vatican City. In fact, it is a lifetime experience. Such a change of mentality will for sure take more and more travelers to this place. He also said that once you could feel the holiness which seemed to have disappeared now. For a man of faith like him, it was really very disappointing.
While the line was moving slowly ahead, some private guides approached the tourists offering their services by saying that there will be no need to wait in line for hours. So I realized that it had become a matter of business now. You are not paying the entrance fee to the basilica because it is a church but if you pay the guide you skip the line and save time. This is a great way to earn money because most of the tourists have a lack of time and this sounds really cool to their ears. In fact, some of those in line near us left but we decided to stay because we were getting close to the entrance.
Another reason why the queue moved so slowly was because of the metal detectors. You need to go through them one by one before getting into the Basilica. There were eight or nine metal detectors but not all of them were operating.
When we were at that point we saw the special entrance for guided tours., Many people got into the basilica that way without a guide and the security didn’t seem to care. Because of this, some bypassed the queue. So this shortcut which was supposed to be for visitors with guides became for the “clever” ones. When we finally got inside we were really happy. I was so excited to see my father had done it once again. If it hadn’t been for St. Peter’s Church, I know that he would never have been willing to wait such a long time under the hot sun.
Anyways in case you don’t have enough money don’t be intimated by the queue, just do it. Words cannot express or describe what is waiting for you there inside. Even if you are not religious at all, you will still appreciate it.
Tips for visiting Vatican City
When planning your visit, try to avoid Wednesday mornings because it’s the day of the Papal audience, so it’s closed for visitors until 12:00 or even later. Therefore it is more crowded in the evening.
Be also aware that the Pope can decide at any time to have the Basilica for himself and it’s not uncommon. When that happens, it will be closed for tourists. Therefore don’t plan your visit for the last day of your stay.
Make sure you are dressed appropriately – keep your shoulders and thighs covered. If you don’t, when finally you reach the check-in point they can send you back. Believe me, if it happens you ‘ll be ready to kill the person next to you! The Vatican dress code is really very strict (as it should be).
When possible avoid important religious days because they attract tourists so it will be even more crowded.
Good luck, may God be with you!